Mind-body problem-Chomsky/Nagel

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  • #101
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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.
Of course, computers are a terrible analogy to a conscious biological system. One is predictable, and scale-segregated (we separate noise from signal to fit the computer's operations to abstract human definitions with logic gates) and it waits for instructions to do anything

The other is spontaneous and irregular. It's behavior follows exponentially diverging trajectories (i.e. it's chaotic) when compared to a minimally perturbed clone. It wasn't designed, but emerged from nature, in the wake of several different uncorrelated perturbations. It requires several parallel redundancies to be built throughout the system for it to persist in the first place.

If the system is to correlate particularly relevant information (through synchronicity, for instance as per the Varela paper) than we can reason why cognition may have a functional component (though we can agree that cognition is not important to immediate survival, it's function is geared towards long-term survival).

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.

For a computer, I agree. But with biological systems, particularly humans, we have the special treat of having the experience of consciousness and we have developed language to communicate about it. From birth, we can read each others facial expressions and body language (and even that of other mammals). This is only possible because there is a consistent relationship between the kind of stress on an organism and the muscle groups associated with them.

The muscle groups are correlated by interneurons that take central pattern generators (CPGs) and inputs (that either interact with the CPG or the motor pool itself, or booth). The CPG is something that developed over an evolutionary history, while the inputs are representative of the current moment for the organism. The interneurons allow input patterns to be associated with meaningful outputs.

Now, with all the knowledge of functional anatomy and mere "circuitry" (circuitry is, of course, and oversimplification) I can affect mental states in predictable ways by making physical alterations. The more I know about the receptor diversity of a particular physical circuit (and given the appropriate drugs) the more precisely I can target only the receptor variations that participate in a particular functional effect I want you to experience.

Furthermore, I can target particular experiences you don't want to feel and remove them from your experiences without removing the kinds of experiences you'd like to remain?

Which is why this is incorrect:

Knowing how and why every observable molecule in the brain does what it does says nothing about our subjective experience and never will because explaining interactions are the wrong kind of explanations to look for when explaining subjective phenomena.
 
  • #102
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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.
What property of electrons do you believe suggests rudimentary consciousness? The non-locality or non-separability implied by QM? With objects like ourselves we have a conception via introspection to make inferences with other objects similar to us but that is not the case when trying to compare proto-mental electrons versus non-mental electrons.

I believe Chalmers makes this point when he argues:

Of course it would be very desirable to form a positive conception of protophenomenal properties. Perhaps we can do this indirectly, by some sort of theoretical inference from the character of phenomenal properties to their underlying constituents.

I think that’s a really good proposal but what are some of those protophenomenal conceptions that we can infer from the character of phenomenal properties?
 
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  • #103
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bohm2, as with all inferences about other consciousnesses we make such inferences based on observed behavior, including movement, speech, etc. In the case of non-human consciousnesses, obviously the repertoire of behaviors doesn't include speech. Dyson's point, which I agree with, is that it makes more sense to ascribe a very rudimentary consciousness to electrons and other simple structures, on up the chain to us, because even these subatomic particles display behavior that suggests consciousness. As Dyson states, instead of ascribing such behavior to chance (the traditional QM interpretation, which is based on probabilistic predictions because predictions in any given instance are not possible due to the chance/choice nature of each instance), it makes more sense to ascribe such behavior to choice. So choice not chance. Chance is the modern idol in scientific explanations. Where we don't understand something it's presumed to be chance. However, in the panpsychist view of the world, it's choice not chance that pervades reality.

Again, Skrbina's Panpsychism in the West is a great introduction to these ideas.
 
  • #104
disregardthat
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What does it mean to "know you have a toothache"? Could you have a toothache and not know it? Could you be in pain and not be aware of it?
 
  • #105
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To know you have a headache is to have that realm of sense-data accessible to the dominant consciousness that you call "you." Pain could certainly exist in the body and not be accessible to the dominant consciousness - during local anesthesia for example. Under a holonic view of consciousness, each natural individual has its own sensations and is part of a hierarchy. In humans, what we call our conscious self is at the top of this hierarchy.
 
