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Galen Strawson's argument for why physical reality is experiential

Discussion in 'Physical & Life Sciences' started by public hermit, Feb 13, 2020.

  1. public hermit

    public hermit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I know we have some smart folks with scientific and philosophical backgrounds on CF. I am curious what you make of Strawson's argument for why it makes sense that the physical is experiential. As you may know, Strawson is one of the foremost proponents of pansychism, which is the idea that experientiality (consciousness, experience, or mental) is fundamental to reality. Personally, I am curious, but unsure. I am still working through his argument. What do you think? What do you find helpful/unhelpful about his argument?

    I will give one quote for why he holds his position and then a quote of his basic argument. I will give a link to his paper at the bottom.

    Why Strawson holds to pansychism:

    "What do I mean by ‘(conscious) experience’ or ‘consciousness’? I mean what most people mean in the current debate. I’ll say more in §7. Before that I want to note one of the most implausible views of the fundamental nature of reality. This is the view held by many (I think most) in the West today, the view that psychism (and a fortiori panpsychism) is certainly false—that experience certainly isn’t one of the fundamental features of reality. Those who endorse this last view have to hold either that

    (i) experience doesn’t really exist at all—that it is an illusion—
    or
    (ii) experience somehow ‘emerges’ from stuff that is in its fundamental nature wholly and utterly non-experiential.

    Like many, I don’t think (ii) is tenable, because it requires that something known as radical emergence takes place in nature. Few, however, will deny that it looks preferable to (i). So it’s striking that many philosophers, unable to accept panpsychism or psychism, have in the last sixty years or so chosen (i) over (ii)."

    One more important point that he tries to make, before presenting his basic argument:

    "It’s worth saying straight away that there’s no conflict between panexperientialism and anything true in physics. For while physics tells us a great deal about structural-relational features of reality, it has little to say about the intrinsic structure-transcendent nature of the stuff that has the structure (see §10)—where by ‘stuff’ I simply mean whatever it is (however insubstantial-seeming or fundamentally processual in nature) that gives the structural-relational features of reality their concrete existence. Physics is wholly open to the possibility that the intrinsic nature of the shimmering stuff it posits is consciousness or experientiality. Panexperientialism is accordingly wholly compatible with physicalism, when physicalism is properly understood (see §4)."

    His basic argument for why reality is experiential (PP = physicalist panexperientialism):

    "Most present-day physicalists assume that the ultimate intrinsic nature of physical stuff is non-experiential, and they further assume that this assumption is an essential part of physicalism. The first assumption has no obvious warrant in physics, and the second is therefore doubtful.

    If one puts aside the standard use of the term ‘energy’ in physics to denote the power of doing work possessed by a body or system of bodies, one can adopt Heisenberg’s large metaphysical use of the term when he says that ‘energy is a substance’, and that ‘all particles are made of the same substance: energy’ (Heisenberg 1958: 63, 71). On this view, concrete stuff isn’t well thought of as something that is distinct from energy and that has energy. Rather concrete physical stuff is energy. This is one way to make a first step towards PP.

    Given that concrete physical stuff = energy, we can ask the following question: What is the fundamental intrinsic structure-transcendent nature of this energy, this energy stuff? Physics doesn’t say (§10). We face the question whether it is non-experiential or experiential. PP points out [1] that we know for certain that there is experientiality, [2] that we don’t know for certain that there is any non-experiential reality, [3] that we have very strong reason to expect fundamental continuity of being or nature between the experiential reality we know for certain to exist and any other concrete reality there is, [4] that to suppose that the fundamental intrinsic nature of reality is wholly non-experiential requires one to posit ‘radical’ emergence of the experiential from the non-experiential. In the light of this it proposes that the most natural and parsimonious hypothesis is that all concrete reality is experiential."

    There is a lot more to his argument that I am still working through (especially his misgivings for "radical emergence," which I know will be one of the misgivings some will have with his position). If you are interested, here is the link (I think you should be able to read it without logging in):

    What does “physical” mean? Strawson
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2020
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  2. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

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    I don't mind plenty of abstraction and convoluted stuff, but I don't know some needed terms here, like for instance 'processual', and while I could start looking up a lot, I'm wondering if you can't translate it for me, either here or by PM. sorta paraphrase. I do have an interest, see, in the issues as I see them of 'reality' and perception and experience and models and how the brain is thinking and such. I could try to just guess at the exact questions of course. :)

    does this phrasing: "that we have very strong reason to expect fundamental continuity of being or nature between the experiential reality we know for certain to exist and any other concrete reality there is, " mean something like 'our representations in our minds of reality are not just total imaginations unrelated to the real, but have a reliable correspondence (parallel that works) in ways, pretty often (often, not always)'? Or does it instead mean something more like 'physics works not only here on Earth, but far away'? heh heh or might it instead mean something I'd think of as more like: 'if dark matter exists, it will have some relationship somehow with the known types of matter or energy we already can observe or experiment on, instead of being entirely 100% independent, as if an alternate universe right here in our own and interacting solely by gravity (perhaps even one-way?)?' So, you see, I need some translation to participate.

