The "Consciousness cannot have evolved" proposal

#11
(Feb 13, 2020 11:00 PM)Zinjanthropos Wrote: I’m just amazed that chunks of matter can philosophize. With all that has happened since the universe came into being how can anyone be surprised that consciousness developed along with everything else. If anything we represent the universe’s consciousness, allowing it to be aware of itself.


"Phenomenal consciousness is the only biological attribute to go from having zero precursors in accepted descriptions of matter to maximum applicability with respect to only rare processes and structural configurations. With no incremental stages of development in between." --Oscar Feral

"And that's cause we materialists don't want no stinkin' panexperientialism, even though that's how we ordinarily and contradictorily conceive a mind-independent environment, as invested with those phenomenal properties." --Gold Hat
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#12
(Feb 13, 2020 10:18 PM)C C Wrote:
(Feb 11, 2020 04:37 AM)Magical Realist Wrote:
Quote:What is "phenomenal consciousness"? People talk about it a lot, but never explain what they are talking about. It's always (quite literally) "you know it when you see it". So it's basically just an appeal to intuition.

"Here is how Ned Block introduces the notion of phenomenal consciousness:

P-consciousness [phenomenal consciousness] is experience. P-conscious properties are experiential properties. P-conscious states are experiential, that is, a state is P-conscious if it has experiential properties. The totality of the experiential properties of a state are “what it is like” to have it. Moving from synonyms to examples, we have P-conscious states when we see, hear, smell, taste and have pains. (Block 1995: 230)"

http://web.mit.edu/abyrne/www/what_phen_..._like.html


One of the secondary definitions of experience: "The content of direct observation or participation in an event." Which is to say, common dictionaries barely nail it.

Etymologically, the ancestral roots of the "phenomeno-" word unit mean "to show or to appear". It just signifies something present -- anything at all, including a bodily sensation.

In materialist/extinctionist worldview, dead people are non-conscious in every respect (both phenomenal and in terms of zombie processes without content occurring). They don't even encounter an expanse of nothingness or a void of missing sensations. So flip what non-consciousness is and voila -- there is what is indicated by phenomenal consciousness (if not consciousness in general, since it can again be an umbrella concept also subsuming non-experienced body behavior and cognitive neural patterns).

With their terminology and expressions of the 20th-century, analytical philosophers clobbered-up what was arguably pretty simple beforehand, to the point that now they often can only clumsily articulate what they mean. In his own philosophical departures from physics, an old schooler like Erwin Schrodinger still pierced through that growing new haze as late as 1944. Via his bluntly referring to such as "manifestation" rather than today's qualia, feels like, subjective properties, etc.

Part of the confusion also stems from most of us (including many inconsistent materialists) being implicit panexperientialists. We don't consciously accept panex or are even aware of that thought orientation and would ridicule it if we were (thus the implicit adjective), but it is a raw background condition of our thought patterns about the world. When we conceive what we believe are objects and actions in a mind-independent context, we don't portray them as blank or even often as technical descriptions falling out of reasoning, but just as they are in sensory experiences. Presenting themselves existing as corporeal appearances from perspectives outside themselves, whether that's in a visual (deaf), felt and heard (blind), or odor and felt context (blind & deaf).

Accordingly, this instinctive, "not entirely verbalized as to all it implies" commonsense realism of ours thereby can have difficulty in understanding why there would be a problem with p-consciousness in physicalism, or difficulty explaining it. Since "showing itself" is apparently a natural property of matter -- everything is exhibiting at our macroscopic level regardless of whether there is a producer of representations around or not. Never mind the limitation to quantitative description and ensuing conflict-- we modern folk aren't really concerned about overall consistency (how things hang together properly) and consequences in our chosen ontological conceptions. 

For instance, if I'm in the middle of a springtime woodland observing the trees and listening to the birds and feeling the breezes and smelling the blooming... And then a huge boulder falls down from the sky and obliterates me... Those qualitative versions of images, sounds, skin sensations, and odors are still there as the way that the woodland mind-independently exists afterwards. Oh, and that abstract description of things at the micro-level, too, if necessary... clearly that's not an artificial or invented representation, either.

