David Chalmers on the meta-problem of consciousness

David Chalmers is famous as the philosopher who coined the hard problem of consciousness, the idea that how and why consciousness is produced from a physical system, how phenomenal experience arises from such a system, is an intractably difficult issue.  He contrasts the hard problem with what he calls “easy problems” such as discriminating between environmental stimuli, integrating information, and reporting on mental states.

Recently, Chalmers has been discussing another problem, the meta-problem of consciousness.  In essence, it’s the problem of why so many people think there is a hard problem.  I give him credit for addressing this, but it’s an issue that has been raised a lot over the years by people, mostly people in the illusionist camp, who have questioned whether the hard problem is really a problem.  Crucially, Chalmers admits that the meta-problem, at least in principle, falls into his easy problem category.

This talk is about an hour and 10 minutes.  I recommend sticking around for the Q&A.  The quality of the questions from the Google staff make it pretty interesting.

One of the things I found interesting in the talk were the multiple references to the idea of consciousness being irreducible.  I’ve pushed back against that idea multiple times on this blog.  I find it strange that anyone familiar with neurological case studies can argue that consciousness can’t be present in lesser or greater quantities, or that aspects of it can’t be missing.

However, what I found interesting is the idea that panpsychism involves an irreducible notion of consciousness.  When you push panpsychists on whether things like a single neuron, a protein, a molecule, an atom, or an electron are conscious, what you usually get back is an assertion that the consciousness in these things isn’t anything like the consciousness we’re familiar with.  It’s a building block of sorts.  Which seems to me like a reduction of our manifest image of consciousness to those these more primitive building blocks.

One prominent panpsychist recently equated quantum spin with those building blocks.  This just brings me back to the observation that the more natualistic versions of panpsychism  seem ontologically equivalent to the starkest forms of illusionism, with the differences between them simply coming down to preferred language.

Anyway, those of you who’ve known me for a while will know that my sympathies in this discussion are largely with the illusionists.  I think their explanations about what is going on are the most productive.

Except for one big caveat.  I don’t care for the word “illusion” in this context.  I do have sympathy with the assertion that if phenomenal experience is an illusion, then the illusion is the experience.  It seems more productive to describe experience as something that is constructed.  We have introspective access to the final constructed show, but not to the backstage mechanisms.  That lack of access makes the show look miraculous, when in reality it’s just us not seeing how the magician does its trick.

Chalmers main point in discussing the meta-problem seems to be an effort not to cede this discussion to the illusionists.  He points out that there may be solutions to the meta-problem that leaves the hard problem intact.

Perhaps, but it seems to me that the most plausible solutions leave the hard problem more as a psychological one, a difficulty accepting that the data provide no support for substance dualism, for any ghost in the machine.  To reconcile with that data, we have to override our intuitions, but that is often true in science.

Unless of course I’m missing something?

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112 Responses to David Chalmers on the meta-problem of consciousness

  1. Steve Ruis says:

    I, like you, do not think consciousness is irreducible but, if it is an emergent property of brains, then there seems to be a barrier between consciousness and non-consciousness. The example I like is that the technical specifications for building a car cannot inform anyone about traffic, nor can traffic inform anyone on the technical specifications for cars. Somewhere in between there is some sort of dividing line that doesn’t seem cross able. And, like you, I may be wrong or missing something.

    Love your posts, please keep them up (although I have trouble in keeping up, this seems a topic for younger folks).

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think we’ll be able to trace things from neurons to perception and behavior. The difficulty will be the line between those “easy” problems and the hard one Chalmers likes to discuss involving phenomenal experience. We’ll likely be able to isolate the correlations to ever tighter levels of granularity, but there may always be an uncrossable disconnect. In the end, all we may be able to do is clarify it.

      But it’s existence shouldn’t prevent us from technology with similar capabilities. Although there will always be philosophers wondering if those systems really have what we have, even if some of those philosophers are those systems.

      Thanks Steve! Grateful for the feedback. And I totally know what you mean by keeping up.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wyrd Smythe says:

    Interesting video; I like Chalmers. Of those working in the field, I tend to like his thinking a lot.

    “I find it strange that anyone familiar with neurological case studies can argue that consciousness can’t be present in lesser or greater quantities, or that aspects of it can’t be missing.”

    I can’t speak for others, but that isn’t in conflict with my view of consciousness as (very likely) irreducible. That something is an irreducible phenomenon doesn’t mean it can’t be sometimes an impaired phenomenon.

    I’ve used the laser analogy, recently I used the engine analogy, and you added the FedEx analogy. All of these can illustrate what I mean.

    FedEx, as an entity, has an irreducible function: it delivers packages. As you proposed, some portion of its fleet, even the entire air division, could become non-functional, and that would impair, but not change, the irreducible function of delivering packages.

    Similarly, an engine could be impaired in various ways that still allow it to perform its irreducible function of delivering usable RPMs. Likewise, lasers can be impaired in various ways that still allow coherent light of some quality to be produced.

    At some point, in all three systems, the damage can be so severe that the irreducible function cannot be performed. Then FedEx ceases to be a company, the engine becomes a boat anchor, and the laser goes in the recycle bin.

    The irreducible functions that define the system, delivering packages, RPMs, or laser light, either exist (whole or impaired) or not. They do have parts, but none of those parts are the whole.

    “I don’t care for the word ‘illusion’ in this context.”

    That does seem a poor choice of word. An “illusion” is something that appears to exist, but doesn’t really. Free will might be an illusion, for instance, but the phenomenon of consciousness, the “something it is like” to be a human, is clearly real.

    It might be just what it feels like to be a highly adaptive goal-oriented system, and not due to some magic sauce or soul, but it’s definitely a real thing.

    I take it that their meaning is that consciousness is not what it appears to be, but, if no one knows what consciousness is, how can it not be what it appears to be?

    I think it is *exactly* what it appears to be (a subjective experience),… whatever that is.

    “Perhaps, but it seems to me that the most plausible solutions leave the hard problem more as a psychological one, a difficulty accepting that the data provide no support for substance dualism, for any ghost in the machine.”

    Or is the psychological issue the inability to accept the possibility that consciousness might be something very special and possibly beyond the reach of science? 😀

    I don’t mean that in any spiritual or mystical way. But Gödel, Turing, Heisenberg, and Cantor, all demonstrated the unknowability of our most fundamental building blocks. (I enjoyed how that was mentioned during the Q&A.)

    Further there is the need to deal with a real world object that is quintessentially analog, so throw chaos theory into the mix.

    I don’t see the basis for the assumption that consciousness is just a science problem we will obviously solve someday. To me, it’s like assuming that we’ll obviously solve weather prediction someday, and we’ll know a year in advance if it will rain for the big game.

    I think some problems are intractable. Surely something built on an astonishingly complex network with “the most complex biological machines we know” (synapses) as connectors, that operates in parallel synchronous analog fashion qualifies.

    If the Traveling Salesman is known to be intractable, why do we imagine the brain is an easier problem?

    Liked by 2 people

    • On irreducibility, if there was only one FedEx truck left, delivering in only one city, would you consider that the irreducible function of FedEx as we know it was preserved? If not, how much of the original delivery functionality would be required? What if we only had delivery in one state? Or in one region of the country? Or if we could only deliver one type of product?

      My point of this example is that what we call consciousness is built on mechanisms that, in much simpler forms, we might not be tempted to think of as conscious. A worm that changes direction toward food based on a chemical gradient isn’t conscious by most people’s standards, but its mechanisms are the incipient ones that, with enough development and additional sophistication, do eventually trigger our intuition of a fellow consciousness.

      On the word “illusion”, I personally think it comes from considering a particular version of consciousness, one implicitly equivalent to an immaterial soul. We all have a strong intuition of dualism. I do think it’s fair to call that notion illusory.

      But if we define consciousness as only subjective experience, then I agree with you completely.

      “Or is the psychological issue the inability to accept the possibility that consciousness might be something very special and possibly beyond the reach of science?”

      There are times when I think consciousness is in fact beyond the reach of science, but mainly because it’s too incoherent. Our intuitions about it seem too inconsistent to produce testable hypotheses, at least ones that everyone will agree are meaningful.

      Cognitive neuroscience is making constant progress, but doing so while largely staying away from the concept of consciousness. It might be that we’ll eventually achieve a full mapping from sensory stimuli to behavior without ever needing to “solve” consciousness.

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      • Wyrd Smythe says:

        “…if there was only one FedEx truck left, delivering in only one city, would you consider that the irreducible function of FedEx as we know it was preserved?”

        Are we talking one guy with a truck? Then no. But if there’s still a corporate office, people supporting the truck and driver, the ability to bill for services, receive packages, then, yes, there is still a FedEx corporation extant. It’s the FedEx service that is irreducible.

        Regarding simpler mechanisms, yes, agreed. One guy with a truck helping a friend move is also a simpler mechanism, a building block, for a complex entity based on a basic idea.

        “I do think it’s fair to call [our strong intuition of dualism] illusory.”

        Unless it turns out to be, in some fashion, true. 😀

        “There are times when I think consciousness is in fact beyond the reach of science, but mainly because it’s too incoherent.”

        Perhaps we should be asking why. Chalmers seems to be heading in that direction in that talk. Doesn’t it seem compelling that, despite that we’re all conscious, and we’ve thought about and studied this for a long time, it’s still such a mystery?

        A human brain (or similar) might just be the one non-deterministic thing in reality… far more complex than weather, which we admit we can’t fully understand. Why would the brain be different?

