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Can we think of consciousness as a force of nature?

 
 
existential potential
 
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Reply Fri 1 Apr, 2011 06:11 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
the but concept "room" does not exist independent of human thought, and concepts do not exist before we concieve of them. But that would mean that "reality" is just a huge network of concepts, that taken together, form our picture of what we experience. Didn't Kant get it right, that we have phenomena, which are things as they appear to us through sense impressions, and then there are nomena, the "things themselves", which are totally inaccessable to human experience?
Fil Albuquerque
 
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Reply Fri 1 Apr, 2011 07:03 am
@existential potential,
I am into the root of what these things in themselves may be in their inter- relational capability, their function set of options as operators in different "backgrounds"...possible concepts imply an operative potential à priori for input, one that we may intuit but that we may not super impose if not fit or adequate...

we did n´t create reality nor reality created us...I just simply drop the bloody word creation by all means...we manifest potential perspectives and relations that above all must be possible in the first place...our temporal context is irrelevant to where I stand when concerning the unity of nature itself from which we are yet another branch...

..terms like observers or conscience are dangerous to say the least, as metaphors if to be used at all, they should present an enlarged scope of meaning...
0 Replies
 
Cyracuz
 
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Reply Fri 1 Apr, 2011 07:29 pm
@JLNobody,
Quote:
I agree, when I close the door to my room MATTER does not cease to exist in that room


I agree. The idea that matter needs observer to happen does refer to sub atomic particles after all.
But doesn't this indicate that there is some inconsistency in how we connect our facts?
JLNobody
 
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Reply Fri 1 Apr, 2011 10:50 pm
@Cyracuz,
Interesting problem...but it's not a practical problem. The world at its various levels, e.g. subatomic particle level is, I suppose, the same for all forms of perceivers, i.e., it has no meaning--except for the subatomic particle physicist. For most humans, ants, grasshoppers, extraterrestial beings, fungi, etc. etc. it is the same. It has no meaningful (narrative) value; it just is. But the "room" must be very different for all forms of life. It is a comfortable home for me and a universe for the microbe.
Does this address at all your reference to our inconsistency?
Cyracuz
 
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Reply Sat 2 Apr, 2011 05:36 pm
@JLNobody,
Yes, the problem has more entertainment value.
But perhaps its not an inconsistency. Maybe its better to call it a case of the chicken and the egg.
Physical reality needs observation to happen.
But we tend to think that physical reality is a condition that must be met for consciousness to happen, and that observation implies consciousness. If quantum wave function collapse can even be applied on the same conceptual level as "room" and "consciousness", it seems to me it could offer some different perspectives on the universe.
fresco
 
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Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 02:51 am
@Cyracuz,
Well put !

As I've probably said before, the issue has formally recognised in the field Von Foerster called "Second Order Cybernetics" (aka "the observation of observation"). There is a potential infinite regress of what might be termed "transcendent" or "second order" observer positions. One such position (Maturana) claims that all "observation" necessarily involves language use. This points to the ineffability of what might be attempts to stand aside from the infinite regress.
Cyracuz
 
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Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 09:30 am
@fresco,
Yes, I think we have talked about second order cybernetics before.
What I was thinking now was that "observation of observation" sounds easy enough to grasp, but turns out I am having a little difficulty with it.
What is the "fist order" observation position?
I understand it in practical terms, I think. Me struggling with a mathematical problem would be the first order perspective, and as I sit there and my mind strays from solving the actual problem to dwell on that I am doing it instead, if I start thinking about how hard it is to solve, for instance, I have moved to a second order perspective. And this is what can regress infinitely. If I understand it correctly.
But what if I realize, when this happens, that there is another option that doesn't require me to do the maths?
I imagine every "entity" within a system in cybernetics is properly defined. It is perhaps not so simple to identify all the layers of information the human observer percieves, and to identify the first and second order of observation.
Fil Albuquerque
 