I've been spending all afternoon contemplating what a mind independent reality must be like. And well, that is the problem isn't it? That the moment we ask "what it is like" we are positing consciousness. So thru a sort of Buddhist subtractive method, what is there left for reality to be once vision, hearing, smelling, feeling, tasting, pain, concepts, memory, emotion, and even time and space are gone.? Yes time and space, because that too is an aspect of experience that gets projected over reality in our immediate experience. So reality in itself becomes not just a mute darkness, for that would still have duration and visibility. It would be a timeless blanking out beyond time and space even. There would be no occurrence of anything at any time or any place--- a pure contentless blank of infinite forgetfulness..Strange that this is exactly the fate physicalists conceive for themselves after death! That the state of pure mindless physicality that we become at death is precisely what the universe ultimately is already.
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#13
(Feb 14, 2020 01:47 AM)Magical Realist Wrote: I've been spending all afternoon contemplating what a mind independent reality must be like. And well, that is the problem isn't it? That the moment we ask "what it is like" we are positing consciousness. So thru a sort of Buddhist subtractive method, what is there left for reality to be once vision, hearing, smelling, feeling, tasting, pain, concepts, memory, emotion, and even time and space are gone.? Yes time and space, because that too is an aspect of experience that gets projected over reality in our immediate experience.

Like time and space, those might all be converted to a system of metric for each, especially if technological simulated reality gets more complex (Matrix style). But that's an erroneous portrayal throughout history -- that by converting phenomenal things to rational things it makes the latter residents of a world that is independent of mental properties. Those are actually more artificial than the sensations they were abstracted from. A realm of intellectual objects is just that: Either products or denizens of impersonal intellect (it's still mental properties territory).

Quote:So reality in itself becomes not just a mute darkness, for that would still have duration and visibility. It would be a timeless blanking out beyond time and space even. There would be no occurrence of anything at any time or any place--- a pure contentless blank of infinite forgetfulness..Strange that this is exactly the fate physicalists conceive for themselves after death! That the state of pure mindless physicality that we become at death is precisely what the universe ultimately is already.

Materialists can optionally fluctuate between the three positions below. Regardless of whether the inconsistencies of our philosophical orientation are acknowledged or not -- the constant shifting will occur either unknowingly (implicitly) or knowingly (explicitly).

When indulging in everyday realism about corporeal appearances, matter is akin to some stripe of panexperientialism (existence is phenomenal affairs). #1 further down.

When speaking of scientific realism and physicalism, matter becomes quantitative description (existence is rational objects). #2 further down.

When speaking of death and non-consciousness, matter becomes like Kant's noumenon (existence which is empty of both sensible and rational objects). #3 further down.

- - -

(1) The "external world" is distinct from the possibility of an "independent of mental properties world". The external world is undeniable as a public object of perception (it's available to everyone), and it is constituted of corporeal appearances and phenomenal happenings that outrun the control of each observer. Our bodies are presented as occupying its qualitative environment, the "out there" domain.

(2) The physical or rational world of inference is abstracted from the manifested one of the senses (and it is also multiply realized, described by various models). Today it consists of measurements and mappings of casual relationships and thereby is not (nor ever has been) independent of mental products. Minus the quantitative context, Emily Dickinson borrowed from that intellectual tradition here: "A letter always feels to me like immortality because it is the mind [information] alone without corporeal friend." --letter to Thomas Wentworth Higginson

(3) Which now leaves the "independent of mental properties world" which can be posited by reasoning as existing, but for which there is no content since any mental representation or product deprives it of that status. The "nou" part of Kant's "noumenon" references reasoning inferring or positing the potential of such a manner of existence, but the concept lacks both sensory and descriptive content. To plug the latter in there would demote it to the prior physical slash quantitative world of rational objects.[/quote]
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#14
Is the implication for a non-evolved consciousness that it was always here? IOW dormant while waiting for life to catch up with it?
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#15
(Feb 14, 2020 05:37 PM)Zinjanthropos Wrote: Is the implication for a non-evolved consciousness that it was always here? IOW dormant while waiting for life to catch up with it?

