Mind-body problem-Chomsky/Nagel

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  • #76
apeiron
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I'm guessing these authors would ask: What is Pattee's definition of "material"?
Did you not read the paper? The whole point is that "all is material". But causality is both micro and macro when it comes to complexity.

So to use the Aristotelean frame, material and effective cause are "down there" at the level of micro-physics. But formal and final cause are the "up there" as the global material constraints.

Pattee defines the bit you mean as material as "the rate dependent dynamics of construction". It is what reductionists would like to believe is the whole of materiality. But Pattee shows how non-holonomic constraints are also part of material reality.

This is important because the conventional computational view of symbols is "physics-free" as Pattee says. There is something obviously right about computationalism (which is why it seems central to scientific theories of mind), but as a discourse it is not actually grounded in the physical, in the material. Instead it floats free in a rather Platonic fashion that leads to all kinds of familiar philosophical problems (like Searle's chinese box).

So that is why I single Pattee out here. He is a strict materialist (though his background in QM would already make him say the material is not so simple). And he shows how more is different. Materiality has this hidden face of semiotic control lurking within it.

You can see Pattee arguing against the other side - those who fail to ground the computational in the material - in his paper, Artificial life needs a real epistemology.

http://www.google.co.nz/url?sa=t&so...2OH9Cw&usg=AFQjCNHYxZCLgUMfAu5Yrcj9cbrQaKm7cA
 
  • #77
Q_Goest
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Hi bohm,
I found Stoljar’s epistemic “solution” to the "hard problem” of consciousness interesting (this is a summary of U. Kriegel’s review):

1. There are phenomenal facts-these are supported by direct introspection
Does Stolijar’s solution suggest that phenomenal consciousness is epiphenomenal? If so, how can phenomenal facts be supported? Have you heard of the “knowledge paradox”?
3. But there are phenomenal facts, that are not necessitated by physical facts-this is supported by stuff like Chalmers’ conceivability argument and Jackson’s knowledge argument, etc. (i.e. conscious experience involves “non-physical” properties)

Stoljar denies 3 above because he argues that we are ignorant of a whole class of facts about “matter”. These unknown facts about matter, in combination with the known ones, do necessitate the phenomenal facts. But because

(i) we are ignorant of them and
(ii) the facts of which we are not ignorant do not by themselves necessitate the phenomenal facts, the phenomenal facts seem unnecessitated by the physical facts.

Why are we ignorant of certain “physical” facts?
How does Stolijar define “physical”? Is he using the term as others would use the term “natural”? Or does he use the term to refer to objectively observable phenomena such as the interactions of molecules, etc… ? If he’s using the term physical to mean the latter, then does he (or anyone else you know of) try to come to grips with how additional physical information in the form of phenomenal facts, might somehow be missing from a complete description of these objectively observable interactions? I keep hearing folks suggest that “we are ignorant of a certain class of facts about matter” but if some day we have a complete description of all the objectively observable interactions then what more do we need? Why even bother talking about phenomenal facts at that point? At the point we can accurately predict the interaction of all of matter, any additional theory about phenomenal facts would appear to be superfluous.
 
  • #78
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This is the part that confuses me. I understand that wholeness or top-down and down-up (synergistic) relationships/causality is likely required to explain "real systemic or emergent properties" (e.g. the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts, etc.). This is suggested even the micro-level (e.g. Bell's experiments, QM, etc.). But even if one assumes some level of wholeness or top-down (synergistic) relationship/causality to explain emergence, novelty, etc. is that sufficient to spit out the mental/qualia from the non-mental? It seems that even this 2-way macroscopic/microscopic synergetic stuff only spits out more non-mental stuff (up to this point in our history of science)?
 
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I think physicalism last hope is causal overdetermination. In fact it's a choice between overdetermination and epiphenomenalism, with both facing huge problems.

If we discuss the 3 materialistic theories - reductive physicalism, reductive functionalism and non-reductive physicalism, we see that none of them can successfully account for both mental causation and qualia, if we abandon causal overdetermination.

The 2 reductive theories - reductive physicalism and reductive functionalism - imply that the mental (M) can be reduced to either a physical (P) or a functional (F) state. So we have a kind of identity (M = P) or (M = F). And here comes the two huge problems for the reductionists known as http://www.iep.utm.edu/qualia/" [Broken].
The Knowledge Argument Against Physicalism - http://www.iep.utm.edu/know-arg/ said:
Frank Jackson gives the argument its classic statement (in Jackson 1982 and Jackson 1986). He formulates the argument in terms of Mary, the super-scientist. Her story takes place in the future, when all physical facts have been discovered. These include “everything in completed physics, chemistry, and neurophysiology, and all there is to know about the causal and relational facts consequent upon all this, including of course functional roles” (Jackson 1982, p. 51). She learns all this by watching lectures on a monochromatic television monitor. But she spends her life in a black-and-white room and has no color experiences. Then she leaves the room and sees colors for the first time. Based on this case, Jackson argues roughly as follows. If physicalism were true, then Mary would know everything about human color vision before leaving the room. But intuitively, it would seem that she learns something new when she leaves. She learns what it’s like to see colors, that is, she learns about qualia, the properties that characterize what it’s like. Her new phenomenal knowledge includes knowledge of truths. Therefore, physicalism is false.
Multiple Realizability - http://www.iep.utm.edu/identity/#H4 said:
Putnam’s argument can be paraphrased as follows: (1) according to the Mind-Brain Type Identity theorist (at least post-Armstrong), for every mental state there is a unique physical-chemical state of the brain such that a life-form can be in that mental state if and only if it is in that physical state. (2) It seems quite plausible to hold, as an empirical hypothesis, that physically possible life-forms can be in the same mental state without having brains in the same unique physical-chemical state. (3) Therefore, it is highly unlikely that the Mind-Brain Type Identity theorist is correct.

