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# Proof that consciousness evolved from physical matter?

justintruth

1
Tue 3 May, 2011 01:52 am
@fresco,
The assumption that matter requires no observer is key to its utility as a "useful relational construct".

Try acting as if your car does not exist unless it is observed. You can just park it on a hill with no one around not set the brake and then turn around and don't look. It won't crash because in order to crash it would have to be a priori independent of consciousness which you are claiming it is not. What's that noise? That's the sound of the crash that occurred because an unobserved material entity rammed into another un-observed material entity. How to explain the noise? Try: You were wrong. Your car exists independent of your consciousness. So does the hill and the other cars in the way. You left the brake off and the laws of physics acted even though no one was looking. Why do you set the brake on your car if you are not going to look at it?

There are facts that no one has agreed to or even knows. In some crater on the moon there is some arrangement of rocks. The particulars of that arrangement are facts. Yet we don't know what the arrangement is because no one has looked into the crater. You simply mistake etymology for semantics.

As for time it is not as superficial as space or matter. Time cannot so easily be dismissed as a relational construct. You ignore the meaning of time and its relationship to consciousness.

I "got it" a long time ago. I just thought it the rest of the way through.
justintruth

1
Tue 3 May, 2011 01:53 am
@north,
Or it was and then was taken by the others and used.
0 Replies

Fil Albuquerque

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Tue 3 May, 2011 06:34 am
@justintruth,
First the noise is a form of observation as any other, second he is referring to car as a concept which is what you really have from the car...
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fresco

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Tue 3 May, 2011 07:28 am
@justintruth,
No. You only think you've "got it" ! Independent "matter" is only useful in domains which assume "a standard observer" and then forget about him. It does not work (i.e. is not useful) when the functioning of the observer per se is under scrutiny.

I'm not spouting Bishop Berkeley. I talking Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty in which there is no ontological separation of observer and observed. (They are two sides of the same coin).

Come back to me if you are familiar with those writers, otherwise we will continue to talk past each other.
Fil Albuquerque

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Tue 3 May, 2011 08:18 am
@fresco,
One step further fresco and I would ask you just how can you do the trick of putting the observer under scrutiny ? What is the reference for that ?
fresco

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Tue 3 May, 2011 08:31 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
You can't ! But one thing is for sure, neither empiricism or intellectualism (which both objectify "thought") can account for what we call consciousness. So the focus shifts to the epistemological issue of what "account for" means - or what constitutes a "satisfactory explanation". It is my (repetitive) contention, that "explanation" is always geared to a limited segmentation of "the world" which we attempt to predict and control. The problem with consciousness is that it an agent of such segmentation.
Fil Albuquerque

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Tue 3 May, 2011 08:37 am
@fresco,
I partially agree with you...my account on this in turn is assuming truthfulness in the experience as a function for what it is as no frame of "outer" reference can honestly be pursued...I could well just say that partial descriptions still are valid forms of description although of course their meaning being subject to a certain extension and context...but as they "work" they are valid nonetheless...
fresco

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Tue 3 May, 2011 08:47 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
The apparent "success" of empiricist science haunts epistemology like a vampire ! The point being made by ecologists is that such "success" lies in the eye of particular beholders. with vested interests.
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JLNobody

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Tue 3 May, 2011 10:00 am
@fresco,
Fresco: "I'm not spouting Bishop Berkeley. I['m] talking Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty in which there is no ontological separation of observer and observed. (They are two sides of the same coin)."
Yes: Tat tvam asi
0 Replies

justintruth

1
Tue 3 May, 2011 11:58 am
@fresco,
I have studied both Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty. (And Husserl and Sartre and Gabriel Marcel) More so Heidegger. I have been through "Being and Time" in detail and through "An Introduction to Metaphysics" and some stuff a while back on poetry. I also took two of Dryefus's courses on Heidegger at Berkley - on the web. My Merleau-Ponty was limited to readings in "The primacy of Perception" and I haven't looked at him in a long time. I actually have had direct personal experience of Being. There... you have my resume paltry but honest....OBVIOUSLY I am not an expert still...

I have no problem with the lack of ontological separation of observer and observed as they express it. In fact I have experienced it directly. But you miss the ontic facts of natural science and assume them to be ontological statements.

You have just completely misunderstood - them and me. The ontological lack of separation does not prevent an ontic description of a world in which there are material entities that are our bodies and from which we experience and that are distinct from other material entities that are not our bodies and which from which our bodies are separated. Nor does it mean that when there is no observing of these entities that they cease to exist. Nor does it mean that our consciousness cannot be changed by interrupting some of them in particular my brain. You were born. That is a material fact. You will die and when you do material facts will be involved in causation - natural material causation not ex-nihlo. Neither Heidegger nor Merleau Ponty disagree. You just do not understand that it is natural science not a supernatural description. It is physics not metaphysics. There is no contradiction.

