Sunday, March 27, 2016

When philosophers write about evolution

The latest issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach contains a review of two books about evolution written by philosophers. The author of the review is Egbert Giles Leigh Jr. You can read it for free at: Questions about NeoDarwinism: a review of two books.

The books are,
Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist NeoDarwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False by Thomas Nagel. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. ISBN 978-0-19-991975-8.

Are You an Illusion? by Mary Midgley. New York, NY: Routledge. 2014. ISBN 978-1-84465-792-6.
Both of these books challenge the idea that random mutation and natural selection can explain the world we see around us today.

The reviewer responds with a defense of natural selection from an adaptationist perspective.

I think Nagel and Midgley are wrong but for different reasons. I think that the history of life is the culmination of many random and accidental events and it could easily have gone in different directions [see Replaying life's tape]. I also think that lots of modern features are epiphenomena and not adaptations. Consciousness, to the extent that it actually exists, is one of them.

Nevertheless, Leigh's review is interesting and informative and I urge you to read it if you are interested in knowing why philosophers attack evolution. It helps us understand, once again, where philosophy is going wrong.


111 comments :

  1. Philosophers who ignore reality in favor of their special brand of logic do no one any good.

    I've had these kinds of conversations with them before. Yes, they make some interesting points, but if they actually look at the published evidence, their ideas are simply wrong.

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  2. Can someone please explain to me what is so special about consciousness that it is considered an impenetrable mystery? To me, it seems no more a mystery than the wetness of water.

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    1. Sure. What is consciousness? How is it generated in the brain? What does it do? What is it for (assuming it's for something and not a spandrel, as Larry thinks)? If it's a spandrel, what caused it? All these are unanswered questions.

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    2. The big question for philosophers is the one asked in Midgley's book: is there something about consciousness that materialism and reductionism can't explain?

      It's the old mind-body problem dressed up in 21st century language. Philosophers have been wrestling with this "problem" for centuries. Scientists solved it decades ago but many philosophers don't like the answer.

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    3. @John

      I don't mean to suggest that the neurological basis of consciousness if fully understood. I am talking, instead, of the opinion often expressed that the questions surrounding it are of a categorically different nature than other scientific questions, such that it may be beyond the remit of science to even answer. To me, it seems no different than figuring out how, say, the immunological system works. More complicated, perhaps, but not qualitatively different.

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    4. @ Larry.

      Yeah, that's what I was thinking.

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    5. I'd be interested in a link on how scientists showed how consciousness can be explained via 'materialism and reductionism.'

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    6. Hey Eric,

      Larry does not even take the position that the existence of consciousness is a given, if you read his words.

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    7. @ Eric Falkenstein:

      Try this:

      a) Remove your brain.

      b) Are you still conscious?

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    8. @lutesuite: Dangerous question - Eric might be just as "conscious" as he is now.

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    9. As good a place to start as any:

      Consciousness Explained is a 1991 book by the American philosopher Daniel Dennett which offers an account of how consciousness arises from interaction of physical and cognitive processes in the brain.

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    10. What is it for (assuming it's for something and not a spandrel, as Larry thinks)?

      In asking that question and talking about spandrels we want to distinguish between some prior purpose that consciousness expresses (I agree with Larry and presumably most of us that evolution has no prior purpose), and what selection can act on after it appears. Consciousness appears to be pretty useful selection-wise if humanity overrunning the planet is any indication. Of course selection would not be able to act on mental states directly, but number of neurons and states of interconnectedness between them are to some extent subject to genetic/developmental control and therefore to selection.

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    11. And on the more anecdotal side, many of the books by Oliver Sacks (e.g. "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat") demonstrate the correlation between physical injury to the brain and resulting mental impairment.

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    12. I am talking, instead, of the opinion often expressed that the questions surrounding it are of a categorically different nature than other scientific questions, such that it may be beyond the remit of science to even answer.

      And there we are at the crux of the matter. I think the first thing to notice is the shift from "consciousness" to "neurological basis of consciousness". This may be a subtle distinction, but there's likely a neurological basis for counting, which is not the same as the mathematical foundation for the integers. More relevantly, we know precisely how a computer handles numbers, but again, that's not the same as mathematics.

      There are some issues with both the epiphenomenon and the pan-adaptionist views - mainly how consciousness is restricted to some of what the brain does. We know from delayed choice experiments that the brain makes decisions before we become consciously aware of them. And that seems to support an "innocent bystander" view, where consciousness doesn't really do anything. But if that was the case, why are we aware of most of the stuff our brain does? The brain clearly filters some of the sensory input it gets before it reaches the consciousness. Why? You know if a hollywood movie had somebody doing a genome assembly there would be screens on which 3D-models of DNA would be fitted to one another. That's a computationally heavy task and making such an output would be a monumental waste of resources. But the brain does convert what's basically a fourier analysis of changes in air pressure into a sensation of sound for the consciousness to perceive. That only makes sense if consciousness does something, but then we run into the problem that neuronal systems have been working in a large number of organisms, most of which we don't think are conscious. Does any decision making system simply acquire consciousness once it passes some threshold?

      But it's getting even more fundamental, because we are running into epistemological trouble. The first thing we need when we want to do science are subjects. To a large degree reducing consciousness and the subjectivity it grants to neuronal processes removes the subject status and transforms our subjects to objects. But that in turn takes out one of the fundamental assumptions we have to make to do science. We end up with a paradox: If science shows that consciousness is fully explained by neuronal processes, then science is impossible, which means that it can not show that consciousness is fully explained by neuronal processes. In which case we can assume that there are subjects, which allows science to function, which in turn again shows that...

      To sum it up: The neurological basis of consciousness is a tough scientific question. But consciousness itself is not a scientific question, because it has implication for what science is and how it operates. It becomes a self-referential problem (in the same way "this sentence is false" is a paradox).

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    13. Consciousness is special because with it you can know something, without it you can't know anything.
      What makes it mysterious is that you can't know if something else has it.

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    14. I know that my washing machine does not have it.

      Your definition of consciousness is some what circular.

      Invariably when someone claims that consciousness is "special" they are advocating for a dualistic non-material component usually poofed into the brain by their very special invisible friend, who, not too surprisingly, is also completely non-material (and non-existent).

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    15. steve
      How do you know your washing machine doesn't have it?

      I didn't define consciousness, I gave two features I think are special and mysterious which is what was asked for. There are other features.

      I would be willing to assume consciousness is the result of physical processes for any discussion on the topic. I hope you are also willing to do so.

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    16. I'm being non-sarcastic when I ask: does anybody have a scientific definition of what consciousness is? If we don't have a scientific definition of it, how can we ask a scientific question about it?

      I fear statements of the form "Are the Beatles better than the Rolling Stones?" which science cannot answer, because even if we have a definition of the Beatles and the Stones, we have no scientific definition of "better". And if just one word doesn't have a scientific definition, how can I ask the question?

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    17. Hey Jack,

      When we stick the verb "to be" between 2 nouns, that is a definition.

      When we talk about features or attributes we use the verb "to have".

      If your definition of consciousness is so vague and specious that you have trouble placing washing machines inside or outside of the circle in the Venn diagram labelled "Entities with consciousness" then what you have is a completely useless definition and a penchant for wasting other peoples time.

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    18. I didn't define consciousness, I gave two features I think are special and mysterious which is what was asked for. There are other features.

      What's the difference between "special and mysterious" and "we just don't quite have all the answers, yet"?