These two arguments point that the non-reductive physicalism is the best materialistic choice. We can have P1 and P2, so that P1 is not identical with P2, but both generate the same mentality M. We say that the mental state supervenes on the physical state, but is not identical with it. We can't reduce M and qualia is still there. Everything looks good until the famous "Supervenience Argument" from Jaegwon Kim appears.
The Waning of Materialism said:
The Supervenience Argument incorporates three central assumptions. The first one specifies that the physical world is causally closed:
Closure: If a physical event has a cause at t, then it has a physical cause at t. (Kim 2005: 15)

The second one stipulates that mental properties supervene upon physical properties:
Supervenience: If any system s instantiates a mental property M at t, there necessarily exists a physical property P such that s instantiates P at t, and necessarily anything instantiating P at any time instantiates M at that time.

And the third is an exclusion principle expressing the prohibition of systematic overdetermination:
Exclusion: If an event e has a sufficient cause c at t, no event at t distinct from c can be a cause of e (unless this is a genuine case of causal overdetermination).

According to Kim, if we further assume that mental properties are neither reducible to not identifiable with physical properties, what results is a set of propositions inconsistent with the causal relevance of mental properties:
The problem of mental causation: Causal efficacy of mental properties is inconsistent with the joint acceptance of the following four claims: (i) physical causal closure, (ii) causal exclusion, (iii) mind–body supervenience, and (iv) mental/ physical property dualism—the view that mental properties are irreducible to physical properties.

The reasoning behind this contention is as follows. Suppose we wish to identify a mental property instance, M, as the cause of a subsequent physical property instance, P. By Supervenience we know that there must be some physical property instance upon which M supervenes and by Closure we know that if P has a cause at a time t, it has a physical cause at t. Let us suppose that P has a cause at t and that the physical cause of P (at t) is P0, and let us assume that P0 is the physical property instance upon which M supervenes. By Exclusion we know that P has no cause other than P0 unless this is a case of genuine causal overdetermination, which, we will assume, it is not. From this it follows that M is the cause of P only if M = P. But given that no mental property is identical with or reducible to any physical property, it follows that the putative mental cause, M, is not in reality a cause of P. Since there is nothing special about M, P, or P0, the argument generalizes to show that instances of irreducible mental properties do not have physical effects, so that nonreductive physicalism entails epiphenomenalism: ‘That then is the supervenience argument against mental causation, or Descartes’s revenge against the physicalists’ (Kim 1998: 46).

Basically the "Supervenience Argument" shows that if we does not assume that causal overdetermination is possible, than antireductionism entails epiphenomenalism.
http://www.iep.utm.edu/mult-rea/#H4 said:
They could (a) deny the causal status of mental types; that is, they could reject Mental Realism and deny that mental types are genuine properties. Alternatively, they could (b) reject Physicalism; that is, they could endorse the causal status of mental types, but deny their causal status derives from the causal status of their physical realizers. Or finally, they could (c) endorse Mental Realism and Physicalism, and reject Antireductionism.

Kim than favors the reductionist approach and believes that we can have scenario in which "intentional/cognitive properties are reducible, but qualitative properties of consciousness, or 'qualia', are not" (see "Physicalism, or Something Near Enough"). However he was strongly criticized for this, because such variant will separate the http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/consciousness-unity/" [Broken].

So physicalism is faced with a hard choice between overdetermination and epiphenomenalism, and we are back at the beginning.
 
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  • #80
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apeiron, I'd like to be able to go through all the replies and counter-replies and respond in detail but I just don't have time. I did, however, go back and review our old thread discussing pansemiotism, panpsychism, and Pattee. I detailed the problems in Pattee's thinking there and won't bother to repeat them here.

Rather, I'll point out that I think, again, that pansemiotism and panpsychism are essentially the same thing - but you've gotten stuck on some contradictory notions within your own version of pansemiotism.

Pansemiotism cannot hold that "all is material" unless we re-define material to include meaning/mind. The traditional meaning of material is the opposite of that which holds meaning. it is inherently non-meaningful, inherently without mind.

So, again, any systems theory that seeks to explain mind must have some plausible mechanism by which mind emerges from non-mind, or make clear that there is no emergence and that mind is there from the beginning.

You wrote in post #109 in this thread https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=485718&page=7:

"Either you are a reductionist and believe that everything reduces to stuff - the local properties of substance - or you are a systems thinker and believe that everything develops, everything emerges from pure potential by way of an interaction between the local and the global, between local construction (the substantial causes) and global constraints (the formal causes).

Panpsychism takes the reductionist approach. Reality is made of a stuff that has material and psychic properties inherently.

Pansemiosis is a systems approach. Reality starts beyond stuff. It starts out as a raw potential. Then stuff emerges as a bootstrap process of self-organisation."