Simply put: When you see your car your seeing the car is over here where you are and the car is over there where it is and that is useful. Remember that when someone is going to chuck a rock at one of them. Make sure it is at your car not your head. Notice the separation? Hint: its not ontological.

You do these authors great injustice when you oppose them to the conclusions of natural science . Their work is metaphysical not physical. Its about Being not nature about the meaning of Being in the sense of "that it is" rather in the sense of "what it is".

You say that "... independent matter is only useful in domains that assume a standard observer... and does not work (i.e. is not useful) when functioning on the observer per se."

You are simply wrong. The following are all counter examples: A football helmet, a fifth of whiskey, LSD, a telescope, an aspirin. In all of these cases considering the simple physical material and chemical facts when combined with the association of consciousness with our bodies provides a useful technology. These are facts of nature. Contingent facts. What these authors are talking about are not contingent facts rather it is ontology. You don't even need neuro-science. You just need basic observation. ( Look at Huxely's "Doors of Perception" if you want a double twist! The Light of Being! and a chemical?)

Now if you had said the the value of your life, that it has value, requires you to go beyond natural science you might make a case. In that sense perhaps you cannot found utility but even there it is a slippery slope.

It is just false that it is not useful to consider matter when dealing with consciousness but what is really bad is to claim that Heidegger or Merleau Ponty say so. In either case this kind of false dilemma you are proposing will never survive.

You misrepresent what these writers were really saying. I think you should stop confusing ontology with natural science.
fresco

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Tue 3 May, 2011 03:53 pm
@justintruth,
Hmm...what you heard Deyfus say about those two is not what I heard in his audio lectures. He distinctly said, in his M-P course, that an empiricist (materialist) account of consciousness is doomed as evidenced by the spectacular failure of such an approach in both AI and so-called "neuroscience". Other writers (Von Glasersfeld, Maturana) give reasons for this failure in terms of second order cybernetics (the attempt to observe observation).

So we will have to differ on which of us is "misrepresenting" the Heidegger /M-P position.
Cyracuz

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Tue 3 May, 2011 04:27 pm
@justintruth,
It is an entirely human thing to do to want to close the cirlce of understanding as fast as possible, since few of us can stand the suspense of incomprehension.
But you seem to not even pause in telling others how some of the foremost minds of our species are wrong about this and that, how some of the most proficient particle physicists are misunderstanding quantum physics to such a degree that they make erroneous conclusions and unacceptable assumptions.
Do you not think it more likely that you are missing something? Or are you smarter than all of those geniouses?
I'm not trying to tear you down here, but your understanding could perhaps benefit from a bit more humility...
justintruth

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Wed 4 May, 2011 02:28 am
@Cyracuz,
When a particle physicist speaks of philosophy he is operating out of his field. I may be wrong. So may he. What he is saying would not be publishable in any journal of physics and I suspect many physicists would disagree and in fact diapprove. Was his field philosophy or was it quantum physics?

Either way, the best way to understanding is to challenge. I have no pride in my ideas. I just want them sharpened.
Cyracuz

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Wed 4 May, 2011 02:36 am
@justintruth,
You are entirely right in that many physicists would disagree and disapprove. They do, in fact. Another particle physicist, John Hagelin, has gone and mixed ideas from his work in unified field theory with old vedic principles of consciousness. His collegues rage against him for it. But my point is that when a physicist of such calibre makes these connections, considering that his understanding of physics far surpasses mine (and maybe yours too) we could benefit more from considering their ideas than just listen to the hard headed sceptics who wish to continue ignoring consciousness.

Your ideas are already pretty "sharp", and it is enjoyable to "argue" with you.
0 Replies

justintruth

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Wed 4 May, 2011 03:20 am
@fresco,
Its very simple. Can you show me in Heidegger where he rejects an ontic description of consciousness as being from the point of view of a body that is separated from what it is looking at? Or can you show me where he constrains what is looked at to being non-material?

You cannot give a materialist account of Being. A theoretical material model alone, absent consciousness, is not capable of even predicting the outcome of the most rudimentary experiments. The materialist model predicts something like a zombie world where no consciousness exists at all. A pure material world is not conscious. There is no physical law that predicts consciousness. If you read my posts carefully you will see that I said that we are conscious from the point of view of our bodies.

However, the fact that you cannot give a material account of Being does not mean that you cannot give a materialist account of nature. That account is contingent and a natural description. It depends on experiment to determine whether in fact it is true or false. Our universe is remarkably objective and materialist. Only in the relativity of time and in certain aspects of quantum mechanics does this objectivity break down somewhat and then not completely. These facts are natural facts of science not ontology.

Further it does not mean that this materialist view cannot then be turned round onto consciousness. That it can can be seen by just drinking a fifth of scotch and seeing what happens. Or taking a hit of LSD. It conditions a lot of our decisions. Why do you put a helmet on your kid when he plays ice hockey? Think about that. To say that this type of understanding is not useful is crazy. Rather, as Heidegger said, it is his philosophy which may not have a use but rather may be valuable not for what you can do with it but for what it does with you! Materialism is very useful and so is neurology. Let's hope we use it to become more aware of being not less.