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    19. Diogenes-
      I’m not being sarcastic when I answer: No, I don’t think anyone has a scientific definition of what consciousness is. There are some ‘working’ definitions in neuroscience, but those don’t seem complete.
      ’Special’ and ‘mysterious’ aren’t scientific designations.

      steve o-
      Special and mysterious are both adjectives.

      I asked how you know the washing machine doesn’t have consciousness.
      Only you can determine what is a waste of your time.

      lutesuite-
      we don't have all the answers when it comes to what goes on with black holes. The black hole is 'special' and 'mysterious' too. I note human beings seem to have different emotional attachments to these two subjects. Maybe its the emotional aspects that make it different.


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    20. Does anyone remember Data on Star Trek TNG?

      The key question in the debate on consciousness is "Is Data conscious?" (This is a thought experiment.)

      The next questions are "Are chimps conscious?" If so, "What other animals are conscious?"

      Answering these questions forces you to come up with a meaningful definition of "conscious." If Data is conscious then the mind-body problem is solved and consciousness doesn't mean anything.

      If other animals are conscious then we can start working on a meaningful definition that will usually turn out to be useless.

      The only definition that causes a problem is if you restrict "conscious" to live humans. That begins to smack of religion and souls and handwaving.

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    21. Larry writes: If Data is conscious then the mind-body problem is solved and consciousness doesn't mean anything.

      This to me reads quite literally as "if A then not A", which resolves to "false".

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    22. @Simon Gunkel

      Don't be so damn picky. You know very well what I meant.

      If someone admits that a machine can be conscious then clearly the mind is a consequence of the body and there's not much point in describing consciousness as anything special that has to be explained.

      Why do you keep doing this?

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    23. @Larry: I've written a long post above, in which one of the central claims is that consciousness can not be studied by science, because science itself requires consciousness and any answer science could provide would be self-referential and paradoxical. Your post illustrates this nicely, because it is simply running with the paradox.

      I know you think this is a nitpicky point. I don't think so, it's the point where you basically decide to ignore the problem. And sure there's little point to the philosophical discussion about consciousness if you chose to ignore the part of the problem that interest philosophers. I don't think this is nitpicking.

      I sometimes do make minor points and yes, I do have a tendency to nitpick. But you do use this to shut down discussion when I don't and if you are annoyed about my nitpicking I'm probably equally aggravated over your dismissal of issues as minor and nitpicky that I consider anything but.

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    24. I don't think materialism can "account" for consciousness. But then, I don't think anything else can either. This isn't a score for supernaturalism (or mentalism, or idealism or whatever your favorite brand of anything-but-materialism happens to be), which would "account" for it by nothing more than making it a brute fact of existence itself without explanation or mechanism.

      But if the only alternative is also relagated to brute-fact accounts of consciousness (it just is and we don't know how or why), then materialism is on balance no worse positioned compared to any other things since the same sort of unexplained assertion can just as easily be made (the brain and other complex information-processing physical structures "make" consciousness and we don't know how or why).

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    25. one of the central claims is that consciousness can not be studied by science, because science itself requires consciousness

      I really don't see the problem at all. Why is using our minds to study our minds necessarily "paradoxical"? Where is the contradiction? Why would this be doomed to failure if our minds are a reasonably effective tool for discerning truth? Would it necessarily be more effective for me to study your state of consciousness than my own? Why, since I happen to know far more detail about my state of mind than you do, barring telepathy?

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    26. Simon Gunkel: "But it's getting even more fundamental, because we are running into epistemological trouble. The first thing we need when we want to do science are subjects. To a large degree reducing consciousness and the subjectivity it grants to neuronal processes removes the subject status and transforms our subjects to objects. But that in turn takes out one of the fundamental assumptions we have to make to do science. We end up with a paradox: If science shows that consciousness is fully explained by neuronal processes, then science is impossible, which means that it can not show that consciousness is fully explained by neuronal processes. In which case we can assume that there are subjects, which allows science to function, which in turn again shows that..."

      I don't follow this argument. How would reducing consciousness to neuronal activity eliminate a fundamental assumption required to do science. Which assumption is that? Science is already predicated on several axiomatic assumptions (e.g. minimally methodological naturalism), so does that not already limit scientific models?

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    27. Where is the contradiction? Why would this be doomed to failure if our minds are a reasonably effective tool for discerning truth?

      I think the issue is even simpler: We don't even bother with whether science is able to discern the Truth. It could be that we live in a Matrix-like simulated reality, the nature of which is completely inaccessible to our subjective selves. OK, then, what science is doing is figuring out the rules and predictable patterns that exist in that simulated reality. Science is still the only means by which we can do that.

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    28. @judmarc: The contradiction arises, because science demands that there are multiple entities which are able to have subjective experiences. By communicating with one another these entities can compare these experiences and come to a consensus rendering the result intersubjective. There is the brute fact that I am conscious. To me that you are also conscious is an assumption with no way to check it. But only assuming that others are as capable of having experiences as I am makes it reasonable to engage in science with them.
      If we look at neurological correlates, we can't define consciousness through them, because we have already agreed to this assumption. The claim that scientist X is conscious is unfalsifiable and in fact if we thought that we had found the neurological foundations of consciousness and then found it violated in a colleague we would reject our theory, rather than do away with the notion that she is conscious.

      @Brian: Science is limited by its assumptions (I would argue that methodological naturalism is not an assumption, but a consequence of the definition of nature as "that which natural science can study"). The bare minimum for science IMO are three things:
      1) There are multiple entities that have experiences (which does entail that they are conscious)
      2) They can communicate about these experiences (this doesn't need to be perfect and how science is limited by our ability to communicate is an interesting field in itself)
      3) We evaluate scientific theories by using modus ponens (there are some logical systems where this isn't available and I always thought that some philosophy grad student should write a thesis on what you get if you stick with the first two but use only other modes of inference).

      @lutesuite: Well, scientific truth comes in the form "theory X has not been contradicted by observations up to this point". That type of truth remains true, even if we were in a matrix. But you note that there are "subjective selves" and that is in fact something we can not do away with. As long as there are multiple conscious entities in the Matrix they can do science. But if there was only one then it couldn't.

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    29. @Larry

      "Is Data conscious?"

      This sounds like a restatement of Alan Turing's question - "Can machines think?" for which he proposed his Turing test which uses natural language conversations over a text only channel as the evaluation method.

      Using a method like this to evaluate consciousness side-steps all the "deep" philosophical questions that accrete to the investigation like so many barnacles until the whole enterprise sinks under it's own weight.

      You use exactly the same tools you would use to determine if another human being is conscious to investigate any other entity, organic or otherwise.

      This includes my washing machine.

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    30. But you note that there are "subjective selves" and that is in fact something we can not do away with. As long as there are multiple conscious entities in the Matrix they can do science. But if there was only one then it couldn't.

      Yes. So? We take that as axiomatic and as an assumption that is just understood. Then we investigate consciousness just like any other object of scientific investigation. I still don't see the (hard) problem.

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    31. The hard problem is that given that we can not rule out things like the matrix-type scenario, we can't be sure that a correlation between neurological processes and consciousness indicates anything. We can investigate the neurological basis for consciousness, but in such a scenario that is not the same as consciousness itself - consciousness is outside of the matrix, it's what the simulation plays to. And so the questions isn't what makes consciousness so special that science can't investigate it, it's what makes it so special that it is the one thing outside of the matrix it can investigate? (And since StarTrek has already made an entry to this thread, I would like to suggest that the simulation is programmed in Q, which is a dialect of R)

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    32. Simon,

      Why would anybody allow some mysticism to enter into the equation? (Yes, the matrix is mysticism. Exactly like invoking gods.)