We're actually very close in our positions, terminology aside. My version of panpsychism does not proceed as you describe, however. Rather, it's much closer to how you describe pansemiosis - emergence of stuff (which is both mind and matter, from inside and outside, respectively) from the realm of pure potentiality. That's why I describe my version of panpsychism, when I am obliged to be technical, as "panexperiential neutral monism." That is, there is a neutral substrate, which is neither mind nor matter, from which matter/mind emerge (thus "panexperiential").

So I think we're saying much the same thing at the end of the day but you have yet to see the difficulty with your position in terms of the emergence of mind (and life, as we previously discussed). Your position would be stronger and more consistent if you recognized that neither mind nor life "emerge"; they are there from the very initial emergence of stuff from the realm of pure potentiality - and as stuff complexifies so mind and life complexify.
 
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  • #81
apeiron
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is that sufficient to spit out the mental/qualia from the non-mental? It seems that even this 2-way macroscopic/microscopic synergetic stuff only spits out more non-mental stuff (up to this point in our history of science)?
The problem here becomes the expectation that mental/qualia is a valid output to be spat out.

A qualia is imagined as a fundamental atom of experience. An irreducible smallest jot of subjectivity. You can take the redness or smell of a rose as an isolated substantial entity that stands alone, without reference to a context.

And a systems view is that no such thing exists in this fashion. If you focus in on just the experience of redness at some particular instance, there is still in fact everything else that is going on that is the global part of this act of conscious attention (such as all the other potential experience being actively suppressed).

If instead you are talking about the mental as the whole of this material activity, then this makes more sense. But now you are also treating as "mental" all the other activity that is involved - including that non-experience of activity being suppressed. The not-A which is the context forming the A.

What were we saying in another thread on Kuhn? Paradigms suggest the nature of their own evidence. What I would call evidence for a systems approach is not what you would call evidence for a reductionist approach, and vice versa. The two paradigms continually talk past each other.
 
  • #82
apeiron
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So I think we're saying much the same thing at the end of the day.
Oh no, we're definitely not. :uhh:

Your position would be stronger and more consistent if you recognized that neither mind nor life "emerge"; they are there from the very initial emergence of stuff from the realm of pure potentiality - and as stuff complexifies so mind and life complexify.
But why would I recognise positions for which you have failed to provide support because you are "too busy"?

And anyway, as I keep pointing out, saying stuff is conscious because consciousness is stuff is no form of explanation at all. It is an evasion of explanation.

Pansemiosis describes a general process (global constraints breaking local symmetries, as I have argued). So it is specific about the way the same (the symmetric) becomes the different (the broken). And it connects with a lot of modelling tools (hierarchy theory, self-organising criticality, modelling relations, epistemic cut).

So yes, the pan- would be justified in this approach as something that is there from the very beginning. But it is semiosis as a general causal principle that is there from the start. Not life(!) or mind, which are meant to be the explanandum here.

It is really annoying that you keep trying to make a false suggestive connection between pansemiosis and panpysychism, just as you do between panpsychism and QM.

Pansemiosis would be a general theory about the process of emergence and self-organisation.

Panpsychism is the claim that the mental (and living apparently!) is a fundamental property of stuff.

As I have pointed out in posts which you are too busy now to rebut, this is not a theory but merely an animistic belief.
 
  • #83
apeiron
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So physicalism is faced with a hard choice between overdetermination and epiphenomenalism, and we are back at the beginning.
Not really because Kim is again just restating the consequences of a reductionist paradigm.

If you believe that all causality is atomistic and constructive, then you will run into paradoxes. You are giving yourself no language with which to talk about global, downward acting, constraints.

So Kim proves that reductionism is inadequate to the task of fully accounting for systems. But we knew that.
 
  • #84
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apeiron, for an obviously bright guy you don't read very closely. I've mentioned at least three times that my version of panpsychism does NOT hold that mind is a property of matter. Not. Rather, mind and matter are dual aspects of all actuality. There is not "stuff" that has mind. There is only actuality, which bubbles up from potentiality, and this actuality has mind-like and matter-like aspects, from different perspectives (inside and outside) and that oscillate with each moment in the creative advance.

I've also explained many times how my version of panpsychism goes far beyond a mere assumption.

I enjoy the dialogues with you, but how about this: I'll go back and read and respond to your detailed points if you do the same and don't simply ignore what I write?

More later...
 
  • #85
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So Kim proves that reductionism is inadequate to the task of fully accounting for systems. But we knew that.
You should re-read the post, his argument is against non-reductionism. I already explained it in details in a https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?p=3202969#post3202969" and told you that the system view, which you support, is a type of NRP.

As for the pan-topic, there is a slight difference between the three, which apeiron summed up in the https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=523765" (which was again not related to panpsychism, that's why I asked this thread to be separated, but it looks like mods can only close threads, so I ask you PhizzicsPhan to make us all a favor and open a special thread related to panpsychism only).

Apeiron wrote:
Panexperientialism believes Q --> C
Panpsychism believes Q = C
Pansemiosis believes C --> Q

PhizzicsPhan replayed "Cognition is just complex qualia. That's it."

Basically the difference I see is that for panpsychism, since you have M (C + Q) present in all particles, you are not commit to strong emergence to solve the combination problem. While by the other two you need to involve strong emergence to make the step from C/Q to M.
 