Consciousness is not natural. A materialism is a description of nature not of consciousness. It is not in conflict with the ontology of Martin Heidegger because it is an ontic description of the experience we have.

Unfortunately I am traveling and don't have access to by books but if you can point out to me where Heidegger says that a materialist account of nature is impossible let me know. I don't right now believe it.

Either way though, it seems to me that the problem is that people interpret materialism as an ontology and then oppose it to what people like Heidegger are saying. But materialism is not an ontology - or should not be interpreted as one. Physics is a natural science not an ontology. I am not saying that the ontologies of a lot of physicists never get to an awareness of Being but remain as Sartre so well described or as Husserl did when he described the natural standpoint. Hell look at Searle. He is a naive realist and he is a philosopher! But that is not their science - this is their ontology. Their science is a natural science and deals with nature.

I am specifically using ontology in a way that predates its use in computer science and the way it is being used for example in the Stanford philosophy department. I am not talking about a list of objects when I say "ontology". I am talking about the study of Being as such.

Now the fact that you can interpret materialism ontologically is really interesting. Heidegger stated in I believe the Intro to Metaphysics that the access to the meaning of Being was gained by "thrusting aside your interpretive tendencies". Sartre stated in the introduction to Being and Nothingness - The Pursuit of Being that by the nihilating withdrawal of the the observer from the observed the meaning of being was "modified". Something like "Nothingness lies at the heart of being like a worm".

Now if you interpret that "nihilating withdrawl" in Satre's sense as "an interpretive tendency" in Heidegger's sense and you manage to actually stop it (why it is not easy to do so is a very interesting question but assume you do) then you gain access to the meaning of being in Heidegger's sense.

But also you get, according to Heidegger an epistemological reason for going with him. You get the fact that it is "as it is" "unmodified" and in that sense true. Therefore the nihilating withdrawal of the for-iteslf from the in-itself is a distortion the cessation of which is the key to understanding.

It is ultimately phenomenology applied to ontology. What is the alternative? To base ontology on something for which there is no epistemic basis? To define objective ontology as a possible mode of Dasein co-equal in its legitimacy? Perhaps that is possible. But it is not what Heidegger or Merleau-Ponty seem to me to be doing.

None of this, however has to do with the empirical sciences which determine the extent to which the world is material. It is to a large extent. That is a scientific fact. It is not an ontology.
Cyracuz

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Wed 4 May, 2011 05:54 am
@justintruth,
Quote:
(...) ...we are conscious from the point of view of our bodies

That is not neccesarily so. We have the ability to be conscious from other points of view. We cannot even say that the point of view of our bodies is a default state of consciousness.

I took this out of context, so if I am missing your point I do apologize.
Fil Albuquerque

1
Wed 4 May, 2011 07:04 am
@Cyracuz,
But to say that we are conscious from the point of view of our body´does n´t necessarily states a materialistic approach to our being, but rather a phenomenological functional one...
..."material" only describes the relational process or the "working" of it to the extension of our perception...

...another aspect we carefully need to consider if to introduce the unconscious mind to the process is that the relational and not awareness alone, which is rather a product and not a cause, are to be the phenomenological ground where concepts emerge, or, into a larger extent, where everything emerges in a functional mathematical approach...
Cyracuz

1
Wed 4 May, 2011 12:46 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
Quote:
But to say that we are conscious from the point of view of our body´does n´t necessarily states a materialistic approach to our being, but rather a phenomenological functional one

Yes. Complete with it's own assumptions, problems and attachments that we are better off without, which we come to understand as we learn to look away from this approach.
0 Replies

north

1
Wed 4 May, 2011 01:24 pm

and if consciousness didn't NEED physical matter to evolve why not come into the situation of Humanity with vast knowledge and then intelligence in the first place ?

because consciousness still NEEDS experience

even though I think that life , not consciousness , is in all energy and matter , just waiting for the right circumstances to become , doen't mean consciousness is there

therefore consciousness NEEDS a place to develope , to evolve

its obvious really
Fil Albuquerque

1
Wed 4 May, 2011 01:43 pm
@north,
north wrote:

and if consciousness didn't NEED physical matter to evolve why not come into the situation of Humanity with vast knowledge and then intelligence in the first place ?

because consciousness still NEEDS experience

even though I think that life , not consciousness , is in all energy and matter , just waiting for the right circumstances to become , doen't mean consciousness is there

therefore consciousness NEEDS a place to develope , to evolve

its obvious really

No it is not...(although you were eloquent)
"Material" is the result of our relation in and with the "world"...there´s no special reason for the "material" being "material" on its own if not for how we see it and relate to it...what "material" is and means is no different from what we are in it and with it...its all relational...the problem seems to be to establish what is Consciousness itself...I abstractly stick with "function" and "relation" alone as means of non anthropic description...the "observing" at its simplest level is nothing other then "relating" with...

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