Politics, God and Religion vs. Science

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Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Feb 28, 2013 - 01:48pm PT
Consciousness is the direct symptom of "Life".

Key question but an incomplete answer. Dogs are alive, are they conscious? At some level, yes. They are aware and have feelings and learn things, they just don't have a symbolic language in their brains. What about insects are they conscious? Less, but none? Plants. Are they conscious? What about a virus molecule?

It's one of the few things we know is real but can't really measure. Electrical measurements of brain waves isn't what I mean. There is no way to detect it except to infer it, since another person wouldn't be speaking and thinking if they weren't. Its considered the "hard problem" in philosophy and psychology since the answers don't really explain the feeling you have of being you. Reminds me of pythagoras who saw in mathematics evidence of a spiritual world, since math is obviously true and real but isn't something physical.

Ultimately I think consciousness will be understood, and like all advances in science, will be far more interesting than the primitive concept of the soul that's in all those ancient books.
Malemute

Ice climber
the ghost
Feb 28, 2013 - 01:50pm PT
When coming to a stop sign one must stop.

I'm absolutely correct .......:-)

Not when they plow a big pile of snow across the intersection.

Except for police or fire trucks.
So you are NOT absolutely correct.
Stupid person.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Feb 28, 2013 - 01:51pm PT
Tom, my previous question to you is where do you drop the line relative to the expenditure of inquiry resources? Should we charge off and investigate everything everyone proposes or supposes or do we use what we do know to prioritize it. Kind of gets right back to inter-dimensional Sasquatch. Nessie and high-performance Nazi flying disks - do we invest time and resources to investigate them or is there anything you are prepared to dismiss out-of-hand as a waste of time and resources based on what we do currently know?
WBraun

climber
Feb 28, 2013 - 02:08pm PT
will be far more interesting than the primitive concept of the soul

Every living entity exhibits consciousness which is direct proof of "life" of which the individual soul is the source .......
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Feb 28, 2013 - 03:11pm PT
Let's suppose you could record "consciousness" in a way exactly resembling the experience. What could you then learn from that? If you could play it back would it be like The Matrix? Would it be an entertaining way to relive parts of your life?


This assumes that consciousness is a "thing," a kind of bio product that we can quantify into bits of information and in turn perform a "telecine" transfer much as they transfer film to tape. This of course requires you to assign values to aspects of consciousness like awareness that are demonstrably non-discrete.

One wonders how someone got the notion that a numerical value could ever be assigned to qualia or subjective experiencing itself. What experiences would a person have to have to think the subjective is collapsible into an objective quantity?

To do so i believe we must first confuse brain info processing with consciousness. This allows us, in theory, to make the map the territory, behind which is the belief that the objective could "exactly" resemble the subjective (experience). Meaning objectification has no limits = scientism.

It's amazing how we come back to this so often. When we come to seemingly insuperable problems of assigning, say, a digital summation about the EXPERIENCE of getting laid which is an exact resemblance of actually getting laid, we seem to always say - just wait, all we need is more data.

A girl might be needed - or a boy, for some - but perhaps we can work up a digital Sheela given a rich enough data stream.

JL
MH2

climber
Feb 28, 2013 - 04:00pm PT
About consciousness Don Paul says

There is no way to detect it except to infer it


All information comes to us through several stages, for example light to the retina, action potential to the lateral geniculate body, etc., and gets out of us by similar Rube Goldberg connections. Information is not beamed directly into our "consciousness."

I can't think of any alternative to detecting consciousness other than through observing the behaviour of someone or something.

If you grant that through our behaviour we can affect another person's consciousness, then it would seem to me that consciousness is a "thing."
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Feb 28, 2013 - 04:22pm PT
OK then say someone was able to make a replica of a brain, maybe a computer simulation that simulates each of the neurons, knows how they are all connected, and how each neuron makes the other ones fire. This is in the far distant future when we have more powerful computers. They finish off the program by programing in some cameras and an output device for a voice. Fire it up. Hey Dingus, anything going on in there? Oh man where I am I? I feel like I got run over by a truck. I can't move my arms! Is this thing conscious? It looks like it and reacts just like the real Dingus would. Is there something inside that program, that is self conscious and feels like they are a person?

