Puzzling NDE questions

Potty mouth reported.
Troll, I do not speak that way to anybody but those who deserve it, and you most certainly do. So, let me say it with different words: go away. You are not wanted here, and, to the best of my ability to influence it (i.e. through contact with moderators), your stay will not last much longer.
 
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It's not arbitrary--it is a requirement of Integrated Information Theory.
I am happy that it is a requirement in IIT, although I have never mentioned it, nor I was thinking or citing a specific theory of consciousness.
But fair enough.

In the photodiode the process of "reporting" is the same as of "perception" (detection). There is no separate reporting process. The photons hitting the photodiode create a photoelectric effect, which is the generation of an electrical current. This electrical current constitutes a bit of information, which means "light." If there is no current produced, then the lack of a current constitutes one bit of information that means "dark."
Just to be clear, it doesn't mean anything to the photodiode. Which, unless proved differently, doesn't have any experience of light and dark. So this argument is not very relevant.

But to address your example of a sentient being, you have to look at all the processes that allow for any experiences to occur in the first place. A sentient being such as ourselves is extraordinarily complex, and has the ability to discriminate from an almost countless number of different states. Without this ability to discriminate different states, one could not know bliss, yet one does not require the experience of suffering in order to experience bliss.
But I am not talking about knowing bliss. I am talking about experiencing it.
So in the end it seems we're saying the same thing. E.g. pain is not required to experience joy (or any other non-pain state), at least in principle.

In the end, an experience is information.
Well in the end, truth be told, we really have no idea :)
How is this conclusion different from the magic assumption of materialism that you lump a certain amount of non-conscious stuff and you obtain subjectivity?

I would be more comfortable with claiming that experience is what it is, and information plays a significant role in it.
 
I admire your shovel. Keep digging.

Q. Again. If you were standing on a place and could not tell by any means which direction is which, where is North?
A. You can't tell.
Q. Why?
A. Because without something to contrast one direction for another, there is no direction that can be had.

Yin-yang. Now you have learned.
Since this is a monologue, I was at least hoping for some variety.
Too bad creativity is not your forte.

Good luck
 
Unfortunately, your objection remains but an assertion, and that which can be asserted without argument can be counter-asserted without argument (I know, that's awfully trite and confrontational, it's just the mood I'm in right now - and, besides, I hope I do offer at least the glimmerings of an argument).
A consciousness by itself beyond spacetime cannot be an object of consciousness. When you're outside spacetime, how could it be an object that exists within consciousness? How can you have a perception without a subject/object split?

Laird said:
As I said, this is but an assertion, and, moreover, I see no reason to accept it. The very fact that we can speak of consciousness - that the word we use to refer to it is a noun - implies that it is an object.
Consciousness exists "outside" of spacetime. To say that it is an object is incoherent.

Laird said:
Again, this is but unsubstantiated assertion. What if I were to counter-assert that an "undifferentiated state" which is at the same time potentially, but for a subject/object split, conscious, would, naturally and inevitably, split itself into subject/object, not in some perversion or alteration of its fundamental nature, but simply in a self-recursion that allows it to realise its potential i.e. that of being conscious, based on a subject and object which is/are identical? How would you refute that?
That's exactly the process of creation of the universe and us that allows the self-awareness to arise.

Laird said:
This, it seems to me, relies on the impossibility of recursion in this state. But I see no reason to reject recursion i.e. that that which is object is also subject, which is also object, which is also subject, etc etc.
You already answered this, I think, in the quote immediately prior to this one.

Laird said:
None of which refutes the logical possibilities of unlimited perception with which I provided you. I fully grant that in this sense, you, as you actually are, are (and I, as I actually am, am) "limited", however I do not grant that this is a necessary entailment of consciousness in the first place.
A necessary entailment for what kind of consciousness? If you are referring to our type of consciousness, then the concept of unlimited perception doesn't make sense. I am using IIT that requires limitation as one of its axioms. While it may end up being false, it does have some empirical support. What you claim to be a logical possibility seems to be based off incoherent concepts of consciousness being able to be an object of its own consciousness, and that consciousness itself is an object. Those don't make logical sense for the reasons I described above, so I cannot grant that unlimited perception is a logical possibility.

Laird said:
But this is again to ignore the arguments with which I have presented you! i.e. the possibility of an all-experiencing God, and the possibility of a world in which all that can be experienced can be (very conceivably) experienced simultaneously. Please, if you are to continue down this track, address these arguments.