  • #106
disregardthat
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Pain could certainly exist in the body and not be accessible to the dominant consciousness - during local anesthesia for example.
But is that what we mean by pain? I would say certainly not. You are taking an expression, pain, and using it where it does not belong. No one knowledgable of the correct use of the word pain would claim to be in pain if they could not feel it. "I am in pain, but I can't feel it" has no place in our vocabulary of sentences. Likewise; "I am in pain, but I'm not sure of it", or "I doubt I am in pain" are both meaningless. We don't refer to any physical condition of the body (which can be doubted, or known).
 
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  • #107
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I think it's really interesting how this mind-body problem seems to kind of play itself out in the debate regarding the meaning of the "quantum wave"/empty waves of Bohm's model between Many-worlds vs Bohmians. These 3 articles below, in particular, are very interesting. It's as if the Bohmians are trying to defend dualism at the micro-level:

Lewis writes:

An obvious strategy for defeating the above argument in the Bohmian case is to claim that wavefunction-stuff is just not the kind of stuff from which objects like cats could be made, even in principle. One might even claim that the wavefunction is not any kind of “stuff” at all, but is merely a mathematical device for calculating the motions of the Bohmian particles. If either of these claims could be substantiated, then one would have a principled reason to deny that empty branches could contain cats, either dead or alive, or any other measurement outcomes for that matter. Against this strategy, however, Deutsch writes of the empty branches (or “unoccupied grooves”) that “it is no good saying that they are merely a theoretical construct and do not exist physically, for they continually jostle both each other and the ‘occupied’ groove, affecting its trajectory” . Since empty branches interact with each other and with the occupied branch, and empty branches are nothing but aspects of the wavefunction, the wavefunction must be real a physical entity and not just a mathematical construct.

The wavefunction states of the two branches are the same, but according to Bohm’s theory, the physical state of a system consists of its wavefunction state and its particle state. An occupied branch and an empty branch plainly do not have the same particle state, and hence Deutsch fails to establish that empty branches contain measurement outcomes.

Empty Waves in Bohmian Quantum Mechanics
http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/2899/

Valentini discussing Bohmian "empty waves":

Furthermore, in realistic models of the classical limit, one does not obtain localised pieces of an ontological pilot wave following alternative macroscopic trajectories: from a de Broglie-Bohm viewpoint, alternative trajectories are merely mathematical and not ontological.

De Broglie-Bohm Pilot-Wave Theory: Many Worlds in Denial?
http://www.tcm.phy.cam.ac.uk/~mdt26/local_papers/valentini_2008_denial.pdf

Brown responds:

The analogy in pilot-wave theory to dualism, and in particular to mental substance, in this story is obviously the matter assumption. Why impose it? Why is it necessary within quantum mechanics to understand the nature of physical systems, apparatuses, people, etc., in terms of configurations of hypothetical point corpuscles? If it can be shown that the wave-function or pilot-wave is structured enough to do the job, why go further?

Comment on Valentini, “De Broglie-Bohm Pilot-Wave Theory: Many Worlds in Denial?”
http://www.tcm.phy.cam.ac.uk/~mdt26/local_papers/brown_on_valentini.pdf

I think there's something very important here in these debates. While Bohm's non-local pilot wave is not just a mathematical device as in Copenhagen it isn't as "real" in the same sense, as Many-worlds. In a sense, Bohmians are almost forced to try to preserve this mental-physical distinction at the micro-level while the Many-world perspective are going all out to the ultimate and treat each branch as being another "world".
 