Maybe so. Who knows. If consciousness isnt something physical then I think it must be more in the realm of mathematics. ie, in how the information is organized, or self-reflecting, which seems to be another aspect of consciousness. The brain uses symbols for things and processes the symbols instead of the experiences, knowledge etc. One of the symbols is the symbol for itself. Freud calls it the ID (although Freud an Jung should be erased from psychology books and only appear in history books) and calls this the beginning of self-awareness or consciousness when the brain is conscious of itself and creates a symbol for itself. (me) And of course babies at first don't know that they are distinct from their environments and it takes them a while to figure it out.

So there you have it, it's some kind of abstract property like physics or math, and for me, pretty mind blowing if you are in a room full of people and just try to imagine what all of them are thinking about.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Feb 28, 2013 - 05:07pm PT
The voice of god...

One rat brain 'talks' to another using electronic link

So much for free will...
Malemute

Ice climber
the ghost
Feb 28, 2013 - 05:21pm PT
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Feb 28, 2013 - 05:34pm PT
so by just trying one might be subjected to Largo's chiding, that it is not productive, no more, that is not possible, but that is an opinion he has, not something that has been established.


Every system has limitations. Our evaluating minds could be viewed as a system that organizes material reality in a way that allows us to manipulate and predict what we can do. The evaluating mind can be looked at as a cognitive Hilbert Space, if you will, an interpretive device that has a highly functional export. But just as Hilbert space cannot address EVERY issue in physics, our evaluating minds cannot address EVERY issue of consciousness. We have to start making the most fantastic claims to do so - like the subjective IS the objective, or can be made so through sage quantification. To me, this is not only a vastly dishonest claim, but it will prove to be utterly unproductive the further we go into experience. May I remind you that just last year a leading neuroscientist said that while we have a fantastic idea about how the brain processes info, we have "no idea whatsoever" how consciousness works, and that standard mechanistic approaches are the equal of "trying the same thing (quantifying) and expecting different results). But so long as people bullishly press ahead with the same methods, "cracking consciousness" will remain like cold fusion - always ten years off.

But it might be the case that people have so little understanding about how our experience happens, or what is involved, that we can have people wondering how to bottle an experience "exactly" so we can pass it on to our grandchildren.

I have to go to the airport now but I'll try and share some more thoughts on this later.

JL
jogill

climber
Colorado
Feb 28, 2013 - 07:21pm PT
One wonders how someone got the notion that a numerical value could ever be assigned to qualia or subjective experiencing itself

Doctor to patient: "How would you rate your pain on a scale of one to ten?"
Norton

Social climber
the Wastelands
Feb 28, 2013 - 07:43pm PT
Doctor to patient: "How would you rate your pain on a scale of one to ten?"

VERY subjective indeed, but I would guess there are lots of things, feelings, etc, that one can rightfully assign numerical values to when given a framework

I usually say a 5, based on how bad my damn back is hurting



Malemute

Ice climber
the ghost
Feb 28, 2013 - 08:05pm PT
Eventually, brain research will give us a foolproof lie detector.
That will be the end of politics, religion, wall street, and war.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Feb 28, 2013 - 08:32pm PT

One wonders how someone got the notion that a numerical value could ever be assigned to qualia or subjective experiencing itself

Doctor to patient: "How would you rate your pain on a scale of one to ten?"


I meant to say that it was suggested that a numerical value could be assigned to experience with such precision that one could later, by way of the numbers, forward engineer the original subjective experience "exactly."

This presumes that the subjective and objective are merely arbitrary terms, even though none of us actually live our lives like this.

But it's even trickier than that - by a long shot.

It remains rather easy to assign numbers to some experience to measure subjective states relative to a mean average. But if a mean average is not in place, like "normal" temperature or blood pressure, the numbers are meaningless. Jumping to the idea that the number ARE the experience, or that experience can be derived FROM the numbers, is to believe in what I call the voodoo side of scientism, like that crackpot in Europe saying he was going create a machine that could fall in love inside of 20 years - providing you fork over a cool 50 million Euros. It's a steal at twice the price.