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  • #86
apeiron
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apeiron, for an obviously bright guy you don't read very closely. I've mentioned at least three times that my version of panpsychism does NOT hold that mind is a property of matter.
Again, what I pointed out was that this is still saying that there is a "stuff" which posesses properties. So it is a claim about substance and essence. Neutral monism (in this reductionist version you are advancing) is still saying the same thing, except that instead of the fundamental stuff being matter, it is something else (that is still matter-like in conception in being fundamental, essential, possessing inherent properties, etc).

Saying that both matter and mind are the essential properties of some further unspecified stuff buys you nothing in terms of explanation here. It just pushes reductionism back another step into the mysterious and unexplained. It hopes to push the need for a causal explanation at the crucial juncture out of sight, where with any luck, critics won't bother to follow.

It doesn't matter how much you talk in handwavy fashion about oscillation and prehension and actuality and creative advance. You have failed to articulate the nature of the causal link between matter and mind. You have simply claimed that they are the same stuff (but then somehow not the same thing). And I am asking for specifics on how they are not the same thing if they are properties of the same stuff?

You may reply, well they just are. Even if I don't know how. At which point you demonstrate that there is no theory here.
 
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Ferris, I think I will start a separate panpsychism thread at some point but I think the discussion is working well enough for now.

With respect to your breakdown I don't think you have panexperientialism right. To me, panexperientialism and panpsychism are exactly the same (and pansemiosis, for that matter) because they posit that mind (whether we call it experience, psyche, consciousness or fried eggs) is fundamental to actuality. Whitehead and Griffin do make a distinction between experience and consciousness, but it's not a qualitative distinction; rather, it's just a matter of degree. It's also a matter of salesmanship. To many, it's more palatable to suggest that some type of experience is present in all things than to say that consciousness is present in all things. But these terms reduce to the same thing in their fundamental mind-ness, as opposed to non-mind-ness.
 
  • #88
apeiron
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To me, panexperientialism and panpsychism are exactly the same (and pansemiosis, for that matter) because they posit that mind (whether we call it experience, psyche, consciousness or fried eggs) is fundamental to actuality.
If this is what you believe, can you now provide a source to back it up?

Where does Peirce posit that mind is fundamental rather than the process of semiosis?

Take for example...

http://books.google.co.nz/books?id=...&resnum=6&ved=0CEIQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q&f=false
 
  • #89
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Does Stolijar’s solution suggest that phenomenal consciousness is epiphenomenal?
No

How does Stolijar define “physical”? Is he using the term as others would use the term “natural”?
Stolijar (see his article on “physicalism” in link below) considers himself a physicalist but he defines it so broadly that it could be compatible with just about anything :

The theory-based conception:
A property is physical iff it either is the sort of property that physical theory tells us about or else is a property which metaphysically (or logically) supervenes on the sort of property that physical theory tells us about.

The object-based conception:
A property is physical iff: it either is the sort of property required by a complete account of the intrinsic nature of paradigmatic physical objects and their constituents or else is a property which metaphysically (or logically) supervenes on the sort of property required by a complete account of the intrinsic nature of paradigmatic physical objects and their constituents.


http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/physicalism/

Even panpsychism is compatible with physicalism as he defines it. I think, like Chomsky, he doesn’t think we can unify the “mental” with current science because of our (current) ignorance of the physical.

I keep hearing folks suggest that “we are ignorant of a certain class of facts about matter” but if some day we have a complete description of all the objectively observable interactions then what more do we need? Why even bother talking about phenomenal facts at that point? At the point we can accurately predict the interaction of all of matter, any additional theory about phenomenal facts would appear to be superfluous.
I think that depends on how one defines a “complete description of all the objectively observable interactions”. I think any theory that doesn’t somehow explain how the experiential fits into nature will not be a complete description . Some like Strawson demand quite a bit. He writes (see "The Impossibility of an Objective Phenomenology" on p. 62-65):

My claim is not that non-experiential or N properties cannot in fact be paired with experiential or E properties in correlation statements of the form ‘[N1→E1]’. It consists of two main points.

1. Even if we attempted to put forward correlation statements of the form ‘[N1 → E1]’, we could never hope to verify such statements across a human population by checking independently on E1 and N1 and thereby establishing the correlations, because we could never check independently on E1. If we somehow knew some of the correlation statements to hold true in the case of a single individual, we could perhaps take their general truth to be guaranteed by the truth of the supervenience thesis, but it is unclear whether even this would be acceptable, given the extent of our ignorance of the nature of the physical. Further, even if some statement of the form ‘[N1 → E1]’ were somehow known to be true, the only people who could know for sure what ‘E1’ referred to would be those who had been shown to have N1 and had been told which of their experiences was specially correlated with, or realized by, N1 (‘It’s whatever visual experience you are having...wait...now’).

2. We could never make a start on testing interpersonally applicable correlation statements of the form ‘[E1 → N1]’, because we could never be sure that we had distinguished the same experiential property in the case of two different people, even if they fully agreed in language about what experiences they were having. It is plausible that ‘[E1 → N1]’ correlation statements would have to be of the form ‘[E1 → N1 ∨ N2 ∨ N3 ∨... ]’: they would have to be disjunctive and open-ended on the righthand side, because of the possible “variable physical realization” of any experiential property. The present point, however, is that even if one could identify exactly which nonexperiential neural goings-on were involved in the occurrence of a particular type of experience in one’s own case, and at a given time, one could never fill out the disjunctive right-hand side of the correlation statement by including other people, because one could never know that one was really dealing with the same type of experience in their case.


http://books.benjibear.com/mind-info/MIT.Press.Mental.Reality.2nd.Edition.Nov.2009.eBook-ELOHiM.pdf [Broken]
 
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  • #90
apeiron
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I already explained it in details in a https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?p=3202969#post3202969" and told you that the system view, which you support, is a type of NRP.
I tried to explain how it wasn't. Your claim was based on a few misconception as I outlined.

https://www.physicsforums.com/showpost.php?p=3203487&postcount=311
https://www.physicsforums.com/showpost.php?p=3203901&postcount=318

Apeiron wrote:
Panexperientialism believes Q --> C
Panpsychism believes Q = C
Pansemiosis believes C --> Q
Sorry, in which post did I write this?