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  • #108
apeiron
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But is that what we mean by pain? I would say certainly not. You are taking an expression, pain, and using it where it does not belong. No one knowledgable of the correct use of the word pain would claim to be in pain if they could not feel it. "I am in pain, but I can't feel it" has no place in our vocabulary of sentences. Likewise; "I am in pain, but I'm not sure of it", or "I doubt I am in pain" are both meaningless. We don't refer to any physical condition of the body (which can be doubted, or known).
Neuroscience shows that pain experience is hierarchical, as I noted in a previous post. And the complexity of pain experience - its reportability, its anticipation, its suppression - are understood in reasonably fine detail now.

So for instance, the anterior cingulate itself can be divided into a mid part that maps the current intensity of a pain, a rear part that is crucial to actively anticipating a pain (ohh, sticking my finger in the fire is going to hurt), and a forward part that deals with the modulation of pain (this is how much it should be hurting me).

It is this kind of neuroscientific evidence that makes a nonsense of panpychism.

http://www.wesleyan.edu/psyc/mindmatters/volume02/article02.pdf [Broken]

The brain is calculating what to feel. If you are anticipating that a planned action will make a pain go away (ie: take you away from a cause of damage), then already you are becoming less concerned about it.

Now this can be explained in terms of the brain's functional architecture (particularly the anticipation-based brain models I've cited). But by panpsychism - not so much.

How does panpsychism account for the suppression of experience?

The top-down inhibition or modulation of neural activity is not a problem for neuroscience. You can count the fibres and synapses if you want.

But if panpsychism says everything lights up with awareness, then how does it explain the active switching off? Especially if the theory is that "panpsychic complexity" is what produces human-scale reportable awareness and neuroscience is telling us that actual hierarchical complexity is what is modulating the reportable levels of pain with phenomenon like placebo. Complexity is needed to dial pain down.
 
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  • #109
apeiron
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I think it's really interesting how this mind-body problem seems to kind of play itself out in the debate regarding the meaning of the "quantum wave"/empty waves of Bohm's model between Many-worlds vs Bohmians. These 3 articles below, in particular, are very interesting. It's as if the Bohmians are trying to defend dualism at the micro-level:
I don't see that in Bohmian mechanics. Instead, it is trying to preserve the atomism and locality that is essential to a materialist paradigm. It wants to make concretely physical the machinery of local~global interactions. And it attempts to do this by imagining a new kind of space - a multidimensional configuration space - in which a guidewave can propagate in.

So this is "all physics". It is not about employing experience, choice, feelings or any other kinds of "mental properties" to account for what is happening.
 
  • #110
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Q_Goest, disregardthat,

The idea behind the epiphenomenalist defense is that knowing is certain neural firing. For your BRAIN the mental states and their definitions are just different firing patterns, for YOU they are what we feel. P and M are distinct, but correlated.

Imagine how would you explain the word "consciousness" to a 4 year child for example. What will you tell him? After the word "consciousness" gets matched with everything else in his brain, with every other information it has available, the child will know what it means to have consciousness. It will know what it is to not have, to be in deep sleep for example. The same process goes with "pain" or every other word. A specific word can make you laugh today and cry tomorrow, depending on its current representation in the brain.

For the agent "I am in pain" is certain neural firing in the brain. And because the mental supervenes on this firing, the agent has pain while in this physical state. And because knowing represents the introspective process of this firing, the agent can know what it is to be in a certain state. M stays hidden to P, but the correlation between the two (P -> M) makes it possible for the agent to know and be able to make a difference between its own states.

Just to say the above are my thoughts, many of the philosophers reject epiphenomenalism and every theory leading to it.
 
  • #111
apeiron
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The idea behind the epiphenomenalist defense is that knowing is certain neural firing. For your BRAIN the mental states and their definitions are just different firing patterns, for YOU they are what we feel. P and M are distinct, but correlated.
What these conversations keep coming back to is the intuitive view that there is an "inside" aspect to whatever is physically going on.

That is what needs to be philosophically examined with more rigour.

If you are a reductionist, the only place that can still be "inside" is a place that is still smaller than your current scale of reduction. So that is why we have people believing in panpsychism. Experience must still be in there, somewhere, inside the electron or QM event.

