Orbit

The Importance of the "Hard Problem of Consciousness"

Recommended Posts

Let's take this apart:

 

Hoffman says:   Consciousness creates brain activity, not the other way around.

 

What evidence does he have for that? A dead brain corresponds to no consciousness, so doesn't that refute him neatly? Clearly the physical substrate makes the whole thing possible, no?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thank you for your support
Buy Ex-C a cup of coffee!
Costs have significantly risen and we need your support! Click the coffee cup to give a one-time donation, or choose one of the recurrent patron options.
Note: All Contributing Patrons enjoy Ex-Christian.net advertisement free.
On 2/19/2018 at 10:02 PM, Orbit said:

Let's take this apart:

 

Hoffman says:   Consciousness creates brain activity, not the other way around.

 

What evidence does he have for that? A dead brain corresponds to no consciousness, so doesn't that refute him neatly? Clearly the physical substrate makes the whole thing possible, no?

 

 

Because when consciousness is fundamental, that's the direction it runs in. 

 

You have to take the entire theory as a whole, from fundamental levels and conscious agents, to the material world made up of these conscious agents, to physical brains of the material world which are completely composed of these conscious agents. It's a complete rethink of the whole thing from the ground up. Consciousness doesn't mean, only human consciousness. It's an entire chain of consciousness that merely involves human consciousness as part of the whole. The human is simply contemplative, and represents a grouping of conscious agents working together. 

 

He lays it out in the pdf.

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Orbit said:

Let's take this apart:

 

Hoffman says:   Consciousness creates brain activity, not the other way around.

 

What evidence does he have for that? A dead brain corresponds to no consciousness, so doesn't that refute him neatly? Clearly the physical substrate makes the whole thing possible, no?

 

 

The empirical evidence I've gathered by being alive a while is that a dead brain means a lifeless body and so no physical communication with other bodies that are alive.

 

What happens to consciousness when a brain dies is unknown.

 

I've never been contacted by a disembodied entity so either that type of communication is impossible, or disembodied entities dont want to talk to physical bodies or consciousness does not continue after death. Or something else I havent thought of.

 

...

 

I have not read the entire pdf yet but I hope Hoffman explains why conscious agents even bother with 3D space and time. Why does a hologram need to evolve? Now if physical existence is merely about entertainment, I can see that. Otherwise there is no utility to it.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Abstract

 


 

Despite substantial efforts by many researchers, we still have no scientific theory of how brain activity can create, or be, conscious experience. This is troubling, since we have a large body of correlations between brain activity and consciousness, correlations normally assumed to entail that brain activity creates conscious experience. Here I explore a solution to the mind-body problem that starts with the converse assumption: these correlations arise because consciousness creates brain activity, and indeed creates all objects and properties of the physical world. To this end, I develop two theses. The multimodal user interface theory of perception states that perceptual experiences do not match or approximate properties of the objective world, but instead provide a simplified, species-specific, user interface to that world. Conscious realism states that the objective world consists of conscious agents and their experiences; these can be mathematically modeled and empirically explored in the normal scientific manner.

 

 

That's the beginning of the pdf. It goes along outlining "physicalism" against "conscious realism" pretty much the whole way through. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Conscious realism is a proposed answer to the question of what the universe is made of. Conscious realism asserts that the objective world, i.e., the world whose existence does not depend on the perceptions of a particular observer, consists entirely of conscious agents. Conscious realism is a non-physicalist monism. What exists in the objective world, independent of my perceptions, is a world of conscious agents, not a world of unconscious particles and fields. Those particles and fields are icons in the MUIs of conscious agents, but are not themselves fundamental denizens of the objective world. Consciousness is fundamental. It is not a latecomer in the evolutionary history of the universe, arising from complex interactions of unconscious matter and fields.