    I do think our models/reductions our minds invent align to real stuff out there not only in physics/sciences connections and equivalents only, but even in everyday ways that are past direct things like drinking a glass of water ways (direct experience), but even in a lot of less immediate ways, like seeing a horse in the distance toss it's head, and getting a feel for how it is feeling (if one is experienced with horses), even from a remove, even with a horse you've never been around, that is that our modeling is pretty good, though necessarily imaginative and not the same as reality (not at all one-to-one connected generally with the reality we focus on). It's a lot of fun we can get a brief glance at something inadvertently and at first entirely mispercieve it at first, or even sometimes for a while(!), and then later start to see it better (say in very dim light or whatnot). I love that when it happens.
     
  3. public hermit

    public hermit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Pertains to the study of processes, instead of individual events.

    I take it to mean we should expect, or have reason to expect, there to be continuity between our experience of consciousness and fundamental reality. Hence, "experiential reality we know for certain" is just our conscious experience. I think this is opposed to the idea that fundamental reality is so unlike our conscious experience that our conscious experience is suspect of being illusion (worst case scenario). By the way, it is important to recognize that our understanding of science is filtered through that same conscious experience. So, that should also be entailed. He isn't arguing against scientific descriptions of phenomena as currently understood, only the presumption that reality is non-experiential.

    Edit: Maybe it would help, because it may not be clear in his writing, pansychism is the position that consciousness (i.e. experientiality) is fundamental to reality, not just a feature of sentient beings.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
  4. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

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    Does 'continuity' here mean good correspondence (contrasted to imaginations that are not really corresponding well)? By good correspondence I'd think the model in my mind would be able to reliably predict what is going to happen in practical ways, like I can expect to step downward and land on a stair step even in the dark, since my model (representations) has a good correspondence to reality, so that I can do it even on a new stair in an new place, reliably. (usually) But in the situation where I was walking in an unfamiliar yard in the dark, most of my steps would turn out to be reliable, but I could easily fail to have a correspondence due to something in the yard, and then fall down.

    What does he mean by 'experiential' precisely you think, the way he is using the word?
     
  5. public hermit

    public hermit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    A couple quotes in Strawson's paper from Bertrand Russell: "...common sense leaves us completely in the dark as to the true intrinsic nature of physical objects, and if there were good reason to regard them as mental, we could not legitimately reject this opinion merely because it strikes us as strange. The truth about physical objects must be strange."

    And again, "...physics is mathematical, not because we know so much about the physical world, but because we know so little."
     
  6. public hermit

    public hermit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Think "mind, consciousness, experience" vs. the usual idea of "matter" as simple non-experiential stuff. He is arguing that energy, energy fields, in some sense are fundamentally conscious. Haha, I know, the idea seems far fetched. ^_^
     
  7. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

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    :) I'll return later.
     
  8. public hermit

    public hermit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Does that mean it just dawned on you what he is getting at, and so now you're on your way out the door, haha. I understand. :)
     
  9. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

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    Funny, that would be a bit like another thing I looked at a minute (again) today, because you have to see it more than just once in a year to see if it's really as out there as remembered, heh heh.
    Interpretations of quantum mechanics - Wikipedia

    And also that kind of thing reminds also of this I saw a bit on a few days back, which...
    (has a little video of the idea being explained also) heh heh
    Science Still Can't Explain Consciousness, But That Might Soon Change
    (the normal routine in explaining consciousness from the math/computer science tradition/angle tends to be "we're about to understand consciousness!"...and then several years pass, and a new group with a different idea says "We're on the border of understanding consciousness!", and then a few years pass, and then another group..."New paradigm will solve the mystery of consciousness" and then a few years pass....you get the idea :) )
     
  10. SelfSim

    SelfSim A non "-ist"

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    He should've considered that everything we 'experience' via our sensory organs, is processed by our minds and produces perceptions. As soon as those are described using language, a model is produced. Some models are objectively testable, and some aren't. Science addresses the testable ones. Every 'object' used in science has an operational definition which, itself, is testable ..eg: energy, fields, matter, rocks, minds, moons, planets, the universe, etc .. They're all mind models!

