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A naturalistic approach to consciousness

 
weird buffalo
 
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weird buffalo
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15 July 2020 07:59
 

There is a disconnect between reality and our perception of reality.  The “good enough” vs. “perfect” is a good way to put that.  Evolution models tell us that perception will always trend towards the fittest perception, and not towards the most accurate.  We do not see reality as it is, but rather as what is most advantageous to us as a species.  I would suggest that the ineffable nature of “experience” that makes it difficult to describe may be a byproduct of this.  Those moments when we can “feel” something that seems true even though there is little to no evidence to actually support it.  Why do we feel it? Because our brains have evolved to construct a reality that is useful to how our species survives as an organism.

The brain can be tricked in all sorts of ways.  Optical illusions are an obvious one, but the sense of touch can be tricked as well.  If direct physical contact with reality can trick our brain into sensing things that are not true, we should immediately be suspect of what “experience” actually is.  I find it much more likely that consciousness is a byproduct of the symbolic nature of how our brain interprets and reconstructs reality.

Donald Hoffman uses the analogy of an icon on a computer screen.  An icon of a pdf represents the information.  We don’t assume that the icon IS the information.  The pdf isn’t literally a small white rectangle on my computer screen.  The information is stored in the hard drive (in the older HDD) by a series of magnetic switches, but I can’t read those tiny magnetic switches, so the computer has a user interface that compiles the information into an understandable format for me.

Going back to Chalmers, it would seem that he is describing that user interface as consciousness that cannot be described by science.  Most of the time the UI that our brain constructs seems to comport with reality on a day to day level, but even without the benefits of advanced science we can experience a disconnect.  I think that dualism, and perhaps even more broadly spirituality, might come from a deep-seated realization that this disconnect exists.  Except evolutionary science tells us that the disconnect doesn’t come from an outside source, but rather is a product of how evolution works (evolution prefers fitness over accuracy).

 
Nhoj Morley
 
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Nhoj Morley
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16 July 2020 09:06
 

I’ve noticed several mentions of space-time. We are confident in the existence of space-time as a prerequisite for the material world. Why doesn’t that inform the materialist’s view of consciousness, which seems to be barking up the wrong tree?

What if neural states cannot by themselves be experienced or be a vessel for the immaterial? Folks are only imagining the space part. What if a series of neural states in a specific time-frame were necessary for sensation or consciousness? As in, brain + time. Then, pardon the pun, numerous sensational operations could be playing out simultaneously in one brain. If we stop the clock, it all disappears and so do we.

If our consciousness relies on a stable flow of clock-time, then it probably has nothing to do with quantumosity. The only immaterial realm we need is latency. We are conscious of a moment of reality during the next moment of reality. If our experience relies on continuous short sequences of neural states, including longer follow-up sequences that are stimulated by conglomerates of other neural sequences, why would we need some further thing immaterial or otherwise, to collect it all into a single basket of awareness?

The only uses I can think of for a singular condensed consciousness are to be something that can have an afterlife or astral project itself or have a deep connection of some sort to the universe or its various cosmic substrates.

A proper materialist’s view should be that consciousness is post-material and has no possible means of being unified for primordial occupation.

 
 
8262014
 
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8262014
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11 September 2020 20:26
 

Silava:
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The “Hard Problem of Consciousness” is only a problem for those who believe in Materialism.  Such people believe that this physical universe, and its things and events, matter in particular, is the only or fundamental reality and that all is or supervenes on matter.
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So then, having asserted the above-quoted religious belief, those same people wonder why they have such a hard time telling *how* consciousness results from matter.
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Consider a form of Subjective-Idealism:
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The phiysical universe is the hypothetical setting of your hypothetical experience-story, which is one of an infinity of such experience-stories.  And they’re just some among the infinity of complex systems of inter-referring abstract logical if-then facts.
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No need to wonder why there’s consciousness. An experiencer, a life-experience-story protagonist is the essential component of each such story.  Why are there those stories (among all the other complex systems of inter-referring abstract logical facts)? 
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It’s because all of those abstract logical systems are logically inevitable….as abstract logical systems…..with no claim that they have any existence or real-ness other than within each one’s own internal inter-referring context. No objective existence or objective real-ness, whatever that would mean.
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As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, among that infinity of experience-stories consisting of complex systems of inter-referring abstract logical if-then facts, there inevitably is one whose hypothetical things and abstract-facts, with suitable naming, matches your experience.  There’s no reason to believe that your experience is other than that.
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But, even if you’re a Materialist, there still needn’t be a Hard Problem of Consciousness.
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(For some Materialists, called Eliminative Physicialists, there isn’t.)
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Why would it be suprising that a biological organism, designed by trial-&-error by natural-selection,....designed with the purposes of survival and reproduction, would respond to its surroundings in accord with those purposes? Animals are biologically-produced purposely-responsive devices. If you want to say it that way (and Eliminative-Physicalists don’t), you can call their purpose, and purposeful-response, a point-of-view and volition.
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Look, what’s the big deal?  That’s something that they taught in middle-school (junior-high) science classes.
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Thus, consciousness and its explanation can be described in purely physical terms, if that’s what you want.
...without any “Hard Problem of Consciousness”..
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..but don’t let that delude you into believing that matter and its physical interactions in the physical world is the ultimate reality, or is metaphysically-prior to you.  I say it’s only the hypothetical-setting for your hypothetical life-experience-story.
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Your life-experience-story is about being such an animal.  I suggest that the physical universe is only the setting for your experience-story.
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Everything that you, directly or indirectly perceive in this physical universe, must be consistent with there being you.  ...because there are no mutually-inconsistent facts, and this is the abstract logical system that is your life-experience-story.

