Metzinger's Phenomenal Self

  • #1
selfAdjoint
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
6,786
7

Main Question or Discussion Point

Over at the PSYCHE online journal they are having a discussion of Metzinger's theory of phenomenal consciousness and selfhood. Here is a link to his precis of this theory:

http://psyche.cs.monash.edu.au/symposia/metzinger/precis.pdf

I am going to copy a couple of paragraphs from this precis to indicate its radical, and to me persuasive, content. Here they are:

First, it is important to understand the central ontological claim put forward by SMT: No such things as selves exist in the world. For all scientific and philosophical purposes, the notion of a self – as a theoretical entity – can be safely eliminated. What we have been calling "the" self in the past is not a substance, an unchangeable essence or a thing (i.e., an "individual" in the sense of philosophical metaphysics), but a very special kind of representational content: The content of a self-model that cannot be recognized as a model by the system using it. The dynamic content of the phenomenal self-model (hereafter: ”PSM”, cf. BNO, Chapter 6) is the content of the conscious self: Your current bodily sensations, your present emotional situation plus all the contents of your phenomenally experienced cognitive processing. They are constituents of your PSM. All those properties of your experiential self, to which you can now direct your attention, form the content of your current PSM. This PSM is not a thing, but an integrated process.

Intuitively, and in a certain metaphorical sense, one could say that you are the content of your PSM. A perhaps better way of making the central point intuitively accessible could be by saying that we are systems that constantly confuse themselves with the content of their PSM. At least for all conscious beings so far known to us it is true that they neither have nor are a self. Biological organisms exist, but an organism is not a self. Some organisms possess conscious self-models, but such self-models certainly are not selves – they are only complex brain states. However, if an organism operates under a transparent self-model, then it possesses a phenomenal self. The phenomenal property of
selfhood as such is a representational construct: an internal and dynamic representation of the organism as a whole to which the transparency constraint applies. It truly is a phenomenal property in terms of being an appearance only. The phenomenal experience
of substantiality (i.e., of being an independent entity that could in principle exist all by itself), of having an essence (i.e., of being defined by possessing an unchangeable innermost core, an invariant set of intrinsic properties) and of individuality (i.e., of being an entity that is unique and indivisible) are special forms of conscious, representational content as well. Possessing this content on the level of phenomenal experience was evolutionary advantageous, but as such (i.e., as phenomenal content) it is not epistemically justified.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Les Sleeth
Gold Member
2,166
2
selfAdjoint said:
Over at the PSYCHE online journal they are having a discussion of Metzinger's theory of phenomenal consciousness and selfhood. Here is a link to his precis of this theory:

http://psyche.cs.monash.edu.au/symposia/metzinger/precis.pdf

I am going to copy a couple of paragraphs from this precis to indicate its radical, and to me persuasive, content. Here they are:
What we have been calling "the" self in the past is not a substance, an unchangeable essence or a thing (i.e., an "individual" in the sense of philosophical metaphysics), but a very special kind of representational content: The content of a self-model that cannot be recognized as a model by the system using it. The dynamic content of the phenomenal self-model (hereafter: ”PSM”, cf. BNO, Chapter 6) is the content of the conscious self: Your current bodily sensations, your present emotional situation plus all the contents of your phenomenally experienced cognitive processing. They are constituents of your PSM. All those properties of your experiential self, to which you can now direct your attention, form the content of your current PSM. This PSM is not a thing, but an integrated process.
That's pretty close to what the Buddha taught about the how people typically relate to as and see their "self."


The phenomenal experience
of substantiality (i.e., of being an independent entity that could in principle exist all by itself), of having an essence (i.e., of being defined by possessing an unchangeable innermost core, an invariant set of intrinsic properties) and of individuality (i.e., of being an entity that is unique and indivisible) are special forms of conscious, representational content as well. Possessing this content on the level of phenomenal experience was evolutionary advantageous, but as such (i.e., as phenomenal content) it is not epistemically justified.
But here we have the statement of a person who simply doesn't know his "true" self. Do you conclude there is no ocean if you have always lived in the desert, and refuse to go look to see if there is an ocean? Or, if someone tells you that to see the ocean look south, but you insist on looking north . . . should you conclude you've "looked," seen nothing, and therefore there is no ocean?