That such people are not called out as the merest frauds and charletans amazes me. I've even seen such foolishness defended on this very list.

JL
Dr. F.

Big Wall climber
SoCal
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 28, 2013 - 08:36pm PT
Credit: Dr. F.
MH2

climber
Feb 28, 2013 - 08:45pm PT
Pain ratings are a way to tell if a person's pain is increasing, decreasing, or about the same, in the patient's opinion. Pain is what the patient tells you it is. This is a time when it is best to put your own subjective response aside and just listen to what the patient tells you. Sure, the patient may be exaggerating or even lying, but can you come up with a better way to assess another person's pain? There are other telltales, of course, like sweating, increased heart rate, dilated pupils, and such.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Feb 28, 2013 - 09:07pm PT
I never know what to tell the doctor. What is level ten pain anyway? What one would have experienced in Saddam Hussein's torture chambers just before passing out? I can only reply in terms of my own experience. I would rate amoebic dyssentary like this, having my arm set without pain killer like that, an absessed tooth like this and my current problem about here in comparison. But do I know where on my scale level ten is ? The answer is no and I still have no idea what number to give the worst pain I've experienced.

I do think this illustrates the nature of the disconnect on quantifiables and consciousness. The medical science types are comfortable with numbers. The patients haven't got a clue but they want to make the doctor happy so they give a number, either stoically or histrionically depending on their personality and how much they want drugs. We can't call it either scientific or truly subjective, since the doctor doesn't have more than 15 minutes to deal with you, and you did just quantify a feeling, but somehow it works more or less.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Feb 28, 2013 - 09:56pm PT
MH2: Let's suppose you could record "consciousness" in a way exactly resembling the experience. What could you then learn from that? If you could play it back would it be like The Matrix? Would it be an entertaining way to relive parts of your life?
Largo: This assumes that consciousness is a "thing," a kind of bio product that we can quantify into bits of information and in turn perform a "telecine" transfer much as they transfer film to tape. This of course requires you to assign values to aspects of consciousness like awareness that are demonstrably non-discrete.

One wonders how someone got the notion that a numerical value could ever be assigned to qualia or subjective experiencing itself. What experiences would a person have to have to think the subjective is collapsible into an objective quantity?

Did you read that link on the mice? Laying aside discussion about whether quale exist, it shows without a doubt that we can quantify "aspects of consciousness" into "bits of information" and "perform a 'telecine' transfer" of a conscious experience.

largo: To do so i believe we must first confuse brain info processing with consciousness. This allows us, in theory, to make the map the territory, behind which is the belief that the objective could "exactly" resemble the subjective (experience). Meaning objectification has no limits = scientism.

Here we do get into the qualia discussion. I'm not saying those linked experiments are recording and transmitting subjective experience (qualia), but they are definitely recording "aspects of consciousness" sufficient to provoke or induce specific subjective experience or qualia at the other end of the transmission.

largo: When we come to seemingly insuperable problems of assigning, say, a digital summation about the EXPERIENCE of getting laid which is an exact resemblance of actually getting laid...

Those experiments make it excruciatingly clear that it would be entirely possible, if not trivial, in some not-to-distance future to record someone getting laid such that anyone appropriately outfitted could in fact replay, not a "digital summation" of getting laid, but a blow-by-blow which would in turn provoke quite similar quale in the recipient - i.e. it's now possible to give someone have the subjective experience of seeing red even when they're not.

... but perhaps we can work up a digital Sheela given a rich enough data stream.

That is exactly what it means - we now can.
WBraun

climber
Feb 28, 2013 - 10:00pm PT
Did you read that link on the mice?

It was rats dude, rats.

Nothing new .... all these rats here on the internet have been doing it for years .....

:-)
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Feb 28, 2013 - 10:10pm PT
Mice, rats, people - in the case of the implications of that link the difference is pretty inconsequential, they'll all push a lever for the right reward.
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