The illusion of reality

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Sciborg_S_Patel

#3
What Are We? by Robert Lanza M.D.

It seems like yesterday that I was standing by the dumpster at Harvard; and that one of the most brilliant scientists in history let me into the world of science. In the late 1970’s, the betting was that the next Nobel Prize would go to Kuffler, Wiesel and Hubel. But Nobel Prizes aren’t awarded posthumously, and Kuffler died while working at his desk on October 11, 1980. (The next year, Hubel and Wiesel won the Nobel Prize.) Someday we’ll realize that the questions with which he concerned himself — the brain and how we perceive the world — are a mystery on par with understanding the universe and the origin of life.

But the solution to this mystery lies within our grasp, a solution hinted at by the frequency with which the old paradigm breaks down. This is the underlying problem: we’ve ignored a critical component of the universe, shunted it out of the way because we didn’t know what to do with it. This component is consciousness — us, the great observer.
 
#6
There does appear to be some sort of public space, at least a way moving access to information through spacetime, (i.e. storing, manipulating and sharing)... else I can't explain anomalous stuff, like repetitive type hauntings that appears to come from a period of time long before my existence etc... or on a more practical level... how one useful moves access to any information forward in time... like digging up the nag hammadi documents... long since forgotten.

It doesn't mean there needs to be anything classically stored... but somehow what we experience as randomness isn't really random either.
 
#7
A very insightful comment to introduce the article:
So while neuroscientists struggle to understand how there can be such a thing as a first-person reality, quantum physicists have to grapple with the mystery of how there can be anything but a first-person reality. In short, all roads lead back to the observer. And that’s where you can find Hoffman—straddling the boundaries, attempting a mathematical model of the observer, trying to get at the reality behind the illusion. Quanta Magazine caught up with him to find out more.
The quote makes me salivate for Hoffmann's work. Unfortunately for me - it doesn't quite connect, although he is well worth the read.
Hoffmann Suppose in reality there’s a resource, like water, and you can quantify how much of it there is in an objective order—very little water, medium amount of water, a lot of water. Now suppose your fitness function is linear, so a little water gives you a little fitness, medium water gives you medium fitness, and lots of water gives you lots of fitness—in that case, the organism that sees the truth about the water in the world can win, but only because the fitness function happens to align with the true structure in reality. Generically, in the real world, that will never be the case. Something much more natural is a bell curve—say, too little water you die of thirst, but too much water you drown, and only somewhere in between is good for survival. Now the fitness function doesn’t match the structure in the real world. And that’s enough to send truth to extinction.
Conditional probability is not a deceiver - it is just a basic fact about the "structure of the real world". Each of the two contexts of water presented by Hoffmann, are perceptible and can be conditions that restructure meaning. We are now learning that our neuronal activity is organized in a way exhibiting use of Bayesian techniques. My theory is --- if nature creatures figured it out and has evolved to use it -- "it" is real. "It", in this case, is mental ability to discover the information on how to adapt to the structure real world! And this ability has strong pattern matching to Bayesian math.
 
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#8
But the solution to this mystery lies within our grasp, a solution hinted at by the frequency with which the old paradigm breaks down. This is the underlying problem: we’ve ignored a critical component of the universe, shunted it out of the way because we didn’t know what to do with it. This component is consciousness — us, the great observer.
I suspect some would consider this just the sort of vague pseudoprofundity you need to conjure up a hard problem.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#10
I suspect some would consider this just the sort of vague pseudoprofundity you need to conjure up a hard problem.
I think he's just stating the conclusion of his article, which in turn I suspect a brief account based on his larger work. Perhaps you could explain what "pseudoprofundity" is and why it applies?

The Hard Problem is hardly conjured, it's a result of mechanistic/materialist assumptions about the nature of reality, as noted in Clifton's An Empirical Case Against Materialism and Sam Harris' Mysteries of Consciousness.

If anything Lanza is saying the opposite, that by acknowledging consciousness is a fundamental & irreducible component of reality you don't have a Hard Problem.

Beyond the question of the ontological status of consciousness there are a variety of additional questions one can resolve depending on what immaterialist models one selects:

- A Place for Consciousness argues that we need something very much like consciousness to have causation at all.

Physical theories as we have known them are compatible with several theories about causality, with philosophers debating their relative merits. Dynamic equations link states with points in time, but they don’t speak to how one state gives rise to the next. (Note they are also typically symmetric with regard to time’s direction and don’t explain the flow of time.) Hume would say they are only describing regularities, others might say they are describing causal laws, still others that there are causal connections between dispositions and their manifestations, etc.

Rosenberg proposes his own theory of causation and proposes that conscious experience is linked to the work being done moving from one event to the next. (See my original review of the book here).
- How the Peer-to-Peer Simulation Hypothesis Explains Just About Everything, Including the Very Existence of Quantum Mechanics uses a dualist model where we are "users"/"players" from a higher frame experiencing the lower frame of the (seemingly) physical world.