What are Q, C and M here?
 
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  • #92
apeiron
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see for yourself in which category the http://philpapers.org/browse/systems-theory" is.
Are you trying to draw attention to some paper in this list? It is not clear what you mean to say here.

C, Q, M stand for cognition, qualia, mental obviously; https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?p=3253646".
Thanks for pointing to the actual post. And in fact it wasn't obvious that M was mental. I thought you may have meant matter.

While by the other two you need to involve strong emergence to make the step from C/Q to M.
That is not actually true of the approach I am taking. The development of a system (it's emergence) goes from a state of vagueness to one of crispness. So you would go from the vaguest form of mentality to the most crisply developed. In other words, the model is not an on/off binary story but one of a gradient of development.

So this is neither strong, nor weak, emergence I am talking about. It is a different ontological view of emergence.
 
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  • #93
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4. The No Sign Problem. There appears to be no direct evidence whatsoever that every element of reality has an associated mentalistic and in fact conscious aspect.

To the contrary, there is abundant evidence of rudimentary mentality. Dyson describes explicitly how what we call random behavior in electrons is better described as choice. So where today's science so often posits chance as an explanation, panpsychists see free choice. Obviously, there is even more abundant evidence of mentality in the domains of life, from bats to bacteria.
In many ways, this is the heart of the problem, for me. How do you know when you've come across this "rudimentary mentality" at the micro-level? It's kind of like trying to pass the "Turing test" but on the micro-level. I can't see how that is possible, given that we can't literally "see" this intrinsic, proto-mental aspect of stuff. It's easier with other conscious macro-stuff like ourselves because at least we have something to compare it to (our own subjectivity). I mean what kind of "behaviour" would more fundamental stuff (e.g. electrons, etc.) need to display to us so we get that "aha" feeling like: "Oh, well...now it's obvious how consciousness/experientiality/qualia can emerge from this basic stuff". I'm not sure if I'm making any sense?

While emergence/genuine novelty of stuff studied by current physics might not be predictable, there isn't this "awe" in the same way there appears to be with emergence of the experiential. Even synergestic top-down/down-up models don't seem to cut it in my opinion. Dyson's arguments that electrons have free choice versus randomness just isn't convincing to me. Maybe someone could elaborate on what properties they think would be required at the more "fundamental" level so that given that plus the synergestic stuff could lead to consciousness. I still can't see how this is possible because ultimately any such property will likely have to be some mathematical description and I don't see how such a mathematical object can give us that "aha" feeling. I find McGinn's point below interesting but I think we may have already reached that point in QM, but it doesn't appear of any help but I'm not sure?

I am now in a position to state the main thesis of this paper: in order to solve the mind-body problem we need, at a minimum, a new conception of space. We need a conceptual breakthrough in the way we think about the medium in which material objects exist, and hence in our conception of material objects themselves. That is the region in which our ignorance is focused: not in the details of neurophysiological activity but, more fundamentally, in how space is structured or constituted. That which we refer to when we use the word 'space' has a nature that is quite different from how we standardly conceive it to be; so different, indeed, that it is capable of 'containing' the non-spatial (as we now conceive it) phenomenon of consciousness. Things in space can generate consciousness only because those things are not, at some level, just how we conceive them to be; they harbour some hidden aspect or principle.

http://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/philo/courses/consciousness97/papers/ConsciousnessSpace.html

There have been some attempts that I've come across to model qualia mathematically or as the authors write, to "begin translating the seemingly ineffable qualitative properties of experience into the language of mathematics" but even these authors concede:

Some experiences appear to be ‘‘elementary,’’ in that they cannot be further decomposed. Sub-modes that do not contain any more densely tangled sub-sub-modes are elementary modes (i.e., elementary shapes that cannot be further decomposed). According to the IIT (integrated information theory) such elementary modes correspond to aspects of experience that cannot be further analyzed, meaning that no further phenomenological structure is recognizable. The term qualia (in a narrow sense) is often used to refer to such elementary experiences, such as a pure color like red, or a pain, or an itch.

Finally, we have argued that specific qualities of consciousness, such as the ‘‘redness’’ of red, while generated by a local mechanism, cannot be reduced to it, but require considering the shape of the entire quale, within which they constitute a q-fold.

http://ntp.neuroscience.wisc.edu/faculty/fac-art/tononi5.pdf
 
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  • #94
Q_Goest
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Hi Bohm,
Thanks for the very interesting write ups. Always good to see someone knowledgeable of philosophy stop by for a discussion.

I’d like to introduce you to what Gregg Rosenberg, “A Place for Consciousness” (pg. 119) calls the “knowledge paradox”. Rosenberg actually quotes Shoemaker, though reading Shoemaker, I think Rosenberg has a much better description of the paradox.