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        • “Doesn’t it seem compelling that, despite that we’re all conscious, and we’ve thought about and studied this for a long time, it’s still such a mystery?”

          I guess I just don’t find it that mysterious. Certainly before the rise of neuroscience and computational modeling, it was mysterious. I can see why Descartes reached the conclusions he did. But now I see an electrochemical signalling system, a hideously complex system to be sure, but ultimately just an organic computational mechanism. I know you disagree. If there was evidence leading to different conclusions, I’d follow it.

          But hey, maybe there will be data tomorrow that contradicts that understanding. We don’t have a full accounting yet. Maybe we’ll eventually hit a brick wall, requiring that we dust off some variant of substance dualism. But if there’s any such wall looming in neuroscience, it doesn’t show up in any of the stuff I’ve read.

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          • Wyrd Smythe says:

            “I guess I just don’t find it that mysterious.”

            Actually, I am speaking in the context of your sensibilities, not dualism or any of mine.

            We meta-question whether there is a “hard problem” at all. Both the question and the meta-question seem slippery and intractable.

            A neurophysicist wrote that the synapse is the most complicated biological machine we know of. Neurons are pretty complicated in their own right. The brain has (at least) 100 trillion synapes and 100 billion neurons, each with, on average, 7,000 connections. The network complexity alone defies analysis. (That it’s an analog network makes even harder.) And that network has had millions of years to evolve and tune itself.

            You have a high threshold of “mysterious” my friend! 😀

            Liked by 2 people

          • “If there was evidence leading to different conclusions, I’d follow it.”

            There is a plethora of evidence leading to different conclusions, but you have refused to engage with it.

            I realize you’ve said that you’ve seen it all before and you have discounted it on that basis, but to label over 50 years of data collection by neuroscientists at the University of Virginia as “pseudoscience” requires a willful refusal to entertain anything that might disrupt an entrenched worldview (in my opinion, of course).

            Materialists always seem willing to look toward a future in which their opinions are proven correct by new data, but they are distinctly unwilling to investigate any new data that might question them.

            I recently took a relatively new course entitled “Intellectual Humility.” Upon completion, my main take-away was that it should be required of all academic scientists; all materialists, for that matter. Hell, everybody should take it.

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    • “I think it is *exactly* what it appears to be (a subjective experience),… whatever that is.”

      [pssst … maybe it’s the creation and use of a symbolic sign, which would appear to the system as the meaning of the symbolic sign]

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      • Wyrd Smythe says:

        I’m sorry,… I have no idea what that means.

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        • Sorry Wyrd, that’s just me saying I think I know how Consciousness works and giving the super short version.

          A “symbolic sign” is semiotics (Charles Peirce) jargon which would take a fair amount of unpacking. Here’s my short version. A sign is a physical thing that can be interpreted to mean something (like smoke means fire). A symbolic sign is one where the meaning is arbitrary, i.e., unrelated to the physical form, and so there must be coordination between the thing that creates the sign and the thing that interprets the sign. Using an expansive understanding of “interpret”, as I do, your standard neurotransmitter counts as a symbolic sign. It’s created by neuron A and interpreted by neuron B with the meaning “neuron A just fired”. It’s possible that neuron A is part of a complex system such that it only fires under certain circumstances, like seeing a tree, or Jennifer Anniston. The neurotransmitter from that neuron could then be a symbolic sign with that meaning. If a downstream system (starting with neuron B) does something useful in response to that neurotransmitter (like saying “Hi Jennifer!”), that whole system could be said to be having a Jennifer experience. If the system had the capabilities of a human, you could ask it about the experience, and all it could reference would be the meaning of the symbolic sign. It would have no access to the physical nature of the symbolic sign. It would have a “hard problem” trying to explain the physical nature of that experience.

          *

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          • Wyrd Smythe says:

            “It’s possible that neuron A is part of a complex system such that it only fires under certain circumstances, like seeing a tree, or Jennifer Anniston. The neurotransmitter from that neuron could then be a symbolic sign with that meaning.”

            I think the meaning is in the mass of interconnections, not any single neuron. That’s like identifying a single memory location in RAM with, say, a phone number. There is no meaning in the parts, only in the construct that uses those parts.

            And I can assure you that when I see Jennifer Anniston, a whole lot more than one neuron lights up! 😀

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          • Wyrd, that was an explanation of what a symbolic sign is. How symbolic signs are actually used in the brain is another question, but I think Chris Eliasmith has made crucial progress in that direction with his Semantic pointer architecture. He has demonstrated how you can have a set of (bio-plausible, simulated) neurons that, depending on their interdependent firing pattern, can represent different concepts, i.e., different meanings. Kinda like how you can take a piece of rope and spell different words with it.

            *

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  3. paultorek says:

    “I think it is *exactly* what it appears to be (a subjective experience),… whatever that is.”

    This, in spades. Why do philosophers feel entitled to attribute their metaphysical theories of subjectivity to the average Joe? Joe should feel entitled to tell them what they can do with themselves and the horse they rode in on.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. E. A. Curran says:

    I haven’t yet listened to this, but I’ve followed Chalmers since the 80s so I’m familiar with his take on consciousness as irreducible. And if it is irreducible, why not consider it fundamental in the same way that gravity is fundamental? Gravity is ubiquitous; it is invisible except in its effect. I’m not sure that anyone has yet seen an actual graviton, but we accept that they exist. Consider the possible existence, then, of “conscioutons.” Perhaps all we can be familiar with is their effect?

    And in the same way that things of different weight process the effect of gravitons differently, maybe things of varying neurobiology process conscioutons differently.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Re: the gravity analogy, and weight, not in a vacuum, I know, I know…

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    • Cheers Elizabeth. And surely hypothetical gravitons reduce down to more fundamental stuff as well, not that we idiot humans should ever grasp very much about that. And we may never grasp much about “conscioutons”, though the metaphysics of causality does at least suggest that they are produced by means of other stuff.

      For a second you had me concerned about gravity not functioning in a vacuum. Isn’t “space” effectively a vacuum? Ah, but a true vacuum would be beyond even gravitons. And what about quantum entanglement? I don’t know, though there could be more than just four dimensions of existence responsible for what’s observed in that regard. It’s supposedly instantaneous so my guess is that extra dimensions exist, though I’m certainly not educated about that in general.

      Like

    • In many ways, this is similar to the panpsychic view that consciousness is built on some building block. Sometimes, similar to the point you make, it’s described as being something independent, separate and apart from the existing fundamental forces. Other times it’s linked to one of those existing fundamental forces, as Philip Goff did with quantum spin and electric charge.

      My take on it is that we have mountains of evidence for electromagnetism, gravitation, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. Whether gravitation eventually turns out to be quantum (and so has gravitons) hasn’t really been established, but it would be madness to deny the existence of gravity. These fundamental forces have pretty much forced us to accept their existence. Too much science simply wouldn’t work without them.

      The problem is that we don’t have anything like this for consciousness as such as force. Certainly for us, as conscious creatures, it subjectively is fundamental, but holding that to apply to the objective world doesn’t appear to enhance our predictions the way the other force concepts do.

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      • “These fundamental forces have pretty much forced us to accept their existence. Too much science simply wouldn’t work without them.”

        One of the questions we appear to be facing now is, “How much science would work without consciousness?”

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        • How much science can happen without consciousness? Obviously none.

          But how relevant is that to the question of whether consciousness is a fundamental force? No science can happen without matter, but matter we now know is a composite phenomenon built on top of the fundamental forces.

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        • Elizabeth, if you believe people like Sean Carroll, a well-respected physicist, all of the physics, all of the particles, that could have any significant impact on what happens in our brains is well known. There will not be any new particles like conscioutons that will be useful for explaining Consciousness. Consciousness will be something that emerges from what the particles we already know about do.

          *

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      • Wyrd Smythe says:

        “The problem is that we don’t have anything like this for consciousness as such as force.”

        It may be more that underlying laws of reality allow it to emerge in the right context. (Like, um, oh, I dunno,… laser light? 😀 )

        I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how simple rules give rise to complex structure (the Mandelbrot being a spectacularly beautiful example). How fortunate it is that we do!

        Perhaps that’s the “miracle” of creation. That the laws of reality support such birth and growth.

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  5. paultorek says:

    I think it’s awesome that Chalmers is pushing the meta-problem, and the meta-problem is even more crucial than I think he realizes. The summary of things known about the meta-problem, which he provides somewhere near the middle of the talk, already favors reductionist views on phenomenal consciousness (and eliminativist ones, I guess, except they still face their burden of linguistic oddity.) To wit, they give reductionists the ability to explain why the hard problem seems hard – which was the evidence that was supposed to be against their theories. As I’ve mentioned before: it’s pretty hard to refute a theory by pointing out that it successfully explains a piece of evidence. And thus, it’s pretty hard to refute it to pointing to a piece of evidence that it predicts we will see.

    I can’t resist commenting on the slide titled “The Case for Illusionism” (around 40:40 into the talk). Premise 1 says “If there’s a solution to the meta-problem, there’s an explanation of our beliefs about consciousness that’s independent of consciousness.” No. Just no. Only if you can’t distinguish between a conception of consciousness versus a reference to consciousness, would you make that mistake. Conception vs reference – isn’t this philosophy of language 101, or philosophy of science 101, or both? To describe the meta-problem in “content neutral” terms (as Chalmers specifies) is to avoid deploying a conception of consciousness – but that doesn’t mean you avoid reference to consciousness. I can describe a plumbing system without using the concept “H2O” but that doesn’t mean I can describe it without referring to H2O.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “it’s pretty hard to refute a theory by pointing out that it successfully explains a piece of evidence.”

