What is "Mind?"

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Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
Jun 24, 2014 - 08:35am PT
Whether or not there are other more subtle forms of energy in the universe not normally experienced by most people, that have a non physical origin is the question though, isn't it?

Energy IS physical.

DMT
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Jun 24, 2014 - 08:37am PT
But the source of it all? Can you prove that is physical?
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
Jun 24, 2014 - 08:44am PT
To what source do you refer?

DMT
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Jun 24, 2014 - 08:50am PT
whatever existed before the big bang would be a good start.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
Jun 24, 2014 - 08:55am PT
Why there (big bang creation myth)? Is it simply because that is the point beyond which science cannot yet peer?

DMT
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Jun 24, 2014 - 10:12am PT
Why there (big bang creation myth)? Is it simply because that is the point beyond which science cannot yet peer?

Not particularly. I'm not out to challenge science in its realm but I do have curiosity about what lies beyond that border and whether there is any meaning to it all. It doesn't take much imagination to see that if there is a deeper meaning it must lie in what was before the physical world.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
Jun 24, 2014 - 10:35am PT
It doesn't take much imagination to see that if there is a deeper meaning it must lie in what was before the physical world.

Why then? Why not yesterday?

Serious question. Why is it the frontier for woo is always 'just beyond the grasp' of science? Its like the speed of light or something, an ever-moving target.

Another serious 'observer' question: does looking for Woo create it?

What if its the woo that is imagination? What if there is literally nothing beyond our instrumentation?

DMT
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 24, 2014 - 10:41am PT
Energy is a word with many meanings yet no universal definition. What we normally refer to per energy is a physical effect, or energy tranferring from one system to another to accomplish "work." But this effect only defines energy by virtue of what it does, not what it is. The "what-it-does" angle is so inherent to our discursive minds that "what-it-is" definitions are often seen as either trick questions or a waste of time, to use John S's language.

Take emotions, for example, which some psychologists see as energy ("e") in "motion." Feelings are dynamic subjective qualities that move and intermingle like fish in a school. When an emotion gets stuck, like anger or sadness, we often need a bit of help to move out of it.

But we know feelings only by their efect on our mind-bodies. Trying to get our hands on what feeling ARE, in and of themselves, beyond what their effect, is like trying to shovel smoke, and whyh simplyu answering, "How do yoiu feel?" is such a challenging question. In fact trying to get hold and grasp any subtecive content in and of itself is a slippery business because most of it is a moving target.

Perhaps trying to get hold of and define what energy IS, beyond it's physical effect, is also a slippery slope vouchsafed by the lack of a universal definition.

JL
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
Jun 24, 2014 - 10:46am PT
Energy is a word with many meanings yet no universal definition. What we normally refer to per energy is a physical effect, or energy tranferring from one system to another to accomplish "work." But this effect only defines energy by virtue of what it does, not what it is.

No universal definition?

We do know what energy is... you, me, the rocks of the moon, the hydrogen of the sun, everything wave in the universe... every last rock, dust, gas or liquid.

Everything in the universe, e=mc2 - it doesn't get more universal than 'everything'

But go on looking for nothing. Good luck!

DMT
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 24, 2014 - 11:25am PT
My point, dear Dingus, is that what you postulate as a thing is in fact, not. Put simply - with perhaps the exception of photons, energy is not a thing per se. Rather, energy, itself, refers to a condition or state of a thing.

For example, a book sitting on a table possesses "potential energy" because of its condition of being able to fall if nudged off the table. A ball flying through the air has energy ("kinetic energy") because of its relative velocity with respect to the ground. It likewise possesses potential energy because of its height above the ground.

But our very own Dingus speaks of energy as if its a thing. No cigar on that one, amigo.

We all know that energy can be stored, bought and sold, and transported. The reason that energy has all these aspects is, unlike many "conditions" that objects may be subject to, energy is conserved. that is, the condition of having energy is always passed from one object to another, never created anew or destroyed. In this way, energy is pretty unique among conditions.

A good example of how energy is passed along from object to object is a water wave. A water wave gives the impression that there is an object or an energetic thing moving across the water because the shape of the water doesn't change very much. But there is not such object moving - rather, the movement itself of the water molecules is passed from each collection of water molecules to the next through the forces between the water molecules.