I think we all would agree that mental states (M) are supervenient on physical states (P). By mental states, I mean the phenomenal ones such as defined for example by Chalmers, “The Conscious Mind”. By physical states, I mean the objectively observable phenomena. Hopefully that’s clear.

Many of the philosophers you’ve quoted have suggested there is a correlation between the mental and physical states, and they certainly aren’t in the minority. Kim for example suggests that there is a correlation P1 (P1 is a physical state P at time 1) with M1 (mental state M at time 1) and Strawson whom you’ve quoted similarly calls this [N1→E1]. The quote from Strawson proposes to use this for the basis of comparison to verify that M exists in a given person. Perhaps we could also use this correlation to verify M in any physical system. Functionalism of course, would also suggest that this is true. Any functionally equivalent physical system should produce the equivalent mental states, if any. In other words, functionalism suggests that if a physical system duplicates all the functionality of a known system that is phenomenally conscious, that physical system must also be phenomenally conscious. One of the most heavily quoted examples of this is the thought experiment (Chalmers) that suggests we remove a brain cell and replace it with a microchip which performs all the identical functions that the brain cell did. Then we continue to replace one brain cell after another until we’re left with a functionally equivalent brain made of microchips. Thus, the argument goes, “at what point does phenomenal consciousness disappear?” The obvious implication is that there has been no change in any of the phenomenal states. If we were to disagree, we might suggest it disappears the moment we replace one brain cell or we might suggest it fades away slowly, but how could we possibly know? All the mental states are now represented by functionally identical physical states and any Turing test would certainly not be able to tell any difference between the two.

If we examine any physical state P1 of the brain described by the thought experiment, we’d find that each subsequent physical state P2 is causally determined by the prior state P1 as given for example by Kim. In the case of a deterministic computer such as the ones we have on our desktop, this causal link couldn’t be more clear. P2 is caused by P1 simply because each switch transistor is designed to operate under only one condition, an electrical charge must be applied to the base for the emitter and collector to be either open or close as shown in the figure below.
[PLAIN]http://mboffin.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/pnp-transistor.png [Broken]
So we could examine P2 and we could determine exactly which state P3 will become, simply by examining the physical process. The mental states that are believed to be present (ie: M1 when P1, M2 when P2, etc…) can make no causal difference to any subsequent physical state. Again, this concept is nicely explained by Kim (Mind in a Physical World) and other literature by Kim. Also, the fact that our computer is fully determined by and dependant on the physical states should be quite obvious.

What makes the digital computer a useful conceptual tool here is the simple fact that it has distinct, physical states but that shouldn’t be construed as a limitation. Clearly, nonlinear physical systems require integrating physical states over time if we use the presumption as everyone does that phenomenal consciousness is dependent on classical mechanical causal interactions. This is done in neuroscience for example in the study of neurons using compartmental methods both in vivo, in vitro and modeled using numerical methods.

Returning to the model of a digital computer, we can see that all physical states over time dt are defined by prior physical states, so P3 follows P2 follows P1. We can know why the physical states occur since they are causally determined by the prior physical state. This can’t be more clear than for a digital computer which, like a series of dominoes falling over, simply proceeds from step to step with no potential for there to be a deviation from those steps. The physical states and any input/output are all that is needed to determine the function of the machine.

We can now ask the question, can we know if this computer harbors any mental states? Strawson would suggest we look for a correlation [N1→E1]. After all, if we can map these correlations (N) in the computer and we find they can be mapped to (N) in the human brain, then there must also be experiential phenomena (E) occurring. The knowledge paradox can now be seen in that assuming the causal closure of the physical, there is a physical cause for each physical state and there is no room for mental states to make a causal contribution to those physical brain events. Further, our claims about having mental states completely depend on those physical states. Both our claims about mental states and our behavior are determined solely by the objectively measurable physical states. So if mental states are irrelevant to the causal dynamics of the brain, those mental states can play no role in producing any of our claims (or behaviors) about those states. We can have no way of knowing from physical statements or behaviors if anyone is conscious nor even if we ourselves are conscious if only physical states are causally relevant. We like to believe there is a 1 to 1 correlation between P and M however, our physical brains would cause us to utter that we are p-conscious, and mere serendipity would have it that we were in fact correct. If the laws enforcing the epiphenomenal correlation between brain events and p-conscious events were to somehow be shut off, we would go on (falsely) claiming that we are p-conscious, none the wiser.

3. The knowledge paradox
If physicalism is false, and if the world is causally closed under physics, it appears as if there is no room for p-consciousness to make a causal contribution to brain events. But clearly, our knowledge claims about p-consciousness (e.g. "I know that I am conscious right now") are driven by physical brain events. If p-consciousness is irrelevant to the causal dynamics of the brain, then, it seems that it can play no role in producing our knowledge claims about it. In short, it seems as if our knowledge claims about p-consciousness should bear no relevance to the phenomenon itself; we should have no way to really know that we are p-conscious, even though we claim that we are.