      Excellent point.

      On an explanation independent of consciousness, I think it depends on exactly which conception of consciousness we’re referring to. I agree that an explanation independent of subjective experience wouldn’t be an explanation. On the other hand, an explanation independent of an incorrect conception of consciousness shouldn’t be controversial.

      I think what Chalmers is doing in the video, implicitly, is saying that an explanation of the meta-problem that is independent of his conception of consciousness would put that conception in substantial doubt. I agree with him on that.

      Like

  6. I have an answer for the meta hard problem of consciousness that I think should hold up to scrutiny. We think that there is a hard problem of consciousness, because as the term is commonly interpreted we don’t know how it is that “consciousness” becomes created. If we did know how consciousness as commonly interpreted becomes created, then we wouldn’t think that there is a hard problem of consciousness. As things stand we do seem to have such uncertainty however, so the meta hard problem of consciousness does not seem very hard to me at all.

    (I actually think that I’ve got a good answer for the “why” of consciousness, which apparently he also considers “hard”. I consider “consciousness” required for autonomous function in more open environments, though I won’t get into this unless questioned.)

    I can reduce this meta speculation a bit as well by equating common interpretations of the “consciousness” term, to the “sentience” term. This is to say that we think there is a problem of sentience, because we don’t know how it is that causal products of reality create things that feel good and bad. Beyond idle speculation, I’d say that we have no clue about this very hard problem.

    So as defined here, have I or have I not answered the meta hard problem of consciousness pretty well? Is this not a reasonable interpretation of the question? And if I have interpreted this question reasonably well, is Chalmers either wasting our time here, or is humanity actually in need of people like myself who seem able to take legitimate questions, and then effectively repeat them?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Keith Frankish, one of the illusionists that Chalmers refers to, has a tweet pinned the top of his Twitter feed which might be relevant here.

      It seems like what you’re saying is that we think there’s a hard problem because…there’s a hard problem. Or to put this another way, why do you think the problem of consciousness is so hard? What about it makes it so hard?

      Consider an example from Michael Graziano. The problem of white light was once a pretty hard problem in science. Where does whiteness come from? We can identify the wavelength of red, blue, green, yellow, etc, but not of white. The answer was eventually discovered to be that white light is all of the wavelengths mixed together. Our nervous system just interprets that mixture as white.

      In that case, the meta-problem of white light was in assuming that whiteness was somewhere in nature (at least somewhere outside of our nervous system). Once that assumption was cleared up, the hard problem of white light dissolved. It was an illusion.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mike,
        Well it could be that I don’t understand the question, though at least on the surface the question does seem pretty plain. You said, “In essence, it’s the problem of why so many people think there is a hard problem.” Furthermore Chalmers has defined this as two distinct problems. The “why” of sentience is something that I think I have a good answer for, and so I don’t consider this “hard”. But the “how” of sentience seems ridiculously difficult to me. What sort of engineering would be required to build a sentient computer? I don’t think anyone today has a clue about this, and may never. Unlike wavelengths in light this is just really really strange stuff. My single principle of axiology does conceptually get into this, in the sense that one computer (like my head) can somehow fabricate sentience for something else to experience (like me), but I can’t even guess about the causal physics which underlies such sentience.

        So let’s go to my answer for the meta problem of sentience to see if anyone can effectively argue that I don’t understand the question or perhaps can challenge my answer in others ways. People think that there is a hard problem of sentience… because they have no clue about how to build sentient stuff. Right? Here I’ve directly answered this meta question, and by effectively restating the question. Note that we already consider sentience phenomenal, and therefore cannot depend upon this revelation to help solve the great uncertainty.

        It sounds to me like Keith Frankish is heavily into the ideology that philosophy must remain an art to appreciate rather than a means to help us understand. Science seems to suffer horribly today given this situation. Effective answers will be required of specialists in the field to help improve the institution of science. But if that’s too objectionable for the “philosophy as art” crowd, then a non-art institution will need to be developed to function outside of the traditionalists. Metaphysics, epistemology, and axiology, must become more than intellectual arts to potentially appreciate. Effective answers will be required!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Eric,
          I wouldn’t recommend formulating your thoughts only on what I wrote in the post, but doing so based on either Chalmers’ talk, or reading his paper on this subject. https://philpapers.org/archive/CHATMO-32.pdf

          On sentience, I’ve posted many times on this topic. We do have a lot of clues on how it works. Obviously you don’t agree. Not sure what else I could add on this except to again urge you to consider reading neuroscience and get your own perspective on the data.

          “then a non-art institution will need to be developed to function outside of the traditionalists. ”

          I think we already have it in science. I would also note that Frankish is far better informed on science that the average philosopher of mind. He reads neuroscience. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

      • Mike,
        I did listen to his talk. Your assessment of the meta hard problem seemed reasonable to me. Furthermore I now see that he printed your essential take right in the initial scenes, “The meta-problem of consciousness: Explain why we think there is a problem of consciousness.” From there I’ve provided a perfectly logical answer to this supposed quandary. It essentially reads “Because we remain clueless about how to build it”. If we did have some reasonable ideas on the “how of sentience” (such as my own “why of sentience” answer, not that anyone yet acknowledges the usefulness of my answer there), then this question wouldn’t be considered “hard”. As things stand however, this does seem to be a very hard question.

        On sentience, I do propose an original model of how it works. My analogy is that it’s essentially the fuel which drives the function of the conscious form of computer. That’s “architecture” rather than “engineering” however, or psychology rather than neuroscience. If modern neuroscience does have some clues about how the non-conscious brain effectively outputs sentience, I’d be very interested in hearing about it. That would suggest that the hard problem of consciousness isn’t really so hard, which I think would be news to lots of people.

        On science existing as a substitute for philosophy, if true then I’d welcome such a thing. But what do these scientists call themselves? Which of them are responsible for developing effective principles of metaphysics? And then epistemology? And then axiology? And most importantly, ave these professionals been able to developed any generally accepted ideas amongst themselves in these regards? Once again, I think this would be news to lots of people.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Eric,
          “As things stand however, this does seem to be a very hard question.”

          Maybe another way to approach this is to ask: what possible answers might convince you that there isn’t a hard problem? Or that it had been solved? What answer would change your mind?

          I’ll go first. I’d admit that there is a real hard problem if someone could present me with a specific aspect of consciousness, sentience, etc, that can’t be accounted for in physical terms. I’ve been asking for this example in posts and in discussion threads for years, but I’ve never gotten a real answer, only incredulity that our experience comes from a physical system.

          On axiology and science, I think I’ve said before that science only has one real axiom: truth is better than fantasy, reliable knowledge is better than unreliable knowledge, accurate prediction is better than inaccurate prediction. Everything else follows from that. Specific scientific methodologies are themselves scientifically developed.

          In the 16th century, natural philosophers often still insisted that things weren’t really understood until we had accounted for all of Aristotle’s hierarchy of causes, particularly the teleological final cause. Eventually they had to relent when science was moving forward while ignoring things it couldn’t test, that it couldn’t reliably establish.

          Science is a relentlessly pragmatic enterprise. My reading of the history of science is that philosophy can be used to gain a valuable after-the-fact understanding of what’s happening, but its contribution to actual innovations in the practice of science is overstated. Philosophers more commonly recognize and describe what working scientists are already doing and make those practices more well known.

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          • But what happens when the philosophers like Aristotle and are correct, which seems (to me) to be the case with Aristotle and his 4 causes?

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          • Maybe he was correct, maybe he wasn’t. Can you demonstrate his correctness?

            In any case, science has progressed for centuries without worrying about all final causes.

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          • The history of science is a history of paradigm shifts. There will be more.

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          • Certainly. The problem is that people are always claiming that they have a new paradigm. But real shifts happen from working scientists demonstrating that the shift is fruitful, often later recognized and validated by philosophers.

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          • Can I demonstrate Aristotle’s correctness? Kinda.

            If you accept that every thing that happens, every event, every process, can be expressed as
            Input —>[mechanism/context]—> Output, that’s the first three of Aristotle’s causes right there (material, efficient, formal). A final cause only enters the picture when you can say the event/process has a purpose, in which case the mechanism/Context was generated/organized for said purpose.

            The current paradigm of cause and effect is problematic because it conflates the input and mechanism into the “cause”, and then it becomes difficult to explain the role of purpose.

            *

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          • The problem is that purpose, outside of human and animal actions and tools, can’t be reliably established. (Even in the case of non-human animals, their “purpose” for actions are more often just satisfying instinctual urges.) Outside of that, I personally think purpose is a meaningless concept in nature.

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          • Ah, that’s where you’re wrong, and why the lack of scientific follow up from Aristotle’s idea is slowing science down. The question is how does nature create purpose. You may object to this use of the word “purpose” because you only apply it to things created for goals, and only animals (so far) create/arrange things to achieve goals. But it’s clear that things get created in nature that are goal-like, or purpose-like, and we need a word for those kinds of purposes. Richard Dawkins used the term archeo-purpose. Others talk about teleonomic purpose, as opposed to teleological purpose.

            So what in nature can create teleonomic purpose? The answer will be very involved and use terms like homeostasis, autopoeisis, cybernetics, chaotic attractors (or something about attractors). Anywhere in nature where there seems to be an attractor state and a mechanism which detects deviation from that state and makes changes that move the system closer to that state. And from what little I know, it tends to be an increase in entropy that drives those systems.