Epiphenomenalism takes the different tack of putting the inside right outside - of the physical. So the interior aspect of being becomes something with a dualistic existence. It isn't to be found anywhere "in there" - inside the physical neural machinery - so it must float off as some unplaced separate thing. Naked "insideness" much like the Cheshire Cat's grin.

So fine, reductionism leaves you its unsatisfactory choices. Or you can take the systems route where the "inside" is the interior of the system. Once you recognise global causes as well as local causes, there is a place that is now always "within".

The M is inside the P as an interior complexification of its organisation, not something that has to be either even more microscopic (existing on the inside of particles) or mysteriously supervenient (having a concrete existence that floats off somewhere that is not part of the closed causation that is the M).

Reductionism is just a modelling tool, a simplifying paradigm. When it proves too simple to handle the job, then it is time to find a better tool.
 
  • #112
disregardthat
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Ferris, you have simply taken the word pain and given it an entirely new meaning. When I say I am in pain, I don't mean that my neurals are firing in such a way that I am experiencing pain. I am simply in pain, and that is what I report. I can know and doubt any statement about neural firing in my brain, but I cannot know or doubt whether I am actually in pain, it doesn't make any sense.

Only other people can know or doubt it, but then it will be a question of what I report, and whether or not I am lying, not a question of neural firing.

Sure, you can find that when we observe a certain effect in a brain, the subject will report it is experiencing pain. But we haven't found pain, or discovered what it really is by this sort of experiment.
 
  • #113
apeiron
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but I cannot know or doubt whether I am actually in pain, it doesn't make any sense.
So there is no borderline case where you are not sure whether it is pain or discomfort you are experiencing? Or emotional or physical pain? Or that sudden realisation you were in pain, but hadn't being paying it attention until just now?

So you can't treat pain as a single unambiguous thing - a qualia. It is as varied (as its neural and cognitive basis).
 
  • #114
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So fine, reductionism leaves you its unsatisfactory choices. Or you can take the systems route where the "inside" is the interior of the system. Once you recognise global causes as well as local causes, there is a place that is now always "within".
...Reductionism is just a modelling tool, a simplifying paradigm. When it proves too simple to handle the job, then it is time to find a better tool.
apeiron,

Let me summarize 2 points that need to be stressed. Nobody is denying that some macro-micro, synergisti/systems stuff is not relevant. For, this is already implied even at the micro-level in all interpretations of QM including Bohm's. What is being questioned is whether this on its own is enough to infer the mental/experiential. Many don't believe so. Chalmers writes:

A low-level microphysical description can entail all sorts of surprising and interesting macroscopic properties, as with the emergence of chemistry from physics, of biology from chemistry, or more generally of complex emergent behaviors in complex systems theory. But in all these cases, the complex properties that are entailed are nevertheless structural and dynamic: they describe complex spatiotemporal structures and complex dynamic patterns of behavior over those structures. So these cases support the general principle that from structure and dynamics, one can infer only structure and dynamics.

http://consc.net/papers/nature.pdf

So the systems view isn't being neglected. It's just not going to lead us to the promised land of bridging the gap. That's the argument. You disagree. Fine.

I don't see that in Bohmian mechanics. Instead, it is trying to preserve the atomism and locality that is essential to a materialist paradigm. It wants to make concretely physical the machinery of local~global interactions. And it attempts to do this by imagining a new kind of space - a multidimensional configuration space - in which a guidewave can propagate in.
I have no idea what you mean by locality but Bohmian mechanics is manifestly nonlocal. Furthermore, "observables" other than position are contextual; that is, measurements depend crucially on experimental set-up. In Bohm’s model, all the properties of a “physical” system (i.e. spin, energy, etc.) are encoded into the non-local features of the quantum potential as the only property really and intrinsically possessed by a particle is its position.