]And again, this ignores my argument involving the possibility of an all-experiencing God - in that case, nothing is excluded. I get that you're trying to deal with "things as they seem to be", but I'm more interested in "things as they necessarily must be".
How does that God experience all? I have described how the "god" would experience all, and that is through conscious awareness of organisms and possibly technological devices. You seem to posit some sort of ability to perceive without anything. This depends on an incoherent concept of consciousness being its own object of consciousness and treating consciousness as an object.

Laird said:
OK, so, once again, what's to prevent an omniscient God from experiencing everything without exclusion?
The fact that the very concept is incoherent is what would prevent it. You were asking me about why consciousness would exist, yet you want to posit some sort of ability for conscious perception that is based on nothing (no mechanisms) that you just want to state is possible.

Furthermore, if we involve quantum theory, and use the von Neumann interpretation for reasons I go into in the double slit thread, then the idea of an all-experiencing God is not possible. This is along the lines of the Wigner's Friend paradox. The idea is that the von Neumann chain extends to Wigner's friend, but then the question becomes why doesn't Wigner also maintain a superposition of states? Who then breaks the chain? God does! God is always in the quad! But if God is always in the quad, no superpositions would be possible, and this is of course empirically false.
 
I am happy that it is a requirement in IIT, although I have never mentioned it, nor I was thinking or citing a specific theory of consciousness.
But fair enough.
Just using reason alone is a good way to get off on a wrong track. That's why I am attempting to use theories. Science, to a large extent, has historically gone against reason over and over again.

Bucky said:
Just to be clear, it doesn't mean anything to the photodiode. Which, unless proved differently, doesn't have any experience of light and dark. So this argument is not very relevant.
As per IIT, it would have exactly one bit of consciousness and would have that one bit of experience. It wouldn't have meaning because it doesn't have the capacity for the experience of meaning. You can't project your intuitive understanding of your own consciousness onto a photodiode. This is where reason causes problems.

Bucky said:
But I am not talking about knowing bliss. I am talking about experiencing it.
So in the end it seems we're saying the same thing. E.g. pain is not required to experience joy (or any other non-pain state), at least in principle.
The capacity to discriminate between the experiences is required to experience it. It doesn't have to experience the other state, but in-principle the capacity to discriminate must be there as per IIT. If you wish to continue to disagree I am not sure what else to say other than to direct you to read Tononi's papers on IIT.

Bucky said:
Well in the end, truth be told, we really have no idea :)
How is this conclusion different from the magic assumption of materialism that you lump a certain amount of non-conscious stuff and you obtain subjectivity?
Sure we do. This is based on multiple theories and understood physical concepts. How can you accuse me of an assumption of magic when every process I have described has a theoretical basis? You are the one that is making statements about how perception and experience occurs by just attempting to use your own reasoning without theoretical backing.

Bucky said:
I would be more comfortable with claiming that experience is what it is, and information plays a significant role in it.
To say that experience 'is what it is' is a tautology devoid of content.
 
OK, so, once again, what's to prevent an omniscient God from experiencing everything without exclusion?
If you say that there could be an all-experiencing consciousness that does not require conscious entities for experience, how can this be reconciled with quantum theory? If you cannot reconcile this purported unlimited perception with physical theory, then that is not satisfactory, especially considering that my position is easily reconciled with both quantum theory and Integrated Information Theory.

To accept this form of consciousness would require that consciousness is fundamental. What interpretations of quantum theory can fit this requirement? The von Neumann interpretation (ontological extension of Copenhagen interpretation) fits this well. De Broglie-Bohm interpretation has been tweaked by Bohm to allow this as well. Even though the Many Worlds interpretation is sometimes altered to be the “many minds” interpretation, it does not allow consciousness to be fundamental, nor do any of the objective collapse theories, and of course instrumentalist approaches say nothing about this. Interpretations of quantum theory that involve fundamental consciousness are extremely limited. If you attempt to use an interpretation that seems to include consciousness but has it as a physical property (say panpsychism within objective collapse models, or something like this within the Many Worlds interpretation), you rule out the possibility for unlimited perception since consciousness is only of individual entities.