If Metzinger only looks at what the Buddha called the "acquired self," he will only find PSM; if he learns how to become intimate with the part that resides behind all that composite stuff he will find the enduring thing.

Recently I had an event shook my being to the core. I can't elaborate but the event was a couple of years coming, and then the day it occurred it got to me so bad I was emotionally torn up. Alone at night after the event, I started sobbing uncontrollably, I'm sure my system was purging since after a couple of hours of that I felt better. But while it went on something interesting was part of it, and that was the part that I connect with in meditation. It was watching my body, emotions and mind . . . the "composite self" . . . go through all that angst, and just sat there perfectly fine waiting for it to pass. Once when I was in a car wreck that happened too, where I just sort of joined with that still thing through it all.

I realize anecdotal evidence doesn't prove anything, but as I've argued many times, I don't think there ever will be evidence of it that can be grasped using empirical epistemology precisely because it is "one" and not composite. Science can get at things that have parts, but something that is one doesn't lend itself to reductionist or intellectual understanding.

So I say all Metzinger is doing is looking at what he can. But since he lacks the skill needed to know his own essential being, he is absent facts and therefore his theory is flawed.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #3
340
0
Thank you for the reference to Metzinger's paper, selfAdjoint. I am always interested in new ideas concerning consciousness and the self.
Metzinger said:
The present theory develops a detailed story about precisely what properties representations in a given information-processing system must possess in order to become phenomenal representations, ones the content of which is at the same time a content of consciousness.
This is exactly what those of us who doubt that consciousness can emerge from matter are waiting to hear. We want someone to say precisely what properties will give rise to consciousness.
Metzinger said:
Phenomenologically, minimal consciousness is described as the presence of a world. This minimal notion involves what is called (1) the globality-constraint, (2) the presentationality-constraint, and (3) the transparency-constraint.
As I read Metzinger's proposal, I was simultaneously doing a thought experiment. I was imagining how I would program a computerized robot according to his specifications so that the end result would be conscious. After reading the descriptions of these three constraints, it was clear to me that any competent programmer would have no trouble implementing these in a computer program. In fact, they are all quite easy. The first is a simple matter of programming (SMOP), the second comes almost for free by virtue of the Von Neumann architecture used by most digital computers, and the third is another SMOP.
Metzinger said:
The problem for the present theory thus is to explain how one's own personal identity appears in conscious experience: What is needed to---by conceptual necessity---take the step from the representational property of self-modeling to the consciously experienced phenomenal property of selfhood?
Yes! That is exactly the question. I'm on the edge of my chair.
Metzinger said:
My claim is that the transparency-constraint... is the decisive defining characteristic: If all other necessary/sufficient constraints for the emergence of phenomenal experience are satisfied by a given representational system, the addition of a transparent self-model will by necessity lead to the emergence of a phenomenal self. The transparency of the self-model is a special form of inner darkness. It consists in the fact that the representational character of the contents of self-consciousness is not accessible to subjective experience.
This is hardly persuasive. By concealing some of the information in the computer from the putative conscious, or "subjective experience", function, it isn't clear at all how that will cause awareness to suddenly dawn on the machine.
Metzinger said:
Phenomenal selfhood results from autoepistemic closure in a self-representing system; it is a function realized by a lack of information. We do not experience the contents of our self-consciousness as the contents of a representational process, but simply as ourselves, living in the world right now.
The computer program can clearly and easily have an area of memory designated to contain the contents of whatever information is desired to be representative of the portion of the world known at the moment of now, but this will hardly cause the experience of the moment to be anything close to what conscious humans experience. Since the rest of the paper builds on this claim of emergent consciousness, it is hard to take the rest of it seriously.

Thanks anyway.

Paul
 
  • #4
733
0
selfAdjoint said:
Over at the PSYCHE online journal they are having a discussion of Metzinger's theory of phenomenal consciousness and selfhood. Here is a link to his precis of this theory:
http://psyche.cs.monash.edu.au/symposia/metzinger/precis.pdf
I am going to copy a couple of paragraphs from this precis to indicate its radical, and to me persuasive, content. Here they are:
Well I took time to read this and have made a copy of some of the things he has said that highlight his theory. There is a lot that I have copied cause they all are important statements to argue his point. I hope they fit and I will comment below.