See:

http://www.tcm.phy.cam.ac.uk/~mdt26/local_papers/passon_2006.pdf
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qm-bohm/#hv

Moreover, the properties of the guiding wave in Bohm's model are a bit unusual. I'll just list some of the major ones:

1. As stated above, in Bohm’s model, all the properties of a “physical” system (i.e. spin, energy, etc.) are encoded into the non-local features of the quantum potential as the only property really and intrinsically possessed by a particle is its position.

2. In Bohmian mechanics the wave function acts upon the positions of the particles but, evolving as it does autonomously via Schrödinger's equation, it is not acted upon by the particles...And as you say, the guiding wave, in the general case, propagates not in ordinary three-space but in a multidimensional-configuration space (the wavefunction lives in 3n-dimensional space, where n is the number of particles). What is the meaning of this?

3. In the case of the quantum wave, the amplitude also appears in the denominator. Therefore, increasing the magnitude of the amplitude does not necessarily increase the quantum potential energy. A small amplitude can produce a large quantum effect. The key to the quantum potential energy lies in the second spatial derivative, indicating that the shape or form of the wave is more important than its magnitude. For this reason, a small change in the form of the wave function can produce large effects in the development of the system. The quantum potential produces a law of force that does not necessarily fall off with distance. Therefore, the quantum potential can produce large effects between systems that are separated by large distances. This feature removes one of the difficulties in understanding the non-locality that arises between particles in entangled states, such as those in the EPR-paradox.

4. Unlike ordinary force fields such as gravity, which affects all particles within its range, the pilot wave must act only one particle: each particle has a private pilot wave all its own that “senses” the location of every other particle of the universe. Although it extends everywhere and is itself affected by every particle in the universe, the pilot wave affects no other particle but its own.

What I find interesting, is if accurate, are the meaning and consequences of:

(i) The non-locality
(ii) The multidimensional-configuration space where a single 3n-dimensional Bohmian 'world particle', evolves, a particle that encodes all the information about the apparent n particles.
 
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  • #115
apeiron
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So the systems view isn't being neglected. It's just not going to lead us to the promised land of bridging the gap. That's the argument. You disagree. Fine.
But that does neglect what the system view actually claims. Which is that the micro-scale does not "exist" in the way that is being implied in such arguments.

Reductionism assumes that reality is constructed from a micro-scale that is atomistic - a fixed elemental stuff. But the systems approach argues the micro-scale is shaped up by top-down causality. The micro-scale does not exist, it gets actively made. It is a process view of reality.

This being so, you can't appeal to the micro-scale as the locus of all causality. The micro-scale cannot entail the macro-scale (except to the extent that the macro-scale is in turn, mutually, synergistically, entailing the micro-scale).

I have no idea what you mean by locality but Bohmian mechanics is manifestly nonlocal.
It still wants to retain the propagation of something. It still wants something that is localised to guide every step of the way. It still wants a particle that marks an actual location at all times.

So it is nonlocal in a good old fashioned local way. It agrees some stuff has to be contextual - but then does that by "spreading it about a bunch of locations" in a concrete fashion.

I don't have a problem with that at the modelling level if it offered something new and observable. But as an ontological interpretation, it seems a backward step.

4. Unlike ordinary force fields such as gravity, which affects all particles within its range, the pilot wave must act only one particle: each particle has a private pilot wave all its own that “senses” the location of every other particle of the universe. Although it extends everywhere and is itself affected by every particle in the universe, the pilot wave affects no other particle but its own.
Again, you are highlighting the attempt to preserve assumptions about atomism and locality. Which only pushes the mysteries another step deeper.

Now we have particles with private waves, and no explanation of how all the implied information processing occurs.

It seems much more commonsense to take a coarse-grain decoherence type approach where locales have freedoms and contexts exert constraints, then a synergistic balance emerges that is quasi-classical.