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    33. @photosynthesis: I think you should look up mysticism... But a) I didn't introduce the matrix-type model into the discussion, lutesuite did and I decided to stay with that model in my reply and b) I did not profess a belief in the matrix-model, I do merely point out that it's not a scientific question whether it's correct or not.

      To take this away from the world of SciFi as envisioned by either the Wachowski sisters or Gene Roddenberry, let's go to an actual philosopher: Kant.
      Kant introduced the distinction between noumena, the things that exist, and phenomena, what we observe. Metaphysics using Kants language is trying to figure out how the two relate to each other. Somehow noumena produce phenomena. Natural science is by definition restricted to phenomena. Now, consciousness is a noumenon (that you are conscious is a brute fact to you). Furthermore it is the only noumenon you have direct evidence for (the metaphysical position that it is the only noumenon is solipsism. There are no logical problems with solipsism, it's merely the most boring metaphysical position there is, in the same way the trivial ring is a valid mathematical structure, but it's boring as heck and mathematicians try their best to come up with things that are not the trivial ring).
      Now you can make this formal by stating that there is a set of noumena N, the set of phenomena P and some mapping f:N->P. Metaphysics has two unknowns: We don't know f, and the only thing we know about N is that we ourselves are an element of N. P we can know a lot about, because P is something we can study using natural science. Now, if you claim that you can investigate consciousness with science you are making the claim that for some subset of P, f is known. That is an extraordinary claim, because f is generally unknown (since we know a lot about P, we can rule out some combinations of f and N, but there are still a lot of possible combinations that are fully compatible with P). So the question here is: How do you know what f is for that subset of P. If you have some way of knowing that can address that question it would open up so much potential knowledge. But unless you do so consider me a skeptic. If x+y=12 is known and you claim that y is obviously 5 and therefore x is 7, then there's good reason to wonder how you figured out that y was 5 in the first place.

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    34. Simon Gunkel says: "consciousness can not be studied by science"

      Does "consciousness" have a scientific definition? Yes or no.

      If yes, what is the definition?

      If no, how can your statement itself be scientific? What kind of statement is it?

      If science cannot study consciousness, where is there evidence that it even exists?

      Why in heaven's name do I need to believe other people are conscious to do science? Why can't one person do experiments, etc.? If a virus wiped out the rest of mankind, one person could still do science.

      Is not the statement, "I am conscious", a phenomenon? Why can I not track that phenomenon back to its source? Why can that source not be reasonably identified as the cause, at least proximate cause, or consciousness?

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    35. We can investigate the neurological basis for consciousness, but in such a scenario that is not the same as consciousness itself - consciousness is outside of the matrix, it's what the simulation plays to. And so the questions isn't what makes consciousness so special that science can't investigate it, it's what makes it so special that it is the one thing outside of the matrix it can investigate?

      If you say so. The first question is the one I am interesting in. The issues you raise don't seem confined to neuroscience. How do I know if the reading I get from the chromatography machine actually exists, and isn't just a hallucination? And how do I know that the colleague who confirms the reading isn't part of the same hallucination? Don't know, don't care. Let's just keep doing chemistry.

      The issue of consciousness has its own version of the Onion Test: If consciousness exists independent of the brain, then why can consciousness be altered, and even eliminated altogether, in a predictable, consistent and repeatable manner simply by manipulating the brain? That is the question that must be addressed by those proposing that the mind is immaterial. And if they respond, instead, with the sort of metaphysical convolutions you are providing here, I take that as an admission that they have no answer.

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    36. Does "consciousness" have a scientific definition?

      No

      If no, how can your statement itself be scientific? What kind of statement is it?

      It's not a scientific statement, it is an epistemological statement. Science is a method for generating knowledge about phenomena. Consciousness is not a phenomenon, therefore science can not produce knowledge about it.

      If science cannot study consciousness, where is there evidence that it even exists?

      I have direct evidence that I am conscious. I do not have any evidence that anybody else has.

      Why in heaven's name do I need to believe other people are conscious to do science? Why can't one person do experiments, etc.? If a virus wiped out the rest of mankind, one person could still do science.

      A single person has no way of checking for peculiarities of their senses and no way to correct for individual biases. That results are checked by others with other potential biases is one of the things that make scientific knowledge reliable and while one person could still run experiments and really couldn't help but make observations, that's not sufficient for science. Science is defined as intersubjective. If there is only one person it becomes entirely subjective and thereby ceases to be science (Just imagine for a second that one person being Ken Ham).

      Is not the statement, "I am conscious", a phenomenon?

      Can you clarify what you mean by this?

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    37. I have direct evidence that I am conscious. I do not have any evidence that anybody else has.

      We also have no evidence that the chromatography machine exists. Oh, dear. What are going to do now with that big contraption sitting in the corner of the lab, if we can't use it to do science anymore?

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    38. Simon says: "I have direct evidence that I am conscious."

      I doubt that highly, but you would need to define "conscious" first. What is this "conscious" for which you have "evidence"? What is the nature of the evidence, and how is it logically connected to this "conscious"?

      If you attempt "My consciousness is evidence that I am conscious", we're off to tautology land.

      Care to define "conscious" and now you need to define "evidence" too?

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    39. Simon says: "A single person has no way of checking for peculiarities of their senses and no way to correct for individual biases."

      Absurd, individuals have some methods for detecting their own bias. You're supposed to learn them in statistics class. It may be argued that the more people you have the more double-checking of bias you have, but that's true of anything. Multiple investigators is nice, but not essential.


      "That results are checked by others with other potential biases is one of the things that make scientific knowledge reliable"

      But not the only thing, and not essential.

      "and while one person could still run experiments and really couldn't help but make observations, that's not sufficient for science."

      Of course it is, as long as you're testing the logical, observational entailments of hypotheses.

      "Science is defined as intersubjective."

      Nope, not in my definition of science. We've argued the definition of science here many times.

      Suppose you're Gregor Mendel or Barbara McClintock, and you publish your work (or you don't publish it) and it's ignored for decades. It's still science even if other people aren't paying attention. What Mendel and McClintock did was science before other people paid attention to it.

      Let me be clear: if a virus wipes out the rest of you, I'm still doing science. You can't define that away.

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    40. Simon quotes me: 'Is not the statement, "I am conscious", a phenomenon?

      Can you clarify what you mean by this?'


      Here we are, talking about how we're conscious. You said "I have evidence I am conscious." Your saying it is a phenomenon. It presumably has a cause. If we hypothesize your statement is true, consciousness must be one of the causes of you saying that. Why can we not track backwards the chain of cause and effect?

      For this phenomenon, Simon says "I am conscious", there is presumably a chain of causes and effects, A, B, C, D, E. Why don't we just track that backward until we find the first event that's essential to saying "I am conscious"? Then we would at least have the "neurological correlates of consciousness", anyway.

      So let me ask Simon: if we investigate the phenomenon, Simon says "I am conscious", and we track backward the chain of cause and effect, wouldn't consciousness (or the neurological correlates thereof) be one of them?

      If consciousness isn't one of the causes of you saying "I am conscious", then you are NOT conscious! Oops, catch 22 there.

      And this raises a related question: how do you know consciousness is a noumena? How do you know?