For more details, I refer you to my long recent posts to Weird Buffalo, in one of the threads at the Christianity forum

 
Poldano
 
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Poldano
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11 September 2020 23:36
 
8262014 - 11 September 2020 08:26 PM

...

But, even if you’re a Materialist, there still needn’t be a Hard Problem of Consciousness.
.
(For some Materialists, called Eliminative Physicialists, there isn’t.)
.
Why would it be suprising that a biological organism, designed by trial-&-error by natural-selection,....designed with the purposes of survival and reproduction, would respond to its surroundings in accord with those purposes? Animals are biologically-produced purposely-responsive devices. If you want to say it that way (and Eliminative-Physicalists don’t), you can call their purpose, and purposeful-response, a point-of-view and volition.
.
Look, what’s the big deal?  That’s something that they taught in middle-school (junior-high) science classes.
.
Thus, consciousness and its explanation can be described in purely physical terms, if that’s what you want.
...without any “Hard Problem of Consciousness”..
.
..but don’t let that delude you into believing that matter and its physical interactions in the physical world is the ultimate reality, or is metaphysically-prior to you.  I say it’s only the hypothetical-setting for your hypothetical life-experience-story.
...

If Eliminative Physicalism is the same as what is commonly referred to as Eliminative Materialism, then it’s primary problem in this context seems to be that it it denies that anything can be metaphysically prior to the material world. The strong appeal of Idealism in general is that it allows for consciousness and its contents to be metaphysically prior to the material world, as indeed it is epistemologically prior to the material world.

 
 
8262014
 
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8262014
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12 September 2020 01:13
 

Yes, and it’s possible to achieve genuine complete parsimony, with no need for any assumptions.

 
Poldano
 
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Poldano
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16 September 2020 00:32
 
8262014 - 12 September 2020 01:13 AM

Yes, and it’s possible to achieve genuine complete parsimony, with no need for any assumptions.

I’m skeptical about that, but I’m reasonably certain that many of the standard philosophical and scientific assumptions are unnecessary in principle. What does it matter which axioms you prefer if all the axioms you know about lead to the same conclusions?

 
 
no_profundia
 
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no_profundia
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16 September 2020 18:10
 

I basically consider myself an eliminative materialist ever since reading the Churchlands years ago and being pretty convinced by their arguments as well as the blog of the fantasy writer R. Scott Bakker which I highly recommend:

https://rsbakker.wordpress.com/

 
 
Poldano
 
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Poldano
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16 September 2020 22:48
 
no_profundia - 16 September 2020 06:10 PM

I basically consider myself an eliminative materialist ever since reading the Churchlands years ago and being pretty convinced by their arguments as well as the blog of the fantasy writer R. Scott Bakker which I highly recommend:

https://rsbakker.wordpress.com/

From skimming the article, I think that Bakker is asserting a position that I once described here, and which I can subscribe to.unless some unavoidable contradiction to the evidence arises from it. I’ll summarize my own position by saying that eliminative materialism (AKA reductive materialism as far as I can tell) will work as long as it (1) considers experiences of mind to be one and the same as some states and processes of matter, and (2) asserts that the processes and states of matter are not completely circumscribed by the current subject matter of the “hard sciences”. To paraphrase the second condition, reality might all be physics, but if so physics won’t get around to talking about a lot of it for a good long time yet.

 
 
no_profundia
 
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no_profundia
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17 September 2020 15:13
 
Poldano - 16 September 2020 10:48 PM
no_profundia - 16 September 2020 06:10 PM

I basically consider myself an eliminative materialist ever since reading the Churchlands years ago and being pretty convinced by their arguments as well as the blog of the fantasy writer R. Scott Bakker which I highly recommend:

https://rsbakker.wordpress.com/

From skimming the article, I think that Bakker is asserting a position that I once described here, and which I can subscribe to.unless some unavoidable contradiction to the evidence arises from it. I’ll summarize my own position by saying that eliminative materialism (AKA reductive materialism as far as I can tell) will work as long as it (1) considers experiences of mind to be one and the same as some states and processes of matter, and (2) asserts that the processes and states of matter are not completely circumscribed by the current subject matter of the “hard sciences”. To paraphrase the second condition, reality might all be physics, but if so physics won’t get around to talking about a lot of it for a good long time yet.

