Archive for the ‘God, unity, physics, freedom, worldview, reverence, justice, spirituality, inquiry, analysis, ethics, conscience, logic, evolution, civilization’ Category

The Hard Problem Of Consciousness

August 29, 2010


The Hard Problem Of Consciousness

“The famous philosopher of mind, John Searle, said, “Not only do we have no idea what consciousness is, we have no idea of what it would be like to have an idea of what consciousness is.”

Saint Augustine had an idea: Consciousness is our Soul, and exists by direct connection to the Mind of God. The Catholic Church is willing to accept evolution of the human body, but not the conscious mind or soul. Descartes just posited mind, Res Cogitans in his famous dualism of Res Extensa — i.e. matter and machines including the human body, and Res Cogitans, the conscious mind.

Modern Connectionists often equate consciousness as another emergent property of sufficiently complex computational systems. I worry, since water buckets by the millions pouring water into one another above and below a bucket level threshold for 1 or 0 could be a complex computer. I just have a hard time believing they would be conscious…..” (by Stuart Kauffman, NPR blog entitled The Hard Problem: Consciousness)

These days I spend my computer time looking for appropriate subjects (blogs) to comment on. Typically, after a bit of introduction, my comments take the form of cut and pastes from my blog. I am about to enter the changing life experience of retirement, so maybe I’ll find the time to blog again—I can’t say for sure. Anyway, yesterday I posted a comment on Reijo’s blog (see below) and today I googled “consciousness blog ontology” and came across the NPR blog noted above. When I started to leave my comment on the NPR blog I discovered “comments closed.” So here I am with no place to go except my own blog. I found the comments under the NPR blog interesting, especially the one’s that protested the use of “quantum fuzziness” to suggest the consciousness/physics connection. Here’s an example:

“This discussion reminds me of the early 20th century search for the “ether” through which electromagnetic waves propagate. There was compelling reason for the search for ether, as radiation behaves much like matter waves (which propagate through matter). However there should be no reason to search for any ontological possibilities through which quantum waves “wave” as they are complex and thus have no physical meaning. Schroedinger’s equation and its solutions are only tools by which to understand physical phenomenon.

In short, I think the logic is fuzzy.”—Colin Clement

What the above comment suggests to me is that QM is describing a physical universe, albeit one different from the classical one we live in, but nevertheless one that we discover as opposed to the one that some people believe identities the consciousness/physical reality interdependent connection. But then, a few pages over in the NPR blog you find this comment by Pankaj Seth:

“We have theories about a lifeless, insentient early universe, early earth but they have been established due to inference, and obviously not direct perception… these theories rely upon the assumption of a fundamental duality between matter and mind. When we try to isolate matter apart from consciousness, we can do it from the POV of the I-self witnessing the classical world, but when we dig deeper as in QM, we cannot establish such a duality between the perceived matter and the perceiving consciousness. There is a duality at the sensory, I-self level (and hence the evolution of the early universe and life… . Similarly, it is found in Buddhist and Yogic meditation practice that at the depth of self-experience, there is a non-duality between perceiver and perceived… “Nothing perceived is independent of perception.”

What I am suggesting below is a structured universe which, at the appropriate structural level, acquires the ability to focus in on the different layers of the structured universe’s contents. In this respect, think of this ability (self-consciousness) as the lens that accounts for knowing consciousness, a consciousness that informs on the different levels of the universe, i.e., informs on the quantum, biological, and psychological levels of the universe. In this way, we come to the experience and understanding of a universe of content, a universe of structure, a universe that preserves the integrity of the Affirmative Ideal, and a universe that answers Heidegger’s question: “Why are there beings at all instead of nothing.”

So now we come to the comment that inspired this blog. Below is my response to Reijo’s comment concerning my comment on nothingness– Nothingness by calthai

Thanks for the interesting comment. Parmenides was right, “what is not, is not,” but that is definitively not the end of it.