Metzinger's said:
It must be noted that what is actually needed is a theoretical model that allows us to find global neural properties exhibiting a high degree of integration and differentiation at the same time.
The neural correlate of the global, conscious model of the world must be a distributed process which can be described as the realization of a functional cluster,combining a high internal correlation strength between its elements with the existence of distinct functional borders.
The hypothesis states that any group of neurons can contribute directly to conscious experience only if it is partof a distributed functional cluster that, through reentrant interactions in the thalamocortical system, achieves high integration in hundreds of milliseconds. At the same time it is essential that this functional cluster possesses high values of complexity.
This way of looking at the globality-constraint on the neural level is
philosophically interesting for a number of reasons. First, it makes the prediction that any system operating under a conscious model of reality will be characterized by the existence of one single area of maximal causal density within its information-processing mechanisms.
To have an integrated, globally coherent model of the world means to create
a global functional cluster, i.e., an island of maximal causal density within one’s own representational system.
Philosophical functionalists will like this approach, because it
offers a specific and global functional property (a "vehicle property") that might
correspond to the global phenomenal property of the unity of consciousness. In short, what you subjectively experience upon experiencing your world as coherent is the high internal correlation strength between a subset of physical events in your own brain.
In short, there may be many functional bundles - individual and episodically
indivisible, integrated neural processes - within a system, and typically there will be one single, largest island of maximal causal density underlying the current conscious model of the world.
A complete physical description of the
universe would not contain any information about what time is "now", nor an analysis of time as a unidirectional phenomenon. On the contrary, the conscious experience of time inevitably possesses an indexical component in the temporal domain.
Although we subjectively experience ourselves as in direct and immediate contact
with the "Now", all empirical data tell us that, strictly speaking, all conscious experience is a form of memory.
The representation of a "Now" then becomes the simplest form of explicit time representation, as a set of recurrent loops plus a certain decay function.
BNO proposes a "Self-model Theory of Subjectivity" and subjectivity, viewed as a
phenomenon located on the level of phenomenal experience, can only be understood if we find comprehensive theoretical answers to the following two questions.
First, what is a consciously experienced, phenomenal self? Second, what is a consciously experienced phenomenal first-person perspective?
There are a number of phenomenal state-classes - for instance, spiritual and religious experiences of a certain kind or fully depersonalized states during severe psychiatric disorders - in which an inference to the most plausible phenomenological explanation tells us that no conscious self and no consciously experienced first-person perspective exist. I take such global experiential
states to be instances of non-subjective consciousness.
The phenomenal property of mineness is closely related to the property of
phenomenal selfhood. Again, let us look at some examples of how we frequently attempt to point to the phenomenal content of the internal representational states underlying this property, using linguistic tools from public space: "I am someone"; "I experience myself as being identical through time"; "the contents of my phenomenal self-consciousness form a coherent whole", "before initiating any intellectual or attentional operations, and independently of them I am already immediately and 'directly' acquainted with the fundamental contents of my self-consciousness."
We are a systems caught in a naive-realistic self-misunderstanding.
That is to say, there simply are no phenomenal state-classes, in which we
experience ourselves as pure, disembodied spirits.
The representational vehicle of your conscious self-experience is a certain process in your brain, a complex neural activation pattern.
This process of self-representation is not consciously experienced by you. It is not globally available for attention and it is transparent in the sense of you currently looking through it. In this special case, what you are looking at is yourself: What you are seeing and feeling onto is its self-representational content, e.g. the
existence of your hands, here and now, given through a multitude of internal as well as external sensory channels.
The phenomenal property of selfhood is constituted by transparent, non-epistemic
self-representation, and it is on this level of representationalist analysis that the refutation of the corresponding phenomenological fallacy becomes truly radical, because it has a straightforward ontological interpretation: no such things as selves exist in the world.
To some up Metzinger's theory, the self is a figment of imagination. Selves come to exist due to the fact that they emerge from a clusters of neurons in the brain.