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    41. @lutesuite:
      The issues you raise don't seem confined to neuroscience. How do I know if the reading I get from the chromatography machine actually exists, and isn't just a hallucination? And how do I know that the colleague who confirms the reading isn't part of the same hallucination? Don't know, don't care. Let's just keep doing chemistry.

      I agree. My point is precisely that it is not limited to neuroscience - there's nothing special there about consciousness. There's the classical response to argument about which interpretation of quantum mechanics is the correct one. Shut up and calculate. It doesn't matter to science whether the Copenhagen interpretation or the many worlds interpretation is right - both agree on the phenomena and therefore they agree on the science. Noting that science is not doing metaphysics in not a slight against science. Science isn't doing art history either. Or maths. Your reaction here is very much the same as any creationist you ever heard utter the phrase "I am not a monkey."

      @Diogenes:
      I doubt that highly
      And right you are, because you do not have evidence that I am conscious. But the point here is that one can not logically deny ones own existence (because if one did not exist, who'd be doing the denying). Last time I checked I did have thoughts and experiences. Call it personal revelation if you will, but I'm convinced that this is true.

      Multiple investigators is nice, but not essential.

      I disagree. While statistics can deal with some issues, you can very easily have biases in the way you construct your experiments.

      Suppose you're Gregor Mendel or Barbara McClintock, and you publish your work (or you don't publish it) and it's ignored for decades. It's still science even if other people aren't paying attention.

      I would agree to this, if there wasn't the part in the parentheses. If they hadn't published, it wouldn't have been science.

      You can't define that away.

      You could do something that is as close to science as it gets without additional obervers, but it wouldn't be science. Your vegan meatballs, may taste very similar to meatballs, but let's face it: A vegan meatball isn't a meatball.

      Your saying it is a phenomenon.

      Yes.

      If we hypothesize your statement is true, consciousness must be one of the causes of you saying that.

      But while I am sure that my statement is true, you can not be. As far as you know, I could be some entity that says it is conscious, but actually isn't.

      Then we would at least have the "neurological correlates of consciousness", anyway.

      Yes.

      So let me ask Simon: if we investigate the phenomenon, Simon says "I am conscious", and we track backward the chain of cause and effect, wouldn't consciousness (or the neurological correlates thereof) be one of them?

      The neurological correlate would be, consciousness wouldn't. Again, P is something we can investigate using science, N isn't.

      And this raises a related question: how do you know consciousness is a noumena? How do you know?

      Wrong question. You do not know whether I exist and I do not know whether you exist. But there is no way for me not to know that I exist, because if I were to doubt it, then who would do the doubting?

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    42. Simon is into evading questions:

      Me: And this raises a related question: how do you know consciousness is a noumena? How do you know?

      Simon: Wrong question.

      No, it's the right question, because you chose not to answer it. When I ask questions and you don't answer them, it's because I got you. So that's the right question.

      You do not know whether I exist and I do not know whether you exist. But there is no way for me not to know that I exist, because if I were to doubt it, then who would do the doubting?

      This is not an answer. You assume that doubt requires "someone" to do the doubting, but you don't have a definition of a "self" that I should care about, and you have bothered to define "consciousness" either. Without a definition of the "I" you cannot make assertions of the form "I know I exist", nor can you get from there to your attempt at claiming consciousness must exist.

      You have:

      1. No definition of 'I' or the self

      2. No definition of consciousness

      3. an unspoken presupposition that if 'I' exist, 'consciousness' must exist-- but you have no logical connection between the two things you won't define.

      Your thinking is totally lacking in rigor. Next.

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    43. Serioiusly, is this the best philosophy has to offer? There's gotta be some philosophy somewhere better than this. I'm not out to trash all philosophy, but seriously. No rigor to be seen.

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    44. Me: If we hypothesize your statement is true, consciousness must be one of the causes of you saying that.

      Simon: But while I am sure that my statement is true, you can not be. As far as you know, I could be some entity that says it is conscious, but actually isn't.

      Not answering the question again, and totally irrelevant. The existence of consciousness in you is part of the hypothesis. I could switch it to me, I could say "I say I'm conscious" and then investigate the chain of causes leading to that effect.

      You're not answering any of my questions, just trying to change the subject as fast as possible without *thinking*. There's gotta be better philosophy than this somewhere.

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    45. Simon: "Again, P is something we can investigate using science, N [noumena] isn't."

      This appears tautological. Where is independent evidence we can't investigate noumena scientifically, but they exist?

      It seems the inability to investigate noumena scientifically is just part of the definition of noumena, so we have a tautology. The problem with tautologies is, how can you prove the entities exist? With this definition of 'noumena', how can you prove noumena exist?

      I am sure Simon will change the subject, "But there must be someone who is doing the doubting!" That's a non sequitur and I addressed it above. It changes the subject to a "someone" that is also not defined, and also not shown to exist, and the existence of which does not logically entail the existence of noumena.

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    46. It seems Simon has about 3 answers and he's exhausted them all. Anything else?

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    47. @ Simon Gunkel:

      You agree with my statement, but then say "Your reaction here is very much the same as any creationist you ever heard utter the phrase 'I am not a monkey.'"

      Might you not see how that could be confusing?

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    48. No, it's the right question, because you chose not to answer it. When I ask questions and you don't answer them, it's because I got you. So that's the right question.

      Seriously? Your question was nonsensical. It has no answer because it is devoid of meaning. It's very easy to come up with questions that have no answer, because they make no sense - here's 3:
      What is the syntax of cottage cheese?
      My estuary is ironic, ins't it?
      How do the little angels fold the unicorns metalloproteases?
      So you got me, but it's a pigeons checkmate.

      It seems the inability to investigate noumena scientifically is just part of the definition of noumena, so we have a tautology. The problem with tautologies is, how can you prove the entities exist? With this definition of 'noumena', how can you prove noumena exist?"

      OK, let's look at this:
      Noumena are defined as the things that exist. You do not have to prove that they exist, because the word simply means "things that exist" (it's just shorter to type than that phrase).
      Phenomena are what is experienced. Again, that's the definition of the term. Science is entirely rooted in experience.

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    49. @lutesuite: Well, your posts read - at least to some extend - to me as if you are accusing me of somehow attacking or belittling science. I probably should have cited your post stating:

      We also have no evidence that the chromatography machine exists. Oh, dear. What are going to do now with that big contraption sitting in the corner of the lab, if we can't use it to do science anymore?

      Of course we can still use it to do science. We can use it to do science even if it didn't exist.

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    50. Well, OK, then. It seems you're writing a lot of words answering a question I never asked and in which I am not even particularly interested. So I guess we can just leave it at that.

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    51. I have direct evidence that I am conscious. I do not have any evidence that anybody else has.

      Turing test.

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    52. @ judmarc
      The imitation game (Turing test) only works if you accept that at least one other person besides yourself is conscious. Otherwise there is nobody to imitate.

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    53. @judmarc: Turings paper draws the precise distinction I do here, noting that the test tries to assert whether a machine is able to act as if it was conscious. Turing notes that we do not have anything more to go on when it comes to other humans.

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    54. Turing notes that we do not have anything more to go on when it comes to other humans.

      Exactly. So I can either proceed as if these other entities are doing a fine imitation of consciousness; proceed as if it's all in my head; or proceed as if these other entities, including the somewhat irritating one named Simon Gunkel (or at least claiming to be him on the Internet, where no one knows you're a dog, ad infinitum, ad nauseam) are other humans like me.