So we have two interpretations that allow consciousness to be fundamental. The problem with the de Broglie-Bohm interpretation is that it cannot accommodate the requirements of quantum electrodynamics in having virtual particles. Quantum teleportation also seems to be a problem with this model. This is unsatisfactory. The von Neumann interpretation (VMI), does not have any such problems of accommodating experimental evidence. It should be noted that the VMI is the ontological extension of the Copenhagen interpretation, and this extension was based on the mathematics from a man that formalized quantum theory itself, John von Neumann. The Copenhagen interpretation is the most widely used interpretation, especially for experimental particle physicists, because by its very structure it is an epistemological theory that explains our empirical results, and does so with an accuracy that is astonishing. The VMI takes the Copenhagen interpretation and logically and mathematically extends it, and in the end, requiring consciousness to be involved in the state vector collapse. This consciousness necessarily must be outside of spacetime.

The paradoxes that come up with the VMI include Schrodinger’s Cat and Wigner’s Friend. I am going to quickly dismiss Schrodinger’s Cat by simply saying that the cat is conscious, so it is never in a superposed state (it should be clear later why I bypass this one). The Wigner’s Friend paradox is a question of von Neumann Chains, which are the extension of quantum objects’ superpositions into macroscopic mixture states. I will not go into great detail, as one could read about it on Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wigner's_friend).

One of the ideas is that God’s consciousness is what collapses the wave function (which, I could argue in one sense is true, but wait for that), and that God is always watching. However, under the VMI, if God were always watching, then quantum superpositions could never arise because God is always watching which would always collapse every wavefunction. In fact, the quantum state of the system could never evolve because God is continually watching, i.e. a cosmic quantum Zeno effect that would never let the quantum state of the universe evolve. We know this to be false experimentally, since if this were true, we would never see an interference pattern in the double-slit experiment, nor would we ever have been able to experimentally confirm the EPR paradox as Alain Aspect did. This clearly cannot be the case.

The answer is that our own consciousness collapses the wave function, but that quickly results in a problem. Whose consciousness collapses it? Aren’t we back to Wigner’s Friend? This is where I hinted that “God’s” consciousness does actually collapse the wave function, but the distinction is that he does it through us. Our consciousness and the absolute consciousness are of the same basis, i.e. we have God consciousness within us fundamentally, and it is this single consciousness that causes collapse, and results in everyone experiencing the same outcome (i.e. the appearance of and objective world), but it can only occur through conscious observers.

So if you wish to say that an unlimited perception is possible, viz. God is always in the quad, then you would have to reconcile this with contemporary physics. For the reasons stated above, I think any attempt at this will fail at some point, whether that is within the VMI, or if you attempt to use another interpretation of quantum theory which ends up failing at some other point (like conflicting with experimental evidence).

It should be noted that my position is consistent with quantum theory, both mathematically, interpretationally, and experimentally, and is also consistent with Integrated Information Theory. Not only that, it brings the two theories together in a coherent way, as well as allowing for inclusion of quantum information theory with its quantum computational models.
 
Neil,

Thanks for all the time and effort you've put into this conversation, and in particular your last post.

I need to step back and reflect for a while before responding in turn. I should probably also first finish reading the double-slit thread.

Let me just add in the meantime that it's far easier to (attempt to) critique (the coherence of) a position than to formulate a coherent position in the first place, so I greatly respect that you have come to a position which you believe to be coherent and which you're willing to explain and defend publicly.

I hope to get back to you soon.

Sincerely,
Laird
 
Neil,

Thanks for all the time and effort you've put into this conversation, and in particular your last post.

I need to step back and reflect for a while before responding in turn. I should probably also first finish reading the double-slit thread.

Let me just add in the meantime that it's far easier to (attempt to) critique (the coherence of) a position than to formulate a coherent position in the first place, so I greatly respect that you have come to a position which you believe to be coherent and which you're willing to explain and defend publicly.

I hope to get back to you soon.

Sincerely,
Laird
Laird, I appreciate your responses and critiques. I wish I could say that these ideas were this developed before I presented them here, but rather everyone involved has been instrumental in the development and refinement of the ideas. Thank you.

I hope you come back with some good critiques. I am very Popperian in the sense that I like speculative ideas, but then like to subject them to tough criticism to falsify conjectures that don't stand up. In this sense, I see science as a servomechanism, constantly being corrected through the deductive logic of falsification, and at the same time encouraging creativity by accepting conjectural hypotheses as part of the process. I just hope I haven't gone too far off on a wrong track. I have specific predictions of the theory that could allow for falsification, but unfortunately due to their basis in parapsychology I doubt the experiments would ever happen in the near future. Right now I am stuck with trying to fit theory to the data.
 