The idea would be that the brain recruits how matter actually exists in itself as the "paint" used to represent things in phenomenal consciousness (as opposed to how physics or physicalism represents matter with abstract description). Science doesn't deal with the intrinsic properties of matter, only its extrinsic properties of measurement/magnitude and relationships. So that kind of fundamental territory is available, up for grabs as a PoM explanation.

So in the course of brain evolution, you could view those fundamental, internal states of matter (which are possibly very simple in the beginning) as being worked up in complexity by neural organization to become the shown representations you perceive and think as a human organism. Although it's possible that there is no system to provide acknowledgement that those experiences are even there until maybe the last stages of that brain evolution (which would be why some construe experience as suddenly emerging out of nowhere, without incremental progress over millions of years beforehand).

Bernardo Kastrup (the author of the article) is an advocate of Eastern nondualism. So by asserting that phenomenal consciousness does not evolve he is roundaboutly saying that it is fundamental. Whether or not he would mitigate that by allowing that it does evolve by working up in complexity and specialization over time is unclear.

Below is physicist Lee Smolin referring to the intrinsic properties of matter, back in his younger days. This view doesn't have to be called "panpsychism" because at their elemental level those internal states haven't been recruited and organized as the phenomenal consciousness for a mind yet. But AFAIK, no one has introduced a more accurate label for it that has acquired widespread circulation.

In college I wrote a long essay on the body-mind problem where I invented for myself an idea that I’ve later come to understand is a form of panpsychism. It is expressed on page 270 of Time Reborn as:

"The problem of consciousness is an aspect of the question of what the world really is. We don’t know what a rock really is, or an atom, or an electron. We can only observe how they interact with other things and thereby describe their relational properties. Perhaps everything has external and internal aspects. The external properties are those that science can capture and describe — through interactions, in terms of relationships. The internal aspect is the intrinsic essence; it is the reality that is not expressible in the language of interactions and relations. Consciousness, whatever it is, is an aspect of the intrinsic essence of brains."

This is as far as I am willing to go now, on an issue where I don’t know the literature well, and I haven’t thought enough about.
https://www.independent.com/2013/04/17/time-reborn/
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#16
I don't like the feeling that consciousness is special to humans, as if we've evolved to capture the moment. When things start looking like that my guard goes up. Two hundred thousand years ago the first humans ventured out to experience the universe so I suppose they would be no different than us when it comes to consciousness.  

Does or did any organism of any kind know what a rock, an atom or electron is? Of course not, but I see little credit given to them for consciousness. Maybe we're like microbes.....https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29254105. For all I know we can't see the reality of the situation because we're actually infinitely small compared to some other colossal creature, so large that we don't notice it Wink.
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#17
(Feb 14, 2020 07:27 PM)Zinjanthropos Wrote: I don't like the feeling that consciousness is special to humans, as if we've evolved to capture the moment. When things start looking like that my guard goes up. Two hundred thousand years ago the first humans ventured out to experience the universe so I suppose they would be no different than us when it comes to consciousness.  

Does or did any organism of any kind know what a rock, an atom or electron is? Of course not, but I see little credit given to them for consciousness. Maybe we're like microbes.....https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29254105. For all I know we can't see the reality of the situation because we're actually infinitely small compared to some other colossal creature, so large that we don't notice it Wink.

Other animals, like dogs and cats, have phenomenal consciousness. (Which is to say, no one's advocating that crazy stuff started by Descartes about animals not experiencing pain, that they only exhibit the mechanistic body behavior of such.)

Some critters like frogs might be close to philosophical zombies in a visual context, if you go by researchers who noticed a parallel between their brain structure and people suffering from blindsight.

The matter of rocks exists as something other than the outer appearances of our perceptions and the technical descriptions of scientists. They exist independently of our artificial representations, as something. That's what the intrinsic properties of matter is about. If some of us refuse (or lack the ability?) to make a distinction between cognitive activities (identification and intelligence) and manifested qualities, then that's our problem. A horse can only be led to water.



The system splices different replies together if they occur within a certain time frame, so note that this part is an add-on to a previous reply to MR.