      I fail to see that this is any more a problem when researching the basis for what we experience as consciousness than for any other scientific enterprise, and thus I feel the whole "self-referential, paradoxical" thing is nonsense.

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    55. My personal experience convinces me that I can think and reason. It does not convince me that I am "conscious" because I don't know how consciousness differs from the ability to think and reason.

      In principle, the Turing test could convince me that a machine can imitate a human's ability to think and reason. It can't convince me that the machine is conscious unless I use a trivial definition of consciousness that doesn't mean anything.

      Simon Gunkel is using the word "conscious" to describe the actions of a mind but that's not very helpful. It means that anything with the appropriate number of neurons could be "conscious." That includes chimpanzees, fruit flies, dolphins, parrots, octopuses, and even (gasp!) cats.

      Do philosophers publish lengthy papers on whether cats are conscious?

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    56. Nagel, who wrote “Mind and Cosmos…” one of the books reviewed, is most famous for asking “What is it like to be a bat?”
      http://organizations.utep.edu/portals/1475/nagel_bat.pdf

      Philosophers have lots to say about consciousness-
      http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/consciousness/

      I’m not sure either link is worth reading. I included them to give some idea of the amount of verbiage that exists on the subject.

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    57. In principle, the Turing test could convince me that a machine can imitate a human's ability to think and reason. It can't convince me that the machine is conscious unless I use a trivial definition of consciousness that doesn't mean anything.

      Of course with the Turing test one doesn't know whether the interlocutor is machine or human. So if the interlocutor turns out to be human, would you be convinced that he/she "can imitate a human's ability to think and reason"?

      In your view, is there in principle anything preventing machines from eventually progressing to they can think and reason like (or better than) humans?

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    58. Sorry, "...from eventually progressing to the point that they can...."

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  3. Interesting review, and now I'd like to understand what Midgley means when she says that many humanists still hold to Aristotle's concept of matter. Someone (other than the Catholic Church) still believes in essences and accidents? Or what?

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    1. Has there ever been a philosophical idea that was completely abandoned by the field? Honest question.

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  4. The authors are saying selection can't create these complicated results.
    The bigger point is that its not been shown evolution did create these things. Its just a big guess that they did BECAUSE they say evolution created everything else.
    Thats not been proven or seen. Its just a guess based on reasoning lines and raw results data in the fields.

    It is about probability.
    A idea(evolution) that claims everything can be explained from a series of steps from this to that means it could explain absolutely everything that one could imagine. There would never be a ceiling to accomplishment in biology options except raw physics.
    So one could imagine the MOST impossible sequence of steps and results and still it would be explained by evolution!!
    SO such a hypothesis that can explain everything possible and impossibe is just a line of reasoning in itsessence.
    INDEED Darwin said as much. HE said SHOW ME WHY NOT anything couldn't be explained by small steps.
    Thats not a scientific hypothesis but a line of reasoning ONLY.
    One could say to Darwin show why anything could not be created by evolutionary small steps HOWEVER IMPOSSIBLE one offers up a result.

    Therefore evolutionism must prove itself more then other hypothesis. It must not be based on lines of reasoning at all.
    Yet it is, also because it deals with the invisible origin story, doing that all the time.
    Evolutionism sells itself, partially, on mere reasoning from a starting point.
    Thats not science. Thats extrapolation without raw evidence.

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    1. Do you use a random number generator to decide which words to capitalize?

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    2. NO!. They help make a damn good point even dam GOODER!

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  5. Regarding the state of the art research into consciousness, the ‘sensorimotor’ approach seems promising.

    http://nivea.psycho.univ-paris5.fr
    O’Regan’s book “Why red doesn’t sound like a bell” is excellent.

    Regarding ‘Data’ from star trek-
    http://www.conscious-robots.com

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  6. Larry writes, "I also think that lots of modern features are epiphenomena and not adaptations. Consciousness, to the extent that it actually exists, is one of them."

    This is perhaps true, but then if consciousness is the epiphenomenon, what is the phenomenon from which it emerges? This sounds like Gould's (discredited, in my opinion) argument that language is an epiphenomenon of big brains+intentionality+decision rules, etc.

    More simply, while consciousness might not have been a true target of selection, what are the targets of selection that did lead to consciousness? (this isn't a direct challenge, Larry, just some rhetorical questions that have always nagged at me).

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  7. Larry writes, "I also think that lots of modern features are epiphenomena and not adaptations. Consciousness, to the extent that it actually exists, is one of them."

    http://reasonandscience.heavenforum.org/t1370-consciousness-evidence-of-god

    physicist Chris Clarke, of the University of Southampton, says,
    “On one hand, Mind is inherently non-local. On the other, the world is governed by a quantum physics that is inherently non-local. This is no accident, but a precise correspondence ...[Mind and the world are] aspects of the same thing...The way ahead, I believe, has to place mind first as the key aspect of the universe...We have to start exploring how we can talk about mind in terms of a quantum picture...Only then will we be able to make a genuine bridge between physics and physiology.”

    When scientists muster the courage to face this evidence unflinchingly, the greatest superstition of our age – the notion that the brain generates consciousness or is identical with it – will topple. In its place will arise a nonlocal picture of the mind.

    The Mind is Not The Brain

    http://reasonandscience.heavenforum.org/t1662-the-mind-is-not-the-brain#2581

    You can know for sure just with a moment's reflection that your brain is not your soul.

    The headline in the article says, "A memory is nothing more than a few thousand brain cells firing in a particular pattern." In other words, they are saying that a memory is identical with brain cells firing in a pattern. It is not correlated with a mind state such that the brain cells firing causes your mind or soul to have a memory. It is saying that that's all it is.

    That's like saying that a movie is nothing more than light shining through a piece of celluloid. A movie requires light shining through a piece of celluloid and then you can see it projected on the screen. But to say that it is nothing more than that misses something very obvious. Did you ever go upstairs in a movie theater and look through the window of the projection room? There is a big giant disc spinning, the celluloid goes through an apparatus, and there is hot light.

    Now, what if I were to tell you that that is the movie right there. The movie is the physical action that I can see happening. You'd think that was ridiculous. A movie is much more than the physical mechanism, the machinery with the celluloid passing through it with a sharp, bright light behind it. Rather, the movie is the image that is being projected on the screen, and it's even more than just an image. There is a story, dialogue, characterization. There are all these other things that go beyond just the physical representation.

    When one tries to limit mental activity to the physical processes that I believe produce the mental activity, but isn't the mental activity itself, it is the same as trying to say that a movie is merely the shining of a light through a celluloid strip. You can't capture the movie at all by looking at light shining through celluloid, which shows that a physicalistic explanation of what a movie amounts to falls far short of what the movie really is. What's more, if you look at the light on the celluloid, you will never, ever even see the movie.

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    1. So when a film projector is used to show a movie, there has to be some mysterious, immaterial spirit involved? The images on the screen can't be explained purely thru the mechanistic actions of the projector? What kind of idiot would say that?

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    2. ElShamah77, since mind is not a function of the brain, please remove your brain, then re-post your above comment. I will consider your thoughts more thoroughly after you show they are not coming from your brain.

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    3. thoughts are not coming 'from' your brain. they are coming 'through' your brain.

      So if you remove your brain the thoughts would still be there but there would be no brain to transform the thoughts into a physical form that another brain could hear.




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    4. So if you remove your brain the thoughts would still be there but there would be no brain to transform the thoughts into a physical form that another brain could hear.