So like a dipole of a bar magnet (at the critical temperature). Each dipole has some local indeterminate potential in its thermal jiggling. The bar magnet also has a developing global emergent orientation, a field that constrains all its dipoles to an alignment. Each dipole "senses" this global field - but not in some mystical way in that it has a personal interaction with a second kind of object, a field, or in an information-heavy fashion where it is having to be in touch with every other dipole in dimension-collapsing nonlocal style. But instead, there is a coarse-graining correlation, with nearest neighbours being given the greatest weight, and a dynamical balance emerging.

This is a classical analogy, but the point is about the nature of local~global interaction. If you allow causation to be properly divided (into local freedoms and global constraints) then you can get actual emergence of order with little mysticism. If you insist on reducing all causality to one end of the spectrum (such as the micro-physical) then you end up having to make strange claims about how the other aspect of causality gets handled.

So if you fixate on the existence of fundamental point particles, then private pilot waves reaching out to know the entire state of the universe are the kind of clunky objects you need to account for nonlocal (ie: global) factors.
 
  • #116
disregardthat
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So there is no borderline case where you are not sure whether it is pain or discomfort you are experiencing? Or emotional or physical pain? Or that sudden realisation you were in pain, but hadn't being paying it attention until just now?
It is simple and unambiguous because it is a grammatical form of expression. Have you ever been unsure whether you are in pain or simply in discomfort, or whether your emotional distress really is pain? What form of uncertainty is this? If you learn that you are in pain, you have in fact learned a grammatical rule, a new application of the word. The doubt here is not of the pain, but of the grammar of the expression.

A sudden realization of pain is nothing like doubting (and then suddenly knowing) that you are in pain, it is something completely else.

I want to show the error of equating expressions such as pain, distress, happiness etc.. with mental states of the mind (physical states). Knowledge is no part of these things, when you report them as "mental states of mind".
 
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  • #117
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It is this kind of neuroscientific evidence that makes a nonsense of panpychism.

http://www.wesleyan.edu/psyc/mindmatters/volume02/article02.pdf [Broken]

The brain is calculating what to feel. If you are anticipating that a planned action will make a pain go away (ie: take you away from a cause of damage), then already you are becoming less concerned about it.

Now this can be explained in terms of the brain's functional architecture (particularly the anticipation-based brain models I've cited). But by panpsychism - not so much.

How does panpsychism account for the suppression of experience?
apeiron, human brains modulate consciousness in a way unique to humans, with specialized architecture for many aspects of consciousness, including pain. But what about pain in insects or other creatures without anterior cingulate cortex? Are you suggesting that only creatures with ACC experience pain? I hope not because that is a very difficult position to defend given everything else we know about biology and neuroscience.

Just because we know certain functions of ACC with respect to pain does not in any way preclude subconsciousnesses within the hierarchy of human consciousness from experiencing pain and other features of consciousness - or other creatures from experiencing pain or other aspects of consciousness.

More to come this weekend with respect to your comments on Peirce.
 
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  • #118
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apeiron, I wanted to ask you also, which may warrant its own thread, how you view causality more generally?

I'm planning an essay on this issue and I don't see much basis for the duality you seem to have suggested many times between local and global causality. Rather, I see causality as, like most things, a continuum from near to far, both spatially and temporally.

In science and philosophy, we tend to focus on local causality, by which I mean near in time and space, but we never know what the actual causal influences on any given event are, in a comprehensive sense. We can never rule out causal influences other than the ones we've chosen to focus on - just as has happened in recent decades with non-locality.
 
  • #119
apeiron
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It is simple and unambiguous because it is a grammatical form of expression. Have you ever been unsure whether you are in pain or simply in discomfort,
Well, right now for instance. First thing in the morning and I'm full of aches which on a spectrum between discomfort and pain.

Surely you would agree that pain is not a single undifferentiated experience but reasonably rich in its variety and so we might have as many words to describe the shades of feeling as eskimo have for snow (or Brits for rain).

If you learn that you are in pain, you have in fact learned a grammatical rule, a new application of the word. The doubt here is not of the pain, but of the grammar of the expression.

