Consciousness might be a result of basic physics, say researchers (good vibrations)

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Consciousness might be a result of basic physics, say researchers
https://www.sciencealert.com/consciousne...gs-vibrate

EXCERPT (Tam Hunt): . . . All things in our universe are constantly in motion, vibrating. Even objects that appear to be stationary are in fact vibrating, oscillating, resonating, at various frequencies. Resonance is a type of motion, characterized by oscillation between two states. And ultimately all matter is just vibrations of various underlying fields. As such, at every scale, all of nature vibrates.

Something interesting happens when different vibrating things come together: They will often start, after a little while, to vibrate together at the same frequency. They “sync up,” sometimes in ways that can seem mysterious. This is described as the phenomenon of spontaneous self-organization. [...] Examining resonance leads to potentially deep insights about the nature of consciousness and about the universe more generally.

[...] Our resonance theory builds upon the work of Fries and many others, with a broader approach that can help to explain not only human and mammalian consciousness, but also consciousness more broadly.

Based on the observed behavior of the entities that surround us, from electrons to atoms to molecules, to bacteria to mice, bats, rats, and on, we suggest that all things may be viewed as at least a little conscious. This sounds strange at first blush, but “panpsychism” – the view that all matter has some associated consciousness – is an increasingly accepted position with respect to the nature of consciousness.

The panpsychist argues that consciousness did not emerge at some point during evolution. Rather, it’s always associated with matter and vice versa – they’re two sides of the same coin. But the large majority of the mind associated with the various types of matter in our universe is extremely rudimentary. An electron or an atom, for example, enjoys just a tiny amount of consciousness. But as matter becomes more interconnected and rich, so does the mind, and vice versa, according to this way of thinking.

Biological organisms can quickly exchange information through various biophysical pathways, both electrical and electrochemical. Non-biological structures can only exchange information internally using heat/thermal pathways – much slower and far less rich in information in comparison. Living things leverage their speedier information flows into larger-scale consciousness than what would occur in similar-size things like boulders or piles of sand, for example. There’s much greater internal connection and thus far more “going on” in biological structures than in a boulder or a pile of sand.

Under our approach, boulders and piles of sand are “mere aggregates,” just collections of highly rudimentary conscious entities at the atomic or molecular level only. That’s in contrast to what happens in biological life forms where the combinations of these micro-conscious entities together create a higher level macro-conscious entity. For us, this combination process is the hallmark of biological life.

The central thesis of our approach is this: the particular linkages that allow for large-scale consciousness – like those humans and other mammals enjoy – result from a shared resonance among many smaller constituents. The speed of the resonant waves that are present is the limiting factor that determines the size of each conscious entity in each moment.

As a particular shared resonance expands to more and more constituents, the new conscious entity that results from this resonance and combination grows larger and more complex. So the shared resonance in a human brain that achieves gamma synchrony, for example, includes a far larger number of neurons and neuronal connections than is the case for beta or theta rhythms alone....

MORE: http://theconversation.com/could-conscio...ate-103070

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Tam Hunt: Is the Universe Conscious? A Conversation with Philosopher Philip Goff
https://www.noozhawk.com/article/tam_hun...f_20181018

INTRO: The last decade or so has been a golden age for the philosophy of mind as well as the scientific study of the mind and brain. The major new development in this time frame has been a growing acceptance that the prevailing view of mind and consciousness  —  what we can label “materialism” or “physicalism” as shorthand  —  is increasingly seen as inadequate for providing answers to the big questions about the nature of consciousness.

It seems, nevertheless, that some version of materialism may still be the prevailing view among philosophers and scientists. But alternative views are growing fast. One of the major alternatives is panpsychism, the view that all matter has some associated consciousness, albeit in a very limited manner for most matter.

Philip Goff, who was until recently associate professor in philosophy at Central European University in Budapest but has just taken up a position at Durham University in the UK, is a pioneer in elaborating on the various versions of panpsychism and developing in some detail his preferred version known as “cosmopsychism.” This is the view that the entire cosmos is one consciousness and that all other conscious entities, humans and everything else, are grounded in this higher level of consciousness. This is the opposite of the more common notion of grounding: grounding in the smaller constituents of the mind such as neurons, molecules, etc.

He fleshes these ideas out in his 2017 book (his first), Consciousness and Fundamental Reality, published by Oxford University Press. Goff’s book is very well done, a rare example of cutting edge philosophy that tackles viciously complex issues with clarity, modesty and humor.

For the record, I outed myself long ago as a panpsychist, but I’m of the more traditional (it seems funny to use that term in the context of panpsychism even now) school of constitutive panpsychism. I find Goff’s arguments for cosmopsychism interesting but not entirely convincing, as we discuss below. I approached Goff about an interview with the expressed goal of exploring his ideas and how they connect with Alfred North Whitehead’s process philosophy, which is a version of panpsychism I’ve explored and advocated in modified form.

We conducted this interview by email in mid-2018.