      Out of morbid curiosity, since I'm not sure the entertainment value will be worth the damage to my assessment of the human condition, let me ask:

      - Are these thoughts "ours" or are they the Designer's?

      - The purpose of brains is so we are able to speak these thoughts aloud?

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    5. @ Steve,

      So Data, then, is conscious? Or, if you prefer non-hypothetical examples, AlphaGo is conscious?

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    6. Consider following:

      100 Notable Scientists Call for Open Study of Consciousness 1

      http://reasonandscience.heavenforum.org/t1370-consciousness-evidence-of-god#4825

      We are a group of internationally known scientists, from a variety of scientific fields (biology, neuroscience, psychology, medicine, psychiatry), who participated in an international summit on post-materialist science, spirituality and society. The summit was co-organized by Gary E. Schwartz, PhD and Mario Beauregard, PhD, the University of Arizona, and Lisa Miller, PhD, Columbia University. This summit was held at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona, on February 7-9, 2014. Our purpose was to discuss the impact of the materialist ideology on science and the emergence of a post-materialist paradigm for science, spirituality, and society. We have come to the following conclusions:

      7. At the end of the nineteenth century, physicists discovered empirical phenomena that could not be explained by classical physics. This led to the development, during the 1920s and early 1930s, of a revolutionary new branch of physics called quantum mechanics (QM). QM has questioned the material foundations of the world by showing that atoms and subatomic particles are not really solid objects—they do not exist with certainty at definite spatial locations and definite times. Most importantly, QM explicitly introduced the mind into its basic conceptual structure since it was found that particles being observed and the observer—the physicist and the method used for observation—are linked. According to one interpretation of QM, this phenomenon implies that the consciousness of the observer is vital to the existence of the physical events being observed, and that mental events can affect the physical world. The results of recent experiments support this interpretation. These results suggest that the physical world is no longer the primary or sole component of reality, and that it cannot be fully understood without making reference to the mind.

      10. Conscious mental activity can be experienced in clinical death during a cardiac arrest (this is what has been called a "near-death experience" [NDE]). Some near-death experiencers (NDErs) have reported veridical out-of-body perceptions (i.e. perceptions that can be proven to coincide with reality) that occurred during cardiac arrest. NDErs also report profound spiritual experiences during NDEs triggered by cardiac arrest. It is noteworthy that the electrical activity of the brain ceases within a few seconds following a cardiac arrest.

      11. Controlled laboratory experiments have documented that skilled research mediums (people who claim that they can communicate with the minds of people who have physically died) can sometimes obtain highly accurate information about deceased individuals. This further supports the conclusion that mind can exist separate from the brain.

      12. Some materialistically inclined scientists and philosophers refuse to acknowledge these phenomena because they are not consistent with their exclusive conception of the world. Rejection of post-materialist investigation of nature or refusal to publish strong science findings supporting a post-materialist framework are antithetical to the true spirit of scientific inquiry, which is that empirical data must always be adequately dealt with. Data which do not fit favored theories and beliefs cannot be dismissed a priori. Such dismissal is the realm of ideology, not science.

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    7. Mikkel

      your incredulity is no compass for anything. In brazil, spiritism is one of the major religions. Millions of people frequent séances, where they try to get in touch with their beloved deceased ones. Specially parents, which lost their children. And the medium is able to provide highly accurate information , often they go into trance, and their voice changes, and the parents think they are speaking directly to the spirit of their children. I believe that is demonic deception. But its a real phenomena, observed all over the world.

      Gary E. Schwartz, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Medicine, Neurology, Psychiatry, and Surgery at the University of Arizona and Director of the Laboratory for Advances in Consciousness and Health.

      http://opensciences.org/files/pdfs/ISPMS-Summary-Report.pdf



      Many of the experiments reported The Afterlife Experiments book were single blinded (i.e. the mediums were blind to the identities of the sitters and the sitters’ deceased loved ones); some experiments were double-blinded (i.e. the mediums were blind to the identities of the sitters and the sitters’ deceased loved ones, and the experimenters were blind to details about the sitters’ deceased loved ones). In two of the experiments, the mediums were not allowed to see the sitters (the sitters sat behind the mediums, and a floor to ceiling screen separated them), nor could they hear the sitters (the mediums were not allowed to ask questions, and the sitters were not allowed to speak). Individual Items were scored in terms of categories of names, initials, personal histories, descriptions of temperament, and “other” (e.g. “messages” allegedly from the deceased). The totality of the research clearly indicated that some mediums could obtain highly accurate and specific information under these conditions increasingly stringently controlled experimental conditions.

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    8. Most importantly, QM explicitly introduced the mind into its basic conceptual structure since it was found that particles being observed and the observer—the physicist and the method used for observation—are linked.

      Just pointing out once again that your "understanding" of quantum physics in this respect is completely wrong. No conscious observer is necessary to break down quantum superposition, only some type of interaction, which can be with any sort of material object or energy field.

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    9. @ ElShamah777:

      Here's an example of a psychic obtaining highly accurate information thru supernatural means. Except it isn't. It's an illusionist performing a set of magic tricks. If he had claimed to be a psychic, would you be convinced? I bet you would.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtpbQls5Kpw

      Parapsychology "researchers" are notoriously inept at detecting trickery.

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  8. When an idea in science is ad hoc or good for only one or few things, it is a sure sign of falsehood. The neutral or junk dna is such an idea. It is a proven failure to account for the riddle of genetic diversity, about which it was invented in the first place.

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    1. I'm sorry Huang, but you're not the great thinker that you think you are.

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    2. When an idea in science is ad hoc or good for only one or few things, it is a sure sign of falsehood.

      You mean like 1+1=2?

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  9. Definitely not. Too simple minded to come up with epicycles.

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  10. RE: Caveat lector: Consciousness is an idiosyncratic metaphysical and biological phenomenon or product, intractable by physicalism or reductionism alone, nor in combination of both thereof!?

    I'd be interested in a link on how scientists showed how consciousness can be explained via 'materialism and reductionism.'

    @Eric Falkenstein -- I thought you could start and follow the works of David Chalmers’ (eg) “The Conscious Mind (1996)” and Stuart Hameroff’s “http://www.quantumconsciousness.org/” and Roger Penrose’s (eg) “Shadows of the Mind (1994)” -- although their views have had reached at the apexes of their concurrent scientific and philosophic understandings of our human mind and consciousness.

    This is because all these scientists and authors, have had been defining and confining the biological phenomenon of our consciousness from both their own physical materialist and reductionist points of view, since the 1990s -- while negating the universal fact that our consciousness is a very unique and advanced biological phenomenon or intelligence on Earth, at least for the present days, until we could find other life species and intelligence elsewhere in the Universe above and beyond, someday!?

    Best wishes, Mong 4/17/16usct03:15; practical public science-philosophy critic (since 2006).

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    1. ... our consciousness is a very unique and advanced biological phenomenon or intelligence on Earth

      Please provide proof of that statement with references to the scientific literature, if possible. How do you know that chimpanzees are not conscious using any reasonable definition of "conscious"?

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    2. RE: Philoscientific inquiry: Can physical reductionism understand and appreciate the biological holism or functionalism of our consciousness and the human mind!?

      LAM, I’m glad that you asked such a question as paraphrased above!?

      As a US-trained biomedical scientist, author-philosopher, I’ve been very careful in, and responsible to, what I often say and write in any public forum: scientific, philosophic, or both, since 2006 online or in print.

      1) Your specific request on the reference to the statement that I’ve made, as you quoted above, is only in existence in my mind or consciousness, after I have been intensively reviewing and analyzing the various concurrent literatures on the human mind and biology since 2006.