Well he could be right, and then we can for sure build A U2 D2 that you could have a romance with. On the other hand he is bias in the sense that he mentions only a number of phenomenal state-classes - for instance, spiritual and religious experiences of a certain kind or fully depersonalized states during severe psychiatric disorders. I just sat down 10 minutes ago and had a 30 minute chat with someone that has had an OBE. This is what he has told me. When I am in my head that is, I know that I am I, but also fully conscious that I am not in my body, I have this experience of OBE. Due to the fact that my eyes can move in any direction and view the room, I can see perspectives not seen before and remember them later. They can be in any coordinate of the room on a x y axis. I do not leave the room. I can not see my body from where the apparent thought of my vision comes from. I can see my body though, down there, it does not move, although, it’s not always lying down it could be sitting but it is always in a frozen now at that moment. So this is one example of why I do not buy emergent consciousness or selves. How can the mental state of what a brain is suppose to produce, the self know it’s not in its body and later know that it was not in it.?

Well if there is any veracity to all of this. Something can experience brain states inside or outside of a body. It apparently can only do it when the bodies, NOW is frozen in time. I have had the chance to personally interrogate a number of people on this issue and they always see there body frozen in a fixed position.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #5
244
0
I would like to report that I am a 'self' and I exist in the world. DESCARTES RULES.
 
  • #6
selfAdjoint
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
6,786
7
Rader said:
(friend's report)Due to the fact that my eyes can move in any direction and view the room, I can see perspectives not seen before and remember them later.
If your friend can do this then his experincxes should be susceptible to objective testing. Just arrange something that is not in view of his physical eyes but can be seen by an altered perspective, say from the ceiling, and find out if he can describe it when or after he has his OBE. You can do any kind of double blind test of this sort you want. Why are no such tests being done?
 
  • #7
733
0
selfAdjoint said:
If your friend can do this then his experincxes should be susceptible to objective testing. Just arrange something that is not in view of his physical eyes but can be seen by an altered perspective, say from the ceiling, and find out if he can describe it when or after he has his OBE. You can do any kind of double blind test of this sort you want.
I have considered your idea of testing already. The problem is that OBE and NDE are spontaneous, we can not control when they happen. We have to relay on the memory recall of the patient. At least the ten cases that I have had personal contact with cannot conjure them up whenever they want to. You do not think that the very fact that they can see there body in another place from where they think there eyes are, is sufficient evidence? How could there memory have recorded there experience? Remember what I said about the OBE case, they see there body in a fixed position yet there memory records other positions, that there body with its eyes could not have seen.

Yes they could all be liars. Why would they all lie? Could they have all learned to lie because of knowledge of other people’s experience? We would then have groups of liars. Some have NDE some OBE. We would then have to explain why people lie in groups and why they pick that particular thing to lie about? That’s a possibility, why entangled minds would tell the same story and why that particular story. We do not know enough about entangled particles much less entangled minds. Maybe this is all a fabrication of mind and they really believe it do to hormonal changes.

They say it’s not like normal experience nor totally like a dream, now since I have never had one of these I can not tell you what its like. What I can tell you is something about each case. If I was to ask a question it would be, could hormones cause these things, but then we would have to answer the question how radical hormonal change in the body could record in memory, things we could not possibly see with our eyes in a body.

Of all the cases I know of personally, all have health problems but don’t we all? How come we do not all have these experiences?

selfAdjoint said:
Why are no such tests being done?
Notwithstanding two years ago there was a case that I mentioned on this forum and was burned at the stake. Your experiment was carried out and while it was not mine, I will tell you the results. This was an NDE case where they did brain surgery and a team of experts on this subject were present to control and anticipate a possible NDE. The patient had bad chances of coming out of the operation. The patient did not know that she was under surveillance. When the patient was questioned later she could relate very precise information about the surgical team that operated on her for example specific clock times on different critical moments of the operation and new the names of the team by reading there name tags.

There is too much evidence of all these things. I think there is no question that they happen. The question is why and how do they happen to these particular people and why at the moment that they happen?

I would hope to do someday, personally, the testing that you have suggested.