Here's hopefully a more succinct way to render what I was exploring in the quote/reply at bottom. Well, forget "succinct"... Just a little more settled as to its purpose.

The Three Worlds that a materialist finds one's self leap-frogging between according to convenience or utility, regardless of realizing the incongruity of the situation, or not.

1. Sensible world. The external world of perception. Matter treated as corporeal appearances; phenomenal; qualitative. A realm independent of individual or subjective wishes but not mental properties in general.

2. Rational world. Matter treated as technical description. Abstracted from the sensible world by reasoning and experiment. Conversion of qualitative things to quantitative things. Multiply realized by rival and editable models. A realm designed to be objective, but is not independent of mental properties in general. (Description is an artificial product.)

3. Non-mental world. Absent of both the sensible and the rational furniture of the prior two worlds. The nature of matter in itself as proposed to be applicable after death or via non-consciousness, by either materialism or extinctivism. Not even a manifestation of nothingness. A realm that is actually unverifiable by definition, due to the elimination of mind which produces perceptual and intellectual evidence via its representational capacities.

The hard problem of consciousness is arguably rendered moot.

By making the transition from a naive materialism which lacks awareness of its inconsistencies (despite indulging in them) to a critical materialism that becomes aware of its incoherence, to a pragmatic materialism that finally accepts that the paradoxical nature of its reality may be inescapable.

By recognizing that physicalism concerns the conversion of qualitative affairs (phenomenal objects) to quantitative affairs (rational objects) and is thereby still in the domain of mental properties.

By a legitimate non-mental world "seeming" to lack utility for either scientific or philosophical understanding of anything. Since it involves the nature of what matter becomes in the context of death or non-consciousness (absence of everything). Or at least that belief entertained by the initial stage of naive materialism, that lacked cognition of ts consequences and incongruities.

(Feb 14, 2020 04:29 AM)C C Wrote:
(Feb 14, 2020 01:47 AM)Magical Realist Wrote: [...] So reality in itself becomes not just a mute darkness, for that would still have duration and visibility. It would be a timeless blanking out beyond time and space even. There would be no occurrence of anything at any time or any place--- a pure contentless blank of infinite forgetfulness..Strange that this is exactly the fate physicalists conceive for themselves after death! That the state of pure mindless physicality that we become at death is precisely what the universe ultimately is already.

Materialists can optionally fluctuate between the three positions below. Regardless of whether the inconsistencies of our philosophical orientation are acknowledged or not -- the constant shifting will occur either unknowingly (implicitly) or knowingly (explicitly).

When indulging in everyday realism about corporeal appearances, matter is akin to some stripe of panexperientialism (existence is phenomenal affairs). #1 further down.

When speaking of scientific realism and physicalism, matter becomes quantitative description (existence is rational objects). #2 further down.

When speaking of death and non-consciousness, matter becomes like Kant's noumenon (existence which is empty of both sensible and rational objects). #3 further down.

- - -

(1) The "external world" is distinct from the possibility of an "independent of mental properties world". The external world is undeniable as a public object of perception (it's available to everyone), and it is constituted of corporeal appearances and phenomenal happenings that outrun the control of each observer. Our bodies are presented as occupying its qualitative environment, the "out there" domain.

(2) The physical or rational world of inference is abstracted from the manifested one of the senses (and it is also multiply realized, described by various models). Today it consists of measurements and mappings of casual relationships and thereby is not (nor ever has been) independent of mental products. Minus the quantitative context, Emily Dickinson borrowed from that intellectual tradition here: "A letter always feels to me like immortality because it is the mind [information] alone without corporeal friend." --letter to Thomas Wentworth Higginson

(3) Which now leaves the "independent of mental properties world" which can be posited by reasoning as existing, but for which there is no content since any mental representation or product deprives it of that status. The "nou" part of Kant's "noumenon" references reasoning inferring or positing the potential of such a manner of existence, but the concept lacks both sensory and descriptive content. To plug the latter in there would demote it to the prior physical slash quantitative world of rational objects.
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#18
(Feb 10, 2020 07:33 PM)Yazata Wrote: [...] Kastrup's argument seems to me to essentially be a restatement of the old argument against the causal efficacy of epiphenomena.