In my recently published article, “A New Theory of Free Will” , I argued that several serious philosophical and empirical hypotheses – hypotheses which have all received and continue to receive serious discussion by philosophers and physicists, and which may all turn out to be true – jointly entail that we are living in the functional equivalent of a peer-to-peer (P2P) networked computer simulation. Not only that, I argued that this P2P Hypothesis explains the very existence of almost all of the most puzzling features of our world: 1. Quantum indeterminacy and measurement problems. 2. Quantum entanglement. 3. The apparent irreducibility of conscious experience to physical objects, properties or functions. 4. The intuition that our personal identity, as conscious subjects of experience, is irreducible to any form of physical or psychological continuity. 5. The apparent “unreality of time” in the objective physical world, along with our subjective experience of the passage of time. 6. Our experience of ourselves as having free will despite our experiencing the physical world as causally closed under the laws of physics. §1 of this essay briefly summarizes (a) the philosophical and empirical hypotheses that jointly entail the P2P Hypothesis, (b) how the P2P Hypothesis explains all six features of our mentioned above, and (c) the P2P Hypothesis’s four distinct empirical predictions. §2 then shows something new: that even if the P2P Hypothesis is true, our world differs from the kind of P2P simulations we have constructed in one profound, fundamental way: a way that implies that reality cannot be reduced to mere quantitative information of the sort dealt with in the hard-sciences. Reality has fundamentally qualitative elements that cannot be understood as “information” in any traditional sense.
-Panpsychism as Paradigm looks to Panpsychism to resolve the philosophical questions in addition to the Hard Problem:

I shall address four specific metaphysical anomalies. In each case I shall argue that these are anomalies for materialism but are far less problematic for cosmological panpsychism. The arguments as I present them here will be very abbreviated but can be found in more developed form elsewhere in my work:

1. Problem of realism, or of the appearance/reality distinction

2. Problem of why the universe hangs together, or, more narrowly, the
problem of causation

3. Problem of why there is something rather than nothing

4. Problem of the origin of the universe, or of a beginning to time

Of course, the hard problem of consciousness, which I have not listed, is also a pre-eminent anomaly for the materialist paradigm, an anomaly which panpsychism can make some claim to solve. But if it can be shown that materialism harbours other anomalies, and that cosmological panpsychism solves, or at least softens, these, this independent evidence for panpsychism strengthens it as a contender in the case of the hard problem.
 
#12
I think he's just stating the conclusion of his article, which in turn I suspect a brief account based on his larger work. Perhaps you could explain what "pseudoprofundity" is and why it applies?
Appealing to a depth that may not be there. Starting with the assumption that consciousness is a stand alone 'component' makes that easier.

The Hard Problem is hardly conjured, it's a result of mechanistic/materialist assumptions about the nature of reality, as noted in Clifton's An Empirical Case Against Materialism and Sam Harris' Mysteries of Consciousness.

If anything Lanza is saying the opposite, that by acknowledging consciousness is a fundamental & irreducible component of reality you don't have a Hard Problem.
Saying 'consciousness is fundamental' is easier said than envisaged or satisfactorily explained, but it clearly appeals to some. To say the physical has the potential for biological awareness appeals to others.

Beyond the question of the ontological status of consciousness there are a variety of additional questions one can resolve depending on what immaterialist models one selects:

- A Place for Consciousness argues that we need something very much like consciousness to have causation at all.



- How the Peer-to-Peer Simulation Hypothesis Explains Just About Everything, Including the Very Existence of Quantum Mechanics uses a dualist model where we are "users"/"players" from a higher frame experiencing the lower frame of the (seemingly) physical world.



-Panpsychism as Paradigm looks to Panpsychism to resolve the philosophical questions in addition to the Hard Problem:
I see the appeal of panpsychism, but you seem to flip and flop depending on what's at issue. Here, for example, you appear to be mocking the notion of panpsychism:

Ah, so that's how you get consciousness out of matter lacking all mental characteristics....
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#13
Appealing to a depth that may not be there. Starting with the assumption that consciousness is a stand
alone 'component' makes that easier.
Again, I don't understand what you're saying here when you say "depth". He makes a conclusion at the end of the essay that is at the least a sample of his argument which I presume is drawn from his book. The books themselves, assuming the quoted testimonial is accurate, is apparently convincing to some like physicist Scott M. Tyson:

“I downloaded a digital copy of [Biocentrism] in the privacy of my home, where no one could observe my buying or reading such a “New Agey” sort of cosmology book. Now, mind you, my motivation was not all that pure. It was my intention to read the book so I could more effectively refute it like a dedicated physicist was expected to. I consider myself to be firmly and exclusively entrenched in the cosmology camp embodied by the likes of Stephen Hawking, Lisa Randall, Brain Greene, and Edward Witten. After all, you know what Julius Caesar said: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” I needed to know what the other camps were thinking so I could better defend my position. It became necessary to penetrate the biocentrism camp.