            *

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          • Well, you can philosophically redefine purpose to not be related to goals. The question then becomes, how do you scientifically demonstrate a particular purpose?

            Language involving evolution is a particularly difficult case, because we use a purpose laced shorthand to discuss it, although most scientists are careful to clarify that it’s just a shorthand. Daniel Dennett advocates that we just say we have purpose without a designer. I can see that. But I’m not sure what value it has for real scientific methodology, and seems endlessly subject to misinterpretation and abuse from the intelligent design crowd.

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          • One may well be able to accept the possibility of consciousness as fundamental without recourse to belief in an intelligent designer. Similarly, one may accept the existence of electromagnetism, gravity, etc., without believing in a god or gods.

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    • I would assume that Chalmers referred to this as the hard problem simply because we generally consider “hard” to be one of the antonyms of “easy.” He wasn’t thinking qualia in this instance.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Interesting Elizabeth. You don’t think that Chalmers was referring to qualia as the antonym of something that’s easy to create? (And of course I used sentience in my own comment, though I presume that you essentially equate these terms as I do.) In that case what do you think he thinks is very “hard” for us to create?

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        • Oh, come on…hard can mean impervious to (some) physical force or it can mean difficult.

          There isn’t any question which way Chalmers uses it.

          Forgive me if I suspect you are arguing for the sake of arguing. 😁

          He thinks it is “difficult” for us to create an explanation of consciousness that is compelling, given our current knowledge.

          Dennett, Pinker, Hofstadter, et al, don’t agree.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Elizabeth,
        Ah… I think I see what happened here. No I wasn’t being argumentative. I suppose this is a bit strange in the blogosphere, and misunderstanding are to be expected since we don’t yet know each other very well.

        Anyway, I think it can be helpful to reduce the “consciousness” term back to “sentience”. People seem to mean all sorts of things with “consciousness”, so it can be difficult to use this term without quite knowing what they’re referring to. (You know, panpsychism remains all the rage today and whatnot.)

        I’m definitely no expert on Chalmers, but I’m asking if you think he’d say that sentience would be “difficult”, “hard”, “intractable”, or whatever, for us to create in one of our machines? That’s what I think, but is that also what he thinks? And indeed, is it what you think?

        Mike currently seems less than convinced, and I suppose given his hope in the institution of neuroscience. I’ve learned that most everything that Dennett says is pure salesmanship, so I wouldn’t pin him down to one position anywhere. Consciousness Explained my ass! I like Pinker so I wouldn’t mind hearing his thoughts on the matter. Don’t know Hofstadter.

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        • I agree with you that consciousness can be a misunderstood concept (and I despair of those who argue “consciousness” on the basis of “wakefulness”), but I still believe it is more applicable to Chalmers’s theories than sentience.

          I wonder if you are aware of Chalmers’s concept of the ” philosophical zombie,” or p-zombie? His question was, would conscious human beings be able to distinguish beings identical to us in every way, except in lacking an internal experience of consciousness? If not, then what could be the purpose of this internal experience? What possible survival benefit could it confer? Why would it have evolved? (Not “how” but “why.”)

          I and, I believe, Chalmers both agree with you that instilling sentience in machines constitutes a “hard” (if not impossible) problem. Interestingly, if we do equate sentience with consciousness, and if panpsychism turned out to be the case, then machines would already be sentient. At least, their constituent parts would be.

          I apologize for the “argumentative” comment. I meant no disrespect.

          Hofstedter co-wrote “The Mind’s I” and wrote “Goedel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid,” which I still have never managed to get through!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Wyrd Smythe says:

            Try Hofstedter’s I Am A Strange Loop which covers much of what GEB does and is far, far more readable and accessible. (I never got through GEB, either, and now I I’d like to try again I can’t find my copy.)

            Liked by 1 person

      • Sounds good Elizabeth. (Or do you prefer Ann?) Fortunately for me you’ve provided an excuse to get into my own “why?” of consciousness explanation. Here’s an abbreviated run through and I’ll go into greater depth if you have any questions.

        I suspect that p-zombies are not possible given that they don’t seem to have evolved. Therefore my own “Why?” of consciousness addresses the obstacle that I suspect prevented such life from evolving. The short answer is that non-conscious function (or non-sentient, non-teleological, non-purpose driven…) couldn’t be programmed sufficiently to deal with more open environments well enough. Apparently sentience (which I consider as “purpose” or “value”), brought a level of autonomy that couldn’t otherwise be achieved.

        We see such failure in our robots. Yes they can function quite well when programmed to address the conditions that they face, though flounder with curve balls. Essentially they’re set up for closed environments. Of course modern computer scientists hope that they’ll be able to build their non-conscious machines to function with tremendous autonomy some day, though since even evolution seems to have failed in this regard, I’m not optimistic.

        Primitive forms a of life, such as plants, fungus, and microorganisms, seem to do fine under their closed environments. What about insects? They display far greater open environment autonomy than anything we build. But it may also be that sentience is responsible for such proficiency. That’s my own suspicion, though it is hard to say.

        So how might sentience help provide reasonable autonomy under more open environments? I consider the brain to be a non-conscious computer that outputs a conscious form of computer. Just as brains function by means of electrochemical interactions, and our computers function by means of electricity, consciousness is driven to function by means of “value”, or a desire to feel good and not bad each moment. Here evolution essentially created an agent that thus had reason figure things out in more open environments.

        Consider existing as a god with all sorts of clever non-conscious machines that work as you’ve designed them to. But because nothing actually “matters” to any of them, there should be no motivation for any of them to figure anything out beyond what they’re compelled to do. They should just be spinning cogs, or entities which lack “self”.

        So now you give them sentience, which is to say that you show them punishing and rewarding existence. As purpose driven machines it should be somewhat up to them to figure things out… or face the consequences! Autonomy in more open environments may not otherwise be possible.

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        • “I consider the brain to be a non-conscious computer that outputs a conscious form of computer.”

          That’s the hard problem right there—how do you get something from nothing? That sudden appearance of consciousness where there was none before (supposedly) cannot be explained in terms of causality or evolution. Despite what neurobiologist are “working on,” there is not even the hint of a “flow chart” that would lead to its appearance.

          Chalmers didn’t say that p-zombies were possible, that they might exist. It was a thought experiment. Others have speculated on their existence with the “I am conscious, but I’m not sure about you,” meme.

          What would prevent such creatures from learning values and purpose? Why would they need an internal experience of consciousness, or sentience, to do that? Do you believe you have to “feel” something, internally, in order to have values or purpose, or to learn? (Mind you, I’m not agreeing that values and purpose are the definition of sentience, or consciousness.)

          Can you equate your two definitions of sentience, i.e. that it is to have values and purpose or that it is to have learned (been “shown”) punishment and reward?

          Liked by 1 person

      • Elizabeth,
        We all seem biased by the various agendas that our lives impart. Apparently this is associated with being sentient — we tend to feel better when the beliefs that we’ve invested in are validated rather than the beliefs of our competitors. Anyway, going on with my own “Why?” of consciousness explanation would probably be a bit ambitious given the apparent gulf in our metaphysics. Let’s instead regress a bit.

        I had no doubt that you’d effectively shut down Mike’s suggestion that modern neuroscience is answering the hard problem of consciousness. It’s a relatively new field with lots of whiz-band technology, though essentially remains “blind”. Without effective architecture (roughly translated as “psychology”), these engineers must fumble around without big picture understandings of how their various micro level discoveries might fit together. Of course it may not seem that neuroscience should be considered “soft” given its effective empirical exploration, though it’s fate should naturally be tied to what lies upstream.

        I wonder if I could have your thoughts on my single principle of metaphysics? It reads: “To the extent that causality fails, nothing exists to figure out anyway.” Can you challenge it? Wherever causality does in fact fail, are effective understandings nevertheless possible?

        I think not. If cause does not ultimately lead to an associated effect, then it seems to me that reason itself should not exist. (Actually many physicists today seem to believe that Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle reflects an ontological void in causality. I’ve noticed them belittle Einstein for the converse, perhaps not realizing that this puts them in bed with supernaturalists in this regard.)

        Of course there are all sorts of places in reality study where we’re clueless today, such as the hard problem of consciousness. But if my single principle of metaphysics were generally adopted, I think that those who explore reality would tend to presume those places as voids of understanding rather than voids of underlying causal function. Why try to figure out that which has no potential to be figured out?

        Thus people like me would not refuse to consider proposed voids in causality given presumed falsity. We’d even tell people that they might be right! Instead we’d refuse given conflict with our metaphysics. Thus there wouldn’t be a need to waste more time trying to distinguish “science” from “pseudoscience”. Instead some people would belong to “causal clubs”, while others would belong to “everything clubs”.

        How does that sound?

        Liked by 1 person

        • It isn’t fair to ask me my thoughts on your metaphysical statement on causality and then mention Heisenberg in the same post!

          Kinda takes the wind out of my sails, y’know?

          I toss a cat at you, Sirrah! 😃

          Liked by 1 person

        • Eric, I have been further pondering the question of causal voids, or the possibility of cause without an associated effect.

          Could this potentially happen with thoughts?

          Here’s what I mean: I look around and the kitchen floor needs to be swept because it has gross stuff on it. More than that, it needs to be swept because a very critical relative is about to arrive.

          I am aware of this and then I, well…I simply don’t do it. Not because I like the gross stuff, or because I want to challenge the relative, or because I’m lazy—I just don’t do it.