Hmm, how could something float on nothing? I am not trying to be a smart-ass; I am just skeptical of the concept of void and/or it having any relation to what exists.
Everything is nothing without its opposite. Existence is dynamic alternations of boundaries and spaces which are mental constructs. Depending on your perspective, the boundaries can be the thing (or the structure), and the spaces can be the "nothing" or vice versa. It is all something and that something is existence or God or brahman or whatever choice poetic phrase you want to use for it because it is all poetry.

"Floating on nothing" is a poetic way to imagine it and it is the language used in the Bible. I'm not trying to convert anyone to Christianity... I've just realized there is a deeper truth there: There was Structure and Void. "The Spirit of God brooded (floated and moved) over the waters (abyss)"... then again in the gospels we have the symbolism of the Logos walking on water (floating on nothing) by faith. Faith in primitive notions or axioms is the basis for a logical structure. Since these primitive notions "float" un-anchored to an objective existence, faith is the substance of things and literally anything is possible. The Abyss is the absence of logic and structure from which anything can come. The Logos and the Abyss pervade the cosmos and their dance is creativity. Creativity is equally destruction and new structure.

Through language and logic we attempt to demystify the universe. We emphasize the Logos and push the boundaries of knowledge bringing the light of understanding to former mysteries. But underlying all knowledge will always be unfathomable mystery. We can multiply words in attempt to formulate a more exacting logical model of the universe, but until we realize what this logical model floats upon, I think we have missed something. There seems to be a principle of balance in the universe - accordingly the effort to demystify the universe through rationalism and conquest over peoples and inferior ideologies has led the world to the edge of the Abyss in the form of self-destruction.

Wouldn't it be easier (although much less poetic) to just address these items as entropy and order, things which we can measure??

I am oriented to defining and modeling the problems of mind in a material world. Logical structure to events can have multiple levels where the structural relations are developed and effective. Ordering at one level can deconstruct status quo on another. None of this is clear without good process models and their interrelations.

NDE's can be an objectively organizing events changing a person's character and inner state. Modeling how this happens is the road to understanding.
In my current model, the Abyss cannot be measured. It is the bottomless pit. It is non-sense and mystery. Entropy is a property that can be measured and is predictable. It exists as a concept that is part of a logical model of the structure of the universe. The Abyss has no properties and cannot be measured. The existence of the Abyss means that the very next instant could see the obliteration of the entire cosmos (though not existence). There is no external reason the laws of the universe have to persist one second longer. They persist according to the principle of balance and they persist as a bubble persists on the breeze. This bubble of structure within irrationality is the Logos and all of our models of reality are studies of the Logos. The Logos and the Abyss together create the motion or dynamics of existence. Without the Abyss there could be no novelty. Without the Logos there could be no structure. Interacting together they form a dynamo of creativity which fuels existence.

Pursuing the modeling of the reality is beneficial and fun, but if we think there is an end to it, we have failed to understand reality. There is no end to the bottomless pit and mystery will persist forever. We exist within a fantastic story and at any moment, something truly new can arise and it could do so dramatically or as if it always existed.

I think NDEs and other boundary dissolving experiences offer people a chance to wreck the old failing mental structures and create new and better ones. Mental structures can withstand stress, but they can also create stress. The better designed structure is better able to handle stress.
 
Just using reason alone is a good way to get off on a wrong track. That's why I am attempting to use theories. Science, to a large extent, has historically gone against reason over and over again.
How is a theory different from using reason / empirical observation / intuition?
With the same line of reasoning we can go and cherry pick the thousands of failed theories we have left behind...

As per IIT, it would have exactly one bit of consciousness and would have that one bit of experience. It wouldn't have meaning because it doesn't have the capacity for the experience of meaning. You can't project your intuitive understanding of your own consciousness onto a photodiode. This is where reason causes problems.
No I can't, that's right. Although we have to start somewhere.
At the same time IIT is projecting its mathematical/theorical intutitions of consciousness (starting from human consciousness, the only one we know) onto inanimate objects.

I am fine with redefining our intuititive understanding of consciousness, provided it's not a "just so" argument.

How do we falsify the claim that the photodiode is basically conscious? We don't have a meter for consciousness and IIT says it provides one. We'll be running around in circles.

The capacity to discriminate between the experiences is required to experience it.
This seems just another way to say that with you need to be conscious to have an experience.
Experiences have qualities. If you can't discriminate qualities you might just be non conscious.

It doesn't have to experience the other state, but in-principle the capacity to discriminate must be there as per IIT.
That's exactly what I was saying since the very first post in this thread. A conscious entity, unsurprisingly, only needs X to experience X.