Similarly, people are familiar with heat flowing from one object to another. For a long time, because molecules are far too small to see, people thought that heat might be a kind of fluid-like substance, which some called "caloric fluid" that flowed from one thing to another. Nowadays, we know that heat energy is the microscopic motion of molecules, and that this state of motion, not the molecules themselves, is what "flows" from hot objects to cold objects.

We can appreciate Dingus' mania to make energy into a thing, because the rational mind can only see nothing and things. But verily, all "things" are not necessarily so.

JL
Timid TopRope

Social climber
the land of Pale Ale
Jun 24, 2014 - 12:17pm PT
If energy can be stored, sold and transported then my brain labels that a thing.
MH2

climber
Jun 24, 2014 - 12:20pm PT
Yep. You can definitely measure energy.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
Jun 24, 2014 - 12:23pm PT
Largo... you should have taken some science classes.

DMT
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jun 24, 2014 - 12:41pm PT
One could argue that the best explanation for a non physical universe is that there was a point in time when the physical universe did not exist, yet something brought it into existence.

we actually don't know, of course there are at a naive level only two ways to think of this: 1) that before some time there was nothing, and after that time there was something or 2) there has always been something.

It does beg the questions what is something and what is nothing. The "vacuum" is filled with virtual particles. Those particles aren't "real" so we could say they are nothing. But the probability of them existing is not zero, so we can compute the effect, and measure that effect on the physical universe. So even when there is "nothing" there is a finite probability of there being "something."

The big bang defines a time when this particular instantiation of the universe came to be, it is very possible that this is only a part of a bigger picture, and that we are starting to get the vaguest of glimmerings of that big picture.

We don't know, and we are open to different cosmologies... it is not a dogma, though the core belief is that we can understand it all through our physical theories, not needing more than that.

The scientists reply that we don't know the answer now, but someday with better instruments we will. The non materialists will say the scientists are using the wrong instruments to explore a non material universe. The scientists say that they can only work with what they have. etc. etc.

I think that the nature of the empirical approach, which is a vital component of doing science, is that there are things we don't know that we must learn about, and we go about it by both extending our current understanding (using our theories to infer) and using our experiments to investigate nature.

So far this has worked quite well, even when we cannot explain something like "energy" to Largo's satisfaction. There is no problem with the concept of energy, it is built up from a large number of observations, organized into concepts and formalized in mathematical theory. We make predictions based on those theories that experiments can measure, and even point to things no one has observed or measured before.

I think that when Feynman exhorts the philosophers to "just eat the steak" it is a humorous (at least to a physicist) way of pointing to a practical approach to understanding the universe. It recognizes that we cannot know the "Truth" but can only approximate it in some provisional manner.

Taking this physical path to understanding means giving up on knowing the "Truth," as Weinberg pointed out, there is a point where we cannot know. If you aren't comfortable with that then science is probably inadequate for your needs.

Philosophically, science does provide an approach to understanding the human condition that renders most of the other philosophies obsolete, and even barbaric. Just take the central idea of western justice, that we possess "free will", and therefore we are ultimately responsible for our acts. It fails to consider most of what we've learned of human behavior scientifically... occasionally creeping in by way of "pleas of insanity", somehow the definition of "insane" is loosing your free will. Well how does that happen?

What are the implications of swearing "on the Bible" the truthfulness of your testimony?

It is interesting to ponder what our judicial system would be if it were informed by what science we know. But it is just an example of many places where a science can intersect with "practical philosophy".

Perhaps we are still so attached to the ancient ways of thinking that it is not possible, even in this day and age, to throw off those deeply traditional beliefs.
cintune

climber
The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
Jun 24, 2014 - 12:48pm PT
http://www.sciencenews.org/blog/context/if-world-computer-life-algorithm



Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 24, 2014 - 01:33pm PT


I'm not suggesting that you can't explain energy to my satisfaction. What I am saying is that the traditional way of looking at components of reality as simply objective things is perhaps not the right apporoach to answering questioins beyond mere physical breakdowns - as big and imporatant a job as that is. What's more, people here claiming to be scientists are in fact not so or are pretnders in many cases. For example, in my last post, I closely paraphrased (basically word for word) a paper by a proff from MIT about energy not being a thing, and I am told to take more science classes. What do you think the guy was driving at? Forget me and whatever projectins you are piling onto me.

Ed said: " 1) that before some time there was nothing, and after that time there was something or 2) there has always been something.