MORE (interview): https://www.noozhawk.com/article/tam_hun...f_20181018

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Technically, the external appearance of microscopic objects / events or the medium of a field and its oscillations never fully explains manifestation. Since the former itself is dependent upon the latter. So any claim of locating what experience physically corresponds to or is concomitant with (ranging from neurons to quantum entities) would entail that item having an additional unknown, intrinsic property or capacity other than those publicly observed / measured / conventionally accepted. (Even "information" is an abstract entity limited to the semantic appearance underlying its description, and that offers no characteristic or power as a source for deriving either "manifestation of outward appearances" or "manifestation of meaning" from).

Thus an apparently non-structural property or capacity is needed or entailed (i.e., why it is so elusive) which would then incrementally build up in complexity to the sensory and thought manifestations of humans and some animals. A final product which in contrast would be intensely structural, detailed, and immediately present or "given").


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#2
While I am attracted to panpsychism in certain aspects, I feel like it doesn't really illuminate much in the way of the nature of consciousness. I mean basically panpsyschists are physicalizing consciousness into some abstract objective property like charge or mass, and then leaving it at that. Should we be so ready to consign consciousness to the wastebin of unexplainable givens? A better approach to understanding consciousness imo lies in a phenomenological investigation of the experience of reality in itself. What is the immediate datum of mind regarding its own existence, and how does it overlap with our experience of the physical world? For instance, when we observe the physical world, we realize that everything we see and imagine is made up of colors and shades. Every object, scene, and place is a composite of so many pigments of the color spectrum. Yet color is a totally internally generated qualia. The red apple is not literally red in our common sense realism sense. It is projected as "there" as a red shape. The red has its origins inside our own minds. It is not a property of the physical world. So, we see that in this preliminary introspected sense, physical reality and mental reality are given comingled together into one synthesized experience. Mind and matter occur to us in a seamless unity of a transcendental reality. We construct physicality out of the elements of our minds. Cue Kant now..
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#3
(Nov 15, 2018 08:53 PM)Magical Realist Wrote: While I am attracted to panpsychism in certain aspects, I feel like it doesn't really illuminate much in the way of the nature of consciousness. I mean basically panpsyschists are physicalizing consciousness into some abstract objective property like charge or mass, and then leaving it at that. Should we be so ready to consign consciousness to the wastebin of unexplainable givens? A better approach to understanding consciousness imo lies in a phenomenological investigation of the experience of reality in itself. What is the immediate datum of mind regarding its own existence, and how does it overlap with our experience of the physical world? For instance, when we observe the physical world, we realize that everything we see and imagine is made up of colors and shades. Every object, scene, and place is a composite of so many pigments of the color spectrum. Yet color is a totally internally generated qualia. The red apple is not literally red in our common sense realism sense. It is projected as "there" as a red shape. The red has its origins inside our own minds. It is not a property of the physical world. So, we see that in this preliminary introspected sense, physical reality and mental reality are given comingled together into one synthesized experience. Mind and matter occur to us in a seamless unity of a transcendental reality. We construct physicality out of the elements of our minds. Cue Kant now..

Yah, but panpsychism in these efforts is probably being recruited more in an explanatory or practical context (within nature's internal storyline) than referring to whatever is supposedly prior in rank to the mechanistic world which we either abstract from experience or discriminate/discern within it.

Materialism as a general essence claim about being will always have an uncomfortable relationship with dualism. (Exceptions being extremes like eliminative materialism simply denying there is consciousness or manifested content in sensations and thoughts, and thereby dodging having to explain it.)

If mental phantasma [*] are asserted to be totally emergent at a higher systemic level, then that's just old-fashioned conjuring in lexical disguise. (The soul of folk beliefs is likewise summoned for association with the body at some stage of prenatal development or arising complexity). And if instead primitive precursors for consciousness are allowed at a fundamental or microphysical level, then that indeed seems to be traditional panpsychism (in contrast to Goff's cosmopsychism).

Etymologically, the word panpsychism looks like it could or should be a synonym for nondualism. But in terms of past baggage, it can seem to have a partnership with matter or materialism (thus another form of dualism). Thereby it's the inevitable choice or antidote to science's brute emergence (conjuring) problem, or least for those lingering reductionists who haven't surrendered to macroscopic affairs floating on their own without need of smaller components and an underlying history slash stratum of more basic or primitive causes. Having "proto-consciousness" at the bottom incrementally building-up is less magical or supernaturally threatening than having a fully mature version suddenly emerge at the top when neural networks of sufficient intricacy perform special algorithmic spells.

Of course, the final result won't be called "panpsychism" in science. A rudimentary capacity for manifestation (defined by symbols in a formulaic expression) will just be declared a property of an accepted abstract entity like "information"; or less concept-dependent electromagnetism; or something else. But philosophers will still be poking each other in the ribs and whispering "that's what used to be called panprotopsychism".

- - - footnote ---

[*] As if there was any other kind for which the "mental" adjective did not apply.  

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