Sure we do. This is based on multiple theories and understood physical concepts.
No we don't, otherwise we'd have solved the mystery of consciousness and of all the connected problems.

IIT is an intriguing theory and it will probably move our understanding of mind and brain forward. It also predicts that if we cram enough integrated information complexes in a machine it will become conscious, out of non-conscious parts/elements. I am not going not hold my breath for that... :D

Also IIT explains nothing about consciousness. As Kastrup puts it "explains consciousness no more than a speedometer explains how a car moves"(1). It doesn't offer a causal chain that help us describe how consciousness comes into being.

cheers
 
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In my current model, the Abyss cannot be measured. It is the bottomless pit. It is non-sense and mystery. Entropy is a property that can be measured and is predictable. It exists as a concept that is part of a logical model of the structure of the universe. The Abyss has no properties and cannot be measured. The existence of the Abyss means that the very next instant could see the obliteration of the entire cosmos (though not existence).

I think NDEs and other boundary dissolving experiences offer people a chance to wreck the old failing mental structures and create new and better ones. Mental structures can withstand stress, but they can also create stress. The better designed structure is better able to handle stress.
Items with no dispositional relations like your metaphorical Abyss, are fine for literature and for meditation. They have no place in scientific models.

Your view of mental structures is interesting. How does one design a mental structure unless it can be measured? I don't think the terms mental and consciousness have defined specifics needed for science models. On the other hand - information processing done at the mental/conscious level or environment do. Might you you consider thinking of structured information and the idea of actual information objects co-existing with physical objects?

A great example is the term meme. When one speaks of memes, it seems like they have dispositional relations. A meme, a math formula, a character flaw - can all be represented as information objects and their dispositional nature modeled by data.
 
This seems just another way to say that with you need to be conscious to have an experience.
Experiences have qualities. If you can't discriminate qualities you might just be non conscious.

That's exactly what I was saying since the very first post in this thread. A conscious entity, unsurprisingly, only needs X to experience X.

No we don't, otherwise we'd have solved the mystery of consciousness and of all the connected problems.

IIT is an intriguing theory and it will probably move our understanding of mind and brain forward. It also predicts that if we cram enough integrated information complexes in a machine it will become conscious, out of non-conscious parts/elements. I am not going not hold my breath for that... :D

Also IIT explains nothing about consciousness. As Kastrup puts it "explains consciousness no more than a speedometer explains how a car moves"(1). It doesn't offer a causal chain that help us describe how consciousness comes into being.

cheers
While thinking G. Tononi, et all, are doing excellent work, they have a ways to go. I also strongly resist panpsychism, which he embraces.

IIT's focus on information is the right direction, IMHO. Integrating information is how living things grow to "understand" and gain mutual information about both the SoA of their external and internal environments. I think consciousness and mentation are descriptive terms of an environment - like the physical environment. It is the bio-evolution of living things that tells us what is going on. Living things experience sense data and can know something. It takes understanding for it to become useful and beneficial enough to assist survival and fulfillment functions.

How does the understanding and the will work? IIT could help get to the bottom of it.
 
How is a theory different from using reason / empirical observation / intuition?
With the same line of reasoning we can go and cherry pick the thousands of failed theories we have left behind...
Using a theory with some empirical support as a model to discuss the subject is not the same as attempting to use just reason/intuition. A theory, by definition, has experimental corroboration, whereas reason and intuition are proposed explanations based on how you think things do or should work. Have you ever read any metaphysics? If not, perhaps you should to see how far wrong reason and intuition leads one while ignoring empirical evidence from our contemporary physical theories.

What empirical observation are you using? You're just saying "an experience doesn't need its opposite." That's not an empirical observation. Reason and intuition are just not reliable guides when it comes to science. Einstein used reason and intuition to try to refute the completeness of quantum theory, which was wrong. The history of science is very much the history of unreasonable and unintuitive theories demonstrating their validity.

BUT, you are right that there are many failed theories. This can occur for many reasons, one of which could be that even though it may offer some ability to make predictions, but the concept was wrong. I admit that IIT could prove to be wrong, but one also has to see that IIT has some empirical support so far, including the prediction of recovery of some vegetative patients.


Bucky said:
No I can't, that's right. Although we have to start somewhere.
At the same time IIT is projecting its mathematical/theorical intutitions of consciousness (starting from human consciousness, the only one we know) onto inanimate objects.
IIT isn't projecting intuitions; it is applying the equations to an object and making predictions. That is, for example, what quantum theory does.