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Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 01:43 pm
@fresco,
Concerning language, or code in my own view (no programmer), you both seam to forget that there is a length to it...and time...and space...it has limits !
...as layers change and transcribe, the observation of observation, functions upon chains of functions at varied conceptual levels or perspectives, the train eventually stops in the final wagon !...
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
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Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 02:43 pm
Am I the only who feels stupid when discussing such matters?
Fil Albuquerque
 
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Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 03:06 pm
@JLNobody,
You probably are only one of the honest around !... Wink
...if it was easy it would be sorted out already...no debate in place.
0 Replies
 
Cyracuz
 
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Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 04:17 pm
@JLNobody,
If so you are probably the least stupid of us.
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fresco
 
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Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 04:54 pm
@Cyracuz,
I find a useful scenario for discussing second order cybernetics is a Piagetian view of assimilation-accommodation. We (second order observers) visualize a "hungry man" who segments "the world" into "food/not food" categories. As he eats, this segmentation fades so both "he" and "the world" mutually change. ...
......Now take a further step back and "we" (third order observers) verbally examine our own "understanding" of such a scenario. We see that we have selected the scenario in accordance with our academic inclinations perhaps to dismiss "naive realism". "We" (that is "I") may notice that we segment our selection of scenarios into those which support our thesis, and those which do not. Indeed we do not even bother to describe potentially contradictory scenarios....they have no functional "existence"....
......Now take yet another step back and examine the word "functionality". On reflection,this seems always to evoke a "time dimension" in which "goals are achieved". But then we note that "time" and cognitive goals appear to be peculiar to language users. It is at this stage we may begin to see the point that all "observation" requires language (NOT representational codes).......

......and so on.
Cyracuz
 
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Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 05:59 pm
@fresco,
Thanks fresco. Good answer.

So where does that leave the notion that physical matter requires observers to happen? This consideration seems to make consciousness itself a potentially contradictory scenario, particularly in the face of the widely spread notion that the universe is a mechanical and unconcious phenomenon. Humans and similar creatures being the mystifying exceptions.
Fil Albuquerque
 
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Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 06:07 pm
@fresco,
...oh common Fresco...don´t you get it ? can´t you really understand that language is just another form of code ? What in the hell do you think this words in the screen of your computer are ? And a 3 dimensional virtual world in a game ? artificial intelligence and so on...really ?...representations are relative to functions also, are themselves functions, which are relative in between themselves in several layers and degrees of order, that´s code, and that´s how you build a cosmos...in a final set there´s no builder, only the possible...everything ! (à priori)
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fresco
 
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Reply Mon 4 Apr, 2011 12:46 am
@Cyracuz,
We are asking questions about the word "is".....what "is material"....what "is consciousness"...? But perhaps we should ask "how do the words "material" or "consciousness" function .

Consider Einstein's celebrated explanation of radio..."
Quote:
Its like you have a very long cat....you pull its tale in New York and it purrs in San Fransisco...only there's no cat!
(For "cat" reads "ether" and you see where he's comong from). Now if you take our words "consciousness" and "material" and look at their communicative functionality , they are analogous to Einstein's "cat"....they trigger hypothetically shared pictures which might be accounted for by our common physiology and psychology...but start digging for their "is-ness" and you will be left with the equivalent of "the smile" as in the Cheshire cat of Alice in Wonderland.
Fil Albuquerque
 
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Reply Mon 4 Apr, 2011 02:47 am
@fresco,
You cannot get is-ness before you get to the last wagon...what you have half way through is contextual functionality among pairs...
"IS"-ness is a bit like orientation:
...We are on Earth, but Earth is moving around the Sun...where are we heading to ?...we learn then that the Sun is moving from the Apex to the Ponex in the Galaxy, direction may have changed...where are we heading to ?...The Galaxy itself is drawn to a cluster and that cluster to a bigger one, a cluster of clusters...where are we heading to ?
...at this point the only is-ness that you are left with is functionality...nevertheless mind that language needs an alphabet just as a binary code needs zero´s and one´s...but what they are depends on the full length of the sentence...
Fil Albuquerque
 
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Reply Mon 4 Apr, 2011 03:30 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
1 - We can not only ask where are we heading to but we can in fact ask where are we at all ? Where requires "others" in place to make sense...without them I am everywhere...Who I am also depends on what others are...in fact on how we are to each other and the overall set result that comes into place from there...that´s language and that´s code...