It appears as if the knowledge paradox forces the Liberal Naturalist to be caught on the dual horns of interactionist dualism and epiphenomenalism. We can escape the conundrum of the knowledge paradox if we deny the causal closure of the physical and claim that non-physical p-consciousness really does directly influence the physical dynamics of the brain. The resulting interactionist dualist ontology presents significant further problems, however, and there is no strong evidence that the world is not causally closed under physics. If we reject interactionism, we can bite the bullet and propose that p-consciousness is epiphenomenal on brain events. On this view, p-consciousness is lawfully correlated with brain events, but still does not make any contribution to their causal dynamics. Epiphenomenalism is not much better than interactionism, as it still presents us with significant problems. While knowledge claims about p-consciousness would be true under epiphenomenalism, it seems they would not be justified. Rather, they would be more like lucky coincidences, since there would be no mechanism by which we could attain reasons for making these claims. Our physical brains would cause us to utter that we are p-conscious, and mere serendipity would have it that we were in fact correct. If the laws enforcing the epiphenomenal correlation between brain events and p-conscious events were to somehow be shut off, we would go on (falsely) claiming that we are p-conscious, none the wiser.

The knowledge paradox is a deep problem for Liberal Naturalism, and on the surface, it seems as if the Liberal Naturalist is forced to choose between two highly problematic views. But perhaps the paradox does not turn on the nature of p-consciousness so much as it turns on our understanding of causation and its relationship to physics. A deeper theory of causation might allow the Liberal Naturalist to maintain that physicalism is false without being forced into either interactionist dualism or epiphenomenalism.
Rosenberg and Shoemaker aren’t of course, the only ones to see this problem. Another good example regards an argument in favor of epiphenomenalism by Susan http://psych.dbourget.com/readings/Pockett.pdf" [Broken], “Is Consciousness Epiphenomenal?” There are others.

To conclude, the proposal that there can be a mapping between non-experiential physical states and experiential mental states such as proposed by Strawson and others as well as the problem facing any purely objectively observable physical theory of nature requires that we address these kinds of logical dilemmas.
 
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  • #95
apeiron
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I think we all would agree that mental states (M) are supervenient on physical states (P).
No, I certainly don't agree, as this already hardwires the axioms of material reductionism into the discussion.

The systems perspective is irreducibly hierarchical and scale-based. It is about the interaction between parts and wholes, the local and the global, so the standard definition of a state (a complete description of a system in terms of parameters such as positions and momentums at a particular moment in time) does not apply.

The synchronic view taken by the notion of state cannot capture global dynamics which live in time (as history, as memory, as anticipation, as intentionality, as meaning, as development, as goals, etc, etc).

Reductionism collapses the global to the local and no longer "sees it". And we know the ontological paradoxes this regularly causes in physics, from special relativity and the block universe to the QM observer issue, to the question of where the laws of physics reside.

If you create a time-less model of reality (using state-speak), then of course you break the material connection between the different spatiotemporal scales of a system and arrive at a forced dualism. You have just stated that only the local is real - and yet it is bleeding obvious that the global is also as real, even if it is now being treated as the unreal.

This is what reductionism does to people. It puts them in the impossible bind of at the same time trying to believe that the global is unreal (according to science or logic) when also it must be real (as in the Platonic forms of maths, the immaterial laws of nature, the subjective impression of being a causal agent, etc).

Then to recover what has escaped explanation while still doing reductionism, there are various bad choices like suggesting the global is epiphenomenal (an a-causal illusion) or some component of the local - some further micro-physical property - which reductionism so far has just missed in its investigations.

But anyway, it is plain enough that if you wire in reductionism as axiomatic to your thought experiments, then a reductionist paradox is all that your arguments can spit out at the end.

For all the talk of dealing with the issue of synergistic interactions or global causal dynamics, that is actually impossible in terms of what has been assumed at the start.
 
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  • #96
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apeiron, you ask what evidence I have for suggesting that pansemiosis is equivalent to panpsychism. As we discussed previously, Peirce states explicitly that what is objective to others is subjective for itself. Here's my previous post to you in an earlier thread:

"Look, there are different levels of explanation and terms such as idealism, monism and panpsychism (not to mention physicalism, materialism, etc.) are themselves a bit squishy. Here's how I see it: there is a non-psychical substrate to reality (which I've mentioned previously) that we can call Brahman/apeiron/ether or simply the "vacuum" as modern physics sometimes does. This is the neutral monist substrate from which reality grows. Matter, as Peirce points out, springs from this substrate.

Peirce himself states, as I quoted previously that matter is what is viewed "from the outside" and mind what a thing is for itself "from the inside."

How is this not panpsychism?

Peirce also uses the term "hylopathy" - all things feel. How is this not panpsychism?

Now, we could split hairs and I suspect you will by saying that dual aspect panpsychism isn't the same as "objective idealism." But when we square Peirce's various statements it seems quite clear that his intent was to stress that mind is omni-present. And this is panpsychism. "
 
  • #97
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In many ways, this is the heart of the problem, for me. How do you know when you've come across this "rudimentary mentality" at the micro-level? It's kind of like trying to pass the "Turing test" but on the micro-level. I can't see how that is possible, given that we can't literally "see" this intrinsic, proto-mental aspect of stuff. It's easier with other conscious macro-stuff like ourselves because at least we have something to compare it to (our own subjectivity). I mean what kind of "behaviour" would more fundamental stuff (e.g. electrons, etc.) need to display to us so we get that "aha" feeling like: "Oh, well...now it's obvious how consciousness/experientiality/qualia can emerge from this basic stuff".
bohm2, this is in fact a problem with all knowledge and all conscious beings. How do you know I'm conscious? How do I know you're conscious? We don't. We infer it. The ONLY thing we know is our own consciousness. Literally. All else is inference. So we can infer that electrons have an extremely rudimentary consciousness, as Dyson and Bohm (and many other panpsychists) did, but we can never know this is so. It's all about what conceptual framework best explains the evidence.