Bucky said:
I am fine with redefining our intuititive understanding of consciousness, provided it's not a "just so" argument.
How is IIT anything like a "just so" argument? It is a quantitative and mathematical theory that is making predictions that have had some testing (and support), and other predictions will need better technology to test. But that is nothing like a "just so" argument.

Bucky said:
How do we falsify the claim that the photodiode is basically conscious? We don't have a meter for consciousness and IIT says it provides one. We'll be running around in circles.
We don't need a meter for consciousness, nor do we directly have to falsify the instance of the photodiode. The theory could be falsified at the human level, where there are more ways to indirectly get at the predictions, such as the use of subjective feedback. If it is falsified there, then we can probably throw out the idea of the photodiode.

Bucky said:
This seems just another way to say that with you need to be conscious to have an experience.
Experiences have qualities. If you can't discriminate qualities you might just be non conscious.
What do you mean by experience? If you mean an internal subjective experience, then you don't "need to be conscious to have an experience" because conscious awareness is experience. Otherwise your statement implies that experience exists without consciousness, viz. there is an objective world "out there" independent of consciousness.

Bucky said:
That's exactly what I was saying since the very first post in this thread. A conscious entity, unsurprisingly, only needs X to experience X.
But that is not what I said in that quote. It is not the case that the conscious entity only needs X to experience X, because in-principle it needs to be able to discriminate state X from state Y in order to experience X.

Bucky said:
No we don't, otherwise we'd have solved the mystery of consciousness and of all the connected problems.
So I either have the case that "we really have no idea" or the case that we "have solved the mystery of consciousness and all of the connected problems"?

There are ideas and we can base them on established theoretical models as well as more tentative models of consciousness, which is not the false dichotomy you created here. We don't have to be able to explain everything in order to have an idea of what may be going on.

Bucky said:
IIT is an intriguing theory and it will probably move our understanding of mind and brain forward. It also predicts that if we cram enough integrated information complexes in a machine it will become conscious, out of non-conscious parts/elements. I am not going not hold my breath for that... :D
That's not what the theory says. You don't just "cram" integrated information complexes into something to make it conscious. If you have integrated information complexes, they themselves can have some level of experience depending on their qualities and complexity. Just cramming them into a machine will not add up to a greater consciousness, as this requires the correct type of communication between these complexes and integration of that information.

You also make a subtle insinuation that a theory explaining our conscious awareness cannot occur by using non-conscious parts. How else is our conscious awareness to arise? I'm going to be a bit antagonistic here by saying there seems to be some appeal to magic in that our conscious awareness somehow arises without our brains at all, even with so much evidence to the contrary. Unless you go down the panpsychism route, but that is a pretty difficult position to defend.

Bucky said:
Also IIT explains nothing about consciousness. As Kastrup puts it "explains consciousness no more than a speedometer explains how a car moves"(1). It doesn't offer a causal chain that help us describe how consciousness comes into being.

cheers
I am a bit confused in the use of the word consciousness here. In the first sentence I understood you to mean the underlying pure consciousness, but then in the last sentence, a reference to a causal chain implies that you are referring to our human conscious awareness.

If you're saying that IIT explains nothing about the pure fundamental consciousness, then I agree, but that consciousness requires no explanation. It just is. It is a given that it exists and has the capacity for experience. There is no explanation possible nor even needed. It is a transcendental existence outside of spacetime with no causal chain.

However, IIT, if true, would explain to a very large degree how our conscious awareness comes into being. The entire theory is mathematical and quantitative, offering quite a causal chain of explanation of the mechanisms that give rise to our conscious awareness.
 
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While thinking G. Tononi, et all, are doing excellent work, they have a ways to go. I also strongly resist panpsychism, which he embraces.
No, he doesn't. Here is a quote from his paper Consciousness as Integrated Information: a Provisional Manifesto:

Giulio Tononi said:
How close is this position to panpsychism, which holds that everything in the universe has some kind of consciousness? Certainly, the IIT implies that many entities, as long as they include some functional mechanisms that can make choices between alternatives, have some degree of consciousness. Unlike traditional panpsychism, however, the IIT does not attribute consciousness indiscriminately to all things. For example, if there are no interactions, there is no consciousness whatsoever. For the IIT, a camera sensor as such is completely unconscious (in fact, it does not exist as an entity). Moreover, panpsychism hardly has a solid conceptual foundation. The attribution of consciousness to all kinds of things is based more on an attempt to avoid dualism than on a principled analysis of what consciousness is. Similarly, panpsychism offers hardly any guidance as to what would determine the amount of consciousness associated with different things (such as humans, animals, plants, or rocks), or with the same thing at different times (say wakefulness and sleep), not to mention that it says nothing about what would determine the quality of experience. (note: emphasis added)
 