          Does that constitute a couple of causes that have no effect? I don’t know, I’m just winging this.

          Or do I need to show effects with no causes?

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      • Well done Elizabeth! I’d have been disappointed if you hadn’t shown my position on metaphysics this level of respect. Apparently it’s a thinker.

        I do remember a brief visit from you here by the way, and now have tracked this back to a post from November. The following is my response to you and others in that post:
        https://selfawarepatterns.com/2018/11/11/on-imagination-feelings-and-brain-regions/#comment-24613

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        • Wow! That was a real fly-by. I’d forgotten all about it myself.

          I was a bit confused at first because you, understandably, referred to me as Ann. Wish I could leave it out but it’s a consequence of there already being at least one “Elizabeth Curran” on my preferred email app. (As well as on a whole lot of other apps where I also have to include my middle name…)

          Liked by 1 person

      • Since you’ve mentioned this with Mike I’d like to just briefly get into the stereotypes, biases, prejudices, and so on that people have for each other. Might we pre-judge you here on the basis of nothing more than your online photo? There’s no doubt about it! We all judge and are judged by things like how we look, both positively and negatively. And here’s the bitch of it. Though apparently we can effectively understand what to expect from someone based upon how they look often enough (yes things like gender, weight, age, hair style, clothes, and one thing that I don’t feel comfortable mentioning even here), standard moralistic PC dynamics make it dangerous for a person to openly acknowledge that such characteristics could be predictive. Imagine how much more difficult it would be to study physics, if physicists had to be politically correct about how they explore various properties of nature? Naturally it should be possible for the human to effectively explore most anything that it has evidence about, though not itself given the prominence of such concerns.

        I’m quite pleased with the stereotypes that you’re able to come here and break!

        I do also have a bit of business to get to on the “evidence” issue. Of course we’re in agreement that neuroscience hasn’t gotten anywhere near demonstrating the “how?” of sentience. Beyond my own metaphysics however, there is just one bit of evidence I can provide for an “of this world” explanation to phenomenal experiences.

        Of course you’re aware of the private nature of subjective experience. Though I may think that I know what you feel, or even sympathize, I can never actually feel what you feel. Your pain, hope, love and so on, are private experiences.

        But what if two different people could uncontroversially demonstrate that they are able to feel what the other does somewhat? In that case we should have evidence for naturalism and/or supernaturalism given any apparent natural or supernatural connections between each subject.

        As it so happens, apparently one such documented case does actually exist. Out of all the billions of people on this planet, only two girls from Canada seem able to display such an ability at will. But rather than spiritual antennas connecting them, these are conjoined twins who share a thalamus.

        The funny thing about this is that it’s taken as a human interest story rather than a demonstration of physicalism. I’m pretty sure that if any Scientologists or whatever could demonstrate such an ability, we’d never hear the end of it! And I think validly so…
        https://www.cbc.ca/cbcdocspov/m/episodes/inseparable

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        • Hello Eric, Let me first comment on your take on bias—you, my friend, are a thoroughly good and thoughtful person. There’s a decisive assumption involving morality for you!

          Then, as I happen to live in BC, Canada, I have heard of the Hogan girls and their case is fascinating. Actually, they don’t share a single thalamus but rather have some sort of tissue “bridge” that links their thalami (I assume that is the plural; I don’t think I’ve ever had cause to use it before). They come very close to fulfilling my previously stated requirement for “proof” of a materialistic basis for consciousness.

          Something still gives me pause, though. I accept completely their physical interactions with regard to sight and limb manipulation (their division of limb control is similar to that of Abby and Brittany Hensel, another set of indivisible, non-craniopagus, conjoined twins), but their ability to know each other’s thoughts and feelings (based on their own reports, I assume) is a trait that is reportedly shared by any number of non-conjoined, identical twins. I wonder if we give their testimony more credence simply because we can show a physical brain link? Actually, I shouldn’t wonder. Of course we do! At least, materialists do.

          This doesn’t seem to be the case with fraternal twins to such a great extent. Apparently sharing a womb is not has conducive as having shared a single egg.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Elizabeth,
        Well I do like myself pretty well, though I should also come clean about my online persona. I’m not really some sort of charitable nice guy or whatever. “Moral” is the last thing I’d call myself. What I write online is calculated to promote a single objective in the end — my own happiness. The associated strategy that I’ve adopted is informed by the example of perhaps the greatest political mind the world has ever known — Mahatma Gandhi. And given how conflicting many of my ideas seem to be with status quo interests, I do consider myself in need of effective political strategy. I suppose that I enjoy being able to say radical things that are difficult to effectively challenge, just as you enjoy testing displayed stereotypes.

        On my own position regarding causality, understand that this is a metaphysical rather than physical stance. It can’t be demonstrated that my metaphysics is right or wrong — it’s simply my metaphysics. And if true this metaphysics mandates that causality determined whether or not you’d sweep your floor for that relative, long before our planet even existed.

        My single principle of metaphysics is not that causality doesn’t fail however. A true solipsist like myself will remain humble regarding the Truth of anything beyond its own existence. Instead it’s that to the extent causality does fail, nothing exists to figure out. This is to say that science itself becomes obsolete in such instances. I believe that if generally accepted this principle would help better found the institution of science.

        So does my own causal metaphysics mean that you’d naturally consider the consciousness architecture that I’ve developed to be ineffective? Not necessarily. I’m not all that concerned about the “How?” of consciousness. It’s the “What?” of it that I think needs to get sorted out most. If supernaturalists would rather consider my models from the position of, “What has God created us to be?” I’m good with that sort of thing.

        On the Hogan girls, I consider their example to provide merely evidence for physicalism. I don’t like to use the “proof” term for much of anything beyond mathematics, deductive logic, and the like. The only think that I can ever Know about what exists “out there”, is me in some manner. For all else I merely have evidence and belief.

        People who know each other quite well may thus understand some things about what the other is thinking given theory of mind skills. A perception of pain in another could make a person in sympathy feel bad as well, regardless of whether or not the first is experiencing any pain. But as far as I know, these girls are the worlds only case where one subject is able to demonstrate somewhat feeling what the other independently feels. Surely many in the paranormal culture makes such claims as well, though without being able to endlessly display the validity of such talents.

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        • Eric, re: Causality, consciousness, the Hogans and the Hensels.

          First, let me apologize for not addressing more of your comment directly. I have been preoccupied the last few days, pondering over a link a friend of mine sent me to an article on WIRED magazine. It is brief, probably no more than a two minute read if you want to look at it: https://www.wired.com/story/tricky-business-of-measuring-consciousness/

          Anyway, my point is that I was surprised and disappointed to see the way in which the author described consciousness, basically as “wakefulness.” In other words, he seems to see no difference between being unconscious (asleep, comatose, sedated) and being NON-conscious (like a piece of paper, unless you’re a panentheist/ panpsychist). I can understand completely why you choose to use “sentience,” when “consciousness” can be so open to misinterpretation.

          I want to segue here to mention that I agree with your definition of causality, except that it seems to be sorta post hoc ergo propter hoc?

          Back to consciousness, the more I try to define what I mean by that word, the more I keep coming back to the individual nature of consciousness, the “me”-ness of it. So I think I would say that the type of consciousness I’m speaking of is “the internal experience of qualia by a unique, individual identity.” I may not experience the scent of huge maple trees in the late autumn the same way that you, or anyone else does, but we will all have some sort of internal experience of that scent, for example. My father, now deceased, was never bothered by the smell of skunk spray. He said he kinda liked it. Yeah, we all thought he was kinda weird.

          When I relate this to the case of the two sets of conjoined twins that we discussed earlier, I can see that we are dealing with two very different situations, neurologically, but not necessarily with regard to consciousness.

          The Hensel girls (well, they are women now, I guess) share a single body but there is no doubt that they are two separate individuals. Abby and Brittany do not have a physical link between their brains. They have different skill sets and employ different personal styles.

          The Hogan twins, while having separate bodies, are craniopagus to the extent that a physical link exists between their brains at the thalamus. They also share a circulatory system. They are in a unique position, neurologically, to interact with each other, as you say. There is evidence that they can see, feel, and even taste what the other twin does. However, there are still two individuals there, with individual understandings of “me.” They may frequently be “we,” or “us,” but I don’t think that either girl would deny she has an individual consciousness, using my definition of the word. For example, one twin may not enjoy the taste of something the other is eating quite happily. (They may have to get a bit older before their phenomenological accounts can be interpreted neurologically, and otherwise.)

          As you say, the Hogan girls present evidence for a physicalist perspective, but not the kind of proof that I would need.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Don’t worry about being prompt with me Elizabeth. Beyond a drawn out discussion with professor Eric Schwitzgebel, after years of admiration I’ve finally had some things to say over at the site of Sabine Hossenfelder. http://backreaction.blogspot.com/2019/04/does-world-need-larger-particle.html?showComment=1554578305980&m=1#c2178065075113819129

        I certainly agree with you on that WIRED article. I personally avoid using the “unconscious” term at all given that people seem to mean at least three things by it. I refer to one of them as “non-conscious”. Dead people are obviously this way, though I classify living people who are perfectly sedated this way as well. I refer to a second as “quasi-conscious”, as in when we mean that conscious function is subtly influenced by non-conscious function. Various standard biases may be referred to this way for example. Then finally there are “altered states of conscious”, such as being asleep or drunk. Of course it’s hard to actually get rid of the “unconscious” term entirely, popularized by Freud, though I do think that this would be helpful (along with the rest of his crappy ideas). When I instead use these three more specific terms, people do seem to understand my meaning.

