Understanding through Discussion


Welcome! You are not logged in. [ Login ]
EvC Forum active members: 80 (8897 total)
Current session began: 
Page Loaded: 03-19-2019 3:03 PM
124 online now:
AnswersInGenitals, PaulK, Tangle (3 members, 121 visitors)
Chatting now:  Chat room empty
Newest Member: WookieeB
Post Volume:
Total: 848,459 Year: 3,496/19,786 Month: 491/1,087 Week: 81/212 Day: 11/31 Hour: 0/0


Thread  Details

Email This Thread
Newer Topic | Older Topic
  
Prev1
2
3Next
Author Topic:   The consciouness paradox
Grizz
Member (Idle past 3545 days)
Posts: 318
Joined: 06-08-2007


Message 16 of 44 (477390)
08-01-2008 6:18 PM


Classical Reductionism has its limits in explaining the properties of complex systems. Most neuroscientists tend to view consciousness as an emergent property of organisms that possess a sufficiently complex nervous system.

Essentially, an emergent property of a system is one that cannot be found in any of the constituents parts.

Some very loose and simple examples:

Combine the colors yellow and red and you get something with totally novel properties that neither color possess -- pink. Of course, those who like shades of the color pink do not say, "I like red and green combined"; they say ,"I like Pink."

Neither Oxygen or Hydrogen possess the properties of water, but the combination of hydrogen and oxygen yields a system with emergent properties that cannot be found in the constituents.

The notion of a soul appears on the scene because it seems like a logical way to reconcile the apparent conflict when we try to use a classical reductionist approach. In the view of most scientists(and many philosophers), consciousness is simply what you get when you put a system together containing these constituent elements -- a novel property that is manifest in the physical world and one that cannot be equated with the components themselves.

Like many other complex systems, consciousness is a symmetrical property in that it can induce feedback onto the component parts. For instance, the emergent property itself can interact holistically with the physical system. In the case of consciousness, this means a feedback that affects the components and neurons and causes a chain reaction that can alter the physical state of the organisms -- limb movement, memory etc etc...(analogy: self-induction of a magnetic coil). Hence, we have the notion of 'mind over matter', when in fact it would be more aptly described as 'a complex system with emergent properties undergoing feedback.'


Replies to this message:
 Message 18 by AnswersInGenitals, posted 08-07-2008 7:32 PM Grizz has not yet responded

    
AnswersInGenitals
Member
Posts: 509
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 17 of 44 (477791)
08-07-2008 6:55 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Agobot
07-31-2008 7:21 PM


Self-awareness in the eye of the ______.
Isn't that a paradox and a conundrum that some atoms combined in such a way that different substances could be created that would be the building stones of living organisms and those atoms would be self-aware that they exist and that they are just atoms?

You are treating atoms too simply, as just static, independent entities, when in fact (almost) all atoms are interacting with other atoms in some way. An isolated carbon atom is different from an ionized carbon atom which is different from a carbon atom combined with four hydrogen atoms in a methane molecule, etc, etc,: these carbon atoms are in distinctly different states, or at least their outer electron shells (which is what really matters in what you are discussing) are in different configurations and different energy levels. Even more important, you are ignoring that all these atoms (or, more precisely, their outer shell electrons) interact with light - specifically with photons, the 'atoms' of light, and these interactions form the basis of how the atoms give substance to substance, i. e., what larger scale forms and interactions various combinations of atoms give rise to.

Your opening post is constituted from 26 letters (the 'atoms' of our language). This post is constituted from 26 letters. How can a simple, ignorant set of letters be cognizant of another simple set of letters? Yet, my post is a direct response to yours and is shaped by - even quotes - yours. This is possible, and very understandable, when one recognizes the rules by which letters interact to form words, sentences, and statements of concepts.

So, photons of light from some glowing source strike the outer shell of electrons of the outer layer of atoms in your hand; some are absorbed but some bounce off (as a function of the energy states of those electrons, which is governed by their interactions with neighboring atoms) and some of those strike your eye and are focused onto your retina (again as a result of the optical properties of the atoms in your eyes components which are governed by their states). These photons trigger the release of weakly bound electrons in certain molecules - photoreceptor pigments - in your retinal cells which then travel to nerve endings and start a cascade of well understood and documented electro-chemical interactions in your nerve cells that result in the impression of 'seeing' your hand. The fine details of how we then recognize the hand, remember the hand, and think about the hand are far from being currently understood, but this is a field of very intense and productive research that is producing significant insights into the various processes of our minds.

But I suspect that you will have no more interest in this post than you have shown in CS's reference in message 7 that could start you on a better founded understanding of the issues associated with concepts of thought and consciousness. You appear to be a neo-mysterian: you have found something that strikes you as weird and you are infatuated with its weirdness. That has brought you to a full stop as far as really exploring what has been discovered about the brain and consciousness, how knowledgeable researchers are investigating various aspects of this field and the conceptual frameworks the have found, and anything else that might detract from your beloved position that the mind is unfathomable. In case I am wrong, I would also suggest that you go to Amazon.com and search under the subject 'mind' or 'consciousness'. You will find a great many titles that you can get from your library - I particularly recommend those of Steven Pinker and Richard Rostack(Sp?).

One thing that you will discover is that researchers in this field try to avoid the terms 'conscious' and 'consciousness' as coming with too much baggage and prior misconceptions. Consciousness has become a word like the words flogiston, contagion, and god in designating more our level of ignorance than any definitive concept.

Another thought: I just put my digital camera in from of a mirror and set the self timer. Does the picture it took of itself make the camera self-aware? Is the resultant pattern of electric charges now imprinted on its memory card any less abstract, cognitive, or "conscious" than my thoughts about my hand?

Hopefully, what I have written has helped you to see the light. And yes, we are pretty much puppets on the ends of strings.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Agobot, posted 07-31-2008 7:21 PM Agobot has not yet responded

  
AnswersInGenitals
Member
Posts: 509
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 18 of 44 (477793)
08-07-2008 7:32 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by Grizz
08-01-2008 6:18 PM


Reducto ad Emergum?
Grizz writes:

Classical Reductionism has its limits in explaining the properties of complex systems. Most neuroscientists tend to view consciousness as an emergent property of organisms that possess a sufficiently complex nervous system.

Essentially, an emergent property of a system is one that cannot be found in any of the constituents parts.

Some very loose and simple examples:

Combine the colors yellow and red and you get something with totally novel properties that neither color possess -- pink. Of course, those who like shades of the color pink do not say, "I like red and green combined"; they say ,"I like Pink."

Neither Oxygen or Hydrogen possess the properties of water, but the combination of hydrogen and oxygen yields a system with emergent properties that cannot be found in the constituents.

Grizz, these examples are very loose indeed in that they happen to exemplify the power of the reductionist approach. That we perceive two admixed colors as a single, different color is (reductively) understood from the trichromatic theory of color perception, the spectral characteristics of our photoreceptors, and the combining characteristics of the retinas neural net to give the "qualia" of pink or whatever. That the two gases, H2 and O2 combine to give the liquid (at room temperature) H2O is also perfectly and reductively deduced from the quantum mechanical description of those molecules. (Ok, maybe that's quantum reductionism, rather than 'Classical".)

I don't mean to chide you here, you are one of my favorite posters on this forum. It's just that I am an Absolute Reductionist. This is not a result of any deep insights or great deductive logic. It's really that my mind is simply to shallow (and narrow and short) to wrap around all this complexity and emergence stuff. Is the 'temperature' of a glass of water an emergent property, or is it just a convenience for minds incapable of contemplating the distribution of positions and velocities of a trillion, trillion atoms of H2O?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 16 by Grizz, posted 08-01-2008 6:18 PM Grizz has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 23 by AZPaul3, posted 08-08-2008 5:33 PM AnswersInGenitals has responded

  
LucyTheApe
Inactive Member


Message 19 of 44 (477798)
08-07-2008 8:53 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by New Cat's Eye
08-01-2008 10:21 AM


The consciouness paradox
CS writes:

Again, you're arguing from incredulity and expecting others to prove to you that it could happen. Again, I'd suggest you'd read the the wiki page on A.I. and come back with the specific problems you see.