You might want to read this article clip from CNN.
http://archives.cnn.com/2002/TECH/science/09/19/coolsc.outofbody/

You will like this site it even has a theory that would suite your taste, excellent reading.
http://www.web-us.com/oobe/oobe.htm#What theories have been put forward to account for the OBE?

How to induce altered states of consciousness.
http://web-us.com/binaural.htm
 
Last edited:
  • #8
26
0
Rader, do you have any kind of source material on this experiment that was carried out? I searched the board but couldn't find your original mentioning. I would be highly interested!
 
  • #9
733
0
DMuitW said:
Rader, do you have any kind of source material on this experiment that was carried out? I searched the board but couldn't find your original mentioning. I would be highly interested!
We discussed this in one of the consciousness threads. It was a Spanish documentary that filmed the episode. I pretty much summed it up in my last post.

Here is a interesting NDE. There is a book on two year research of blind NDE cases.
http://www.near-death.com/experiences/evidence03.html

If you want an interesting read. NDE of only blind people, who can see when they have them and never could before. Its interesting there description of what its like seeing for the first time.

It was like hearing words and not being able to understand them, but knowing that they were words.
 
  • #10
selfAdjoint
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
6,786
7
Rader said:
I have considered your idea of testing already. The problem is that OBE and NDE are spontaneous, we can not control when they happen. We have to relay on the memory recall of the patient. At least the ten cases that I have had personal contact with cannot conjure them up whenever they want to. You do not think that the very fact that they can see there body in another place from where they think there eyes are, is sufficient evidence? How could there memory have recorded there experience? Remember what I said about the OBE case, they see there body in a fixed position yet there memory records other positions, that there body with its eyes could not have seen.
Rader, I am not at all seeking to deny these experiences. Some of what you say suggest that OBE (I am more interested in that than in NDE) could be treated the way blindsight is. You know how that goes, subjects with certain brain lesions cannot see things in one half of their visual fiel, but if the experimenter asks them careful questions about the scene being presented there, they get much better than random results in describing it!
 
  • #11
733
0
selfAdjoint said:
Rader, I am not at all seeking to deny these experiences. Some of what you say suggest that OBE (I am more interested in that than in NDE) could be treated the way blindsight is. You know how that goes, subjects with certain brain lesions cannot see things in one half of their visual fiel, but if the experimenter asks them careful questions about the scene being presented there, they get much better than random results in describing it!
Look at this a little closer: http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2320/is_1_64/ai_65076875/pg_2

Are you aware that blind people who have blindsight also have had OBE NDE or both? Granted you could make the assumption that blind people can see they just do not know it, do to the fact some of the machinery is malfunctioning. Blind before birth and blind after birth have OBE and NDE. So if they can see subconsciously they could record visual data in memory to be used later in these states. But wait a minute, lots of the studies show that what they see in OBE or NDE is new data memory, things that they have not experienced before.

What about this! From the article above.

The authors do mention that 11 of the 14 congenitally blind participants had retrolental fibroplasia (also known as retinopathy of prematurely), a condition caused by an excessive concentration of oxygen in the incubator into which the person had been placed as a prematurely born neonate. It is feasible, therefore, that some members of the congenitally blind sample were unable to have any visual sensation whatsoever, and indeed this is confirmed by passing references to individual cases, but detailed documentation is not provided.
So what is it about blindsight that has any connection to OBE or NDE? They seem to me to be very different experiences although one could have all of them or individually.
 
  • #12
1,604
1
Paul Martin said:
After reading the descriptions of these three constraints, it was clear to me that any competent programmer would have no trouble implementing these in a computer program. In fact, they are all quite easy. The first is a simple matter of programming (SMOP), the second comes almost for free by virtue of the Von Neumann architecture used by most digital computers, and the third is another SMOP.
I'm not so convinced that programming these steps would be easy. It is easy to say “it’s a simple matter of programming”, but in reality I think it is also very easy to underestimate the complexity involved. Have you really thought in detail, for example, what would be involved in programming an integrated world-model, such that all individual phenomenal events are bound into a global situation context – it requires that each and every neurophysiological state which is to contribute to the overall conscious experience be integrated into a comprehensive “world-model”. The enormity of this task is easy to underestimate.

Paul Martin said:
By concealing some of the information in the computer from the putative conscious, or "subjective experience", function, it isn't clear at all how that will cause awareness to suddenly dawn on the machine.
I don't think Metzinger is suggesting that "awareness suddenly dawns on the machine" simply by virtue of having an "inner darkness" (to use Metzinger's phrase). What he is saying is that any system which is continuously co-representing the representational relation (between it’s presumed self and the “rest of the world”), and which then becomes caught in this naïve-realistic self-misunderstanding, generates in turn a system which seems to experience itself as being not only part of the world, but also of being fully immersed in it through a dense network of causal, perceptive, cognitive, attentional and agentive relations.

I do disagree with Metzinger on one issue – and that is the idea that there can be any kind of consciousness (what he refers to as minimal consciousness) in absence of the phenomenal self just so long as his three necessary conditions of gloablity, presentationality and transparency are satisfied. It seems to me that these three conditions alone are not sufficient to generate consciousness of any kind – I cannot see how consciousness can exist in absence of some form of phenomenal self.

Best Regards

MF
 
Last edited:
  • #13
selfAdjoint
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
6,786
7
Here for the easy of survey are Metzinger's definitions of his three constraints that determine his minimal consciousness.

Phenomenologically, minimal consciousness is described as the presence of a world. This minimal notion involves what is called (1) the globality-constraint, (2) the presentationality-constraint, and (3) the transparency-constraint.

1.1.1. Globality Mental representation is the process by which some biosystems generate an internal depiction of parts of reality. Not all mental states are also conscious states: Phenomenally represented information is precisely that subset of currently active information in the system, of which it is true that it is globally available for many
different processing capacities at the same time, e.g., for deliberately guided attention, cognitive reference, and the selective control of action. To say that the contents of conscious experience are "globally" available for the subject means that these contents can always be found in a world. This implies that individual conscious states, in standard situations, are always part of an integrated world-model. More about this in Section

2.1. 1.1.2 Presentationality A second core-aspect of phenomenal onsciousness is what could be described as the generation of an island of presence in the continuous flow of physical time (Ruhnau 1995): Without exception, it is true of all my phenomenal states that whatever I xperience, I always experience it now. Phenomenal content invariably is
content de nunc, because it is associated with a representation of temporal internality. There is an overarching representational context governing phenomenal experience, and this context generates the xperience of presence.

1.1.3. Transparency The third constraint for phenomenal consciousness is
transparency. It is a phenomenological concept (and not an epistemological one) which, however, implies a lack of knowledge. ransparency is a special form of darkness. In particular, phenomenal ransparency means that something particular is not accessible for subjective experience, namely the representational nature of the contents of conscious experience. What makes a phenomenal representation transparent is the attentional unavailability of earlier processing stages in the brain for introspection. The instruments of representation themselves cannot be represented as such, and hence the system making the experience, on this level and by conceptual necessity, is entangled in a
naïve realism: In standard configurations, one's phenomenal experience has an untranscendably realistic character.
Movingfinger, I am unsure why you require a phenomenal self. Metzinger shows how to construct what seem to me to be plausible accounts of experiencing phenomena. Why do we need an additional being?
 
  • #14
1,604
1
selfAdjoint said:
Movingfinger, I am unsure why you require a phenomenal self. Metzinger shows how to construct what seem to me to be plausible accounts of experiencing phenomena. Why do we need an additional being?
What I cannot see is how it is possible to be in a state of "experiencing phenomena" (your own words) in absence of some "subjective centre of experience" (ie the phenomenal self). It seems to me that both subject and object (the self as well as the experienced phenomena) are created together as the output of consciousness. I don't see how one can have "experienced phenomena" without at the same time having "something doing the experiencing".

Note that I am NOT saying that subject and object really exist as physical entities. I agree with Metzinger in this. Both subject and object are illusions, they are virtual subjects and objects, created by the conscious processing.

Best Regards

MF
 
  • #15
selfAdjoint
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
6,786
7
moving finger said:
What I cannot see is how it is possible to be in a state of "experiencing phenomena" (your own words) in absence of some "subjective centre of experience" (ie the phenomenal self). It seems to me that both subject and object (the self as well as the experienced phenomena) are created together as the output of consciousness. I don't see how one can have "experienced phenomena" without at the same time having "something doing the experiencing".
I don't agree that we need a "subjective centre of experience", but do agree that there is "something doing the experiencing". The difference is that the something might have no constant instantiation but could shift among brain modules as the thing being experienced varies. Somewhat in the way the internet has no central post office to direct packages.