A sudden realization of pain is nothing like doubting (and then suddenly knowing) that you are in pain, it is something completely else.

I want to show the error of equating expressions such as pain, distress, happiness etc.. with mental states of the mind (physical states). Knowledge is no part of these things, when you report them as "mental states of mind".
If you are saying that self-awareness - introspection and reportability - is language-scaffolded, then I would agree. Humans do have a way of being objective about their subjectivity through the distancing power of speech.

So what is your point here then?

If the question becomes what is the material basis of human scaffolded self-awareness, then I would say brains still have to run the habits and ideas, but those habits and ideas are socioculturally evolved and encoded in language. So to put it crudely, human mentality is made more hierarchically complex in having memes on top of the genes.

That is the simple psychological view. Then philosophically-speaking, you seem to be raising the symbol-grounding problem. And that of course is central to semiotics and is what I have argued is best answered by Pattee's epistemic cut approach.
 
  • #120
apeiron
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apeiron, human brains modulate consciousness in a way unique to humans, with specialized architecture for many aspects of consciousness, including pain. But what about pain in insects or other creatures without anterior cingulate cortex? Are you suggesting that only creatures with ACC experience pain? I hope not because that is a very difficult position to defend given everything else we know about biology and neuroscience.
The ACC is standard mammalian issue so not unique to humans.

The point I actually made is that the phenomenological complexity (forebodings, anguish, broken heart) can be tightly correlated to a known brain architecture. So if neural design explains the variety, why does it not in the end explain the experience?

I have already agreed earlier in this thread that we cannot get beyond a certain point with this strategy. We need counterfactuals to have explanations (of why this, and not that). But that is a general epistemological issue for any theory. In physics, we can explain everything as a variety of energy, for instance, but then are still left with just having to accept energy as a brute fact.

Just because we know certain functions of ACC with respect to pain does not in any way preclude subconsciousnesses within the hierarchy of human consciousness from experiencing pain and other features of consciousness - or other creatures from experiencing pain or other aspects of consciousness.
Do you not think there is a problem in talking about non-conscious experience here? It is taken by most as definitional of conciousness that it is reportable, surely?

Now I don't defend that definition as it is obvious that "consciousness" is a too-simple label slapped on a vast amount of complexity. So I would prefer to talk in terms of processes with known architectures, such as attention and habit.

So I would say that for pain to be reportable, an animal would have to be able to attend to this fact. It would have to have a brain that supports attentional processing. Clearly mammalian brains do. Reptiles, not so much. Arthropods, well not really at all (though jumping spiders are interesting to discuss).
 
  • #121
apeiron
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apeiron, I wanted to ask you also, which may warrant its own thread, how you view causality more generally?

I'm planning an essay on this issue and I don't see much basis for the duality you seem to have suggested many times between local and global causality. Rather, I see causality as, like most things, a continuum from near to far, both spatially and temporally.

In science and philosophy, we tend to focus on local causality, by which I mean near in time and space, but we never know what the actual causal influences on any given event are, in a comprehensive sense. We can never rule out causal influences other than the ones we've chosen to focus on - just as has happened in recent decades with non-locality.
The systems view divides causality into the local and global - construction and constraint. But it is also a hierarchical view, so while causality comes from two directions (bottom-up and top-down) it is mixed over all scales. The two directions have to be at equilbrium at any particular scale of observation for a system to reach stability, to have a persistent order. So yes, there is then also the third thing which is that spectrum of balanced interaction that lies inbetween.

In hierarchy theory, this is indeed made explicitly spatiotemporal. It takes a light-cone type view where causality does have a global upper bound. There can be an absolute physical cut-off.

It is true when you say that we can never rule out the possibility that we have failed to attend to all the causes of events.

But that is what the systems view is always saying. :smile: You are not paying proper attention to downwards causation, because your explanations are all focused on material and efficient cause. Formal and final cause are being neglected in the models.
 