2 - Minds are context, an effect...they can converse one code into another in their focus, in their conceptuality, but they can´t be the mother coder for the base code...
...the base code has no focus...its is-ness its the most abstract kind...and it flows in all directions only aiming to the possible...it is the doer and the un-doer, no mind can support that...the "Self" splashes and dilutes...The Code has no father, no programmer, it just is...

...an Eternal "Operative System" who supports all entity´s, all AI´s, all Minds without itself having a mind...(Mind=Focus)
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justintruth
 
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Reply Mon 4 Apr, 2011 04:40 am
@Cyracuz,
I think to untangle this you need to examine your experience directly. I will use visual experience to illustrate what I mean.

The first thing you have to see is the relationship of perception to interpretation when it comes to objective reality. It is not that you perceive and then interpret. Rather your interpretation conditions your perception so that it "sees" what you interpret there to be. Look at a line drawing of a cube. You can choose to interpret the drawing with either of two squares being the forward one. Then you can decide to change that interpretation. You then do something. It is an act of will. You try to see the other side as in the foreground. And a short time latter as if by magic it "appears" to be in the foreground. This shows that interpretation is linked both to perception and to the will. You can choose to interpret a certain way and *if you are able* you will then see that way after a moment or so. In fact if you examine the surface of a painting that renders a scene using the laws of perspective you will see that it is really flat and yet you perceive some objects as being behind others.

Now take that fact and look out of your eyes and try to see what you are seeing as experiencing. That is indeed a difficult thing to do but I assure you it can be done. You can interpret your experience as experiencing and *if you are able* the scene will change how it looks in a sense and you will then see experiencing. This is a matter of perception not just interpretation. You must see what I mean not just understand what I am saying. You must see experiencing experiencing experiencing. Strictly speaking the noun becomes a kind of verb and the interpretation of space changes. There is no longer a separation of the experience-or experiencing the experienced. There is only experiencing experiencing experiencing. You can be-waking-around-in-it which I hyphenate deliberately. If you succeed at this you are basically a mystic and the notion of nouns and verbs will change.

Now you can then decide to change your interpretation. It is possible to see what you experience as being not experiencing any longer but something in itself. To do this you must establish boundaries for the objects and distinguish them not only from each other but from your experience itself. It is no longer an experience you are experiencing it is the computer in front of you and it is on a desk etc that "you" are experiencing. This computer is not an experience. Rather it is a thing in the room and there is another thing in the room. You. And that other thing is experiencing this computer. But the computer is not the experiencing of it. There is the computer. There is you. And there is your experience of the computer. These are three separate things. This is the objective viewpoint. It is amazing at how much experience corresponds to this way of thinking! Only in modern physics does it begin to break down and then only slightly.

Now lets look at the relation between these two viewpoints. It is not as is usually thought that they are contradictory. First one must see that the experience you have is of an objective world but it is not necessarily so in the logical sense. By that I mean that you can imagine the scene in front of you with the various objects kind of melting into a blend and then perhaps becoming monochromatic - say just a red field of view with no objects in it. I am asking you to consider this in order to point out that the fact that the world is composed of things is a real fact of your experience but not a necessary fact for the future. If I leave my car in the garage I can return to it. But it takes reality in some form being that way accidentally for that to happen. I could go down stairs to my car and find anything logically. But I don't. The world I live in is apparently objective. My car is "in fact" there. I could hypothetically go down and find it gone.

This way of looking at the situation shows why all science is empirically based. It is that that connects it to experience and it is those experiences (the experiences of experiments) that confer on it its validity. That validity is constantly in possession of the possibility of becoming falsified in a future experiment. The fact that all experiments to date have not done so establishes whether a theory is considered scientifically valid.