      2) I didn’t utter any statement: that chimpanzees are not conscious using any reasonable definition of "conscious"? in my caveat lector on the biological phenomenon of our consciousness above.

      3) Since you’ve asked a biological question, let me give you a biological answer: That is, any organisms, including humans and chimpanzees, that posses a brain and a central nervous system, that is comprised of both the “voluntary” and the “autonomous” neuro-cardio-endocrinological systems, are considered to be reasonable “sentient” beings: beings that are capable of experiencing species-specific “consciousness”, “suffering”, etc -- in variable “species-to-species” degrees, but not in kind of “consciousness” or “pain” etc being experienced or encountered within each species.

      4) And, so far on Earth, we humans, are in the apical species of all organisms, that have had so neurologically evolved, experienced, and developed a most unique and evermore advanced and dense level of “consciousness”, “creativities”, “spiritualities”, “intellectuality”, etc since our ancestors began to roam on Earth; control fire; fashion tools; create arts, writings, politics, religions, wars, peace, sciences, technologies, etc since over one million years ago!? And the rest is just history; but not “chimstory” of the consciousness, as any diehard physical or even biological reductionists or the neo-Darwinists would have had consistently argued or shot themselves at their own foot!? -- And that is all the arguments in the 2 philosophic books “Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist NeoDarwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False” and “Are you an elusion?” are fundamentally about!?

      Best wishes, Mong 4/17/16usct14:55

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    3. Your response makes no sense. I assume you cannot prove that we are the only that have achieved consciousness.

      You also can't prove that something called "consciousness" actually exists except in your own mind.

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    4. The division between humans and great apes is obviously a fundamental one in many respects, especially in the brain or intelligence. Anyone who discounts that and considers himself just a third chimpanzee deserves to be and can only logically hope to be treated like a stupid ape by real humans. If
      one does not take his intelligence and hence his thoughts seriously in the first place (after all it is just a stupid chimp thought), why should anyone else? Real humans could care less about what a chimpanzee may think about anything that humans care to think, regardless whether he is the third one or not. The point here is not meant to insult anyone but only to point out the plain obvious that it is self-defeating position to consider humans not more intelligent than a chimpanzee.
      As for evidence of lowly intelligence for the chimps, it is everywhere, e.g., they cannot be taught the concept of a stone knife. Even early human ancestors did not know how to make stone knife until they have progressed into Homo habilis. Also, there is no progression or advancement in chimpanzee history. Bottom line, chimp has no creativity. And creativity may be a better word to use than intelligence or consiousness when talking about the one thing that separates humans from other animals. Too many intelligent humans are just good learners or followers of great creators such as Darwin but have no creativity or independent thinking of their own. But so long some humans do have it while no chimps have it, it is sufficient for creativity to single out humans out of all life forms on Earth.

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    5. Intelligence and consciousness aren't the same thing (though I suspect that intelligence requires consciousness). We humans seem to be much more intelligent than chimps. We can certainly do much more than they do. However, I do think chimps have consciousness.

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    6. I see but those are hammers not knifes. The recent finds of 3.3 million old stones tools by human ancestors in Africa also had no knife like tools, which I have confirmed with Bernie Wood in a recent UCSD symposium on human evolution.

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    7. RE: More on Can physical reductionists comprehend the biological phenomena of consciousness!?

      @LAM: Your response makes no sense.

      This reaction doesn’t surprise me at all: Physical reductionists can’t understand the biological phenomena of consciousness on Earth!?

      I assume you cannot prove that we are the only [species] that have achieved consciousness.

      1) This assumption actually shows me that physical reductionists have had a deep-rooted misconception about our consciousness: a subconsciously-rooted misconception of any biological phenomena that reductionists have had negated or never trained to be anticipating the emergence of consciousness in their mostly physicalist, materialist, rigidity scientific programs -- ie, their pervasive misconception of organisms as automata or robots devoid of biological consciousness since the French mathematician, physicalist, and philosopher Rene Descartes (1596-1650), the father of physical reductionism: one method of thinking that has had been very successfully applied in the physical sciences ever since.

      2) Whereas by modern definition or explanation of “consciousness” (as well as mine) is: Consciousness is a biological phenomenon that can be emanated and experienced in our brain as a functional result of our mental activities, mentalities that can be readily translated into actions as in our mutual understandings of creativities: capable of intellectuality or spirituality; of construction or destruction; of hate or love; among other actions, all have had been expressed in our creative and productive humanities, arts, cultures, societies, civilities, civilizations worldwide -- which are all proofs of our species-specific achieved or translated “consciousness” at work, as well as at best in our history (not “chimstory”) since over 50,000 years ago on Earth!?

      3) Thus all my above written “conscious” refuting of your reductionism biased and misconceived “consciousness” arguments, can be used to counter argue your statement as quoted herein: You also can't prove that something called "consciousness" actually exists except in your own mind.

      4) Furthermore, if I didn’t have any actionable “consciousness” in my mind, how could I have translated it out and written it down on pages -- representing the translated state or existence of my consciousness out there in the open -- so as for you to read and understand it!? Or, all of these dialogues on pages above about consciousness are just an illusion, as the British moral philosopher Mary Midgley has argued in her book “Are you an illusion?”!? -- Or, just a physical reductionism imposed delusion; or, a physicalist denial of the biological phenomena of consciousness actionable outwardly that have had been evolved, sharpened, and expressed, out there as a reality, since the evolution and development and conscious communication of, and among, our hominid ancestors over a million years ago on Earth!?

      Best wishes, Mong 4/17/16usct22:13

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    8. I must say, it's fascinating to discuss philosophy of mind with someone whose mind is so.....*different* from mine.

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    9. I must say, it's fascinating to discuss philosophy of mind with someone whose mind is so.....*different* from mine.

      That is a very perceptive observation; and that is the nature and origin of the individual minds that are being born and developed -- idiosyncratically -- all over the world!? Thus each human mind or the experiences and expressions of our consciousness are unique and idiosyncratic.

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    10. Everyone is unique is only true in a trivial sense. When everyone is unique, no one is. In fact, most people just follow some greats in the past and in a way are fairly predictable, far away from being unique. True uniqueness can only come from creativity. One has to create something of goodness, truth and beauty to be truly unique in the sense of immortality and of being unique from the masses.

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    11. mostly physicalist, materialist, rigidity scientific programs

      Speaking of pervasive misconceptions, the misconception of science as "rigid" is one of the most pervasive. Can you even conceive of the power of imagination necessary for Einstein to deduce the theories of relativity, for Planck, Bohr, etc., to deduce quantum physics in all its strangeness, or for Darwin to deduce the theory of evolution?

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    12. RE: Addendum: More on Chimpstory vs History -- or NeoDarwinist reductionism vs Holistic philosophy or psychology!?

      To this statement I would like to add the following (in parenthesis):

      -- ie, their pervasive misconception of organisms as automata or robots devoid of biological consciousness since the French mathematician, physicalist, and philosopher Rene Descartes (1596-1650), the father of physical reductionism: one method of [analytical] thinking that has had been very successfully applied in the physical sciences ever since. [-- But very devastatingly in the biological sciences and socioeconomic politics as exemplified in the Eugenics movements and the Holocaust of the 20th century past; and even been implicated in the 21st-century US military training programs, as recently revealed and argued in the NYRB from both the “NeoDarwinist psychology vs Moral philosophy” points of view here: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/04/07/moral-psychology-an-exchange/ and here: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/04/21/learned-helplessness-torture-an-exchange/ ].