A computer is a machine; a program. Programs are written by humans using human
intelligence. A machine will always be a machine, doesn't matter how sophisticated the
program is.

The US Defense spends more on “Game Play” than the Australian government makes!
Still their program is basically useless because it can't predict human behavior.

Eliza, the psychologist program developed in the 70's reduced it's programmer to tears when he tested it out. A couple of hundred lines of code. The machine didn't decide to be a shoulder to cry on, it was the result of the unique ability of the humans to reflect. Something that only humans possess.

Artificial intelligence is exactly that; artificial.

Edited by LucyTheApe, : than/that


This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by New Cat's Eye, posted 08-01-2008 10:21 AM New Cat's Eye has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 20 by New Cat's Eye, posted 08-08-2008 11:39 AM LucyTheApe has not yet responded

  
New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


Message 20 of 44 (477857)
08-08-2008 11:39 AM
Reply to: Message 19 by LucyTheApe
08-07-2008 8:53 PM


A machine will always be a machine, doesn't matter how sophisticated the program is.

and when that machine becomes intelligent, it will be AI.

Artificial intelligence is exactly that; artificial.

Yes, and intelligence.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 19 by LucyTheApe, posted 08-07-2008 8:53 PM LucyTheApe has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 21 by Agobot, posted 08-08-2008 1:55 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

  
Agobot
Member (Idle past 3604 days)
Posts: 786
Joined: 12-16-2007


Message 21 of 44 (477869)
08-08-2008 1:55 PM
Reply to: Message 20 by New Cat's Eye
08-08-2008 11:39 AM


Artificial intelligence is exactly that; artificial.

Catholic Scientist writes:

Yes, and intelligence.

"Natural" intelligence is to a large degree a survival tool of natural selection. IMO, those of our ancestors that had developed self-awareness had a better chance of knowing the world around them and consequently survive better. "intelligence" is the most powerful means of survival and IMO we should view it as just that. Other species have developed wings, poison, resistance to poison, etc in the survival battle but it seems our species were the fittest adopting intelligence and logic.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 20 by New Cat's Eye, posted 08-08-2008 11:39 AM New Cat's Eye has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 22 by New Cat's Eye, posted 08-08-2008 3:42 PM Agobot has not yet responded

    
New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


Message 22 of 44 (477877)
08-08-2008 3:42 PM
Reply to: Message 21 by Agobot
08-08-2008 1:55 PM


"Natural" intelligence is to a large degree a survival tool of natural selection. IMO, those of our ancestors that had developed self-awareness had a better chance of knowing the world around them and consequently survive better. "intelligence" is the most powerful means of survival and IMO we should view it as just that. Other species have developed wings, poison, resistance to poison, etc in the survival battle but it seems our species were the fittest adopting intelligence and logic.

Humans are not the only species that have intelligence.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 21 by Agobot, posted 08-08-2008 1:55 PM Agobot has not yet responded

  
AZPaul3
Member
Posts: 3795
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 3.5


Message 23 of 44 (477882)
08-08-2008 5:33 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by AnswersInGenitals
08-07-2008 7:32 PM


Re: Reducto ad Emergum?
I count myself in the die hard Reductionist camp as well, but let’s give Grizz his honors.

We can stand at the Bellagio, scrutinize the water pressures, digest the operation of the valves, discern the format of the computer programs that trip the solenoids that control those valves, ponder the fact that at least one of those water molecules passed through the body of Julius Cesar, and completely miss the aesthetic properties of the choreographed show.