For now I think you need to forget the question of whether it in fact is really objective or not. I am not saying it is or isn't. Rather I am saying how you decide whether it is or isn't and what it means. You decide by checking. In fact it is. But it could be otherwise and you can imagine a world in the future where it becomes non objective. It is impossible to check the physical hypotheses of the homogeneity of time experimentally in a way that verifies it for all time.

So now we have the established that objectivity has as a necessary condition certain properties that must be there in experience or else the experience is not one of an objective world. Objectivity is a contingent fact.

Next you must realize that if experience is objective then one can - indeed must if one is to see objectively - divorce the object in the objective world from the experience of it. It is not my seeing that I am seeing. It is it. It is not my seeing it and in fact even if no one is around it will be there to be seen by anyone that passes by. If no one is around it *is* still there. The meaning of the word "being" in this sense is roughly "present in space" and that part of my experience that I do not interpret as an object is precisely "nothing". That is why space is a vacuum. Because there is nothing there. And that is why I can experience nothing in that sense.

This is because of the fact of my body. One of the facts of objects is that there is a particular object that I experience from and experience as being mine - or more precisely - I experience as being me. There are a lot of experiments that describe how this experience of my hand which is after all a thing in space gets experienced not just as a thing out there but as me. Ultimately it is the brain that is the final vestige of me and I can "loose an arm" and still be myself.

Now the next thing to see and distinguish is that associated with these ways of seeing are notions of causality. Consider the case of a string of dominoes set up on the floor. I can knock over the first domino. How? I do something with my hand. I "move" my hand. The fact that I can do this is again a contingent fact. I could one day wake and find that I did not even have a hand or that I had one but that when I "tried" to move it it didn't move. Note that my moving my hand is not caused therefore solely by the thing I do when I move it. Rather when I do that thing it moves. That is a fact that as I have said could have been or could logically become false. I could suffer paralysis.

But I do move my hand and I knock over the domino. Now the next thing that happens is that that domino falls and hits the next and it does to the second what I did to the first. Then the next falls and hits the third etc. We are able to conceive of situations where I knock over the first domino and it strikes the second but the second does not move and where the second does move. In the first case the domino I knocked over did not "cause" the second to fall. In the latter it did.

So we have this whole notion of mechanical causality that emerges. Something strikes something and it moves. But things do not just move on their own. If a set up a domino and look away and look back and it is now lying on the table I will ask, "What knocked it over?" but if I set a domino on the table look away and then look back and it is still standing I will not ask "What kept it upright?" A kind of proto physics emerges with causal laws that assign some behaviors to the nature of the object and others to the effects of one object on another. Ultimately these ideas have been developed by closer and closer observation into the laws of physics. These laws are no longer completely objective in the original proto-physical sense but they are mostly so and make use of the fact of constantcy in experience to derive laws that are thought to always hold and that therefore can be used to predict experience. In point of fact these rules in the latest physics do not exactly do that but the nearly do as there remains some possibility for very unlikely events to occur and there are events that can be demonstrated that do not have a material cause for example so called "spontaneous decay" that causes a nuclear bomb to explode or a laser to flash.

So now I have these "laws of physics" that ascribe what will happen by describing what is natural and what is caused. These laws describe the behavior of objects. In addition to these laws there are certain assumed facts like if I place my head behind a telescope I will see through it. Or if I go into a lab I will see and instrument.

Now if these laws do in fact exist they alter the notion of possibility. It is no longer possible to throw a ball in the air and have it not come down. The laws of physics prohibit that possibility. So many things that are logically possible are no longer physically possible and in fact in some older physical theories if I know the state of affairs at one point of time the laws of physics constrain the future to be a certain way.

Once this notion of causality is firmly established we can turn it on the brain and we find that the experiencor and the experiencing are directly affected by the experienced brain. Manipulating the object of a brain does thing to the experience of the one who sees from that brain. One of the things you can do is to eliminate the experience altogether as happens in anesthesia for example. It also, we therefore conceive, happens in death.

