The Mental Life of Plants and Worms, Among Others

Studies of mental functions, behaviors and the nervous system.

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Re: The Mental Life of Plants and Worms, Among Others

#81  Postby Teuton » Apr 16, 2014 5:02 pm

GrahamH wrote:
Brainless yes, depending on the definition of brain.
I'm inclined to agree with mindless/consciousnessless, but how would you know?


Consciousness is brain-dependent. The belief that it's not lacks any scientific support.
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Re: The Mental Life of Plants and Worms, Among Others

#82  Postby GrahamH » Apr 16, 2014 5:17 pm

Teuton wrote:
GrahamH wrote:
Brainless yes, depending on the definition of brain.
I'm inclined to agree with mindless/consciousnessless, but how would you know?


Consciousness is brain-dependent. The belief that it's not lacks any scientific support.


Like I said, I'm inclined to agree. I have some ideas about how consciousness might work that are in-line with the views of various neuroscientists and philosophers.

I'm not arguing that plants are conscious. but if such ideas are on the right track then consciousness should be multiply realisable, and could have a form that isn't obviously brain-like.

It's not very scientific to exclude the possibility of consciousness in anything that isn't an animal brain.
Why do you think that?
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Re: The Mental Life of Plants and Worms, Among Others

#83  Postby DavidMcC » Apr 16, 2014 5:41 pm

GrahamH wrote:...

It's not very scientific to exclude the possibility of consciousness in anything that isn't an animal brain.

It isn't a question of how scientific it is, but of whether C is the appropriate word for how any plants "behave".
If you define C as mere sensing and acting on the basis of that sensing, in a simple way, then, maybe, but not otherwise.
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Re: The Mental Life of Plants and Worms, Among Others

#84  Postby Teuton » Apr 16, 2014 5:42 pm

GrahamH wrote:I'm not arguing that plants are conscious. but if such ideas are on the right track then consciousness should be multiply realisable, and could have a form that isn't obviously brain-like.
It's not very scientific to exclude the possibility of consciousness in anything that isn't an animal brain.


I'm not saying that the existence of artificial brains or nervous systems is impossible in principle. But an artificial brain or nervous system capable of generating consciousness would have to be structurally and functionally equivalent to a natural animal brain or nervous system. There will never be conscious toasters.

My contention is that all conscient natural beings in the universe, be they terrestrial or extraterrestrial ones, are properly classifiable as animals with some type of central nervous system.
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Re: The Mental Life of Plants and Worms, Among Others

#85  Postby GrahamH » Apr 16, 2014 5:53 pm

Teuton wrote:
GrahamH wrote:I'm not arguing that plants are conscious. but if such ideas are on the right track then consciousness should be multiply realisable, and could have a form that isn't obviously brain-like.
It's not very scientific to exclude the possibility of consciousness in anything that isn't an animal brain.


I'm not saying that the existence of artificial brains or nervous systems is impossible in principle. But an artificial brain or nervous system capable of generating consciousness would have to be structurally and functionally equivalent to a natural animal brain or nervous system. There will never be conscious toasters.

My contention is that all conscient natural beings in the universe, be they terrestrial or extraterrestrial ones, are properly classifiable as animals with some type of central nervous system.


Maybe, but what is it you think is specific about brain structure?

Unless you have a pretty clear idea of how brains might realise consciousness you are on very shaky ground assuming this or that feature of brains is necessary.
I take it you are ruling out the possibility of any computer simulation of brain structure and function being conscious.

What if brain structure and function can be reproduced with a different chemistry?
Why do you think that?
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Re: The Mental Life of Plants and Worms, Among Others

#86  Postby Teuton » Apr 16, 2014 5:56 pm

DavidMcC wrote:
GrahamH wrote:...
It's not very scientific to exclude the possibility of consciousness in anything that isn't an animal brain.

It isn't a question of how scientific it is, but of whether C is the appropriate word for how any plants "behave".
If you define C as mere sensing and acting on the basis of that sensing, in a simple way, then, maybe, but not otherwise.


Sensation in the psychological/phenomenological sense is a sufficient condition for consciousness—with sentient beings being conscient beings—, and physiological sensitivity is a necessary but no sufficient condition for psychological/phenomenological sensation; so physiological sensitivity doesn't entail psychological/phenomenalogical sensation.

Plants may be said to be capable of perception, but their perceptions aren't accompanied by any subjective sensations; so plant perception is unconscious perception, i.e. perception which isn't perceptual experience = sensation.
(I use these concepts in such a way that "unconscious sensation" is a contradiction in terms, while "unconscious perception" is not.)
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Re: The Mental Life of Plants and Worms, Among Others

#87  Postby Teuton » Apr 18, 2014 3:51 pm

GrahamH wrote:Maybe, but what is it you think is specific about brain structure?


Its unique dynamic complexity.

GrahamH wrote:Unless you have a pretty clear idea of how brains might realise consciousness you are on very shaky ground assuming this or that feature of brains is necessary.


We don't have to know all the neurological details in order to be justified in believing that consciousness is causally and existentially brain-dependent.