        No worries on whether or not you’re a pure casualist like myself. As mentioned, for my own consciousness architecture that doesn’t really matter.

        On the individual nature of “me”-ness, I consider this dynamic in a temporal way. Each moment of me is technically a distinctly new self, though the present one (which is to say what I currently feel) is all that matters at any given moment. So my past concerned various other people rather than me, just like my future. But my present self does feel connected with past selves given my memory of them. For example I could feel shame right now given a specific memory of something done by “me” long ago. Then as for the future, I’m connected with those people through my hope and my worry. It might feel good to work hard right now given the instant hope that this provides. Or perhaps with a gun to my head I might do various things I don’t want to given my worry about what would happen if I didn’t. Anyway, though I might feel like a single entity over time, in truth the past and future should not matter to me beyond how they make my present self feel each instant. It should be no different for the Hogan twins, even though what one feels can bleed over to the other.

        I’ve got a pretty weird father myself, and my son would certainly tell you the same!

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      • Elizabeth,
        I suspect that my ideas are good enough to help our soft sciences improve quite a bit. But it’s been difficult for others to get a working level grasp of them, and so assess where improvements might be needed. Ideally I’d like it if someone could read an article like that one from WIRED, and then tell me something that approximates what I’d say about it. Such a person should be able to provide insights that I currently lack. Perhaps that could be you?

        This is the point where discussion usually continues through email. If you like, here’s my address: thephilosophereric@gmail.com

        Liked by 1 person

    • Eric, my understanding of the meta problem is this: the meta problem will be solved when you can demonstrate a physical system, that is, identify all the physical “moving parts”, and show that it will act just like a human subject by saying things like “I see red”, “I know I am conscious, but not sure about you”, “we may never be able to answer the hard problem of consciousness”, etc., and otherwise act in a way that a conscious person would. And then demonstrate that human machinery works just like that.

      *
      [did I mention the solution will involve the creation and use of symbolic signs?]

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I disagree with Chalmers from the outset. You processed ‘Chalmers main point in discussing the meta-problem seems to be an effort not to cede this discussion to the illusionists. First sleight of hand – he is precisely one such. His position (and class function) is thoroughly ideological. On the fundamental question ‘Which takes priority over the other – matter (objective reality) or consciousness’ Chalmers shows that he considers it is the latter. Hence (second sleight of hand) ‘The hard (why not ‘soft’, ‘brittle’…?) problem is concerned with phenomenal consciousness: what it’s like to be a subject.’

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    • Hey Phil,
      I’m not quite following your point. Are you saying that Chalmers is an idealist (in the sense of believing in mental monism)? He’s definitely played around with those ideas, but I’m not sure he’d describe himself that way.

      On what you describe as the second sleight of hand, I think Chalmers would agree with what you say. (“Hard” here only refers to intractably difficult.)

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      • Hi SelfAwarePatterns,
        One’s position on which is prior to the other – matter (objective reality) or consciousness – and hence which is the ultimate determinant of the other is the basis of one’s position on all other matters. Chalmers is fully aware of this choice one has to/should make for consistency and stated his position, as I quoted, at the outset of his talk. There is no ‘hard’ problem regarding consciousness. Again, a deliberate choice of words. To speak and write thus puts consciousness in a special (‘hard’) class of its own. There are many things we don’t yet know or only understand to degrees but our knowledge of the world is increasing exponentially – consciousness is one of them (was it Churchland who said that consciousness is simply what the brain does?). And the issue of consciousness is one of matter, not, going around in circles, of (phenomenal) consciousness. Hegel’s philosophy took the study of consciousness by itself to the highest point within idealism and Chalmers (infinitely inferior to Hegel) is beating over old ground. Marx took the great fruits of Neoplatonism (taken to their highest point within idealism by Hegel) and ‘inverted’ them, standing them on their material feet – on feet which were already there. It is on this clear basis that the study of consciousness should be undertaken.

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        • Ah, ok, thanks. I see what you’re driving at now. I’d probably be on the matter first side myself.

          Although I’m not sure overall how much difference it actually makes. Seen purely from a phenomenal point of view, scientific theories are models that predict future conscious sensations. Whether you see consciousness or matter as having primacy, it doesn’t change whether those theories make accurate predictions.

          So I guess in the end, I’m a prediction first sort of guy 🙂

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  8. Lee Roetcisoender says:

    The meta-problem of consciousness is a fulcrum concept. It is literally a “tipping point”; and as an abstraction in itself, it cannot be overstated. It underlies both the hard problem of consciousness and the hard problem of causality. The meta-problem of consciousness is literally the discrete, binary system of rationality.

    The sensations and experiences of our sensibilities constitute those binaries which are then contrasted against each other to give us meaning of some kind. Furthermore, when the experience of something that is unknown constitutes one of those binaries, the discrete, binary system of rationality breaks down. From this brief synopsis, one can see the inherent limitations of rationality as a discrete system, especially when it comes to trying to understand linear continuous systems. Linear, continuous systems will accommodate a discrete binary system, even a extremely granular one. Nevertheless, a discrete system will not, and cannot accommodate a linear, continuous system.

    In summary, both consciousness and causality are linear, continuous systems, the very “hardware” that the discrete systems of appearances run on…

    Liked by 2 people

    • It sounds like you’re making a distinction between digital and analog systems. I agree that no digital system can perfectly replicate the behavior of an analog system. Although it’s worth noting that no analog system can perfectly replicate the behavior of another analog system.

      And a digital system can approximate the behavior of an analog one to ever increasing levels of precision, depending on its capacities. This is why analog computers mostly disappeared years ago. When digital systems were limited and unable to approximate linear systems with enough precision, they were useful, but as digital systems became more powerful, the gap became less relevant.

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      • Lee Roetcisoender says:

        Actually Mike, I’m making a distinction between the “Underlying Reality” which is clearly a continuous, linear system and the appearance of reality which is a discrete system, a discrete system of which we are all participants.

        I watched a video last summer where Chalmers gave a lecture on the meta-problem at a University in Europe. One of the faculty asked him a question about Kant and his model of transcendental idealism. I was really shocked by his answer: Chalmers noted that he did not know that much about Kantian philosophy to answer the question. And David Chalmers calls himself a “philosopher”. I find that annotation to be a paradox…

        If consciousness is universal, then consciousness becomes fundamental in underwriting our phenomenal realm. Consciousness would also be integral in explaining the mystery of causation. What distinguishes us from the rest of the discrete systems in our phenomenal realm is our own unique experience of consciousness. Homo sapiens discrete experience of consciousness is the first time that consciousness as a phenomenon is aware of itself.

        That’s a compelling theory to say the least….

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        • Thanks for the clarification Lee.

          What do you mean by the phrase “consciousness is universal”? I thought you might have meant idealism or panpsychism until I got to “What distinguishes us from the rest of the discrete systems in our phenomenal realm is our own unique experience of consciousness,” and then realized I was probably missing something again. Or was the first phrase meant to just be speculative?

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        • I wonder if many academic philosophers of some decades standing in a non-Kantian specialization could access much more than the Categorical Imperative, on a moment’s notice?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Wyrd Smythe says:

            I had the same thought… getting to know Kant seems to involve finding out how much you need to learn to understand him at all. That famous line about the more you know, the less you actually understand.

            Liked by 1 person

  9. “But I’m also not sure what you mean by, “the potential effect of consciousness on science, at a fundamental level”.”

    The PEAR lab at Princeton has been closed for more than ten years but, according to Psyleron, “the lab’s objective was to study the ability of consciousness to influence physical processes.” The impetus for creating such a lab was the question surrounding the effect of human consciousness on quantum processes, as demonstrated by innumerable, repeatable, split screen experiments. Perhaps we can agree that quantum processes are as fundamental as we are able to get in physics and engineering right now?

    The work formerly done in the PEAR lab is now being done in the International Consciousness Research labs.

    Perhaps the effect doesn’t exist. Seems we are unwilling to dismiss the idea completely. ( And by “we,” here, I’m referring to humanity as a whole.)

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    • Elizabeth, I appreciate the clarification. I hope I don’t offend you with this response.

      I don’t think parapsychology or quantum physics are productive avenues for understanding consciousness. Parapsychology is a pseudoscience. The work that happens in it is plagued with methodological issues that cause the vast majority of scientists to ignore it. Much of what happens under that label is either debunking, quackery, or outright fraud.

      And just about anytime I see the word “quantum” used in reference to consciousness, it’s either pseudoscience, or speculation with no basis in evidence. I’ve read dozens of books on neuroscience, and quantum physics is virtually never mentioned, except to note that there’s no data requiring it be considered. Quantum physics is hard to figure out, and so, many think, is consciousness, therefore the thinking is that maybe they’re related. But there’s no actual scientific data pushing that relationship, just people looking for magic answers.

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      • No offense taken; of course not.

        “Parapsychology is a pseudoscience. The work that happens in it is plagued with methodological issues that cause the vast majority of scientists to ignore it. Much of what happens under that label is either debunking, quackery, or outright fraud.”

        I, too, intend no offense but I’m sure you are aware of the charges of reactionary Scientism leveled against “the vast majority of scientists” who outrightly refute ALL findings that they consider to be pseudoscience, without ever evaluating the actual evidence. To call them skeptics is an egregious misuse of the term.