 

Consciousness is first; matter and fields depend on it for their very existence. So the terms “matter” and “consciousness” function differently for the conscious realist than they do for the physicalist. For the physicalist, matter and other physical properties are ontologically fundamental; consciousness is derivative, arising from or identified with complex interactions of matter. For the conscious realist, consciousness is ontologically fundamental; matter is derivative, and among the symbols constructed by conscious agents.

 

According to conscious realism, when I see a table, I interact with a system, or systems, of conscious agents, and represent that interaction in my conscious experience as a table icon. Admittedly, the table gives me little insight into those conscious agents and their dynamics. The table is a dumbed-down icon, adapted to my needs as a member of a species in a particular niche, but not necessarily adapted to give me insight into the true nature of the objective world that triggers my construction of the table icon. When, however, I see you, I again interact with a conscious agent, or a system of conscious agents. And here my icons give deeper insight into the objective world: they convey that I am, in fact, interacting with a conscious agent, namely you. Conscious realism is not panpsychism nor does it entail panpsychism. Panpsychism claims that all objects, from tables and chairs to the sun and moon, are themselves conscious (Hartshorne 1937/1968, Whitehead 1929/1979), or that many objects, such as trees and atoms, but perhaps not tables and chairs, are conscious (Griffin 1998).

 

Conscious realism, together with MUI theory, claims that tables and chairs are icons in the MUIs of conscious agents, and thus that they are conscious experiences of those agents. It does not claim, nor entail, that tables and chairs are conscious or conscious agents. By comparison, to claim, in the virtual-tennis example, that a supercomputer is the objective reality behind a tennisball icon is not to claim that the tennis-ball icon is itself a supercomputer. The former claim is, for purposes of the example, true but the latter is clearly false. Conscious realism is not the transcendental idealism of Kant (1781/ 104 Hoffman 2003).

 

Exegesis of Kant is notoriously difficult and controversial. The standard interpretation has him claiming, as Strawson (1966, p. 38) puts it, that “reality is supersensible and that we can have no knowledge of it”. We cannot know or describe objects as they are in themselves, the noumenal objects, we can only know objects as they appear to us, the phenomenal objects (see also Prichard 1909). This interpretation of Kant precludes any science of the noumenal, for if we cannot describe the noumenal then we cannot build scientific theories of it. Conscious realism, by contrast, offers a scientific theory of the noumenal, viz., a mathematical formulation of conscious agents and their dynamical interactions.

 

This difference between Kant and conscious realism is, for the scientist, fundamental. It is the difference between doing science and not doing science. This fundamental difference also holds for other interpretations of Kant, such as that of Allison (1983). Many interpretations of Kant have him claiming that the sun and planets, tables and chairs, are not mind-independent, but depend for their existence on our perception. With this claim of Kant, conscious realism and MUI theory agree. Of course many current theorists disagree. For instance, Stroud (2000, p. 196), discussing Kant, says:

 

"It is not easy to accept, or even to understand, this philosophical theory. Accepting it presumably means believing that the sun and the planets and the mountains on earth and everything else that has been here so much longer than we have are nonetheless in some way or other dependent on the possibility of human thought and experience. What we thought was an independent world would turn out on this view not to be fully independent after all. It is difficult, to say the least, to understand a way in which that could be true." 

 

But it is straightforward to understand a way in which that could be true. There is indeed something that has been here so much longer than we have. But that something is not the sun and the planets and the mountains on earth. It is dynamical systems of interacting conscious agents. The sun and planets and mountains are simply icons of our MUI that we are triggered to construct when we interact with these dynamical systems. The sun you see is a momentary icon, constructed on the fly each time you experience it. Your sun icon does not match or approximate the objective reality that triggers you to construct a sun icon. It is a species-specific adaptation, a quick and dirty guide, not an insight into the objective nature of the world.

 

One reader commented that conscious realism and MUI theory entail not just that the objects of our experience are created by subjects, but also that particles and all the rest are so created. Eventually the theory will claim that natural selection and time are a creation of the user interface.

 

It is more noumenic than Kant...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites