Discussion World Forum  


Go Back   Discussion World Forum > Discussion Forums > Science

Science From your kid's science project to relativity, this is the place to discuss it.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #11  
Old Jun 6th 2011, 05:53 PM
Michael's Avatar
Michael Michael is offline
Administrator
Herder of Cats
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Toronto
Posts: 14,835
Default Re: Consciousness

Quote:
Originally Posted by Non Sequitur View Post
this is but I attended a lecture by two Biblical prof's (one Old Testament and one New Testament) that argued the entire concept of "the soul" is unbiblical.
But the concept is logically necessary to support the doctrine of heaven. If the church abandons the doctrine of souls, then the whole house of cards comes crashing down.
__________________
Remember what the dormouse said: Feed your head!
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old Jun 6th 2011, 06:49 PM
WFCY's Avatar
WFCY WFCY is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 487
Default Re: Consciousness

Quote:
Originally Posted by JHC View Post
What is it?
Where does it come from?
How is it different for Homo sapiens than it is for, say, a bonobo or a cockroach?

I'd like to talk about this.
As a former cognitive scientist and someone whose profession is to program AI/heuristics to imitate intelligent behavior such as natural language understanding, I could start with Descartes and go all the way to Searle and Rorty. But I won't bother you with academic text speak.

When people ask a question like this, I'll revert back to a pick up story I once used. People are not who they appear to be, physical entities, they are more like waves, or radiation (did you know if you get sucked into a black hole, it spits you out in that form to balance itself out? In fact, that is why black holes are not black), or to use a metaphor, people are songs.

As much as behaviorists would have you, your body completely regenerates in 7 years time, none of the water particles inside of you right now will be there in a week's time, your brain cells a year from now are unlikely to stay there then. So the thing that is moving the machine, the ghost, as Ryle would deride, that's the actual you. What tells your body how to remake itself, that's you somewhere. People are like songs, songs can be stored on a lot of different media, their character is completely independent of their physical existence. And there is no categorical mistake about distinguishing songs and storage devices, why should there be one between your body and your consciousness?

Where does it come from? No idea. And btw, just because something exists, does not make the question where it comes from relevant or important.

How are we different from beasts of the wild? Our songs are better- more expressive of our experiences, more beautiful.
__________________
"Déjeme decirle, a riesgo de parecer ridículo, que el revolucionario verdadero está guiado por grandes sentimientos de amor. Es imposible pensar en un revolucionario auténtico sin esta cualidad."


Ernesto 'Che' Guevara

Last edited by WFCY; Jun 6th 2011 at 06:52 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old Jun 6th 2011, 07:22 PM
JHC's Avatar
JHC JHC is offline
World Citizen
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: under the delphiniums blue and geraniums red
Posts: 581
Default Re: Consciousness

Quote:
Originally Posted by WFCY View Post
As a former cognitive scientist and someone whose profession is to program AI/heuristics to imitate intelligent behavior such as natural language understanding, I could start with Descartes and go all the way to Searle and Rorty. But I won't bother you with academic text speak.

When people ask a question like this, I'll revert back to a pick up story I once used. People are not who they appear to be, physical entities, they are more like waves, or radiation (did you know if you get sucked into a black hole, it spits you out in that form to balance itself out? In fact, that is why black holes are not black), or to use a metaphor, people are songs.

As much as behaviorists would have you, your body completely regenerates in 7 years time, none of the water particles inside of you right now will be there in a week's time, your brain cells a year from now are unlikely to stay there then. So the thing that is moving the machine, the ghost, as Ryle would deride, that's the actual you. What tells your body how to remake itself, that's you somewhere. People are like songs, songs can be stored on a lot of different media, their character is completely independent of their physical existence. And there is no categorical mistake about distinguishing songs and storage devices, why should there be one between your body and your consciousness?

Where does it come from? No idea. And btw, just because something exists, does not make the question where it comes from relevant or important.

How are we different from beasts of the wild? Our songs are better- more expressive of our experiences, more beautiful.
I like the academic speak. You know what I like, baby.

The wave/song concept is like Lincoln's axe, the handles been replaced and the heads been replaced. Is it still Lincoln's axe? Totally not my own thoughts in case someone reading this has never heard the analogy.

But I think this is where the concept of consciousness and soul get confusing.

Of course the axe is not the same. The smallest change in the making results in something that may appear to be the same, but is fundamentally different on a small scale.

The butterfly effect: does the flapping of a butterflies wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas? One tiny change in a feedback loop renders an entirely new design.

The Mandelbrot set: a simple equation produces infinite complexity. The variety and complexity of snowflakes inspires awe at one level but a snowflake begins with very simple rules.

Why would our awareness of ourselves and environment not be subject to the same laws of nature as snowflakes, the branching of trees (and of our lungs), of a desert full of sand dunes rolling out like waves in an ocean? All of these things begin like Mandelbrot's mathematical equation - with a few simple natural laws. Self Organizing fractals resulting from chemical reaction.

It seems to me that consciousness is likely the result of a feedback loop. I think Turing, (The Chemical Basis of Morphogensis), Boris Belousov, (Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction), and the hundreds of other scientists that have followed in their path, have already demonstrated what consciousness is.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old Jun 6th 2011, 07:24 PM
JHC's Avatar
JHC JHC is offline
World Citizen
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: under the delphiniums blue and geraniums red
Posts: 581
Default Re: Consciousness

Quote:
Originally Posted by Non Sequitur View Post
this is but I attended a lecture by two Biblical prof's (one Old Testament and one New Testament) that argued the entire concept of "the soul" is unbiblical.
I would be interested in hearing that sermon. Oh, and not off topic at all. Without this discussion of soul, how can we arrive at a definition of consciousness? They seem intertwined - at least in many people's minds.

Last edited by JHC; Jun 6th 2011 at 07:27 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old Jun 7th 2011, 02:39 AM
WFCY's Avatar
WFCY WFCY is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 487
Default Re: Consciousness

Quote:
Originally Posted by JHC View Post
I like the academic speak. You know what I like, baby.

The wave/song concept is like Lincoln's axe, the handles been replaced and the heads been replaced. Is it still Lincoln's axe? Totally not my own thoughts in case someone reading this has never heard the analogy.

But I think this is where the concept of consciousness and soul get confusing.

Of course the axe is not the same. The smallest change in the making results in something that may appear to be the same, but is fundamentally different on a small scale.

The butterfly effect: does the flapping of a butterflies wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas? One tiny change in a feedback loop renders an entirely new design.

The Mandelbrot set: a simple equation produces infinite complexity. The variety and complexity of snowflakes inspires awe at one level but a snowflake begins with very simple rules.

Why would our awareness of ourselves and environment not be subject to the same laws of nature as snowflakes, the branching of trees (and of our lungs), of a desert full of sand dunes rolling out like waves in an ocean? All of these things begin like Mandelbrot's mathematical equation - with a few simple natural laws. Self Organizing fractals resulting from chemical reaction.

It seems to me that consciousness is likely the result of a feedback loop. I think Turing, (The Chemical Basis of Morphogensis), Boris Belousov, (Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction), and the hundreds of other scientists that have followed in their path, have already demonstrated what consciousness is.
My point is not related to Washington's axe problem. That problem deals with authenticity and identity designation- what does it mean to be an object that belongs to somebody? What does it mean to be an object? Would someone's axe, after his passing away, still belong to that person if it's parts, in their entirety, have been replaced? Would an object be designated as the same object if it had been replaced in its entirety? That is the question of Washington's axe problem.

What I was trying to say is precisely that what makes us people, our consciousness, is not the object. The question whether our bodies are the same now as 7 years ago does not enter the discussion- because whether the answer is yes or no, in all likelihood, the "person", the wave, the radiation, the song behind that body is the same- But since there is no physical trace of it, we cannot determine this. Nor can we determine its realm of existence, or where it came from. An object does not run into these ambivalences, an object has manifestations in the physical world, and Washington's axe is a question about physical authenticity. The consciousness does not have physical manifestation. It has behavioral manifestation through the body, it has motivations, thoughts unbeknown-est to the world, etc. What does it mean to say that parts of somebody's consciousness has been replaced? See where your analogy falls apart?

I am pretty hesitant to compare consciousness with Turing machine. Turing machine can parse context sensitive and non-deterministically, recursive languages. It turns out natural languages that we speak goes beyond that. Not the syntax, syntax is not very interesting. But as far as semantics go, plenty of statements we make are undecidable, and demonstratively, logically incomplete. But if consciousness can parse those strings and Turing cannot, then it's clear that our consciousness is more powerful and cannot be captured by such machines. Some may point out that our consciousness deals with undecidable/incomplete strings as if they are approximation problems instead of decision problems. But even if that makes the process quicker or extends coverage, it still does not solve all of the undecidable strings. Well, people get confused too- so maybe in this regard it resembles more with a Turing machine. Not the greatest resemblance I'd say. Plus, on top of understanding meaning, there is intention, machines don't have teleological imperatives, or Geists, we do. You might try insisting on how that can be programmed as well. I seriously doubt it. But there has not been any clear cut conclusion on this so that's just my opinion.
__________________
"Déjeme decirle, a riesgo de parecer ridículo, que el revolucionario verdadero está guiado por grandes sentimientos de amor. Es imposible pensar en un revolucionario auténtico sin esta cualidad."


Ernesto 'Che' Guevara

Last edited by WFCY; Jun 7th 2011 at 02:52 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old Jun 7th 2011, 03:21 AM
NickKIELCEPoland's Avatar
NickKIELCEPoland NickKIELCEPoland is offline
Globetrotter
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 8,082
Default Re: Consciousness

Quote:
Originally Posted by JHC View Post
Indeed, there has been significant study in this field. .
You mean a significant amount of tax-payers' money has been wasted.
__________________
Europe
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old Jun 7th 2011, 09:49 AM
dilettante's Avatar
dilettante dilettante is offline
Moderator
Resident Historian
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 3,082
Default Re: Consciousness

Quote:
Originally Posted by WFCY View Post
...People are not who they appear to be, physical entities, they are more like waves, or radiation (did you know if you get sucked into a black hole, it spits you out in that form to balance itself out? In fact, that is why black holes are not black), or to use a metaphor, people are songs.

As much as behaviorists would have you, your body completely regenerates in 7 years time, none of the water particles inside of you right now will be there in a week's time, your brain cells a year from now are unlikely to stay there then. So the thing that is moving the machine, the ghost, as Ryle would deride, that's the actual you. What tells your body how to remake itself, that's you somewhere. People are like songs, songs can be stored on a lot of different media, their character is completely independent of their physical existence. And there is no categorical mistake about distinguishing songs and storage devices, why should there be one between your body and your consciousness?

Where does it come from? No idea. And btw, just because something exists, does not make the question where it comes from relevant or important.

How are we different from beasts of the wild? Our songs are better- more expressive of our experiences, more beautiful.
I rather like that. Thanks.
__________________
kyrie eleison
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old Jun 7th 2011, 11:12 AM
dilettante's Avatar
dilettante dilettante is offline
Moderator
Resident Historian
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 3,082
Default Re: Consciousness

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael View Post
But the concept is logically necessary to support the doctrine of heaven. If the church abandons the doctrine of souls, then the whole house of cards comes crashing down.
I'm not sure about that. Doctrine of the after-life is pretty tentative, but I think it's generally believed that the inhabitants of heaven (or rather, of the "new heaven and new earth") will have physical bodies much like they do now, only free of disability, disease and suffering. Even if there is nothing more to us than our material substance (and/or "wave" as WFCY put it), life after death would merely involve reassembling our forms (and/or restarting the same wave in new material). There's no absolute necessity for some entirely distinct thing called a 'soul.'

The idea of life after-death consisting of some immaterial, purely "spiritual" existence isn't, to the best of my knowledge, Christian doctrine.
__________________
kyrie eleison
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old Jun 7th 2011, 12:14 PM
JHC's Avatar
JHC JHC is offline
World Citizen
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: under the delphiniums blue and geraniums red
Posts: 581
Default Re: Consciousness

Quote:
Originally Posted by WFCY View Post
My point is not related to Washington's axe problem. That problem deals with authenticity and identity designation- what does it mean to be an object that belongs to somebody? What does it mean to be an object? Would someone's axe, after his passing away, still belong to that person if it's parts, in their entirety, have been replaced? Would an object be designated as the same object if it had been replaced in its entirety? That is the question of Washington's axe problem.

