Consciousness is Not a Thing

or a process, or anything for that matter

on fundamental matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind and ethics.

Moderators: Calilasseia, ADParker

Consciousness is Not a Thing

#1  Postby SpeedOfSound » Sep 06, 2018 10:29 am

A quote attributed (perhaps wrongly) to Lord Rutherford's is “All science is either physics or stamp collecting.” . I like it in reference to anecdotal evidence we get from thinking about our own mind. This is the stamp collecting part. All of us have plenty to say about our supposed inner worlds and I do think it legitimate to collect these stamps.

Unfortunately we have a lot of amateurs doing the collecting, like really really lots of amateurs and all of them are absolutely convinced that they are the epitome of professionalism when it comes to their own inner view. Philosophy is riddled with this disease of first person access and most famously this starts with that clueless hack René Descartes.

Undeniably we have something to study here. We all have some stamps. We all have shit happening inside of our heads and we all have an opinion about how this is proof of god or the supernatural or some other crazy notion like 'science can't x'. We have a thing for which we would like some explanations.

If we have a bottle of table salt in front of us we have a thing that we think we can explain. We look into sodium and chlorine and ionic species and then crystal formation and many other aspects in the realm of physics. Surprisingly no one says "science knows nothing about table salt".

How do we get to the same place with this first person mind thing? We point at the salt, how do we point at the mind?

One silly approach is to become overly attached to the spook we call 'consciousness'. We all know what a conscious mammal looks like and what an unconscious mammal looks like. Somehow many of us have come to believe that we can attach a -ness to that idea and have a thing worthy of pointing out. A candidate stamp.

I believe that the C with the -ness is just a spook that amounts to no more than an 'undigested bit of beef'. It is not a useful stamp. We have other words like attention, thought, and aware that are sufficient to describe our inner stamps.

So first, what is the thing to which we want to point and ask of science that it explain for us?
"Daddy, why did god make YEC's?"
User avatar
SpeedOfSound
RS Donator
THREAD STARTER
 
Posts: 32066
Age: 67
Male

Kyrgyzstan (kg)
Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: Consciousness is Not a Thing

#2  Postby SpeedOfSound » Sep 06, 2018 10:52 am

I would like to develop a bit of agnosticism about our internal view. A few moments ago I decided to write this. I was aware of some set of things in my body and world. I can say that I was aware of a thought about this post. I may remember looking at the philosophy post title page and remember that it is light blue on my monitor.

There are certain persistent bits. Sometimes these things are memory and sometimes I just happen to be in the same place and now look at them in this moment of remembering and think I was aware when perhaps I was not.

The point is that we have only a few highly processed memories of what we were aware of a moment ago. We can use a method. Mark out a timeline. Think what you were aware of in the last hour. Now the last 15 minutes. Then the last minute, then the last second, then try and divide it even further until you approach the 'now'.

As we approach the 'now' I think it becomes clear that our memory of right now is somewhat just as precarious as the memory of the last hour. We have absolutely zero reason to believe that we can know what our awareness was a moment ago and little real evidence for what it consists of even in this pinacle of moments that we believe is the 'now'.

Play with the idea of being a little bit skeptical here.

I have come to believe that in each broad brush of a momentary now in my mind, I have a rich set of thousands of things impinging on me and blending together into my feeling of being myself. This is the content of mind. I treat it as an intensional set (one I can broadly describe but not extend by listing all it's elements). My last hour is a set of sets of content, having roughly 3600 * 5 members. 5 for each second. I have this set and I am somewhat agnostic about what all it's elements are.
"Daddy, why did god make YEC's?"
User avatar
SpeedOfSound
RS Donator
THREAD STARTER
 
Posts: 32066
Age: 67
Male

Kyrgyzstan (kg)
Print view this post

Re: Consciousness is Not a Thing

#3  Postby newolder » Sep 06, 2018 10:56 am

Breakthrough: How the brain keeps track of time

September 4, 2018 - 06:25

Norwegian scientists Edvard and May-Britt Moser were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their studies on sense of direction. Now they have found the brain cells that place our memories in the right order.