See my series of essays on "absent-minded science" for more: http://www.independent.com/news/2010/aug/11/absent-minded-science/
 
  • #98
apeiron
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apeiron, you ask what evidence I have for suggesting that pansemiosis is equivalent to panpsychism. As we discussed previously, Peirce states explicitly that what is objective to others is subjective for itself.
I quite agree that in "Man's Glassy Essence", Peirce gets very carried away and ends up arguing for telepathy and group-mind (do you follow him there too?). But you can't just pick and choose your quotes to suit your beliefs here.

In that essay, Peirce was developing a train of thought in which he was trying to account for the evidence of "feeling" right at the protoplasmic level of life. Now if you have read it, you can see Peirce lacked a critical piece of information about how life is actually "mechanistic" in having genes and other forms of systems memory. There is a place where habit is encoded.

So his reasoning goes wrong from there. Because Peirce could not find a place for accumulated habit to reside in a global fashion, he had to speculate about an atomistic level memory.

Likewise, because there was not enough neuroscience to explain how attention is a global brain mechanism, he again had to try and place the "feeling of attending" at the atomistic moment when some habit is being eroded by the vagaries of spontaneity.

So you are jumping in where Peirce is clearly wrong (due to a lack of better knowledge in his day) rather than focusing on where he was right (which is in his hierarchical approach to logic itself - treating causality in self-organising systems terms).

His semiosis does not actually support his own argument towards the end of the essay. But it is modern biologists who are developing the field of biosemiosis on the back of his triadic process. And the critical modification they make is the clear recognition that both words and genes function as symbols - ie: Pattee's epistemic cut.

Then pansemiosis (again, a modern development) would be based on Peirce's logic, but be able to fill in the blanks properly.

So semiosis as a triadic process was a proto-theory in Peirce's hands. He polished up the essential logic. But a modern systems thinker can also see that Peirce failed to deal explicitly with the issue of the epistemic cut, and also the centrality of scale to hierarchy.

Coming back to your panpsychism = pansemiosis, if you read Man's Glassy Essence carefully, what happens is that he stretches semiosis as far as he can, then starts talking in a handwavy panpsychic way that is unsupported by the notion of semiosis.

He takes a correct subjective observation (attention loosens habits) and tries to associate it with some micro-physical event. But that is because he lacked a better understanding of brain architecture. If you asked a neuroscientist to explain the relation between habit and attention today, you would get a pretty straightforward account in terms of cortico-striatal interactions.

eg: http://web.mit.edu/bcs/graybiel-lab/pub.html

It would be unfairly anachronistic to use Peirce as a champion of panpsychism when the thrust of his work was instead a focus on systematic causality. That is what scientists are actually using today (biosemiotics does not exist because it supports a panpsychic view of life).

So by all means, try to square Peirce's statements. But you will have to deal with the fact that the panpsychism is not properly derived from the semiotics even in Peirce's own writings. It was a jump he made in handwavy fashion when he ran out of facts that would allow him to imagine the world differently.

Fortunately we now know about genes, neural circuits, and suchlike.
 
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  • #99
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Q_Goest,

The defense of the epiphenomenalist against the knowledge paradox is that "when Sarah knows that she has a toothache or remembers the feeling she had when she first fell in love, there is a causal chain which leads from the neurophysiological cause of her toothache or her feeling to her current state of knowledge or memory... The causal relation she says holds between mental states and their neurophysiological correlates ensures that whenever her opponents appeal to a mental cause to account for some apparently undeniable fact, she can appeal to a physical cause which is correlated with the alleged mental cause with nomological necessity and does exactly the same causal job."

http://www.iep.utm.edu/epipheno/#SH5f

I don't know, for me epiphenomenalism is an option, not very possible, but an option.
 
  • #100
Q_Goest
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Hi Ferris, Thanks for that... I'm not understanding what the defense is though. They say, "Since the epiphenomenalist admits that we have experiences and since we cannot have experiences without knowing that we have them, the epiphenomenalist can admit that we can have knowledge of our experiences." Question is, how can the epiphenomenalist say that?

Remember:
- For a mental state to be epiphenomenal, M can't cause P, not now or ever.
- If we make statements about mental events, remembered or otherwise, the mental event must have inflicted some kind of causal influence on the physical state and is therefore no longer epiphenomenal; M has to cause a change in P for it to be remembered.

Take the case of the computer example; epiphenomenalism is the concept that what caused the transistor to change state isn't the mental event, it is the charge on the transistor's base. Not a single transistor will ever change state because a mental event took place, despite there being claims and behaviors by the computer. Therefore any claim has a purely physical reason for being made, that is; the transistors were arranged in such a way and energized in a given pattern that caused the computer to make that claim. Appeals to mental events are not only not required, they are superfluous to the transistor's function and by extension, to the computer's function. We can't know the computer had a phenomenal experience because we can understand everything about what it does by understanding the circuitry and the physical states and inputs.

I think they're trying to claim that the mental state can cause a memory somehow and that's incorrect. That concept disagrees with the definition of epiphenomenalism taken by Rosenberg and Gomes. Check the paper by Gomes for further explanation.
 

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