    Models which aren't objectively testable are what we mean by beliefs, delusions, mirages, etc.

    In both cases, it takes a conscious mind to conceive such models (this itself is testable and produces lots of evidence). The models themselves aren't conscious, but what it took to come up with them was. The mind leaves evidence of its own 'fingerprints' all over the results of this process .. all we have to do is look for it .. its right in front of our noses, but for some odd reason, this is mostly completely ignored by us.

    The above process is also how our minds come up with the meaning for what we refer to as 'reality' .. which is no different to how it comes up with the meaning we assign to any of our words. And like any model our minds create, reality is always going to be:
    - contextual (so it will mean different things in different contexts and to different minds);
    - purpose-based (we have some reason for developing the concept), and;
    - subject to change (as our knowledge of how the mind works increases, and the situations in which we need the concept evolve).
     
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  11. public hermit

    public hermit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    What does Strawson mean when he says that he is a physicalist?

    [a] [x is physical → x is concrete]
    [b.] [x is physical → x is the subject matter of physics]
    [c] [x is found in our universe → x is physical]
    [d] [x is physical → x is physics-tractable] (i.e. "physics doesn’t just talk about x but is capable of getting quite a lot right about its nature, and does in fact get quite a lot right about its nature.")
    [e] [x is physical → x is a spatiotemporal entity]
    and therefore,
    [f] [x is physical ↔ x is spatiotemporal]
    [g] [x is experience and is in this universe → x is physical] Here, Strawson is saying that experience, if it is anything, is physical.
    [h] [x is physical ↔ x is φ].
    Strawson: "It follows immediately that physicalism is a monist view, a stuff-monist view, according to which there is only one fundamental kind of stuff in reality. What it is to be φ is still very largely undetermined."

    Strawson is arguing that φ is the fundamental stuff of reality and we don't know what that is. He believes, whatever it is, it is one thing, i.e. he is a monist. He believes there are two main contenders for the nature of what this fundament stuff is, either experiential or non-experiential. The usual view is that this stuff is non-experiential.

    It's important to point out, his argument depends on the fact that physics deals with the structural relational aspects of φ, not the ultimate structure-transcendent nature of φ. To whit, "It is at the same time a commonplace that physics is incapable—essentially incapable—of revealing the ultimate structure-transcendent nature of φ, i.e. the nature of the stuff that has to be there given that the structural relations expressed in the equations of physics are actually exemplified by something concretely real. Physics is silent on this aspect of the nature of φ. Why? Because physics is as Hawking says ‘just a set of rules and equations.'"
     
  12. public hermit

    public hermit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'm going to copy and paste Strawson's comments on radical emergence and then that will be all of my posting for this thread, unless someone wants to engage his arguments.

    "In a case of radical emergence, at least as I understand it, some concrete stuff develops into or produces or comes to constitute some concrete stuff that belongs, intuitively, and presumably also in fact, to a wholly, radically different order of being. In the present case the first stuff is by hypothesis non-experiential, so I’ll call it NE. The second stuff is experientiality, experiential stuff, so I’ll call it E. E being is held to emerge—wholly naturally—from NE being that is quite radically different from it: either constitutively (E being emerges from NE being as a result of some NE being’s coming to constitute some E being) or causally (some E being emerges from some NE being inasmuch as some NE being causes some E being to come into existence).

    One way to illustrate the force of ‘radical’ is to observe that one can transform or develop any form of matter into any other (steel into marshmallow, water into diamond), given sufficient force. No such transformation will be a case of radical emergence, because all matter is made of the same stuff (leptons and quarks, on one account). In fact the same goes for transforming matter into antimatter. This may sound as if it must be a case of radical emergence, but all this shows is that the terms ‘matter’ and ‘antimatter’ are potentially misleading. The only difference between an electron and an anti-matter electron (a positron) is that their charges are reversed. These are not cases of radical emergence. The transformation of wholly and utterly NE stuff into E stuff—experiencing, experientiality—would, by contrast, be a case of radical emergence; so I claim."