No, he doesn't. Here is a quote from his paper Consciousness as Integrated Information: a Provisional Manifesto:
Neil
Thanks for the informative quote. Do you have a link to its source? Yes, Tononi is not a promoter of panpsychism, as much as Koch. However, the phase from your quote: "Certainly, the IIT implies that many entities, as long as they include some functional mechanisms that can make choices between alternatives, have some degree of consciousness." - is enough of a acknowledgement to the belief for me to respond. I do not agree with him that inanimate objects make choices (structured information) in the same way living things do. Further, while information systems may be developed to make choices in similar way as living things (I remain open to new data, while being skeptical) I am quite sure that even if achieved -- dying computer equipment will not have NDEs.
 
Items with no dispositional relations like your metaphorical Abyss, are fine for literature and for meditation. They have no place in scientific models.
I agree that the importance of the Abyss is philosophical and not scientific, but if it is ignored and excluded it results in a paradigm that is off-balance compared with the universal mind and therefore doesn't reflect reality as accurately. Science treats reality like a technological artifact - the output of a perfectly logical supercomputer. I believe reality is a creative expression. Many have noted the fine line between creativity and insanity. Some of the best artists seem to have lives that are markedly anti-structural and borderline crazy. Sanity is structured hierarchical thought. Insanity is irrational non-structured non-sequential thought. Creativity that results in novelty requires a balance and dynamic alternation of both. The model of reality as pure Logos without Abyss leads to the marginalization of the arts, the hierarchical social structures that ultimately culminate in nuclear arms race, and the notion that the universe is the output of a supercomputer with flawless logic rather than the creative expression of a mind. It leaves no place for mystery or novelty or meaning or phenomena which could be bouts of "insanity" in The Mind.

Your view of mental structures is interesting. How does one design a mental structure unless it can be measured?
Measurement is a comparison or ratio of two quantities defined by an alternation of boundaries and spaces. These boundaries and spaces define one another creating a self-contained and self-referential structure. This is represented visually through sacred geometry and audibly through music. All of the cosmos and all of our models of it are likewise self-referential systems of thought. The Abyss is undefined, but is the concept that there is always something else beyond the self-referential system of boundaries and spaces. Curiosity is what draws a mind to a boundary to look beyond it. The Abyss is the concept that for every boundary discovered, there will be a space beyond waiting to be explored. Curiosity, creativity, and novelty can thus continue forever.

I don't think the terms mental and consciousness have defined specifics needed for science models.
Agreed... but my models are not purely scientific. I am trying to say that purely logical models cannot fully describe reality because reality is not purely logical. Science can never realize this because if a phenomenon does not lend itself to be studied by science (irrational or insane) then as far as science is concerned, it doesn't exist and doesn't matter.

On the other hand - information processing done at the mental/conscious level or environment do. Might you you consider thinking of structured information and the idea of actual information objects co-existing with physical objects? A great example is the term meme. When one speaks of memes, it seems like they have dispositional relations. A meme, a math formula, a character flaw - can all be represented as information objects and their dispositional nature modeled by data.
Yes I agree. And I often think of ideas (or memes) as sort of biological organisms on which the process of natural selection works. Ideas cluster together forming an ideological DNA which can then be incorporated into an institution which gives the idea a body through which it interacts with the world and reproduces itself in minds. This meme's body, like our physical bodies, often comes complete with an immune system, defense mechanisms, and ambitions.

These information objects or ideological memes are structures and since people need mental structures to be "sane" and handle stress, they often form symbiotic relationships. Religion is an easy example. It provides a person with a mental structure which enables that person to withstand the stresses of life. That person in turn reproduces the religion in the minds of others and defends it - even to death. Structures that are too rigid are unforgiving and brittle. We see this in fundamentalism and aging petrified institutions. Institutions that survive contain beneficial ideological DNA and remain flexible.