People in the experiential adventures would say that it is not either/or, and that something/nothing are always at play, are interdependent and it has always been so. They are flip sides of the same coin (reality) - temporal/eternal, something/nothing, etc.


I can appreciat comments like: If energy can be stored, sold and transported then my brain labels that a thing. And, Yep. You can definitely measure energy.

What is being missed here - that energy, like mind, is not a thing in the traditional sense - is only made clear and real when we get to the level of my friends at CalTech who are looking into what is involved in programming sentience into a machine. It is fine to insist on a thread like this that sentience is merely another mechanical thing, not fundementally different than a clock or a steam engine or a digital function. However when it becomes time to actually write the code for this thing called sentience, this quasi-autonomous phenomenon that makes life real to us huiman beings - the edges of this thing called sentience become so slippery no one as yet can even get a handle of it. It is not helpful, at the level of writing code, to say that objective functioning creates sentience. We can hope that if we just program the objective functioning that neuro science is discovering day by day, then sentience will naturally "emerge." But in the business of writing code, this means that sentience will somehow emerge and operate sans code.

My sense of it is that sentience, like energy, and like Ed's particles in a vacume, exist as potentialities, with an energetic signature that can be measurd in some instances, while at the same time there is no stand-alone object or thing we can call energy, or mind, which we can observe and know other than by its effect.

JL
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
Jun 24, 2014 - 01:34pm PT
What I am saying is that the traditional way of looking at components of reality as simply objective things is perhaps not the right apporoach to answering questioins beyond mere physical breakdowns - as big and imporatant a job as that is.

That is most certainly NOT what you wrote up thread. Go look.

DMT
jgill

Boulder climber
Colorado
Jun 24, 2014 - 02:04pm PT
"Pavlic and collaborators, though, have developed cellular automata simulations in which the rules do change. At each time step, the cellular automaton assesses its configuration and then chooses a rule based on that configuration. As the configuration changes, the rule changes also."

Dynamical systems (and cellular automata) usually involve a single rule, function or pattern, repeated over and over. Years ago a colleague and I looked into systems of iteration that involved a change of function at each (time) step, rather than fealty to a single rule. This first arose in the study of analytic continued fractions (forward composition), then evolved into backward compositions for other applications, including functional expansions. This was purely a mathematical study with no reference to physics.

Infinite compositions of analytic functions




Ward Trotter

Trad climber
Jun 24, 2014 - 02:36pm PT
What I am saying is that the traditional way of looking at components of reality as simply objective things is perhaps not the right apporoach to answering questioins beyond mere physical breakdowns

Which is a way of saying there is definitely a reality beyond the apparently physical ---and that alternative methods ,other than those used to investigate the strictly physical ,are the only methods of disclosing this other hypothetical reality.

Question: What methodology is used to disclose this non-physical reality that meets the requirements of an objectively validated truth, namely, something both you and I can track and recognize using ordinary conversation and thought ?

Furthermore, if this non-physical reality is approachable only by non-deterministic subjective experience , how does the experiencer know that this reality is not in fact an artificial construct existing strictly in his own self-validating subjective experience?
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 24, 2014 - 03:28pm PT
Ward said: Which is a way of saying there is definitely a reality beyond the apparently physical ---and that alternative methods ,other than those used to investigate the strictly physical ,are the only methods of disclosing this other hypothetical reality.

Rather than argue that point - look at what Ed wrote: It does beg the questions what is something and what is nothing. The "vacuum" is filled with virtual particles. Those particles aren't "real" so we could say they are nothing. But the probability of them existing is not zero, so we can compute the effect, and measure that effect on the physical universe. So even when there is "nothing" there is a finite probability of there being "something."

In other words, the virtual particles are not things, are not objects that we can observe in and of themselves, but they neverthess exert a computable effect on physical reality.

If we looked at sentience and energy in the same light, we might cover some little ground toward an understanding that is not what Ward is suggesting - that we have one "reality" which is observable and physical, and another that is "apparently beyhond the physical."

It seems obvious that Ed's virtual particles interface with physical reality and that neither are "beyond" each other, that as mentioned, nothing and something are not real in absolute terms but are interdependent. Trying to excize out the "non-thing" is an exercise that works okay in an argument, but as my AI friends have pointed out, when it comes to writing code, trying to write code for virtual stuff (emergent functions not having stand-alone observable thingness) shows part of the challenges of doinig so.

JL
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