Finally someone who gets it - Consciousness

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Re: Finally someone who gets it - Consciousness

#201  Postby SpeedOfSound » Oct 13, 2013 11:02 am

surreptitious57 wrote:Is it too simplistic an interpretation to state that consciousness is the result of information processing in the brain ?
Or is it more complicated than that ? [ obviously it is but would it suffice as an basic explanation nonetheless ? ]

One of the commenters on the article [ Andrew ] suggests that our visual interpretation is naïve realism because we cannot comprehend four dimensional spacetime. But from an evolutionary perspective is this actually necessary ? Since evolution is primarily concerned with passing on genes that enhance survival it would appear not

He also states that the cortex creates a model of reality that is not the totality of consciousness itself. What else is then ? This model is also apparently a pre linguistic and pre conceptual one. If so then what is the evolutionary advantage of its retention ? And what exactly does pre conceptual mean ? Presumably of the inability of our ancestors to think in abstract terms and so not to think at all beyond the spontaneous or intuitive responses necessary for survival ?


Graziano makes a clear distinction between his theory and the usual complexity/information theories. It's a very specific type of information that he points to. Information about our own systems and process of attention. An attention schema he calls it. Combined with that he has a self schema. A sort of autobiography. So visual consciousness is is not just V but V+S+A for vision combined with the other two schemas.

I think this clearly makes consciousness cognitive. When you think about it this cognition is the only way we can apprehend ANYTHING. So any reality that we perceive, remember, or find on self-reflection is of this cognitive nature and habit. In other words we must experience through cognitive colored glasses. Now C is perceived as much as anything else. The reason we believe there is such a thing is that we can find it internally and report it and it compares to what others report (the social aspect).
So perceiving that I am conscious is done with the same machinery as perceiving a cube in front of me as a clear geometric structure. My brain combines the visual stimulus over time with cognitive elements like memories of what a cube is. Seamlessly!

If I do the same thing with what I think, feel, and believe about C it makes great sense that it would be perceiving my one array of attention to all the various modes that I attend to.

In other words it's back to what I call the fabric or currency of consciousness. This leads back to the slightly abbreviated quote from the end of the book:
When <the brain introspects> and reports that it has physically unexplained magic inside of it, the simplest scientific explanation is that the information is not precisely accurate.
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Re: Finally someone who gets it - Consciousness

#202  Postby GrahamH » Oct 13, 2013 5:42 pm

SpeedOfSound wrote:
Graziano makes a clear distinction between his theory and the usual complexity/information theories. It's a very specific type of information that he points to. Information about our own systems and process of attention. An attention schema he calls it. Combined with that he has a self schema. A sort of autobiography. So visual consciousness is is not just V but V+S+A for vision combined with the other two schemas.

I think this clearly makes consciousness cognitive. When you think about it this cognition is the only way we can apprehend ANYTHING. So any reality that we perceive, remember, or find on self-reflection is of this cognitive nature and habit. In other words we must experience through cognitive colored glasses. Now C is perceived as much as anything else. The reason we believe there is such a thing is that we can find it internally and report it and it compares to what others report (the social aspect).
So perceiving that I am conscious is done with the same machinery as perceiving a cube in front of me as a clear geometric structure. My brain combines the visual stimulus over time with cognitive elements like memories of what a cube is. Seamlessly!

If I do the same thing with what I think, feel, and believe about C it makes great sense that it would be perceiving my one array of attention to all the various modes that I attend to.

In other words it's back to what I call the fabric or currency of consciousness. This leads back to the slightly abbreviated quote from the end of the book:
When <the brain introspects> and reports that it has physically unexplained magic inside of it, the simplest scientific explanation is that the information is not precisely accurate.


The information may not be accurate as to 'how the magic works' (like any 'magic' that works, it works by not being magic)
But the information can still be useful in approximating behaviour.
Why do you think that?
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Re: Finally someone who gets it - Consciousness

#203  Postby SpeedOfSound » Oct 13, 2013 7:48 pm

GrahamH wrote:

The information may not be accurate as to 'how the magic works' (like any 'magic' that works, it works by not being magic)
But the information can still be useful in approximating behaviour.


That most certainly is the point. I think a lot of people are far too hung up on this illusion thing or how the brain is not really a crisp, accurate device for computing the truth.