The book had the completely opposite effect on me. The views that Dr. Lanza presented in this book changed my thinking in ways from which there could never be retreat. Before I had actually finished reading the book, it was abundantly obvious to me that Dr. Lanza’s writings provided me with the pieces of perspective that I had been desperately seeking. Everything I had learned and everything I thought I knew just exploded in my mind and, as possibilities first erupted and then settled down, a completely new understanding emerged. The information I had accumulated in my mind hadn’t changed, but the way I viewed it did— in a really big way.”


Really the claim of trying to use a false sense of the profound could be leveled against anyone. For example I would say it applies to Neil Degrasse Tyson trying to make it sound like materialism doesn't make all human existence completely worthless & valueless:


Anyone who wants to know what materialism truly entails for the human race should check out The Disenchanted Naturalist's Guide to Reality...scary stuff until you realize what he's saying is that we only think we have thoughts...then you realize why I think materialism is barely worth considering as a possibility.

Saying 'consciousness is fundamental' is easier said than envisaged or satisfactorily explained, but it clearly appeals to some. To say the physical has the potential for biological awareness appeals to others.
"Envisaged" eh? Now who's trying to sound profound? ;) See how easy it that was....

In any case I don't know what makes a metaphysical statement "easier" - everyone has to accept some fundamentals, what matters is whether the acceptance is rational and in accordance with the idea that the universe is intelligible. If anything it's easier to accept the random brute facts that materialism takes for granted - laws of physics that never change in space-time for no reason and somehow get around the Interaction Problem, thoughts and experiencing just rising out of just the right swirl of atoms, causation happening just because, and the varied anomalies that immaterialism can help solve that I mentioned in my previous post.

I see the appeal of panpsychism, but you seem to flip and flop depending on what's at issue. Here, for example, you appear to be mocking the notion of panpsychism:
I'm just confused here, seeing as matter that has mental characteristics would be panpsychism?
 
#14
Again, I don't understand what you're saying here when you say "depth". He makes a conclusion at the end of the essay that is at the least a sample of his argument which I presume is drawn from his book. The books themselves, assuming the quoted testimonial is accurate, is apparently convincing to some like physicist Scott M. Tyson:

“I downloaded a digital copy of [Biocentrism] in the privacy of my home, where no one could observe my buying or reading such a “New Agey” sort of cosmology book. Now, mind you, my motivation was not all that pure. It was my intention to read the book so I could more effectively refute it like a dedicated physicist was expected to. I consider myself to be firmly and exclusively entrenched in the cosmology camp embodied by the likes of Stephen Hawking, Lisa Randall, Brain Greene, and Edward Witten. After all, you know what Julius Caesar said: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” I needed to know what the other camps were thinking so I could better defend my position. It became necessary to penetrate the biocentrism camp.

The book had the completely opposite effect on me. The views that Dr. Lanza presented in this book changed my thinking in ways from which there could never be retreat. Before I had actually finished reading the book, it was abundantly obvious to me that Dr. Lanza’s writings provided me with the pieces of perspective that I had been desperately seeking. Everything I had learned and everything I thought I knew just exploded in my mind and, as possibilities first erupted and then settled down, a completely new understanding emerged. The information I had accumulated in my mind hadn’t changed, but the way I viewed it did— in a really big way.”


Really the claim of trying to use a false sense of the profound could be leveled against anyone. For example I would say it applies to Neil Degrasse Tyson trying to make it sound like materialism doesn't make all human existence completely worthless & valueless:


Anyone who wants to know what materialism truly entails for the human race should check out The Disenchanted Naturalist's Guide to Reality...scary stuff until you realize what he's saying is that we only think we have thoughts...then you realize why I think materialism is barely worth considering as a possibility.



"Envisaged" eh? Now who's trying to sound profound? ;) See how easy it that was....

In any case I don't know what makes a metaphysical statement "easier" - everyone has to accept some fundamentals, what matters is whether the acceptance is rational and in accordance with the idea that the universe is intelligible. If anything it's easier to accept the random brute facts that materialism takes for granted - laws of physics that never change in space-time for no reason and somehow get around the Interaction Problem, thoughts and experiencing just rising out of just the right swirl of atoms, causation happening just because, and the varied anomalies that immaterialism can help solve that I mentioned in my previous post.



I'm just confused here, seeing as matter that has mental characteristics would be panpsychism?
If you're comfortable with matter having "mental characteristics" then we're all good. As far as I'm aware, none of my comments in any thread have precluded some sort of panpsychism.
 
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