In this case beauty is an emergent property of complex plumbing.

But it is, in the end, just complex plumbing.

Edited by AZPaul3, : Added thought. I get so few I had to share this one.

Edited by AZPaul3, : speling


This message is a reply to:
 Message 18 by AnswersInGenitals, posted 08-07-2008 7:32 PM AnswersInGenitals has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 25 by AnswersInGenitals, posted 08-10-2008 4:25 PM AZPaul3 has not yet responded

  
Organicmachination
Member (Idle past 3783 days)
Posts: 105
From: Pullman, WA, USA
Joined: 12-30-2007


Message 24 of 44 (477931)
08-09-2008 5:59 PM


Wrong Application
Isn't that a paradox and a conundrum that some atoms combined in such a way that different substances could be created that would be the building stones of living organisms and those atoms would be self-aware that they exist and that they are just atoms?

The problem is that you concede that atoms are not living in and of themselves, yet you seek to bestow properties of the living, i.e. conciousness, onto the atoms. Of course it'll be a paradox. If I say that a duck is not living, and then say that it flies, then it will be paradoxical. The truth is, atoms themselves aren't looking at each other or commanding body parts. The smallest unit of life that does these kinds of regulatory functions is the organelle, which is composed of millions of atoms in a certain configuration. After that, life is simply cause and effect.


    
AnswersInGenitals
Member
Posts: 509
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 25 of 44 (477992)
08-10-2008 4:25 PM
Reply to: Message 23 by AZPaul3
08-08-2008 5:33 PM


Re: Reducto ad Emergum?
AZPaul3 in post#23 writes:

In this case beauty is an emergent property of complex plumbing.

But beauty is NOT an emergent property, or any kind of property of that complex plumbing or of any physical (and brainless) entity. It is a sensation pushed to the conscious part of our brains by a sequence of chemical and electrochemical activities in the subconscious parts of our brains. That is why people differ in what they describe as 'beautiful'. While very little is currently known about the fine details of this process (which explains the clumsiness of my wording), enough is known that we can have confidence that someday, probably not in the too distant future, this process can and will be describe in the most fundamental and simple terms, i. e., this will be an example of absolute reductionism.

An added note: your example, even if valid, is not what most complexityationists (e. g., Stewart Kaufman) mean by an emergent property. They mean a property of a sufficiently complex system that cannot be deduced from the characteristics of the (simpler) components of that system. And that this inability is due to the inherent nature of nature, not to any limitations on our knowledge of the system or our analytic or computational capabilities.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 23 by AZPaul3, posted 08-08-2008 5:33 PM AZPaul3 has not yet responded

  
onifre
Member (Idle past 1024 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 26 of 44 (478064)
08-11-2008 1:31 PM


There have been an estimate of about 5 million to 100 million species on this planet...

http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/070803_gm_numberspecies.html

...is it really that impressive that 1 happens to have consciousness?

It was bound to happen once evolution began to take place.

There is nothing special about our genetic make up, it is basically the same as all other species. Our genetic arrangement happens to evolve into a conscious being. I have 4 words for it...yeah, and, so what?

Edited by onifre, : correction on data


"All great truths begin as blasphemies"

"I smoke pot. If this bothers anyone, I suggest you look around at the world in which we live and shut your mouth."--Bill Hicks

"I never knew there was another option other than to question everything"--Noam Chomsky


Replies to this message:
 Message 27 by New Cat's Eye, posted 08-11-2008 2:14 PM onifre has responded

    
New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


Message 27 of 44 (478065)
08-11-2008 2:14 PM
Reply to: Message 26 by onifre
08-11-2008 1:31 PM


Our genetic arrangement happens to evolve into a conscious being. I have 4 words for it...yeah, and, so what?

Well, we are alone in our sapience.

There's something special about us.

...is it really that impressive that 1 happens to have consciousness?

Its almost more impressive that only one has consciousness sapience.