    And then his argument against Radical Emergence:

    "The principal objection to taking it that E exists in our universe by virtue of radical emergence from wholly and utterly NE can be put as follows. I’ll use ‘E’ (italic capital) to refer to all theories that suppose that the fundamental stuff is wholly experiential, ‘NE’ to refer to all theories that suppose that the fundamental stuff is wholly non-experiential, and ‘RE’ to refer to the view that radical emergence exists.

    [1] We know for certain that E exists (biological E, at the very least).
    [2] We don’t know for certain that any NE exists. So right from the start,
    [3] the burden of proof is on those who believe that NE exists.
    [4] There is, to begin, a burden on them to prove that it exists at all.

    This burden is very heavy; in fact it can’t be lifted. It’s a very old and familiar point that [5] it can’t be proved that NE exists. The point [5] that it’s impossible to prove that there is any NE being is weighty. But let us put it aside. Even when we put it aside it remains true that [6] there is a burden on those who believe that NE exists to show that there is at least good reason to posit NE. It looks, however, as if [7] E and NE+RE are empirically equivalent (theories are empirically equivalent if no empirical test can decide between them).

    This is because it seems that [8] our best and most fundamental science of the nature of reality—physics—can’t decide between them. Why not? Because of the silence of physics on the question of the intrinsic structure-transcendent nature of reality. The reference of the terms that refer to the structure transcendent reality can as Quine says ‘be wildly reinterpreted without violence to evidence’ (1992: 9). If this is right, [9] it won’t be possible to find good reason to posit NE in addition to E (E which we know for certain to exist).

    At this point I think that there’s only one thing left for the advocates of NE to do. They need to try to show that [10] even if NE+RE and E are empirically equivalent, still NE+RE is theoretically superior to E. Their first and very large difficulty is immediate: there appears to be no reason to posit radical emergence anywhere else in science. It is to that extent sorely ad hoc to posit it just and only in the case of experience. It’s directly contrary to the dictates of sound methodological naturalism."
     
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  13. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

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    (first let me note the final paragraph is certainly agreed to, a given, for me; physics definitely is only about finding excellent correspondences between a model and certain things we are used to measuring, and not about the...essence or full qualities (of any kind including unknown types of qualities) of the stuff out there in a more complete way....but....there is a but....physics can do so well at describing what is seen with the eyes (such as through telescopes or more complex instruments, that it becomes reasonable to think we are describing a lot (most!) of what is happening, which of course isn't necessarily so, but is a plausible view; physicists do certainly generally know that for most things they describe or try to describe they are only talking of certain attributes which seem extremely well established and consistent attributes of the stuff out there; i.e. -- the sun really does radiate a typical/average flux of EM radiation in the visible spectrum (light!), in a highly reliable way, with variations due to flares and sunspots, etc. that we can work on trying to learn more about, etc. and realize that this is only one attribute of very many, some of which are likely not yet discovered)

    Here's the main thing I'm interested in -- as you wrote:
    "Strawson: "It follows immediately that physicalism is a monist view, a stuff-monist view, according to which there is only one fundamental kind of stuff in reality. What it is to be φ is still very largely undetermined."

    "Strawson is arguing that φ is the fundamental stuff of reality and we don't know what that is. He believes, whatever it is, it is one thing, i.e. he is a monist. He believes there are two main contenders for the nature of what this fundament stuff is, either experiential or non-experiential. The usual view is that this stuff is non-experiential."


    I've a couple of questions. I was just reading about monism actually for a different reason. The quick summary of types of monism from that wiki page:
    "Monism attributes oneness or singleness (Greek: μόνος) to a concept e.g., existence. Various kinds of monism can be distinguished:
    • Priority monism states that all existing things go back to a source that is distinct from them; e.g., in Neoplatonism everything is derived from The One.[1] In this view only one thing is ontologically basic or prior to everything else.
    • Existence monism posits that, strictly speaking, there exists only a single thing, the Universe, which can only be artificially and arbitrarily divided into many things.[2]
    • Substance monism asserts that a variety of existing things can be explained in terms of a single reality or substance.[3] Substance monism posits that only one kind of stuff exists, although many things may be made up of this stuff, e.g., matter or mind. Monism - Wikipedia
    So, it sounds similar to a substance monism, but also sorta like an existence monism (or...something else? :) ). Now the main question I have is trying to understand just what Strawson means by 'experiential' more fully (I've have used the word extensively as a key word often I use when talking about mind/models/perception/reality, so I have to do work to not confused or blend too much my own sense of meaning of 'experiential' into what he may mean, and try to get just what Strawson means by the word).