What I was trying to say is precisely that what makes us people, our consciousness, is not the object. The question whether our bodies are the same now as 7 years ago does not enter the discussion- because whether the answer is yes or no, in all likelihood, the "person", the wave, the radiation, the song behind that body is the same- But since there is no physical trace of it, we cannot determine this. Nor can we determine its realm of existence, or where it came from. An object does not run into these ambivalences, an object has manifestations in the physical world, and Washington's axe is a question about physical authenticity. The consciousness does not have physical manifestation. It has behavioral manifestation through the body, it has motivations, thoughts unbeknown-est to the world, etc. What does it mean to say that parts of somebody's consciousness has been replaced? See where your analogy falls apart?

I am pretty hesitant to compare consciousness with Turing machine. Turing machine can parse context sensitive and non-deterministically, recursive languages. It turns out natural languages that we speak goes beyond that. Not the syntax, syntax is not very interesting. But as far as semantics go, plenty of statements we make are undecidable, and demonstratively, logically incomplete. But if consciousness can parse those strings and Turing cannot, then it's clear that our consciousness is more powerful and cannot be captured by such machines. Some may point out that our consciousness deals with undecidable/incomplete strings as if they are approximation problems instead of decision problems. But even if that makes the process quicker or extends coverage, it still does not solve all of the undecidable strings. Well, people get confused too- so maybe in this regard it resembles more with a Turing machine. Not the greatest resemblance I'd say. Plus, on top of understanding meaning, there is intention, machines don't have teleological imperatives, or Geists, we do. You might try insisting on how that can be programmed as well. I seriously doubt it. But there has not been any clear cut conclusion on this so that's just my opinion.
Part I, the axe. I'm going to pursue the axe analogy just for a bit because I feel like we're talking about the same thing but coming up with different hypothesis.

I gave the axe analogy because our conception of the axe remains, (that the axe belonged to Lincoln), long after the original axe has been parted out and Lincoln is dead (he's been parted out too).

It is the product of our minds that appears to be static: I am myself even if I am twenty times larger, behave differently, and have none of the original parts that I had when I was first born, (or even first conceived). How can that be? That is the question.

Clearly, I am NOT the same person! Physically. But in the minds of others - almost like a mirror - I am and have always been, me. (Like the axe is perceived to be THE axe).

Michael says:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael View Post
I think it can be defined as the capacity to be aware of one's self as a self.
Dilettante says:
Quote:
Originally Posted by dilettante View Post
I like that answer, except that I might change to to "the experience of being aware of one's self as a self."
JHC says: maybe consciousness is a recursive reflection and reaction of an organism's environment.

Part II the homunculus
If time travel were possible, I should like to try an experiment to further my hypothesis of consciousness. I would like to remove a subject from the present and organize an unannounced rendezvous from his or her own obscure past to see if (s)he recognizes his or her "self".

Better yet, remove them both and place them in an unfamiliar setting so that there are no other cues to trigger memory.

Or, something one could try in real life, have the subject read several essays from third graders and see if the subject can choose the one penned by his former third grade self. Perhaps I could add photos of third graders to the essays (not the correct author), with the subject's third grade photo included and see if I can fool him into choosing the wrong essay.

What would this show? It might show us that even the consciousness that once belonged to a third grader is extinct - possibly parted out as well. If consciousness were the result of physical interaction, then it would be parted out along with every other atom that once belonged to the set "self".

Isn't it possible that consciousness is only a character of an individual as much as that individual's reflection in glass is a character of that individual? A product of reaction and interaction in the environment?

An alternative hypothesis is that consciousness is similar to the homunculus (little man) or soul - separate, individual entities that reside in the physical apparatus. If this were true though, the subject in the experiment should be able to recognize his own homunculus or the expression of his own homunculus, without any reflection. In fact, wouldn't the two be exactly the same at any given time?

Since logical language is your forte', try writing that out. If one's soul/homunculus is a separate entity from the physical manifestations (even on a subatomic level), then shouldn't it exist all ways and at all times?
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old Jun 7th 2011, 12:16 PM
Donkey's Avatar
Donkey Donkey is offline
Official Forum Mascot
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Northeast Ohio
Posts: 7,771
Default Re: Consciousness

The axe is not (I don't think) sentient, but its function and use remain the same. In that sense (if it is used as a parallel to the human individual), it is the same axe.
__________________
"It is essential that there should be organization of labor. This is an era of organization. Capital organizes and therefore labor must organize."
Theodore Roosevelt
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 04:29 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ©2008 - 2017, DiscussionWorldForum.com