There is a fact and and it's implication.

Fact: Brains can be wrong about reality.

Implication: This implies that they must then be just as possibly wrong for anything they think, feel, say, or perceive about themselves.
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Re: Finally someone who gets it - Consciousness

#204  Postby kennyc » Dec 19, 2013 8:05 pm

Just bumping this up because I just re-read the article and am still firmly convinced that this guy - Michael Graziano is one who 'get it' wrt consciousness. His concept, theory and direction is absolutely on target.

I'm not read his books but will soon. I don't really feel a driving need to though as this article and other readings agree so completely with my view that I suspect it would just confirm my thoughts and I'm secure enough in that view that I don't really need any more confirmation than what I'm reading in his published work. (as well as other neuroscience explanations of consciousness)

Interestingly his work also explains away the theory of mind krap and the 'do others have minds' krap which philosophy seems so hung up on.

If you haven't read this article in Aeon magazine, please do, it may open your eyes, or confirm you worst fears. :D

http://aeon.co/magazine/being-human/how ... ess-works/
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Re: Finally someone who gets it - Consciousness

#205  Postby iamthereforeithink » Dec 19, 2013 9:21 pm

Even though I don't get what it is that this guy gets, I'll agree with you if you promise me that this means that there won't be any more discussions about consciousness on this board, since we now know what its all about. :mrgreen:
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Re: Finally someone who gets it - Consciousness

#206  Postby kennyc » Dec 19, 2013 9:35 pm

I wish I could promise that, but if you stay in this forum and away from the philosophishiiiistufff then it's pretty much true. :D
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Re: Finally someone who gets it - Consciousness

#207  Postby zoon » Dec 19, 2013 11:03 pm

kennyc wrote:Just bumping this up because I just re-read the article and am still firmly convinced that this guy - Michael Graziano is one who 'get it' wrt consciousness. His concept, theory and direction is absolutely on target.

I'm not read his books but will soon. I don't really feel a driving need to though as this article and other readings agree so completely with my view that I suspect it would just confirm my thoughts and I'm secure enough in that view that I don't really need any more confirmation than what I'm reading in his published work. (as well as other neuroscience explanations of consciousness)

Interestingly his work also explains away the theory of mind krap and the 'do others have minds' krap which philosophy seems so hung up on.

If you haven't read this article in Aeon magazine, please do, it may open your eyes, or confirm you worst fears. :D

http://aeon.co/magazine/being-human/how ... ess-works/


Graziano doesn't "explain away" theory of mind, he starts the article (and the book) by discussing it, it's as central as attention to his theory of consciousness. Theory of mind is as much a scientific concept as attention is, with large quantities of experimental support from psychology and neuroscience.

From the second page of chapter 2 of the book, where Graziano introduces his own theory (chapter 1 is a historical overview):

Michael Graziano wrote:Machinery in your brain, in the circuitry that participates in social perception, is expert at this task of attributing awareness to other people. It sees another brain-controlled creature focusing its computing resources on an item and generates the construct that person Y is aware of thing X. In the theory proposed in this book, the same machinery is engaged in attributing awareness to yourself— in computing that you are aware of thing X.


And later in the same chapter:

Michael Graziano wrote:……..a simple explanation might work here. Maybe the same machinery responsible for attributing awareness to other people also participates in constructing one’s own awareness and attributing it to oneself. Just as you can compute that Harry is aware of something, so too you can compute that you yourself are aware of something. The theory proposed in this book was first described from this perspective of social neuroscience.


The “machinery ….that participates in social perception” is the machinery that organises Theory of Mind, the basis of the way we perceive other people. I do agree strongly with what Prof. Graziano says there, thanks for pointing me to the book.
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Re: Finally someone who gets it - Consciousness

#208  Postby kennyc » Dec 19, 2013 11:10 pm

Of course it explains away the philosophical bs of Theory of Mind. His hypotheses is that consciousness developed from awareness and as an extension allows it to attribute motivations to other creatures (and even inanimate objects). That destroys the stupid Theory of Mind philosophy as well as the question of do other minds exist. Of course they do.

And No theory of mind is not a scientific concept, it's a philosophical concept. It's based on the whole zombie/consciousness/other minds question of philosophy. The wikipedia page distinguishes it from philosophy of mind but anytime it is referred to in the endless discussions around here it is invariably about the philosophy -- do other minds exist.