      Best wishes, Mong 4/18/16usct08:55; practical public science-philosophy critic (since 2006).

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    13. The recent finds of 3.3 million old stones tools by human ancestors in Africa also had no knife like tools, which I have confirmed with Bernie Wood in a recent UCSD symposium on human evolution.

      I see. So the human beings back then were unconscious?

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    14. I guess gnomon thinks that my parent, who suffers from dementia and can't even use a knife, is not a "real human" anymore. His soul has departed his body or something

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    15. No knife, eh? From Smithsonian magazine online:

      Unearthed in a dried-up riverbed in Kenya, the shards of scarred rock, including what appear to be early hammers and cutting instruments, predate the previous record holder by around 700,000 years.

      Sorry, gnomon. You are simply factually incorrect. Either you didn't ask an understandable question or failed to understand the answer.

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    16. Mong,

      What would constitute "other life species and intelligence elsewhere in the Universe above and beyond, someday!?"

      How would we detect it?

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    17. Mong,

      "RE: Philoscientific inquiry: Can physical reductionism understand and appreciate the biological holism or functionalism of our consciousness and the human mind!?

      LAM, I’m glad that you asked such a question as paraphrased above!?"

      I think your paraphrasing here is inaccurate.

      Dr. Moran did not say that you thought that chimpanzees were not conscious.

      "2) I didn’t utter any statement: that chimpanzees are not conscious using any reasonable definition of "conscious"? in my caveat lector on the biological phenomenon of our consciousness above."

      Rather, he asked how you know they are not conscious:

      "How do you know that chimpanzees are not conscious using any reasonable definition of "conscious"? "

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    18. RE: A critical review of the EG Leigh Jr’s review of the 2 “counter neo-Darwinism books”!?

      I thought Leigh has given a very fair review of both the counter neo-Darwinism books, “Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist NeoDarwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False” and “Are you an illusion?”.

      As a retired evolutionary biologist, Leigh has concluded with a great honesty about the subject matters of these 2 books:

      In sum, I do not know how consciousness works, or the likelihood of variation that would allow natural selection to bring forth moral instincts, objective knowledge and conceptual thought. Nonetheless, Darwin (1871) and Lorenz (1978) showed how consciousness, objective knowledge, conceptual thought and moral instincts enhance their possessors’ survival and reproduction. I also think that excessive eagerness to associate natural selection with selfishness—an error Darwin avoided—has distorted reality in a way that creates unnecessary suspicion of science in general and evolutionary biology in particular.

      I fully concur with his last statement that the selfish gene narrative of a neo-Darwinist geneticism that has had been distorted out of a true genetics reality and scientific scholarship, that I’ve had recently been able to conclude here: http://godsgenesconscienceglobaldialogues16.blogspot.com/2016_01_01_archive.html .

      Furthermore, @Chris B: What would constitute "other life species and intelligence elsewhere in the Universe above and beyond, someday!?" How would we detect it?

      I thought your queries will require another specialized discussion forum, I hope LAM will open one in the future.

      However for the time being and briefly (no punk intended): Have you watched the first “Kung Fu Panda” movie? Assuming you are Po who just inherited the privilege of reading the Golden Scroll. As you unscrolled it: What did you detect on the shiny Scroll? And that is my present state of thinking -- with the current state of the cosmological knowledge and as a practical biologist on Earth -- about other life species and intelligence elsewhere in the Universe above and beyond!?

      Whereas the physical reductionists would not be thinking it that way, or they would be out of their sand box or rice bowl very soon -- not someday (punk intended)!?

      Best wishes, Mong 4/20/16usct08:50; practical public science-philosophy critic (since 2006).

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    19. Mong,

      "Whereas the physical reductionists would not be thinking it that way,"

      Not sure who you mean by physical reductionists here. As far as scientists go, there is nothing about science that would interfere with detecting extraterrestrial intelligence. I still would be interested in hearing how you propose to detect it.

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    20. RE: The physical reductionists extraordinaire of the century past!?

      @Chris B: “Not sure who you mean by physical reductionists here.”

      Since you’ve missed all of my definitions of physical reductionism or neo-Darwinism reductionists above, here is another exemplary physical reductionist extraordinariare, whose recent interview with the New Scientist is exemplified here: https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23030690-200-its-mindblowing-what-our-puny-brains-can-do/?utm_source=NSNS and whose new book, ”The Big Picture: On the origins of life, meaning, and the universe itself “ (Dutton), will be out next month: which synopsis concludes as follows:

      In short chapters filled with intriguing historical anecdotes, personal asides, and rigorous exposition, readers learn the difference between how the world works at the quantum level, the cosmic level, and the human level--and then how each connects to the other. Carroll's presentation of the principles that have guided the scientific revolution from Darwin and Einstein to the origins of life, consciousness, and the universe is dazzlingly unique.

      Carroll shows how an avalanche of discoveries in the past few hundred years has changed our world and what really matters to us. Our lives are dwarfed like never before by the immensity of space and time, but they are redeemed by our capacity to comprehend it and give it meaning.

      "The Big Picture" is an unprecedented scientific worldview, a tour de force that will sit on shelves alongside the works of Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, Daniel Dennett, and E. O. Wilson for years to come.

      Also please note the list of names at the end: they are all physical reductionism (SH, CS) as well as neo-Darwinist reductionism (DD, EOW) authors and scholars of the century past!?

      Best wishes, Mong 4/22/16usct03:04.

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    21. Mong,

      You haven't provided any definitions of physical reductionists, only examples of quote mining from some scientists, which leaves any sort of definition ambiguous. You have also left obscure how the ways of thinking of these scientists is in any way an impediment to detecting extraterrestrial intelligence. Is the obfuscation deliberate?

      Also, I continue to await your description of what methods you would use to detect extraterrestrial intelligence.

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  11. You see, the "physical reductionists," i.e., scientists, have impoverished imaginations, so they can only think of humdrum things like proving you are made of the insides of exploding stars. People with real imagination, on the other hand, who are not limited to physical reductionism, can think up much more glorious stories for our origins, like a magic man blowing on a handful of dust.

    See how limiting science is?

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    Replies
    1. I give science 5 years before it crashes to the ground and all scientists everywhere are forced to apologize to the human race.

      Its failure to embrace obscure speculation and unwarranted assumption will send it to the dustbin of history -- within 5 years, you hear!! 6 at most!!

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    2. To William Dembski, all the debate in this country over evolution won't matter in a decade.

      By then, he says, the theory of evolution put forth by Charles Darwin 150 years ago will be dead.

      The mathematician turned Darwin critic says there is much to be learned about how life evolved on this planet. And he thinks the model of evolution accepted by the scientific community won't be able to supply the answers.

      "I see this all disintegrating very quickly," he said.


      That was written April 2, 2006. So this month marks the failure of yet another prediction of the death of the theory of evolution. Belated anniversary greeting, Dr. Dembski!

      http://www.defaithed.com/prediction-watch

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    3. "That was written April 2, 2006. So this month marks the failure of yet another prediction of the death of the theory of evolution. Belated anniversary greeting, Dr. Dembski!"

      Furthermore, Dembski has retired from trying to use math to prove ID/creationism, since his specified complexity nonsense went nowhere and its mathematical underpinnings were dismantled by actual mathematicians. ID/creationists still use his terminology as if it contributed something to the issue.

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