Note that I am NOT saying that subject and object really exist as physical entities. I agree with Metzinger in this. Both subject and object are illusions, they are virtual subjects and objects, created by the conscious processing.
Yes, this is my idea too, and I think Metzinger would say that such an idea is reasonable but rather than just asserting it he wants to define it more sharply using his constraint methodology.
 
  • #16
1,604
1
selfAdjoint said:
I don't agree that we need a "subjective centre of experience", but do agree that there is "something doing the experiencing". The difference is that the something might have no constant instantiation but could shift among brain modules as the thing being experienced varies. Somewhat in the way the internet has no central post office to direct packages.
Agreed. When I said "centre of experience" I did not actually mean a physical centre in terms of location in space - I meant a logical centre (which could be distributed in space). One clear property of conscious experience is that there is a unity or (logical) singularity of consciousness, we never (except in certain brain disorders) have two logical centres of consciousness within a normal individual.

Dennett refers to something similar in his concept of a centre of narrative gravity - which is supposed to reflect the fact that there is a logical centre created by consciousness (the phenomenal self) in the process of the mind "telling a story to itself".

The point is, that I don't see how one could have a "consciousness" without this logical centre (the phenomenal self or centre of narrative gravity).

Best Regards

MF

Humans put constraints on what they can achieve more often by their limited imaginations than by any limitations in the laws of physics (Alex Christie)
 
  • #17
I find Metzinger’s Theory interesting, and it corresponds with what Susan Blackmore suggests in the book “The Meme Machine” inspired by Richard Dawkin’s theory on memes as something like evolving ideas. She suggests that various ideas/notions cluster together to survive, and that way creates a homogeneous notion of a personality.
But, I would say, as a theory on how the basic notions/experience of the moment/qualia arise, both theories fail.
 
  • #18
1,604
1
Lars Laborious said:
I would say, as a theory on how the basic notions/experience of the moment/qualia arise, both theories fail.
It's nice of you to say this. But can we ask why you say this?
What are the reasons for your belief that these theories fail?

Best Regards

MF
 
  • #19
moving finger said:
It's nice of you to say this. But can we ask why you say this?
What are the reasons for your belief that these theories fail?
Simply because all though selves might emerge from clusters of neurons in the brain (through cooperating memes), the possibility for experience has to be there in the first place. Memes, as well as the simplest forms of notions, needs to be experienced for a consciousness to arise; much like a computer game can't enjoy itself without a basic form of experience. What experience is exactly, is yet to be answered.
 
  • #20
1,604
1
Lars Laborious said:
Simply because all though selves might emerge from clusters of neurons in the brain (through cooperating memes), the possibility for experience has to be there in the first place. Memes, as well as the simplest forms of notions, needs to be experienced for a consciousness to arise; much like a computer game can't enjoy itself without a basic form of experience. What experience is exactly, is yet to be answered.
I believe Metzinger provides a very good answer in his paper.
Conscious experience arises within the information processing activities of an agent when those information processing activities are sufficiently complex to able to satisfy his three minimal conditions of globality, presentationality and transparency plus (to my mind) the additional condition of phenomenal self (ie a virtual logical centre of narrative gravity).

"Memes", "notions" and "concepts" are simply subsets of the information being processed.

It's not clear to me just why you think this explanation "fails".

Best Regards

MF
 
  • #21
moving finger said:
I believe Metzinger provides a very good answer in his paper.
Conscious experience arises within the information processing activities of an agent when those information processing activities are sufficiently complex to able to satisfy his three minimal conditions of globality, presentationality and transparency plus (to my mind) the additional condition of phenomenal self (ie a virtual logical centre of narrative gravity).

"Memes", "notions" and "concepts" are simply subsets of the information being processed.