        I realize that life and this blog must keep you very busy, but I wonder if you would be willing to watch something? I don’t imagine that it will alter your thinking but I would appreciate your assessment, if it is based on actually listening to and evaluating the cases presented. Those involved are practising neuroscientists and psychiatrists, and as a bonus the panel is moderated by John Cleese, which is worth something in itself! And please suspend your distaste, as the title of the video is misleading. (I hope I’m not inadvertently perpetrating a no-no in posting this link–I honestly can’t remember if there is anything forbidding it.)

        https://youtu-be/4RGizqsLumo

        Thank you for your time and attention thus far. Much appreciated.

        Like

      • Sorry, that link seems to be problematic. Sometimes it appears as youtu-be and sometimes as youtu.be; sometimes it connects for me and sometimes it doesn’t.

        If you check Division of Perceptual Studies, University of Virginia on YouTube you will easily find the panel discussion I reference above.

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        • It does, indeed.

          Many thanks for the assist, Eric. May I assume that you’ll take a look at it as well?

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          • I appreciate you sharing the video, but it appears to be about an hour and 40 minutes. Sorry, I might watch something short, but that’s more time than I’m willing to invest on concepts I investigated long ago.

            I am a skeptic, and have been accused of not being a “real” skeptic many times, as well as being in the grip of scientism, closed minded, and all the rest. I’m a skeptic because the vast majority of the ideas people have tried to sell me in my lifetime turned out to be baloney. In my experience, the endeavor where that happens least is mainstream science (broadly construed).

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          • Understood. I appreciate your response.

            I would just mention though that the individuals I have encountered on this blog would be unlikely, in my opinion, to give credence to any “pseudoscience” that didn’t spend at least an hour trying to justify itself… 😉

            Cheers.

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          • Unfortunately, that’s never ending. I investigated this area and came to conclusions years ago. Since then, innumerable people have asked me to read or watch time consuming material about it, or go listen to special speakers, etc. I’ve heard the arguments re-litigated many times. We all have limited time and have to choose how to use it as best we can. I don’t perceive it fruitful to spend any more of mine in this area.

            That said, if you want to discuss arguments you find convincing, I’m totally fine with that. I just won’t sink a lot of time into them.

            Like

          • Rather than waste time (yours and mine) reiterating old arguments, I’d like to make a comment that I feel is relevant.

            Over the last few years I have evaluated many online, accredited, undergraduate courses, mainly in philosophy and in psychology. Without exception, all of the philosophy courses (and many of the psychology courses), regardless of the topic being discussed, have devoted an entire lecture to demolishing the concept of spirituality (dualism, religion, etc, etc) in terms that purport to be irrefutable.

            Why? Why would so many North American and British universities devote significant resources to arguing against pseudoscience, particularly in subject areas that were once considered non-scientific? This trend is growing and it is particularly noticeable in any area that even mentions consciousness in passing.

            To me, this smacks of defensive tactics. Unnecessary, as the other side has pretty much conceded the land of Academia to the materialists. But this is a war in which neither side can even see the others battlefield. In order to be a successful ideology, Scientism must engage its opponents on a level playing field (sorry, mixing metaphors here), rather than remaining barricaded in its stronghold. The majority of people don’t live in the land of Academia. We need a place where both sides can meet to discuss the vast gulf that exists between science and spirituality, and how divisive it is.

            Regardless of reiterated arguments from both sides, refusing to engage is tantamount to the Scientism side putting its fingers in its ears and loudly singing, “La-la-la-la! I can’t hear you!” And it is insufficient to dismiss the other side (with the exception of religious fundamentalists) as being composed of gullible twits. Some of the best minds I have encountered have argued the woo-woo side quite capably.

            Tell you what, TED talks are shorter than 20 minutes. Have you seen Rupert Sheldrake’s banned TED talk or encountered the controversy that surrounded that decision? And he was discussing science in general, not his admittedly highly controversial personal theories. Talk about defensiveness!

            I have the sinking feeling that this conversation has become futile. To quote The Blackadder, carrying on “…is like a broken pencil—pointless.” 😉

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          • I can’t speak to the specific courses you looked at, but part of getting a university education is being exposed to ideas that challenge many of your beliefs. I remember a college friend being outraged that, in a world history course, she had to learn about scientific prehistory and the rise of civilizations, and repeat it in answers on the tests, all in contradiction of her young earth creationist worldview.

            Should the history professor have given her a pass on that stuff? Absolutely not! She took a world history course, and that entails learning actual world history, even if it doesn’t match up with her preconceptions. Likewise, it doesn’t surprise me that courses on the mind spend some time debunking common misconceptions, like dualism. People are free to believe anything they want, but they’re not free to get credit for a course if they refuse to learn the material.

            No one is forcing people to come take these courses. And as far as I can tell, scientists and scholars don’t go into churches and tell people that their beliefs are wrong. Even the most aggressive atheists generally don’t yell at believers as they’re going into churches or temples. Yet a scientist in a classroom discussing aspects of science that don’t affirm those beliefs is an attack?

            I did see the Sheldrake’s TED talk, many years ago. (As I said, I’ve been over this stuff innumerable times.) I had to agree with TED’s decision not to post it on their site. It would have amounted to an endorsement of Sheldrake’s pseudoscience.

            Why oppose pseudoscience? I think the name “pseudoscience” can cloud the issue. Psuedoscience is fake science. It’s a lie, a fraud. It’s an attempt to hijack the credibility of science while selling non-science. It deserves to be called out and condemned. People are scammed by it. Some are injured by it. Some have been killed by it. It’s not a harmless act: http://whatstheharm.net/

            Honestly, it doesn’t matter to me what spiritual beliefs people want to hold. I’m not a believer, but I’m not aggressive about it. It only matters if they insist their beliefs be taught as science.

            Like

  10. Steve Morris says:

    My own problem, as you know, is understanding why the “hard problem” is a problem at all!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly. I think the real hard problem is a psychological one, of accepting what the data shows.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I would appreciate a direct reference to anything in which the data shows how consciousness may be obtained from the physical brain. Please allow me the opportunity to accept “what the data shows.”

        Like

        • Elizabeth, I’m curious as to how you define consciousness. What kind of data could you accept that shows one system is conscious and a different system is not?

          *

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          • If pressed, I would define consciousness in a way similar to Chalmers: as the internal experience of qualia.

            As I don’t believe we could actually determine who was a p-zombie (if they existed) and who wasn’t, I suppose I could only accept data that proved some other system was experiencing exactly the same type of internal experience of qualia, or rather experiencing it in exactly the same manner, as my own system, which is the only one I can be sure is conscious.

            I am not saying that some other system would have to have exactly the same internal experience upon seeing, say, blue, but that it would have to be proved to have SOME internal experience upon seeing blue, and that internal experience would have to be shown to be generated in the same way that mine is.

            Yikes! Solipsistic much? 🙂

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        • There are many excellent books on neuroscience. But I think a good place to start is V. S. Ramachandran’s ‘The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human’. Ramachandran covers neurological case studies, cases that show that no aspect of the mind is immune from being altered or extinguished from brain injuries.

          Another good book as a starter is ‘Cognitive Neuroscience: A Very Short Introduction’ by Richard Passingham. Passingham studiously avoids the word “consciousness” in this book, but you’ll learn a lot about human cognition in it. (There are some other Very Short Introduction books on the brain that are good, although some of them are getting pretty dated.)

          If you really want to get hard core, ‘Neuroscience for Dummies’, albeit challenging, is pretty much as good as a neuroscience textbook, although easier to read.

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          • Ramachandran is wonderful, but he has yet to offer a compelling explanation of how consciousness is derived from the physical brain. I have found his research into various types of brain injuries particularly interesting as I have had someone’s fingers in my own brain. (Oops, that makes it sound as though the fingers caused an injury. In fact, they were clipping two subarachnoid hemorrhages.)

            Even he uses the term “mediates” with reference to the brain. Of course brain injuries cause changes in consciousness, if the brain is the mediator of consciousness.

            Don’t know Passingham but, as you say, there are so many Very Short Introductions to Neuroscience, I doubt that there is much to choose between them. Read one and you’ve read them all.

            I thought you were being facetious about Neuroscience for Dummies, but the description of the book on Amazon says it answers the question, “What is the biological basis of consciousness?” Can’t wait to read that! I hope its listed in the contents, as I’d hate to have to plow through the entire thing to dig it out. 🙂

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          • Okay, from the introduction to “Neuroscience for Dummies:”

            “The central mystery about the brain is simply this: How can a bunch of interconnected cells make each of us what we are—not only our thoughts, memories, and feelings, but our identity. At present, no one can answer this question. Some philosophers think it is not answerable in principle. I believe we can understand how the brain makes us what we are. This book, while surely not containing the complete answer, points the way to what the answer looks like”

            The brain is a computer, yadda-yadda.

            Do you realize that EVERYONE in neuroscience claims they are “pointing the way” to an answer? And that no one has one? It says so right there in the recommended text: “…no one can answer this question.”

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          • Callan says:

            I’m not sure what they are supposed to do in terms of showing something – the brain doesn’t measure itself. A person could have tapioca pudding inside their skull for all they know – it’s not like they have a sense for what is inside their skull. We live more like skin wrapped around a question mark – that we fill in as we please because whose in any better position to say what’s inside? Or that’s how it’s been for millions of years, anyway.

            So someone could show you a blueprint but how would you tell that is actually inside your skull? Let alone see it that blueprint is how you get consciousness.

            We all assume we’re quite capable of having such a thing explained to us. But that cup – maybe it needs to be emptied before it can actually be filled.