I think that the argument that epiphenomena of the "qualia"-sort arguably seem to play no role in biological evolution might better be conceived as an argument against thinking of experience and "qualia" as a fundamental sort of epiphenomenal metaphysical stuff at all. The alternative, which one would think would have occurred to a computer scientist, is to think of experience as information processed by the neural system and encoded in its states.

So when we are 'conscious' of X instead of just reacting reflexively to it, the information being processed isn't just X, but 'I am aware of X'. We are processing the information not only that X is out there, but also that we are registering it (along with anything else that we happen to think about it). So we get a sense of self, all without having to adopt a metaphysics that includes mysterious 'qualia', even more mysterious inner mental eyes that look at and register 'qualia', homunculus theories, substantial selves or human souls.

That's my own preference. I perceive it as throwing out a whole lot of bad metaphysics. I can't prove I'm right, but I like my version a lot more than the spiritualistic, idealist or 'panpsychist' alternatives. Others are welcome to disagree.

Red tables and green leaves aren't metaphysical. Pain isn't metaphysical. The odor of a dead skunk isn't metaphysical. They're the content of our perceptions and sensations.

What's heading in the direction of metaphysical/ontological is reifying physicalism's narrative of quantitative descriptions, technical concepts, and mappings of interactions and cause-effect relationships as if those artificial representations are how matter actually exists (thus no place for experience, phenomena -- and the ensuing hard problem).

Information is an abstract concept (also involving systematic schemes) that would be (in this case) superimposed over the "actual" biological tissue there in the brain and the chemical and electrical interactions taking place at the microscopic level. Like the idea of "five" being superimposed on a collection of marbles or cookies or stamps. It's useful but as a construct of reasoning it has no causal efficacy in and of itself. The ability to either conjure or harbor a manifestation of a cornfield or a dream of the Titanic sinking is not one of the abilities attributed to it any more than such is normally attributed to electrochemical activity and traveling impulses.

There are some fringe areas in physics which speculate that matter is ultimately composed of "real" entities of information. David Chalmers ventures along that line, but to the quantitative description he adds that they also have experiential properties. But that's just another stripe of micropsychism (subcategory of panpsychism), which he acknowledges.

The hard problem is again caused by the dogma of reifying the physical narrative, as if its quantitative description is ontological or non-invented, as if that's how matter truly exists in itself. Treating it as if it came before the corporeal phenomena and qualitative events exhibited in our perceptions and thoughts. When instead it was abstracted by reasoning and experiment from the latter.

By recognizing that physics (and physicalism's parasitism of it) only deal with the extrinsic properties of matter (measurements and relationships) and not with intrinsic properties (how matter exists independent of our representations) the hard problem is made obsolete. Our experiences don't reside in that abstract context that was introduced in recent centuries; but in the older, everyday one of just being alive and conscious and accepting the corporeal phenomena and feelings of our senses instead of our insanely denying them for sake of reified technical description and concepts.

Lee Smolin: "The problem of consciousness is an aspect of the question of what the world really is. We don’t know what a rock really is, or an atom, or an electron. We can only observe how they interact with other things and thereby describe their relational properties. Perhaps everything has external and internal aspects. The external properties are those that science can capture and describe — through interactions, in terms of relationships. The internal aspect is the intrinsic essence; it is the reality that is not expressible in the language of interactions and relations. Consciousness, whatever it is, is an aspect of the intrinsic essence of brains."

Charles Peirce (back in the 19th century): Viewing a thing from the outside, considering its relations of action and reaction with other things, it appears as matter. Viewing it from the inside, looking at its immediate character as feeling, it appears as consciousness. --Man's Glassy Essence
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#19
This sounds too much like a creation story for me, except it’s consciousness that’s the creator. It’s as if all the information available was contained in a cosmic package that for some reason was disassembled and is now either slowly being put back together or distributed to who knows where. I guess that would make consciousness ..... information.

I’m one of those who thinks it might be possible for science to explain everything. As long as we have the right tools and conditions, who knows? In the meantime it’s open season for speculation.
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