GrahamH wrote:I take it you are ruling out the possibility of any computer simulation of brain structure and function being conscious.


Yes, I do—unless the material object in question is an artificial duplicate of a conscious biological organism.

GrahamH wrote:What if brain structure and function can be reproduced with a different chemistry?


There might be non-carbon-based forms of life, but such natural organisms would have to have a CNS (brain) as well in order to be capable of consciousness.
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Re: The Mental Life of Plants and Worms, Among Others

#88  Postby kennyc » Apr 18, 2014 4:01 pm

GrahamH wrote:.....

It's not very scientific to exclude the possibility of consciousness in anything that isn't an animal brain.


Truth!

computers for example and certainly nothing to say that plant physiology/biology couldn't evolve something more similar to human/animal intelligence/consciousness.....not to say plants don't have a different form of consciousness. Certainly they are aware of their environment and in a manner of speaking conscious in their own right......like a thermostat. :)
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Re: The Mental Life of Plants and Worms, Among Others

#89  Postby kennyc » Apr 18, 2014 4:03 pm

Teuton wrote:.....

I'm not saying that the existence of artificial brains or nervous systems is impossible in principle. But an artificial brain or nervous system capable of generating consciousness would have to be structurally and functionally equivalent to a natural animal brain or nervous system. ......


No it wouldn't.
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Re: The Mental Life of Plants and Worms, Among Others

#90  Postby kennyc » Apr 18, 2014 4:05 pm

Teuton wrote:
DavidMcC wrote:
GrahamH wrote:...
It's not very scientific to exclude the possibility of consciousness in anything that isn't an animal brain.

It isn't a question of how scientific it is, but of whether C is the appropriate word for how any plants "behave".
If you define C as mere sensing and acting on the basis of that sensing, in a simple way, then, maybe, but not otherwise.


Sensation in the psychological/phenomenological sense is a sufficient condition for consciousness—with sentient beings being conscient beings—, and physiological sensitivity is a necessary but no sufficient condition for psychological/phenomenological sensation; so physiological sensitivity doesn't entail psychological/phenomenalogical sensation.

Plants may be said to be capable of perception, but their perceptions aren't accompanied by any subjective sensations; so plant perception is unconscious perception, i.e. perception which isn't perceptual experience = sensation.
(I use these concepts in such a way that "unconscious sensation" is a contradiction in terms, while "unconscious perception" is not.)



You don't know that. You seem to be very biased towards a particular kind of consciousness. Do you believe in souls as well?
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Re: The Mental Life of Plants and Worms, Among Others

#91  Postby kennyc » Apr 18, 2014 4:06 pm

Teuton wrote:
GrahamH wrote:Maybe, but what is it you think is specific about brain structure?


Its unique dynamic complexity..


:lol: :lol: :lol: Argument from complexity. :lol: :lol: :lol:

One word: 'thermostat' :grin:
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Re: The Mental Life of Plants and Worms, Among Others

#92  Postby Teuton » Apr 18, 2014 4:31 pm

kennyc wrote:
Teuton wrote:
GrahamH wrote:Maybe, but what is it you think is specific about brain structure?

Its unique dynamic complexity..

:lol: :lol: :lol: Argument from complexity. :lol: :lol: :lol:
One word: 'thermostat' :grin:


The brains of conscient animals are the most complicated material objects in the known universe. Do you think this is a mere accident? Don't you think that the right kind and degree of structural and functional complexity is a requisite for the emergence of consciousness?
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Re: The Mental Life of Plants and Worms, Among Others

#93  Postby Teuton » Apr 18, 2014 4:37 pm

kennyc wrote:
Teuton wrote:
Plants may be said to be capable of perception, but their perceptions aren't accompanied by any subjective sensations; so plant perception is unconscious perception, i.e. perception which isn't perceptual experience = sensation.
(I use these concepts in such a way that "unconscious sensation" is a contradiction in terms, while "unconscious perception" is not.)


You don't know that.


I believe that, and I believe I'm justified in believing it. No brain, no mind/consciousness!

kennyc wrote:You seem to be very biased towards a particular kind of consciousness.


I'm talking about (phenomenal) consciousness = subjective experience; and plants are not subjects of any experience of whatever kind.

kennyc wrote:Do you believe in souls as well?


No. (I don't know what "as well" refers to.)
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Re: The Mental Life of Plants and Worms, Among Others

#94  Postby Teuton » Apr 18, 2014 4:50 pm

kennyc wrote:
GrahamH wrote:.....
It's not very scientific to exclude the possibility of consciousness in anything that isn't an animal brain.

Truth!