So now it becomes meaningful to talk about the physical causality of consciousness. Because assembling a brain causes it in the sense not that it "is" the brain but in the sense that whenever there is a brain and only when there is a brain and the associated sensory biology does seeing occur. Cut the optic nerve for example and you will go blind and not see your car in front of the house. It does not mean that the car is not there. Only that you no longer see it. But remember all of this is based on objectivity which is in turn based on experience.

So we have as a result of science the fact that consciousness is caused by biology. All parents know this and this is not a modern conclusion. It has been around forever. The association of our biology with the fact of our existence I believe even predates the emergence of humans or primates.

So now we have all of the apparatus to see what is happening. There is experiencing itself which happens to be subject to an experience of it as objective and also happens to be, when it is interpreted objectively, according to certain laws. Within this is the fact of our bodily existence and in particular an association of the brain with experience. All of this could logically have been otherwise but in fact to date has not been and if current science is right or even anything like current science is right then it is impossible for it to be otherwise. This science however is empirical and ultimately based on experience even though it concludes that the experience of it is based on the assembly of brains. In fact that conclusion itself is subject to experience.

To try to put it now as succinctly as I can: The facts of science are subject to experience. Our experience to date has led us to posit that there is an objective world and that it behaves according to some fairly simple rules. Further it appears that whenever a brain is assembled experience occurs. We know that because of the similarity with our own condition. If these facts are true then the future is conditioned such that many logical possibilities are excluded. These facts are not inconsistent with each other. Physical law is based on experience and capable logically of being overturned. If it is true however, if it is not overturned, the the future of our world will be similar to the present.

I an observation. The evidence for the physical world is overwhelming. It is not just scientific experiment. It is getting up in the morning and reaching for the alarm clock. This does not mean that it is not subject continually to experience but only that should it cease to behave in this way it would completely require a revolution in science. It is very unlikely that this will happen.

I note also that the relativity of time and the quantum mechanics have eroded some of the objective interpretation. There no longer exists a single image or state of affairs that really exists. Rather there are various images or states of affairs that can be used to predict no longer with certainty but with probabilities that are so overwhelming so as to virtually be a certainty what will happen. The modern physics does not overturn the applecart of objectivity much. However the fact that our conclusion that the world is objective is based on our experience is inescapable and the fact that our experience is based on the arrangement of atoms into a brain therefore will remain contingent and subject to future experiment whether one uses the classical physics or the modern one.

No amount of evidence for a scientific theory is capable of removing the fact that it is based on experience. To do so would remove its scientific character. That said the evidence for the current theory is overwhelming and there is virtually no chance of experience overthrowing it in anything but the minutest detail. There is certainly no credible evidence that it has done so. The world is, within the limits of the relativity of time and quantum mechanics and objective phenomenon that operates with rules that allow us to predict to a large extent but not completely what will happen even though, it is subject to the contingency of all facts.

The utility of science is apparent. However when one experiences the experiencing as experiencing the experience of Being in that experience is of enormous importance to our desire. It is wonderful experience. We cannot therefore abandon it. The fact that it does not contradict objectivity directly means that we need not. We can and do have both.
Fil Albuquerque
 
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Reply Mon 4 Apr, 2011 04:52 am
@justintruth,
Objective depends on your interpretation upon the function the meaning of something towards yourself...Objective to whom ? One needs to take in consideration how something like a "computer" a "car" serves one´s needs...not that easy to dismantle it with objectivity for a word behind everything as you suggest...
...there are of course socially shared concepts to an extent, but have you wonder how an Alien would look at them ? Objective is only consensus while you don´t get to the final wagon of the train...

(make your posts a lot shorter or nobody will read them)

0 Replies
 
Cyracuz
 
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Reply Mon 4 Apr, 2011 05:54 am
@fresco,
I am not so concerned with the "is-ness" of matter and consciousness. What I find interesting is how I am inclined to think of my consciousness based on what I believe about its origins. So I guess we could ask how the words function rather than how these phenomenon interact, but for me its ultimately about understanding this experience, not "what lies behind it". Language can be a treacherous ally. Smile
0 Replies
 
 

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