Psychedelics, NDEs, meditation, and mystical experience are all boundary dissolving. Stress is contained by mental structures and when this structure dissolves, so does the stress which is why people feel fantastically free and liberated during these experiences. But without mental structure people are prone to insanity and cannot achieve anything or build relationships with others. These boundary dissolving experiences offer people a chance to build a new and better mental structure, but if they do not, there can be adverse semi-permanent consequences: God-complex, loss of identity, loss of emotion, destruction of relationships, loss of career, etc. The Ego is a mental structure that can get painfully twisted and distorted so it is good to dissolve it from time to time, but it is essential for life and without it no further structure is possible.
 
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What empirical observation are you using? You're just saying "an experience doesn't need its opposite."
The most direct possible, first person experience.
I just don't think the experience of pain needs joy or envy to be experienced. That is all I am saying. The observation is based on the most direct of all evidences possible.

If you agree to disagree, I have no problem, I just don't see the point of dragging this any longer by appealing to the supposed higher grounds of IIT, in these regards.

IIT isn't projecting intuitions; it is applying the equations to an object and making predictions. That is, for example, what quantum theory does.
In doing so it assumes that all sorts of inanimate objects are conscious.
I will be very happy if we'll be able to demonstrate that. Until then I don't think we can jump to hasty conclusions.

How is IIT anything like a "just so" argument? It is a quantitative and mathematical theory that is making predictions that have had some testing (and support), and other predictions will need better technology to test. But that is nothing like a "just so" argument.
I did not say that IIT is a "just so argument"
I was replying to your hasty conclusion from the this statement:

You can't project your intuitive understanding of your own consciousness onto a photodiode. This is where reason causes problems.
This is quite an impulsive reasoning.
Since the postulates of IIT claim that a photodiode must be basically conscious we can trump all of our current direct and intuitive understanding of consciousness and warrant subjectivity to all sorts of inanimate objects that have a phi > 0.

I don't think this is a very scientific approach, especially when it is so tricky to actually demonstrate this and we have no evidence.

We don't need a meter for consciousness, nor do we directly have to falsify the instance of the photodiode. The theory could be falsified at the human level, where there are more ways to indirectly get at the predictions, such as the use of subjective feedback. If it is falsified there, then we can probably throw out the idea of the photodiode.
This is quite confusing.
Supposing that the predictions of IIT are all correct at the human level, I have no idea how we can justify that the photodiode is also conscious since it doesn't manifest any of the properties ascribed to consciousness.

The suggested trick here is that we redefine consciousness so it will fit the postulates of the theory we're trying to test. Don't you see a problem here?

What do you mean by experience? If you mean an internal subjective experience, then you don't "need to be conscious to have an experience" because conscious awareness is experience.
I think you need to rephrase this, it is quite obscure and possibly contradictory.

But that is not what I said in that quote. It is not the case that the conscious entity only needs X to experience X, because in-principle it needs to be able to discriminate state X from state Y in order to experience X.
Discrimination implies consciousness.

So I either have the case that "we really have no idea" or the case that we "have solved the mystery of consciousness and all of the connected problems"?
You have taken two statements out of context, and even from two different posts, and glued them together to misrepresent what I am saying.

Moving on...

You also make a subtle insinuation that a theory explaining our conscious awareness cannot occur by using non-conscious parts. How else is our conscious awareness to arise?
The insinuation wasn't meant to be subtle at all :)

It sounds strange that you ask how else it should arise, as I am sure you already know the answer: either from consciousness being an intrinsic property of matter (ergo all matter is conscious) or from consciousness being the primitive substance of all reality.

Panpsychism and idealism, in two words (and a conjunction).

As I see it, IIT seems to imply a convoluted variation of the materialistic song where consciousness magically arises from non conscious matter, it has causal power (so not an epiphenomenon) but essentially it is a by-product of physical interconnected neurons.

As I've already said from a scientific point of view it's an interesting theory that may move forward our knowledge of mind and brain, so I am all for it and its possible applications. I am even hopeful that it will push the boundaries of the current scientific paradigm, which is long due.

At the same time, I am highly skeptical that it will exhaust of the fundamental questions about consciousness and I hardly think it will solve, not in even in principle, the hard problem.

Since we're in the Skeptico forum, I can't help but notice that IIT won't probably help very much in learning more about the phenomena discussed here, either.

I'm going to be a bit antagonistic here by saying there seems to be some appeal to magic in that our conscious awareness somehow arises without our brains at all, even with so much evidence to the contrary. Unless you go down the panpsychism route, but that is a pretty difficult position to defend.
Or the idealist route.
I think all positions on consciousness are pretty hard to defend, with a special mention for materialism, but that's just me :D

cheers
 
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