Graziano explains via this theory how we attribute motivation to other minds because we do it to ourselves to create consciousness. Theory of mind plays no part in this.
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Re: Finally someone who gets it - Consciousness

#209  Postby zoon » Dec 19, 2013 11:50 pm

kennyc wrote:Of course it explains away the philosophical bs of Theory of Mind. His hypotheses is that consciousness developed from awareness and as an extension allows it to attribute motivations to other creatures (and even inanimate objects). That destroys the stupid Theory of Mind philosophy as well as the question of do other minds exist. Of course they do.

And No theory of mind is not a scientific concept, it's a philosophical concept. It's based on the whole zombie/consciousness/other minds question of philosophy. The wikipedia page distinguishes it from philosophy of mind but anytime it is referred to in the endless discussions around here it is invariably about the philosophy -- do other minds exist.

Graziano explains via this theory how we attribute motivation to other minds because we do it to ourselves to create consciousness. Theory of mind plays no part in this.

The people at the Social Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at MIT don’t appear to agree with your view that Theory of Mind is philosophical bullshit:

The MIT website wrote:Externally observable components of human actions carry only a tiny fraction of the information that matters. Human observers are vastly more interested in perceiving or inferring the mental states - the beliefs, desires and intentions - that lie behind the observable shell. If a person checks her watch, is she uncertain about the time, late for an appointment, or bored with the conversation? If a person shoots his friend on a hunting trip, did he intend revenge or just mistake his friend for a partridge? The mechanism people use to infer and reason about another person's states of mind is called a 'Theory of Mind' (ToM). One of the most striking discoveries of recent human cognitive neuroscience is that there is a group of brain regions in human cortex that selectively and specifically underlie this mechanism.
.

Neuroscientists who publish in Nature are also happy to regard Theory of Mind as a scientific concept:

Nature wrote:What is the nature of our ability to understand and reason about the beliefs of others — the possession of a 'theory of mind', or ToM? Here, we review findings from imaging and lesion studies indicating that ToM reasoning is supported by a widely distributed neural system.


How do you come to be better informed about neuroscience than the people at MIT and Nature?
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Re: Finally someone who gets it - Consciousness

#210  Postby kennyc » Dec 20, 2013 12:01 am

I will say it again, Graziano's theory, approach and explanation explains it away as a natural consequence of evolution of consciousness. And will say again that the typical usage of TOM particularly in this and other forums is in a philosophical context.

TOM is an unneeded concept. That is exactly what Graziano is explaining in the book and with his approach.

It's irrelevant as to who is 'better informed' whatever the hell that means (can you say appeal to authority?) -- what matters is what is real.
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Re: Finally someone who gets it - Consciousness

#211  Postby zoon » Dec 20, 2013 12:33 am

Theory of Mind is considered to be a real mechanism in the brain by most neuroscientists, as in the examples I quoted above. An appeal to authority is not a fallacy if:

1. the authority appealed to is a subject-matter expert,
2. there is consensus among experts in the subject matter
3. it is used in the context of inductive, not deductive, reasoning.

All the conditions are fulfilled in this case. A consensus of neuroscientists agrees that Theory of Mind is a solidly scientific reality.
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Re: Finally someone who gets it - Consciousness

#212  Postby GrahamH » Dec 20, 2013 9:40 pm

Kenny, I think you may be confused about what Graziano means.

I believe that the easy and the hard problems have gotten switched around. The sheer scale and complexity of the brain’s vast computations makes the easy problem monumentally hard to figure out. How the brain attributes the property of awareness to itself is, by contrast, much easier. If nothing else, it would appear to be a more limited set of computations. In my laboratory at Princeton University, we are working on a specific theory of awareness and its basis in the brain. Our theory explains both the apparent awareness that we can attribute to Kevin and the direct, first-person perspective that we have on our own experience.


He is saying that the brain computes the first person perspective of having experiences in much the same way as it computes and mental states to others. TOM , in the sense me and zoon refer to it, is exactly this calculation of states of mind. You are conscious because your brain assigns subjective stays of mind to its activity.

'Awareness', according to Graziano, is a property assigned by the calculating brain.
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Re: Finally someone who gets it - Consciousness

#213  Postby DavidMcC » Dec 24, 2013 5:09 pm

GrahamH wrote:Kenny, I think you may be confused about what Graziano means.