No, because consciousness is a biological phenomenon. So, if you plan to construct a conscious robot, you have to construct a physical equivalent of an animal organism, and especially of an animal nervous system.

kennyc wrote:computers for example and certainly nothing to say that plant physiology/biology couldn't evolve something more similar to human/animal intelligence/consciousness.....not to say plants don't have a different form of consciousness. Certainly they are aware of their environment and in a manner of speaking conscious in their own right......like a thermostat. :)


If plants could evolve into conscient organisms, they would be animals—but they aren't and cannot become ones.
The so-called awareness of plants has nothing to do with consciousness. To say that plants are (functionally, nonphenomenally) aware of their environment is only to say that they contain a signal-detecting, -processing and reactively, adaptively behavior-regulating physiological mechanism. The physico-chemical processes involved therein are wholly objective, lacking any subjective, experiential content whatsoever. There's nothing psychophysical or psychochemical about them.
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Re: The Mental Life of Plants and Worms, Among Others

#95  Postby GrahamH » Apr 18, 2014 5:44 pm

Teuton wrote:
kennyc wrote:
GrahamH wrote:.....
It's not very scientific to exclude the possibility of consciousness in anything that isn't an animal brain.

Truth!


No, because consciousness is a biological phenomenon. So, if you plan to construct a conscious robot, you have to construct a physical equivalent of an animal organism, and especially of an animal nervous system.


The only examples we know of are biological, but that in not sufficient to determine that the only poissibl form is biological.

The same is true of life. It's reasonable to look for life where biological life as we know it could exist, it's not absolute that only carbon chemistry around 200 - 300K is the only possibility.

Teuton wrote:If plants could evolve into conscient organisms, they would be animals—but they aren't and cannot become ones.

Isn't that just playing with definitions?

Teuton wrote:The so-called awareness of plants has nothing to do with consciousness. To say that plants are (functionally, nonphenomenally) aware of their environment is only to say that they contain a signal-detecting, -processing and reactively, adaptively behavior-regulating physiological mechanism. The physico-chemical processes involved therein are wholly objective, lacking any subjective, experiential content whatsoever. There's nothing psychophysical or psychochemical about them.


I don't really disagree about that, but unless you know how meat is conscious it's unjustified to absolutely conclude that vegetation cannot do the same thing.
Why do you think that?
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Re: The Mental Life of Plants and Worms, Among Others

#96  Postby SpeedOfSound » Apr 18, 2014 6:50 pm

Teuton wrote:...
GrahamH wrote:I take it you are ruling out the possibility of any computer simulation of brain structure and function being conscious.


Yes, I do—unless the material object in question is an artificial duplicate of a conscious biological organism.

GrahamH wrote:What if brain structure and function can be reproduced with a different chemistry?


There might be non-carbon-based forms of life, but such natural organisms would have to have a CNS (brain) as well in order to be capable of consciousness.

An interesting Searle-y perspective and the right one in one respect. Most people are actually restricting there talk of C to a particular human brand of it. There are infinite possible brands and they are structure dependent.
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Re: The Mental Life of Plants and Worms, Among Others

#97  Postby Teuton » Apr 18, 2014 9:02 pm

SpeedOfSound wrote:
An interesting Searle-y perspective and the right one in one respect. Most people are actually restricting there talk of C to a particular human brand of it. There are infinite possible brands and they are structure dependent.


When I say that natural consciousness is essentially a zoological phenomenon, I do not mean to say that only terrestrial animal species can have consciousness. I do not equate consciousness with personal self-consciousness as exemplified by homo sapiens. Primary (phenomenal) consciousness is different from and independent of introspective or reflective self-consciousness.
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Re: The Mental Life of Plants and Worms, Among Others

#98  Postby DavidMcC » Apr 19, 2014 1:19 pm

GrahamH wrote:...
The only examples we know of are biological, but that in not sufficient to determine that the only poissibl form is biological.

True, but it is not clear that we have an adequate definition of C to be able to claim to detect it in non-biological entities.
The same is true of life. It's reasonable to look for life where biological life as we know it could exist, it's not absolute that only carbon chemistry around 200 - 300K is the only possibility.
...

Again, true, but life as we know it is very compicated (even in its simplest forms), so it is not obvious that there are any viable alternatives to carbon-based chemistry, with water as the universal solvent, and a vast array of biochemical pathways. None of these can be used by, say silicon "biochemistry" at much higher temperatures. I suspect that it was out of naivety that exobiolgists were talking of exotic, non-carbon-based life a decade or two ago, perhaps just to talk up interest in the space exploration technology.
Don't get me wrong, I think the spending is justified, even if there turns out not to be any alternative to carbon/water.
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Re: The Mental Life of Plants and Worms, Among Others

#99  Postby SpeedOfSound » Apr 19, 2014 1:23 pm

Then there is chirality and possible new nucleic acid systems and extending, other biomolecular systems as far as the imagination will go.

I watched Transcendence last night. They did a damned good job on the tech.
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Re: The Mental Life of Plants and Worms, Among Others

#100  Postby DavidMcC » Apr 19, 2014 1:25 pm

SpeedOfSound wrote:....
Most people are actually restricting there talk of C to a particular human brand of it. There are infinite possible brands and they are structure dependent.

The reason for that may be that it is the one we know most about. I am fairly confident that the more intelligent invertebrate groups, (eg, cephalopods) evolved something comparable, by a very different route from vertebrates, and very different in the structures it is based on.
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