...

In the part of the brain called the lateral entorhinal cortex, they have found nerve cells that give each moment its distinctive signature.

“We believe this code keeps track of the order of events that happen. The code gives us a sense of time in relation to events," says Edvard Moser from the Kavli Institute of Systems Neuroscience, Norway.

He calls this coding, episodic time, and we are not talking about clock time.

...

More @ ScienceNordic link

ETA also @ Nature abstract and paywall
Last edited by newolder on Sep 06, 2018 11:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
Geometric forgetting gives me loops. - Nima A-H
User avatar
newolder
 
Name: Albert Ross
Posts: 5232
Age: 7
Male

Country: Feudal Estate number 9
Print view this post

Re: Consciousness is Not a Thing

#4  Postby devogue » Sep 06, 2018 11:01 am

The older I get the more I think that everything can be summed up by that single great line in Withnail and I:

“We’ve gone on holiday by mistake.”

We are a delightful mingling of intent, entropy and confusion.
It's PETUNIAS TIME again, folks!!!

The Blue Butterfly
User avatar
devogue
 
Posts: 2173
Age: 44
Male

Chile (cl)
Print view this post

Re: Consciousness is Not a Thing

#5  Postby GrahamH » Sep 06, 2018 4:40 pm

SOS, have you read Graziano (Consciousness and the social brain, "attention schema theory") ? I've been meaning to start a thread on that because it seems spot on to me.
Why do you think that?
GrahamH
 
Posts: 18646

Print view this post

Re: Consciousness is Not a Thing

#6  Postby SpeedOfSound » Sep 07, 2018 12:27 am

GrahamH wrote:SOS, have you read Graziano (Consciousness and the social brain, "attention schema theory") ? I've been meaning to start a thread on that because it seems spot on to me.

I actually have two copies of that book. Have read it. Will be reading it again.

Right now I am reading and studying, slowly, David Rose and a few different Oxford and Blackwell compendiums. Doing it as a study rather than a read which is painful and slow.
"Daddy, why did god make YEC's?"
User avatar
SpeedOfSound
RS Donator
THREAD STARTER
 
Posts: 32066
Age: 67
Male

Kyrgyzstan (kg)
Print view this post

Re: Consciousness is Not a Thing

#7  Postby GrahamH » Sep 07, 2018 7:08 am

SpeedOfSound wrote:
GrahamH wrote:SOS, have you read Graziano (Consciousness and the social brain, "attention schema theory") ? I've been meaning to start a thread on that because it seems spot on to me.

I actually have two copies of that book. Have read it. Will be reading it again.


I thought you would have it on your bookshelf. How do you see it as answer to the non-thingness of consciousness?
In that respect it contrasts with IIT and other 'process' theories.
Why do you think that?
GrahamH
 
Posts: 18646

Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: Consciousness is Not a Thing

#8  Postby SpeedOfSound » Sep 07, 2018 11:32 am

GrahamH wrote:
SpeedOfSound wrote:
GrahamH wrote:SOS, have you read Graziano (Consciousness and the social brain, "attention schema theory") ? I've been meaning to start a thread on that because it seems spot on to me.

I actually have two copies of that book. Have read it. Will be reading it again.


I thought you would have it on your bookshelf. How do you see it as answer to the non-thingness of consciousness?
In that respect it contrasts with IIT and other 'process' theories.


If memory serves me he has one good piece. But just another piece of the whole. A fine theory about one part of what our cognition is on whole. I have always been a theory-slut and I am beginning to understand why. Many theories are good and probably have some or a lot of truth to them. But there is no single thing that consumes all of so-called conscious content unless you want to say the entire brain and environment IS consciousness.