  • #122
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I found this article by Davies discussing "The physics of downward causation" interesting. He doesn't seem too convinced about the possibility except in a very limited sense. Some quotes:

Let me offer a few speculations about how. In spite of the existence of level entanglement in quantum physics and elsewhere, none of the examples cited amounts to the deployment of specific local forces under the command of a global system, or subject to emergent rules at higher levels of description. However, we must be aware of the fact that physics is not a completed discipline, and top-down causation may be something that would not show up using current methods of enquiry.

Many emergentists would not welcome it either. The conventional emergentist position, if one may be said to exist, is to eschew the deployment of new forces in favour of a description in which existing forces merely act in surprising and cooperative new ways when a system becomes sufficiently complex. In such a framework, downward causation remains a shadowy notion, on the fringe of physics, descriptive rather than predictive. My suggestion is to take downward causation seriously as a causal category, but it comes at the expense of introducing either explicit top-down physical forces or changing the fundamental categories of causation from that of local forces to a higher-level concept such as information.

http://www.ctnsstars.org/conferences/papers/The physics of downward causation.pdf
 
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  • #123
apeiron
Gold Member
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1
I found this article by Davies discussing "The physics of downward causation" interesting. He doesn't seem too convinced about the possibility except in a very limited sense.
Davies is certainly sympathetic to a systems view, but I've never seen him discuss the detailed proposals as made by actual systems thinkers (who are mostly to be found in theoretical biology).

My suggestion is to take downward causation seriously as a causal category, but it comes at the expense of introducing either explicit top-down physical forces or changing the fundamental categories of causation from that of local forces to a higher-level concept such as information.
You see here that he talks about global causation in terms of another higher level of materiality. So he is unable to break out of the reductionist paradigm where anything real and fundamental is a form of material/effective cause.

The systems view is that top-down causality is about constraints. What acts downwards are limits that don't force something to happen, but instead limit the freedom for something to happen.

So it is a complementary view of causality. At the local level you have causality that looks like freedoms, at the global level you have causality that looks like restrictions.

This is standard scientific modelling - the separation into initial conditions and the laws of physics. But it places the local potentials and the prevailing constraints in a formal systematic relationship. It makes explicit the nature of laws in the organisation of material reality.
 
  • #124
disregardthat
Science Advisor
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Surely you would agree that pain is not a single undifferentiated experience but reasonably rich in its variety and so we might have as many words to describe the shades of feeling as eskimo have for snow (or Brits for rain).
Of course it isn't, but the uncertainty is grammatical; that's the point, and furthermore, the meaning of the word pain has little to do with the "state of mind" of "being in pain". The richness of the experience of pain, equates to the richness of the utility of the word pain (in what circumstances it it used, how it applies, and how to react to its application etc..) And this is where we get confused when talking about qualia. For it is treated as something which must (logical must) have a physical correspondence, but this is ad-hoc, and we may very well never find such a thing.

Pain is used in so many different situations, yet still we insist on it being a sort of mental state of mind, distinguished from other types of states (such as happiness, anger etc..).
 
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  • #125
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bohm2, as with all inferences about other consciousnesses we make such inferences based on observed behavior, including movement, speech, etc. In the case of non-human consciousnesses, obviously the repertoire of behaviors doesn't include speech. Dyson's point, which I agree with, is that it makes more sense to ascribe a very rudimentary consciousness to electrons and other simple structures, on up the chain to us, because even these subatomic particles display behavior that suggests consciousness. As Dyson states, instead of ascribing such behavior to chance (the traditional QM interpretation, which is based on probabilistic predictions because predictions in any given instance are not possible due to the chance/choice nature of each instance), it makes more sense to ascribe such behavior to choice. So choice not chance.
I'm having trouble understanding this part. Consider the two-slit experiment. Are you saying that from a panpsychist perspective the wave function of electron(e.g. Bohm's quantum field-the "mental pole" to use Bohm's metaphor) represents a primitive mental element that determines/decides which hole the electron goes through?
 
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