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          • The NfD book is an excellent resource for getting a good overview of what science understands about the brain (at least c. 2014). It’s far from perfect. Amthor’s views on consciousness in particular are a bit more preoccupied with language than I think is warranted. But the book overall provides much the same information you’d get from a $150 textbook on introductory neuroscience, and for that it’s a valuable resource.

            If your goal is to find text that you can interpret as validating your preconceptions, I’m sure you’ll find it. But if you stop after the first paragraph, you’re just cheating yourself.

            Like

          • Lee Roetcisoender says:

            No offense folks, but this endless, nonsensical babbling about the brain, its neurons, neuroscience, what the brain does or does not do will never lead to an understanding of the mystery surrounding conscious experience. One may just as well post a picture of Daniel Dennett on the wall, sit silently in a corner and suck our thumbs, being content to believe that it’s all an illusion.

            No understanding or meaning will ever be attained as long as human beings insist upon maintaining and reinforcing their own solipsistic self-model. Then, once that solipsistic self-model is firmly entrenched, go about the business of creating the world after their own image. That approach is ludicrous. Underlying form: in other words, what’s responsible for our own experience is the only thing that matters. I certainly appreciate Eric’s single principle of metaphysics:

            (“To the extent that causality fails, nothing exists to figure out anyway.” Can you challenge it? Wherever causality does in fact fail, are effective understandings nevertheless possible?)

            It cannot be challenged and I consider his single principle to be an axiom. It may indeed be a nihilistic approach to our existence, and if one is satisfied with that condition, it’s all cool. But the compelling question still remains: Is it possible to understand causality? In my humble opinion, understanding causality is possible and the “only” thing that matter…… but that’s just me.

            Like

          • Mike, it isn’t so much that I’m looking for texts to confirm my own bias, as that I am attempting to point out one of yours.

            I’m curious; what led you to the conclusion that I wasn’t conversant with elementary neurobiology? It’s obvious that I’m female from my posting name. My approximate age may be ascertained from my posting pic (there’s a lotta grey in there).

            Aside from those observations you have mainly what I’ve posted here to go on.

            Was your assumption based on any of these things or is there something I’m missing?

            Like

          • Elizabeth,
            You asked above where the data is. I think the data is in neuroscience, which is why I discussed those sources.

            If you’re familiar with neuroscience, understand how neurons and synapses work, or what’s currently known about the roles of major regions like the visual dorsal and ventral streams, the prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus, the precuneus, or the results of the split-brain experiments or other neurological case studies, and still see room for a non-physical aspect of the mind, well, okay then.

            My own reading in mainstream neuroscience doesn’t lead to that conclusion. You can see much of my own journey through the material over the years in the Mind / AI category on this blog. My views have shifted several times over the years, but I haven’t seen any reason to think dualism is true. Quite the opposite in fact.

            We probably simply have to agree to disagree on this.

            Like

          • Mike,

            “If you’re familiar with neuroscience, understand how neurons and synapses work, or what’s currently known about the roles of major regions like the visual dorsal and ventral streams, the prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus, the precuneus, or the results of the split-brain experiments or other neurological case studies, and still see room for a non-physical aspect of the mind, well, okay then.”

            Thank you. Obviously we will have to agree to disagree. I am still open to looking at any data that actually explains how consciousness arises from the brain, though. I don’t find that in elementary texts or, indeed, in anything produced thus far.

            Like

  11. James Cross says:

    Have you commented on Bernardo Kastrup? I would be interested in hearing your take on it. Not saying I’m agreeing with it.

    https://www.bernardokastrup.com/

    Liked by 1 person

    • He posted an article at Scientific American I’ve thought about commenting on, but I didn’t know anything else about him until now. Based on a quick perusal of his web site (thank you!), he appears to write regularly against materialism, has a guest post from Eban Alexander, was one of the authors of a paper asking if multiple personality disorder proves idealism, and his site has an overall Deepak Chopra type of feel to it.

      It’s not looking good for a positive reaction from me 🙂

      Like

      • James Cross says:

        I didn’t expect it would be but if you take idealism to its final end point you probably don’t end up with panpsychism but rather with simply the view that everything is mind. This is similar to Berkeley’s solipsism except there is a mind at large rather than just your mind.

        Like

        • That’s always been my issue with idealism. Taken to its logical conclusion, you get solipsism. If the outside world doesn’t exist, how can we know each other exists?

          If I recall correctly, Berkeley solved this by inserting God to think about all the things no one else thinks about. So our theories of objective reality are theories of God’s mind. That seems equivalent to pantheism. The problem is objective reality doesn’t seem to act like a mind.

          Like

          • Lee Roetcisoender says:

            Just chiming in here… In my humble opinion, Bernardo Kastrup’s website is the closest thing to a cult following I’ve seen, all of which is concealed under the guise of “metaphysical speculations”. The dude is a self-proclaimed visionary with an axe to grind, someone who takes himself “way” too seriously. But at the end of the day, it’s all about selling his books. That’s the cool thing about cults; the only one who knows it’s a ruse is the dude @ the top.

            Idealism will not, and does not stand up under the scrutiny of analysis. The ontological primitive is much more rudimentary and fundamental than the idea of “mind”.

            Liked by 1 person

  12. James Cross says:

    If you only want to read one thing, try this:

    http://ispcjournal.org/journals/2017-19/Kastrup_19.pdf

    It is a little dense, probably unnecessarily so.

    It’s not solipsism because there is something “out there”. It just happens to be mind.

    Lee, definitely some cult-like elements to it. But I am not seeing from you why idealism does not stand up to scrutiny.

    Ultimately there is a dilemma that physicalists have to deal with that everything we know and perceive must be mental or known only through a mental process. So the question becomes what is the mind interacting with? Is it something other than mind or just more mind? When you reduce that something to quantum states that only reveal themselves when they are measured, the dilemma becomes more acute.

    Like

    • Just scanned the abstract. I was wondering if anyone had tried to take the relational interpretation and derive idealism from it. But from what I’ve read, in the relational interpretation, even if you have non-conscious measuring devices recording the results, they’ll have different results depending on whether they are.

      Even that iffy paper that was published the other day clarified that it wasn’t anything about consciousness since their measuring devices weren’t conscious. (Unless you’re a panpsychist, in which case everything is conscious.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • James Cross says:

        Talking about “Iffy” – the publisher of Kastrup’s latest work is Iff Books :).

        Regarding QM and consciousness, of course, the overwhelming consensus is they are unrelated. Rovelli, in particular, dismisses any connection. Still there have been and are some physicists who argue for a role of consciousness in the collapse of the wave function. There is a chart on Wikipedia about all of the variations of interpretations of QM so it is almost a Rorschach test you can see into it whatever you want to believe anyway.

        If you expand consciousness a la Max Tegmark to include (at a low level at least) any sort of recording of information, then even observation without what we normally think of as consciousness would have some level of it. This isn’t my view but just saying.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I get nervous when physicists start talking about consciousness. Too often they do so ignoring all the layers between them and psychology.

          But if I recall correctly, Tegmark sees it as what information processing feels like. That seems like the right track, but is vague in that it implies that all information processing is felt. I think it’s more accurate to say that feeling is a type of information processing. It matters what information is being processed and how it’s being used.

          Like

  13. Lee Roetcisoender says:

    James,

    Mind may indeed be a feature and/or intrinsic the ontological primitive, but mind is not the underlying qualitative property as such. That qualitative property is fundamentally more rudimentary, simplistic, all encompassing and if you will, quite literally can be seen as a brute force. In a model of panpsychism, consciousness can be reduced to the expression, and/or mechanism of the expression that the “thing-in-itself” utilizes to express itself. Furthermore, that model of expression is exhibited throughout all of the discrete systems that interact with each other to construct the universe of our phenomenal realm, including ourselves, all of which runs on the hardware of consciousness. Human beings such as ourselves continue within that paradigm of expression by then expressing the power of our own unique qualitative properties, all of which is grounded in the ontological primitive, the convergent point of singularity which is responsible for causation.

    Kant’s model of transcendental idealism was billed as the “ideal” model. Nevertheless, transcendental idealism is relegated to the annuls of history because of the built in paradox of the “thing-in-itself” being unknowable. But if the “thing-in-itself” could be isolated and consequently identified, then one would have a working model that would indeed be “ideal”. Finding that model has been my life’s work. My book is the culmination of that effort, an effort that definitively demonstrates what the qualitative properties of the ontological primitive actually are. My work will not convince a skeptic, nor anyone who is genuinely not interested. Nevertheless, the qualitative properties of the “thing-in-itself” reside out in the open, right under our noses and can be empirically verified by the only mechanism we have access to, and that vehicle is our own experience of consciousness itself.

    My model supersedes our current paradigm which is grounded in the mystical, magical model of the immortal laws of nature. There is no such “thing” as law. The notion of law is something we invented to try and explain ourselves and our reality, it’s fundamentally grounded in magic. In all seriousness, I am reluctant to disclose within a public domain what I have discovered. After serious consideration, I am becoming persuaded that humanity better off with our current model of myths.

    Thanks…

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Lee Roetcisoender says:

    Elizabeth,

    I was offered a contract to publish with John Hunt, Iff books over a year ago. John and his entire reviewing staff agreed to publish my work but felt that a Universe Press would be a better venue for my work. I took their advice and did not accept their contract. I have yet to pursue that venue for the reasons I’ve already stated. I appreciate your interest in my work….. who knows, maybe someday I will make it available to the public..

    Thanks,

    Like

  15. James Lovell says:

    Fantastic article.

    Liked by 1 person

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