I believe that the easy and the hard problems have gotten switched around. The sheer scale and complexity of the brain’s vast computations makes the easy problem monumentally hard to figure out. How the brain attributes the property of awareness to itself is, by contrast, much easier. If nothing else, it would appear to be a more limited set of computations. In my laboratory at Princeton University, we are working on a specific theory of awareness and its basis in the brain. Our theory explains both the apparent awareness that we can attribute to Kevin and the direct, first-person perspective that we have on our own experience.


He is saying that the brain computes the first person perspective of having experiences in much the same way as it computes and mental states to others. TOM , in the sense me and zoon refer to it, is exactly this calculation of states of mind. You are conscious because your brain assigns subjective stays of mind to its activity.

'Awareness', according to Graziano, is a property assigned by the calculating brain.

Maybe, but how does that happen? Must be T-PFC-T loops! A big bundle of zombies doesn't cut it, presumably because zombies are all autonomous of each other and of C.
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Re: Finally someone who gets it - Consciousness

#214  Postby GrahamH » Dec 24, 2013 6:03 pm

DavidMcC wrote:
GrahamH wrote:Kenny, I think you may be confused about what Graziano means.

I believe that the easy and the hard problems have gotten switched around. The sheer scale and complexity of the brain’s vast computations makes the easy problem monumentally hard to figure out. How the brain attributes the property of awareness to itself is, by contrast, much easier. If nothing else, it would appear to be a more limited set of computations. In my laboratory at Princeton University, we are working on a specific theory of awareness and its basis in the brain. Our theory explains both the apparent awareness that we can attribute to Kevin and the direct, first-person perspective that we have on our own experience.


He is saying that the brain computes the first person perspective of having experiences in much the same way as it computes and mental states to others. TOM , in the sense me and zoon refer to it, is exactly this calculation of states of mind. You are conscious because your brain assigns subjective stays of mind to its activity.

'Awareness', according to Graziano, is a property assigned by the calculating brain.

Maybe, but how does that happen? Must be T-PFC-T loops! A big bundle of zombies doesn't cut it, presumably because zombies are all autonomous of each other and of C.


What about loops of 'zombies'? Why are 'zombies' (neural structures / functional regions) autonomous?

I think we are in complexity theory territory here. Emergent patterns arise from the interaction of lots of simple entities. That is feedback. That is loops. The fish in the shoal have no coordinating centre, no overview, but large scale coordination emerges from interaction of the simple entities.
Why do you think that?
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Re: Finally someone who gets it - Consciousness

#215  Postby DavidMcC » Dec 24, 2013 8:03 pm

GrahamH wrote:
DavidMcC wrote:
GrahamH wrote:Kenny, I think you may be confused about what Graziano means.

I believe that the easy and the hard problems have gotten switched around. The sheer scale and complexity of the brain’s vast computations makes the easy problem monumentally hard to figure out. How the brain attributes the property of awareness to itself is, by contrast, much easier. If nothing else, it would appear to be a more limited set of computations. In my laboratory at Princeton University, we are working on a specific theory of awareness and its basis in the brain. Our theory explains both the apparent awareness that we can attribute to Kevin and the direct, first-person perspective that we have on our own experience.


He is saying that the brain computes the first person perspective of having experiences in much the same way as it computes and mental states to others. TOM , in the sense me and zoon refer to it, is exactly this calculation of states of mind. You are conscious because your brain assigns subjective stays of mind to its activity.

'Awareness', according to Graziano, is a property assigned by the calculating brain.

Maybe, but how does that happen? Must be T-PFC-T loops! A big bundle of zombies doesn't cut it, presumably because zombies are all autonomous of each other and of C.


What about loops of 'zombies'? Why are 'zombies' (neural structures / functional regions) autonomous?

Because they function independentlyof each other. I suspect that they evolved before mammalian-style consciousness. When consciousness appeared, it would have used the zombies as input.
I think we are in complexity theory territory here. Emergent patterns arise from the interaction of lots of simple entities. That is feedback. That is loops. The fish in the shoal have no coordinating centre, no overview, but large scale coordination emerges from interaction of the simple entities.

True, but shoals, flocks etc don't have the same possible evolution as brain circuitry.
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