    What is the difference to Strawson between experiential and non-experiential? (see, to me, I tend to use 'experiential' to represent the more full totality of what we perceive about something, which is larger than we have a fully conscious model about that same something. We see a 'horse' and think of 'horse' -- for me quite a lot of individual characteristics I am familiar with to notice consciously, including even how the horse stands and degree of muscle tensions, etc. -- but there is more that I also sense than all the things I consciously know, and I get that more, and don't have words or thoughts to describe it, but I sense it. So, I wonder of course what Strawson means.
     
  14. public hermit

    public hermit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'll paste what he says, maybe that will help:

    So to begin. By ‘experience’ (used as a mass term with no plural) or ‘experientiality’ I mean what many today in philosophy mean by ‘consciousness’. In more complicated vocabulary, I mean concretely occurring experiential ‘what-it-is-likeness’, phenomenological ‘what-it-is-likeness’, however simple or primitive, considered just as such. I mean subjective experience with a certain qualitative character that is private in the straightforward and unexceptionable sense that it is directly known only to the creature that is having it. Our own experience affords us clear examples of this sort of ‘what-it-islikeness’: colour experience, thought experience, pain, fear, anxiety, amusement, and so on. These examples suffice to convey the idea of what experience is in a completely general manner that allows us to grasp the thought that there may be (and surely are) forms of experience that we cannot imagine, including, perhaps, or no doubt, the most primitive forms of experience. It also gives us the resources to suppose (in the way sketched at the end of §4) that our own complex biological experiences may be manifestations or effects or fusions of other experiential phenomena of which we have no from-the-inside knowledge...

    ...I’m an all-out, out-and-out realist about experience, a real realist about experience. I take it that we know what experience is simply in having it, because the having is the knowing. (This may help some to understand what I mean by ‘experience’: it’s that of which it is true to say that the having is the knowing.) We not only know exactly what particular kinds of experience are, simply in having them. We also know what experience is quite generally considered, simply in having experience of certain sorts, because, again, the having is the knowing. A five-year-old child knows as well as anyone else what it is.

    Suppose five-year-old Lucy is facing the sun with her eyes closed and eating a sweet. If we ask her whether she likes the taste, and what colour she is experiencing, she’ll know exactly what we mean and find it easy to answer. In the last century philosophers have managed to turn this simple matter into a conceptual Mordor, but we can ignore them. The real ‘mind–body problem’ begins only when one endorses real, out-and-out, everyday realism about experience.

    To do anything else is to refuse to face the problem, as many who call themselves ‘physicalists’ do today. All serious materialists or physicalists, all real or genuine materialists or physicalists, as I like to say, are realistic materialists or physicalists. They are in other words materialists or physicalists who, like almost all materialists or physicalists for well over two thousand years (until about 1960—or perhaps 1920), are real realists about experience. The idea that materialism or physicalism might or does lead to the denial (covert or overt) of the existence of consciousness or experience is very recent. As far as I know, no one before the twentieth century was foolish enough to entertain it."
     
  15. public hermit

    public hermit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I think substance monism would be on target. He believes fundamental reality is one thing...experientiality.

    In his paper, he doesn't limit existence to one thing. There may be many different existences, but there is only one underlying substance.
     
  16. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

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    Just a quick comment here provoked by feeling of some parallel of this "NE" to something of interest in astronomy/physics.

    The hypothesized possible "NE" reminded me (because of some parallels) to what we call "dark matter", as commented on above earlier, which may be speculatively even thought of almost as if another....reality (like NE), or even one might imagine (in a flight of fancy) as if another Universe coincident with our own (in a sense) though that's not the normal way of thinking of it, but interesting here also. "Dark matter" is the current moniker for something we only infer, and isn't at all known but only guessed to be perhaps a form a unknown matter that doesn't appear (so far) to be detectable directly in any way associated other than gravity/curvature of space to EM radiation (Electromagnetic radiation, e.g. light, radio, infrared, UV, X ray, gamma, the entire spectrum) and so is therefore invisible to all normal forms of observation (direct telescope gathering of anything on the EM spectrum), and so is then only mapped by inference and suppositions, such as mapping it by observing the gravitational effects it would be exerting as if a form of matter, and then calculating where such matter would be and mapping that calculation.

    Just a comment along the way; I'm still reading stuff above.
     