I am suggesting that we consider pushing back on the use of the word consciousness and break it into some finer parts. I think we actually want to talk about attention and awareness.
"Daddy, why did god make YEC's?"
User avatar
SpeedOfSound
RS Donator
THREAD STARTER
 
Posts: 32066
Age: 67
Male

Kyrgyzstan (kg)
Print view this post

Re: Consciousness is Not a Thing

#9  Postby Macdoc » Sep 07, 2018 11:49 am

Is a network a "thing"? ...I find the title silly.

Try this

bayesian brain
THE GREATEST THEORY OF ALL TIME?


The more I learn about the Bayesian brain, the more it seems to me that the theory of predictive processing is about as important for neuroscience as the theory of evolution is for biology, and that Bayes’ law is about as important for cognitive science as the Schrödinger equation is for physics.

That is quite an ambitious statement: if our brains really are Bayesian, which is to say that predictive processing is the fundamental principle of cognition, it would mean that all our sensing, feeling, thinking, and doing is a matter of making predictions.


https://www.mindcoolness.com/blog/bayes ... rocessing/

I'm onside with this view /....Balkanizing the brain is similar to

Image

our brains constantly compare current inputs with previous understanding ..that's how we learn and consciousness is part of a spectrum that includes subconcious processes ....consciousness is an aspect of our neural network....which is indeed a thing.....a very complex thing.
Travel photos > https://500px.com/macdoc/galleries
EO Wilson in On Human Nature wrote:
We are not compelled to believe in biological uniformity in order to affirm human freedom and dignity.
User avatar
Macdoc
 
Posts: 14131
Age: 71
Male

Country: Canada/Australia
Australia (au)
Print view this post

Re: Consciousness is Not a Thing

#10  Postby GrahamH » Sep 07, 2018 12:24 pm

SpeedOfSound wrote:
GrahamH wrote:
SpeedOfSound wrote:
GrahamH wrote:SOS, have you read Graziano (Consciousness and the social brain, "attention schema theory") ? I've been meaning to start a thread on that because it seems spot on to me.

I actually have two copies of that book. Have read it. Will be reading it again.


I thought you would have it on your bookshelf. How do you see it as answer to the non-thingness of consciousness?
In that respect it contrasts with IIT and other 'process' theories.


If memory serves me he has one good piece. But just another piece of the whole. A fine theory about one part of what our cognition is on whole. I have always been a theory-slut and I am beginning to understand why. Many theories are good and probably have some or a lot of truth to them. But there is no single thing that consumes all of so-called conscious content unless you want to say the entire brain and environment IS consciousness.

I am suggesting that we consider pushing back on the use of the word consciousness and break it into some finer parts. I think we actually want to talk about attention and awareness.


As I read it he gets at the core of "what consciousness is", relating it to a known physical phenomena (attention). Indeed he avoids that trap that most theories seem to fall into (e.g. IIT) of "the entire brain and environment IS consciousness".
Why do you think that?
GrahamH
 
Posts: 18646

Print view this post

Re: Consciousness is Not a Thing

#11  Postby Animavore » Sep 07, 2018 1:20 pm

Macdoc wrote:
our brains constantly compare current inputs with previous understanding ..that's how we learn and consciousness is part of a spectrum that includes subconcious processes ....consciousness is an aspect of our neural network....which is indeed a thing.....a very complex thing.


Is the brain complex though?

It's something I've been thinking about a lot of late. Every time I hear of brain complexity it's accompanied by staggering numbers of cells and pathways. As if sheer volume is equal to complexity.

The problem I'm finding to this is it sounds almost like ID proponents when they talk of highly improbable odds to explain the complexity of cells to argue that they couldn't have arisen by the rather simple laws of evolutionary theory. But Darwins rather simple laws are powerful when extrapolated upon.

I'm wondering of late if people are overstating the complexity of the brain due to ancient assuptions about its power and are missing something simple that may be staring them in the face and neurology is simply waiting for their own Darwin.

