Taking emergence really seriously

S

Sciborg_S_Patel

You make it sound like we proponents are the only ones arguing this. The fact that consciousness seems to be a problem that we can't just explain away, despite some people wanting to. The fact that Chalmers and others in the article sciborg cited are thinking that maybe consciousness isn't completely reducible to brains is perhaps indicative of something.
Beyond Chalmers I'd note Feser's description of Fodor's Trinity and EJ Lowe's There Is No Easy Problem of Consciousness. I think the popular assumption that the Hard Problem is all that needs to be solved is in fact incorrect, largely due to the confusions noted by John Searle (here*), Massimo (here) and Jaron Lanier (here).

But as always I'd say Harris gave the most resounding confession when he said emergence requires a nonsensical miracle to be true.

*Paul I had an answer to your question about what Searle means by information processing but I forgot where it was. Guess I may have to reread that paper sooner rather than later...
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
You make it sound like we proponents are the only ones arguing this. The fact that consciousness seems to be a problem that we can't just explain away, despite some people wanting to. The fact that Chalmers and others in the article sciborg cited are thinking that maybe consciousness isn't completely reducible to brains is perhaps indicative of something.
Right, but is it just that they cannot imagine how it could be brain processes? Perhaps they think they have a logical argument.

~~ Paul
 
Neurons are made of molecules which are quantum systems. In fact, the whole brain is argueably a quantum system. Quantum systems cannot be perfectly predicted, but are themselves subject to the randomness of quantum mechanics. Add to that the fact that reality is made of particles and fields; that's like admitting that there is a luminiferous aether, but then lying about it. The lie would of course be to not admit that the luminiferous aether could be made of quantum fields. The net result would be that the brain could very easily have some undetectable relationship with the quantum fields. In fact, I have already argued that a spirit could be described as a quantum field that is trapped insided of the potential energy walls of the cellular structures.

And even if I could get a ghost to shove a skeptic down a flight of stairs, the skeptic would just lie about it and say he was clumsy.
 
It's a fundamental substance or energy or process or whatever. It is not composed of smaller things.

The point is this: Why does the idea that consciousness is fundamental make people feel any better than the idea that consciousness is a set of processes in the brain? Is it just because people cannot imagine how it could be brain processes?

~~ Paul
I was the other day listening to the video "The Pale Blue Dot" listen to it if you have not. I think it might give you the answer. But perhaps you know the answer already.?
 
Suppose we accept, for the sake of argument, that consciousness and intelligence arose by emergence from a complex system driven by natural selection. Wouldn't we expect consciousness and intelligence to be present in many other systems. Remember that arguments about emergence don't specify any particular substrate for a complex system, and don't specify the time-scale on which they might operate.

For example, trees are undoubtedly complex, and they need to compete to grab light and achieve several other aims, so wouldn't materialism predict that they might be conscious?

Likewise, if we take an entire species - say giraffe's and their forebears. The entire species would be competing with other species, and of course it would be complex, so might not it also be conscious? Might it not find a way to modify its DNA and test the result - keeping records and designing the next change in the genome.........

Now I don't believe in emergence from a materialist base (or at least I think it is looking less and less plausible), but some of you here do believe the idea - so what is wrong with those other proposed uses of the emergence concept?

Indeed, wouldn't materialism actually predict that many evolutionary changes would be designed:)

David
I thought maybe this was part of the reason guys like Koch seem to be tending towards panpsychism lately?
 
Why does the idea that consciousness is fundamental make people feel any better than the idea that consciousness is a set of processes in the brain? Is it just because people cannot imagine how it could be brain processes?
~~ Paul
You do realize that, unlike you, many folks around here take the psi evidence seriously? In other words, it "feels better" when your hypothesis on the nature of consciousness matches up with the known evidence.
 
Replying to the OP ( although it seems the thread just reached the point of derailment into related areas :P ), I guess it would depend on what type of comexplity it is required to produce consciousness, since not all complexities are the same. Matter can produce all sort of weird, and unpredicable things in some models. A good example would be a black hole. Black holes can be produced in theory by anything: if you have many candies in the same place, you might as well just produce a black hole. Of course, anyone looking at the issue with a Newtonian Mechanics view of gravity would find it incomprehensible why candies would produce an object that is so different of candies ( in fact, thinking about it I can't think of many properties they share together. Candies are usually understood as being in time, while black holes, due to their relativistic nature cannot be properly defined as spatial or time entities. I don't know also if black holes are made out of "matter", or if that word make sense in this cases, since quantum mechanics isn't fully developed to explain them. But, for some strange reason, candies can become black holes, go figure), but from a Relativistic point of view it's just expectable. I don't know how many candies would you require, but while having many candies separated have different properties as many candies united ( in a black hole! ), the issue remains in that for some effects to be seen you need to have them in a certain disposition specific disposition, and to understand them, you sometimes need the correct worldview. So, a tree might not be conscious for a similar reason.

Sometimes the problem is inside the framework in which one is studying the subject, and not in the subject itself.
 
OK, this is what rationalist materialists have to work with to create consciousness: length, time, mass, charge, spin, observer-ness. So how do materialists explain consciousness?
 
OK, this is what rationalist materialists have to work with to create consciousness: length, time, mass, charge, spin, observer-ness. So how do materialists explain consciousness?
I personally don't know, but I know very few materialists who would claim they know how consciousness work or is produced (please, take note in the "few" word). I would have an equal puzzle if you asked me how to explain quantum entanglement with the elements you put up there, but I don't find that compelling enough to call it impossible.
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
Or we could say he refused to swallow the "consciousness is just brain function" story when it became untenable. <<insert appropriate smiley>>
I'd go for that if he could give an informal proof of its untenability. His inability to solve the problem in his lifetime is not such a proof.

Anyway, I really misspoke. He is not saying that consciousness is not brain function. He is saying that some theory such as IIT is required to get consciousness out of information in the brain. And if that theory is general, then it pertains to all matter, not just brains. Such a theory may indeed be required. In the meantime, I think he should be careful not to sound like he is suggesting that something spooky is necessary. Note that nowhere in that interview does he give a hint about any proposal.

I apologize for misrepresenting Koch's view.

~~ Paul
 
Neuroscientists do not yet have an explanation. What deep meaning do you take from this fact?

~~ Paul
Feedback loops might be able to fake consciousness. If you have a trillion dynamic feedback loops you might be able to get a C3P0 or Commander Data from Star Trek, but you'll probably have to use wet chemistry.

And don't ask me to troubleshoot the stupid thing if it doesn't work. If it makes me mad, I will beat on it with a heavy wrench, and tell you it doesn't feel a thing.
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
Feedback loops might be able to fake consciousness. If you have a trillion dynamic feedback loops you might be able to get a C3P0 or Commander Data from Star Trek, but you'll probably have to use wet chemistry.

And don't ask me to troubleshoot the stupid thing if it doesn't work. If it makes me mad, I will beat on it with a heavy wrench, and tell you it doesn't feel a thing.
Avoidance of my question duly noted. What is the difference between real consciousness and fake consciousness?

~~ Paul
 
Top