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  17. FrumiousBandersnatch

    FrumiousBandersnatch Well-Known Member

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    I think the reification of consciousness as a mysterious attribute of matter or reality is a red-herring (it sounds like a hang-over from dualism). As I see it, the evidence points to consciousness being a particular type of process that brains perform; i.e. it's information processing. The more complex and sophisticated the brain, the richer the consciousness appears to be. If you interfere with a conscious brain, you interfere with consciousness; creatures with very simple brains or no brains at all have no discernible signs of consciousness, and so-on.

    Panpsychism raises far more questions than it purports to answer but doesn't actually explain consciousness. I summarized my views on it in an earlier post.
     
  18. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

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    lol! I get that. :)
     
  19. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

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    interesting to consider this:
    in relation to this:
    Interpretations of quantum mechanics - Wikipedia
    such as for instance Wheeler's idea, etc. To what extent does the conscious observer, for for that matter simply other.....strong assemblies of matter...as it were, cause particles to come into (change and begin to be, or take on) certain spin or location, etc. Of course the idea most of us would like was Einsteins that simply there are hidden but definite things happening, a local realism, etc. And of course the Bell Test experiments to date suggest that's not so likely...though still there could be a 'superdeterminism' (Superdeterminism - Wikipedia) which to me seems only a possibility, but never something I'd accept as a confident presumption (I'll be skeptical about it, until there is more proof for it). So...we are left with other interesting possibilities which we will be exploring as best we can. Still, one thing I always think of first is the fact we only have discovered part of the physics of this universe, not all. Of course, consciousness could be (maybe) just material, physical, and could possibly also function then according not only to already-known physics but might be including of course some physics not yet discovered, and then still be entirely and only physical, alone. Maybe.

    Or....instead, a combination of that and some other possibilities.

    It's interesting but not yet convincing to me to think of consciousness as being a kind of physical thing that could be a combination of both a physical something analogous (or even) an (physics type, physical) field or such -- is that though Panpsychism right there? -- in combination with just the already observed stuff of neuron firing rates and neurotransmitters, etc. So, really, this idea is only another materialism, physicalism, hypothesis for consciousness. In other words, this ( Panpsychism?) seems merely a materialism, another idea about how consciousness arises in a purely physical way, and then persists or evolves, like a magnetic field does, in analogy.

    But many tend to think we could not merely simulate a consciousness of our own kind with only a sufficiently complex computer program running at a high enough rate of processing -- we aren't so sure of that -- it might not be so. (for example, what if there is a true quantum randomness in ordinary physical matter) Though it's possible a human level consciousness might be merely numerically possible to simulate in full, I'm skeptical. But of course we will definitely continue to attempt to get closer to just such a physical AI being conscious, and possibly it could work well enough to be convincing in time. Wait on see on that. :) I don't expect that to work all the way to what we have though. We've got more I think, that is....another way of saying it is that there may be more to 'physics' than we can discover. Not that there isn't physics, mind, but rather that we may hit a wall or two about how much of the physics we can discover.
     
  20. Hans Blaster

    Hans Blaster New Member

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    Atheist
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    The more I try with the posts in this thread the less I think I understand. This one I think I almost understand, so now I will demonstrate that I do not. (I also understood most of SelfSim's post and Halbhh's discussion of dark matter.)

    Consciousness, experience, perception, et al. are things brains do. I don't know if
    perception requires consciousness, or vice versa, or neither. I'm not a experimental psychologist or neurobiologist (just a simple country physicist) and even they don't seem to have a full comprehension yet of these things.

    I wonder if some of this is about a conflation of two concepts:

    1) That all that I know about reality comes through the perception of my senses.

    2) That reality's existence doesn't require my awareness of it to exist.

    While these seem in conflict I don't think that they are; rather there is an asymmetry between them that gets lost.

    The second statement, while it may not be "provable", is the baseline assumption of scientific inquiry (and frankly many other modes of our existence) often termed "methodological naturalism". It is, as far as we can determine, consistent with the nature of reality.

    The first statement seems incompatible, but it really is just a recognition that our understandings of reality can only come via our intake of information through our senses and they are therefore subject to our perception. We should not assume that if someone else receives the same sensory input that they will have the same perception or understanding. We develop tools to confirm the similarities of the understandings of others and to communicate our understandings (formal logic, mathematics, language, symbols, rules and methods). Unfortunately, this simple "truism" seems to lead to a lot of philosophical jibber-jabber that confuses our subjective understanding of the experiences and perception of reality with reality itself.
     
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