That is probably accurate but I actually wasn’t trying to link to a specific article. That is just a link to his blog and I actually haven’t read the top article. Skimming the top article I’m not sure it’s the best introduction to Bakker’s general position. A better intro is probably this entry for anyone who is interested:

https://rsbakker.wordpress.com/2019/09/27/exploding-the-manifest-and-scientific-images-of-man-2/

My understanding of Bakker’s basic position is that the reason we are tempted to use intentional language when talking about ourselves, and why we imagine the mind is something different from the body, is because we lack source-sensitive (causal) metacogition of our own cognition so we use adaptive source-insensitive (non-causal and heuristic) forms of cognition to understand ourselves which have some predictive power but don’t really get at causal mechanisms.

Basically, I think he’s arguing that it makes sense we would think we are different from matter when thinking about ourselves even though that’s not true. Rather than just positing the identity I think Bakker is trying to explain why the identity seems counter-intuitive and why people are resistant to it.

 
 
Poldano
 
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Poldano
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18 September 2020 04:44
 
no_profundia - 17 September 2020 03:13 PM
Poldano - 16 September 2020 10:48 PM
no_profundia - 16 September 2020 06:10 PM

I basically consider myself an eliminative materialist ever since reading the Churchlands years ago and being pretty convinced by their arguments as well as the blog of the fantasy writer R. Scott Bakker which I highly recommend:

https://rsbakker.wordpress.com/

From skimming the article, I think that Bakker is asserting a position that I once described here, and which I can subscribe to.unless some unavoidable contradiction to the evidence arises from it. I’ll summarize my own position by saying that eliminative materialism (AKA reductive materialism as far as I can tell) will work as long as it (1) considers experiences of mind to be one and the same as some states and processes of matter, and (2) asserts that the processes and states of matter are not completely circumscribed by the current subject matter of the “hard sciences”. To paraphrase the second condition, reality might all be physics, but if so physics won’t get around to talking about a lot of it for a good long time yet.

That is probably accurate but I actually wasn’t trying to link to a specific article. That is just a link to his blog and I actually haven’t read the top article. Skimming the top article I’m not sure it’s the best introduction to Bakker’s general position. A better intro is probably this entry for anyone who is interested:

https://rsbakker.wordpress.com/2019/09/27/exploding-the-manifest-and-scientific-images-of-man-2/

My understanding of Bakker’s basic position is that the reason we are tempted to use intentional language when talking about ourselves, and why we imagine the mind is something different from the body, is because we lack source-sensitive (causal) metacogition of our own cognition so we use adaptive source-insensitive (non-causal and heuristic) forms of cognition to understand ourselves which have some predictive power but don’t really get at causal mechanisms.

Basically, I think he’s arguing that it makes sense we would think we are different from matter when thinking about ourselves even though that’s not true. Rather than just positing the identity I think Bakker is trying to explain why the identity seems counter-intuitive and why people are resistant to it.

I can’t comment further, because I’ll need to do a lot of background reading before I can figure out what Bakker is talking about.

I have a question, which is what does intentional mean in the way that you are using it here? The colloquial meaning is synonymous with willed or willful. There is a usage from philosophy of language where intentionality means aboutness, so intention thereby can be synonymous with meaning. Of course Bakker uses intention and extension as kind of opposites or complements, but I wonder if he really means what are more commonly termed intension and extension?

 
 
no_profundia
 
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no_profundia
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18 September 2020 12:18
 

I have a question, which is what does intentional mean in the way that you are using it here? The colloquial meaning is synonymous with willed or willful. There is a usage from philosophy of language where intentionality means aboutness

My understanding is that Bakker is using it to mean both of those things. I think he’s using it in a similar way to the way Dennett uses it when he talks about the intentional stance. It’s all the language we use about ourselves when we talk about ourselves as mental beings.

So, if you want to predict my behavior you will posit all sorts of things about me: beliefs, desires, goals, will, reason, and so on. All of these things have the quality of aboutness. I believe something about the world, desire something in the world, and so on. This is the understanding of ourselves that I think Bakker would claim is source-insensitive and based on heuristics.

So I think it includes the ordinary meaning of intentional as things we will as well as the quality of aboutness that is ascribed to mental phenomena in general. I think Bakker was also trained in Continental philosophy and often responds to phenomenological philosophers and in phenomenology intentionality is used in a way that means something similar to aboutness.

To be honest, I have not really spent much time studying philosophy in a long time so my philosophy muslces have atrophied a bit and philosophy of mind was never my primary focus. I haven’t kept up with Bakker’s blog much but it seemed related to the topic of this thread so I thought I’d share for anyone who was interested.

 
 
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