I think sapience is a better word choice than consciousness because one could argue that humans are not the only consciouss species.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 26 by onifre, posted 08-11-2008 1:31 PM onifre has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 28 by onifre, posted 08-11-2008 2:46 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

  
onifre
Member (Idle past 1024 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 28 of 44 (478066)
08-11-2008 2:46 PM
Reply to: Message 27 by New Cat's Eye
08-11-2008 2:14 PM


There's something special about us.

I don't see how the luck of an evolutionary draw makes us special, IMO.

Lottery winners are not special, they got lucky, as did we. One massive climate change in the enviroment before the common ancestor split and none of this would be happening.

Brain growth developed a primate that became wise due to necessity. And, like your wiki link stated, "Displays sound judgment in a complex, dynamic environment".

I think sapience is a better word choice than consciousness because one could argue that humans are not the only consciouss species.

I would like to see that argument. I really don't think any other species are conscious of themselves or of their future. I guess the first step would be to establish a definition for consciousness and go from there.

If we define consciousness as the recognition of ones self then I doubt much evidence will be presented for other species having this ability...but i've been corrected many times on this forum so im sure I'll be corrected again ;)


"All great truths begin as blasphemies"

"I smoke pot. If this bothers anyone, I suggest you look around at the world in which we live and shut your mouth."--Bill Hicks

"I never knew there was another option other than to question everything"--Noam Chomsky


This message is a reply to:
 Message 27 by New Cat's Eye, posted 08-11-2008 2:14 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 29 by New Cat's Eye, posted 08-11-2008 3:06 PM onifre has responded

    
New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


Message 29 of 44 (478068)
08-11-2008 3:06 PM
Reply to: Message 28 by onifre
08-11-2008 2:46 PM


I don't see how the luck of an evolutionary draw makes us special, IMO.

The result is what makes us special. We're orders of magnitude more intelligent than any other species.

The lottery winner is special because the are filthy rich, not because they got lucky.

If we define consciousness as the recognition of ones self then I doubt much evidence will be presented for other species having this ability...

They painted a colored dot on a gorilla's forehead (unbeknownst to him) and showed him a mirror. He looked in the mirror and touched the dot on his forehead. That shows that he was aware of himself.

ABE:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_test

Edited by Catholic Scientist, : see ABE:


This message is a reply to:
 Message 28 by onifre, posted 08-11-2008 2:46 PM onifre has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 30 by onifre, posted 08-11-2008 4:21 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

  
onifre
Member (Idle past 1024 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 30 of 44 (478072)
08-11-2008 4:21 PM
Reply to: Message 29 by New Cat's Eye
08-11-2008 3:06 PM


The result is what makes us special. We're orders of magnitude more intelligent than any other species.

But intelligence isn't special, its the result of randomness. Its special for us but how great has it been for our enviroment? Not many things on this planet have benefited from our rise to intelligence other than us, so it seems rather self-centered to say that we are special. We are just another species.

The lottery winner is special because the are filthy rich, not because they got lucky.

How did he/she become filthy rich though? Granted they are NOW special, but he/she wasn't special before the lucky draw of the numbers.

They painted a colored dot on a gorilla's forehead (unbeknownst to him) and showed him a mirror. He looked in the mirror and touched the dot on his forehead. That shows that he was aware of himself.

I wasn't aware of such a test, thanks for the link. Im going to read up on it some more. I did read in the link that there is some skepticism about those results actually meaning 'self-awareness', but it does make sense that most of the 'aware' animals were Great Apes and Dolphins.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 29 by New Cat's Eye, posted 08-11-2008 3:06 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 32 by New Cat's Eye, posted 08-11-2008 5:13 PM onifre has responded

    
Prev1
2
3Next
Newer Topic | Older Topic
Jump to:


Copyright 2001-2018 by EvC Forum, All Rights Reserved

™ Version 4.0 Beta
Innovative software from Qwixotic © 2019