I think Chalmers' Hard Problem is a perfect example. He claims that the problem of how physical laws translate to experience can never be bridged. For his argument he puts a lot of stock into the idea of the 'spookiness' of the experience, qualia, the sensation of the colour red. But what if not only the chasm between chemistry and experience doesn't exist, but also the qualia supposedly at the the other side of the chasm?

It could end up that when someone cracks neurology with a succinct and parsimonious explanation it will be argued for years by immaterialists who, like ID proponents, argue that the sheer complexity simply can't be explained by the simple (neurological Darwin)-ian explanation. Them still talking about sheer volumes of synapses and axons while overlooking how the theory explains how such intricate networks arise from an underlying principle that aren't that difficult.



Thoughts on this anyone?
A most evolved electron.
User avatar
Animavore
 
Name: The Scribbler
Posts: 41365
Age: 40
Male

Ireland (ie)
Print view this post

Re: Consciousness is Not a Thing

#12  Postby Cito di Pense » Sep 07, 2018 2:27 pm

SpeedOfSound wrote:So first, what is the thing to which we want to point and ask of science that it explain for us?


Animavore wrote:someone cracks neurology with a succinct and parsimonious explanation


Brevity is not the soul of wit. Brevity is the soul of parsimony. Levity is the soul of wit. You can't be both parsimonious and succinct and still be, er, succinct. But these guys...? They may not be succinct, but man, are they synced.

Хлопнут без некролога. -- Серге́й Па́влович Королёв

Translation by Elbert Hubbard: Do not take life too seriously. You're not going to get out of it alive.
User avatar
Cito di Pense
 
Name: Ivar Poäng
Posts: 26749
Age: 22
Male

Country: The Heartland
Mongolia (mn)
Print view this post

Re: Consciousness is Not a Thing

#13  Postby Macdoc » Sep 07, 2018 2:41 pm

Amnivore

Long winded way to describe emergent behaviour in a neural network. You are equating complexity with mystery. Coding is complex - it is not mysterious...it is still 1s and 0s

We don't have an explanation for sudden savant syndrome but we don't have to evoke mystery.
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/2018011 ... n-geniuses

Simply we don't yet know.

We can get there

Neurological studies have stunned the doctors. Tatiana can see out of both of Krista’s eyes, while Krista can only see out of one of Tatiana’s. They also share the senses of touch and taste and the connection even extends to motor control. Tatiana controls 3 arms and a leg, while Krista controls 3 legs and an arm.
Amazingly, the girls say they also know one another’s thoughts without needing to speak. “We talk in our heads” is how they describe it.


https://www.cbc.ca/cbcdocspov/episodes/inseparable
Travel photos > https://500px.com/macdoc/galleries
EO Wilson in On Human Nature wrote:
We are not compelled to believe in biological uniformity in order to affirm human freedom and dignity.
User avatar
Macdoc
 
Posts: 14131
Age: 71
Male

Country: Canada/Australia
Australia (au)
Print view this post

Re: Consciousness is Not a Thing

#14  Postby BWE » Sep 07, 2018 3:47 pm

SpeedOfSound wrote:A quote attributed (perhaps wrongly) to Lord Rutherford's is “All science is either physics or stamp collecting.” . I like it in reference to anecdotal evidence we get from thinking about our own mind. This is the stamp collecting part. All of us have plenty to say about our supposed inner worlds and I do think it legitimate to collect these stamps.

Unfortunately we have a lot of amateurs doing the collecting, like really really lots of amateurs and all of them are absolutely convinced that they are the epitome of professionalism when it comes to their own inner view. Philosophy is riddled with this disease of first person access and most famously this starts with that clueless hack René Descartes.

Undeniably we have something to study here. We all have some stamps. We all have shit happening inside of our heads and we all have an opinion about how this is proof of god or the supernatural or some other crazy notion like 'science can't x'. We have a thing for which we would like some explanations.