It's not clear to me just why you think this explanation "fails".
Ok, here's a copy of what I said in "One of those consciousness threads":

I agree to the idea that combinations of various sensory data plus data from memory states are things that an “upper consciusness”, with it’s personality and feeling of self, needs for coming into existence. But it also needs the possibility for experience (which you agreed to not beeing an illusion), and that is the basis for all consciousness – experience and raw conciousness are the same.

Dennet, Metzinger, Blackmore and other qualia-opponents fail to explain how phenomenally represented information gets to be experienced in the first place. They only have theories on how already experienced information accumulate and creates an illusion of a self.

Now, whether qualia are seperated from the experience (conscious unit) itself, or actually is the experience, is a tuff question. But just as you can compare qualia with an organization, and state that “an organization is only a concept or illusion - it’s actually just a bunch of people”, you can say that yes, consciousness might only be a concept or illusion, but it’s components are just as real as that bunch of people.

Consciousness consists not of data, but of phenomenal information, since it’s experiencable. Again, that information might be experience itself, but still the components are real since experiencing is real. So, why can’t we locate qualia in the brain? Because qualia are the instruments through which "we" (the experiences) examine the world. We would have to leave experiencing to be able to find qualia, but then of course we wouldn’t be able to experience the finding of qualia. In this sense you might be right when you say that qualia are not physical objects. But I would rather say that physical objects are properties of a qualia field.
 
  • #22
selfAdjoint
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
6,786
7
Lars Laborius said:
But it also needs the possibility for experience (which you agreed to not beeing an illusion), and that is the basis for all consciousness – experience and raw conciousness are the same.
I think you must mean "conscious awareness of experience" rather than experience itself here. For surely any program "experiences" running, as its registers change value; it just isn't aware of this.

And it is precisely the awareness of experience that Metzinger proposes to account for without (pace moving finger) anything other than his three postulates. Well, actually he has more; the paper we are discussing is only a precis of his full theory, but the three axioms are enough to generate his "bare consciusness", and someone who wants to deny his claim has to fault his argument and show that you CAN'T get consciousness of experience out of them.
 
  • #23
Hi, selfAdjoint. I'm very interested in reading Metzinger's whole theory. But no, I still mean just experience.
A program that runs (as it's registers change value) is not automatically experiencing anything. It simply does a job, that's all. Experience, even without awareness, is consciousness. It just lacks memory and the right connections to be aware and able to reflect on itself. Therefore I would say that Metzinger can't explain how bare consciousness arise, only the higher awareness.
 
  • #24
selfAdjoint
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
6,786
7
Lars Laborious said:
Hi, selfAdjoint. I'm very interested in reading Metzinger's whole theory. But no, I still mean just experience.
A program that runs (as it's registers change value) is not automatically experiencing anything. It simply does a job, that's all. Experience, even without awareness, is consciousness. It just lacks memory and the right connections to be aware and able to reflect on itself. Therefore I would say that Metzinger can't explain how bare consciousness arise, only the higher awareness.
I simply can't make any sense out of "Experience, even without awareness, is consciousness", sorry. Consciousness without awareness? Experience without awareness? It just seems to me that you are multiplying entities, and that your new entity is just a word without any coherent content that I can make out.

No doubt this is a failure on my part, so could you give some examples of how this works?
 
  • #25
1,604
1
selfAdjoint said:
the three axioms are enough to generate his "bare consciusness", and someone who wants to deny his claim has to fault his argument and show that you CAN'T get consciousness of experience out of them.
This "bare consciousness", in absence of a virtual or phenomenal self, seems to me to be as non-sensical as a "bare quale". If we strip away the notion of "self" from conscious experience (= consciousness) there is nothing coherent that remains. To me, consciousness is synonymous with conscious experience, and how can there be an "experience" without a "self which experiences"?

(I should once again emphasise that I am not suggesting the "self" is a real physical or independent entity; the "self" is just as illusory as "qualia", both self and qualia are virtually constructed parts of conscious experience)

If you think we CAN get conscious experience in absence of the virtual "self", can you explain how this works?

Best Regards

MF
 

Related Threads on Metzinger's Phenomenal Self

  • Last Post
Replies
16
Views
2K
Replies
48
Views
5K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
2K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
35
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
6
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
21
Views
5K
  • Last Post
Replies
10
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
4
Views
3K
Top