If we have a bottle of table salt in front of us we have a thing that we think we can explain. We look into sodium and chlorine and ionic species and then crystal formation and many other aspects in the realm of physics. Surprisingly no one says "science knows nothing about table salt".

How do we get to the same place with this first person mind thing? We point at the salt, how do we point at the mind?

One silly approach is to become overly attached to the spook we call 'consciousness'. We all know what a conscious mammal looks like and what an unconscious mammal looks like. Somehow many of us have come to believe that we can attach a -ness to that idea and have a thing worthy of pointing out. A candidate stamp.

I believe that the C with the -ness is just a spook that amounts to no more than an 'undigested bit of beef'. It is not a useful stamp. We have other words like attention, thought, and aware that are sufficient to describe our inner stamps.

So first, what is the thing to which we want to point and ask of science that it explain for us?

While I generally agree with this sentiment, or at least the conclusion, I think you are getting hung up in reification, which is what those who propose consciousness is a thing also do. Things are products of mind. Naming is a way to begin to make models.
User avatar
BWE
 
Posts: 2375

Print view this post

Re: Consciousness is Not a Thing

#15  Postby GrahamH » Sep 07, 2018 5:17 pm

BWE wrote: Things are products of mind. Naming is a way to begin to make models.


I think you are coming at that from far to high a level. Any attempt to identify what consciousness is should not start with 'mind' or 'products of mind'.

Brains make models (Bayesian predictors if you like) and models can support names.
Why do you think that?
GrahamH
 
Posts: 18646

Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: Consciousness is Not a Thing

#16  Postby jamest » Sep 08, 2018 1:52 am

Why is it important that consciousness be a thing? I mean, the thing is this, things aren't important to metaphysics.

Stop playing with your thing and get a clue.
Il messaggero non e importante.
Ora non e importante.
Il resultato futuro e importante.
Quindi, persisto.
jamest
 
Posts: 17328
Male

Country: England
Jolly Roger (arr)
Print view this post

Re: Consciousness is Not a Thing

#17  Postby Macdoc » Sep 08, 2018 4:29 am

Nor are metaphysics important to things :coffee:
Travel photos > https://500px.com/macdoc/galleries
EO Wilson in On Human Nature wrote:
We are not compelled to believe in biological uniformity in order to affirm human freedom and dignity.
User avatar
Macdoc
 
Posts: 14131
Age: 71
Male

Country: Canada/Australia
Australia (au)
Print view this post

Re: Consciousness is Not a Thing

#18  Postby GrahamH » Sep 08, 2018 6:05 am

jamest wrote:Why is it important that consciousness be a thing? I mean, the thing is this, things aren't important to metaphysics.

Stop playing with your thing and get a clue.
Take your own advice and drop the "One God" reification.
Why do you think that?
GrahamH
 
Posts: 18646

Print view this post

Re: Consciousness is Not a Thing

#19  Postby Cito di Pense » Sep 08, 2018 8:44 am

jamest wrote:Why is it important that consciousness be a thing? I mean, the thing is this, things aren't important to metaphysics.

Stop playing with your thing and get a clue.


I recently posted a link to Mose Allison singing "I Don't Worry 'Bout A Thing". Sing it with me. I think you and Mose could get along famously, if you didn't care so much whilst telling everyone how little you care.
Хлопнут без некролога. -- Серге́й Па́влович Королёв

Translation by Elbert Hubbard: Do not take life too seriously. You're not going to get out of it alive.
User avatar
Cito di Pense
 
Name: Ivar Poäng
Posts: 26749
Age: 22
Male

Country: The Heartland
Mongolia (mn)
Print view this post

Re: Consciousness is Not a Thing

#20  Postby Animavore » Sep 08, 2018 8:45 am

What if consciousness is not not not a thing?
A most evolved electron.
User avatar
Animavore
 
Name: The Scribbler
Posts: 41365
Age: 40
Male

Ireland (ie)
Print view this post

Next

Return to Philosophy

Who is online

Users viewing this topic: No registered users and 2 guests