It certainly is true that (not not) interesting implies the word interesting, but, similarly, I would like to suggest that “being what is not while not being what is” implies something akin to Parmenides’ plenitude/being. While reading Sartre’s Being And Nothingness, I wrote the following:

“Being-in-itself (Sartre’s concept of being) cannot be defined because language is ‘definition dependent,’ while Being just is (is free of dependence). I wonder if Sartre, in this respect, was influenced by Parmenides’ poem. In Parmenides’ ‘way of truth’ being was beyond description. Time, plurality and motion, all aspects of duality, were not compatible with Being. Although I don’t understand why, knowledge was considered an extension of Being in Parmenides philosophy. For Sartre, if you strip away all determinate characteristics and all those meanings which are due to human interpretation, you are left with being-in-itself.”

In today’s world, we do not give much thought to concepts that cannot be defined. That said, the notion of “wholeness” has found its way into the lexicon of scientific theories. When solving relativistic space-time problems, the geometry of the space-time continuum supersedes all notions of the physical nature of space and time. Likewise, at the quantum level of applied physics, the uncertainty relationships (Heisenberg), particle probabilities (the decoherence problem) and the non-local universe (Bell/Aspect results), when taken into account, suggest the existence of a universe-wide connectiveness. Given this turn of events, I will describe in next few paragraphs not only the “wholeness aspect of Being” that is consistent with Sartre’s philosophy (its ontological aspect), Parmenides’ Being, and the universe of connectiveness, but also how this “wholeness aspect of Being” expresses itself in the unique relationship that is up-right walking, language speaking, analytical thinking, empathy feeling, imaginative, curious, and goes by the name–human being. Thanks for the opportunity to post. (Sorry for the length, I only post when inspired—thanks for that too).

I want to begin my discussion of structured existence by revealing its shape. It looks like the letter v. The first thing to notice about the V is its openness. This openness moves the content of existence forward; in fact, one is tempted to say that “to be free” is why existence exists. Science does a good job explaining the content of existence, but it is severely challenged when it comes to explaining the “otherness of existence,” or the liberating process that structures existence. As existence and liberation move up the V, freedom expands. Freedom expands diachronically at each level of structure (think evolution here), but, over time, lower level structure becomes “content” for higher level structure (Piaget). At each “step up” freedom yields a new synchronic (frozen in time) structure, one that, although different from the lower structure, still preserves the integrity of the lower structure while structuring a whole new dimension of freedom. This process continues until it reaches the level of freedom (content) that occurs among symbol generating, language speaking life forms. Yes, that be “us.” So let’s take a look at this process that moves existence forward and expands freedom in a little more detail.

Let the V image represent the liberation of the “otherness of existence.” Let one side of the V represent the empirical world (aesthetic continuum) and the other freedom. Identify the vertex, the bottom of V, as ~~b (not, not-being is the structure of existence, not the content). The “double negative” characterizes the entire V, and implies that which exists outside the V– the Affirmative Ideal (Piaget), or, more to the point, an affirmation of the Affirmative Ideal. In other words, the V and all that it represents/manifests, via the “double negative,” connects/embeds everything to everything else, first through the empirical world and second through the Affirmative Ideal. In terms of quantum strangeness this state of affairs is revealing. But, this is only the first structural level; the second level occurs somewhere above the V vertex.

On the liberation side of the V, let the letter b represent the more liberated form of the “otherness of existence” (life is the content) and ~b, (~b on the empirical side of the V,–~bb is the structure of life), represent the conservation of the integrity of the Affirmative Ideal vis-à-vis the space that separates, embeds, and connects. The word most often used to describe this condition, however, is death. Albeit, life, now firmly established, moves freedom forward until an even more liberated form of the “otherness of existence” emerges.

Let b~b~bb represent this highly evolved form of structured existence. We are familiar with this structure because it represents the participatory moment of a conscious being where b~b (on the empirical side of the V) represents the existence of embodied self-conscious and ~bb (on the freedom side of the V represents the participatory moment of “time of mind”—the conscious content of a thinking human being). With the advent of self-consciousness, freedom moves forward and the V grows larger and wider as the story of civilization unfolds (unfortunately, sometimes the story of civilization takes two or three steps backward before forward momentum is restored).

In summation, the b~b~bb structure liberates the interplay of self-consciousness and environment. Embedded in the physical environment (b~b), human self-consciousness (~bb) creatively reaches out for the accouterments and the necessities of life while at the same time generating new (and sometimes logically precise) meanings that give content and “color” to all perceptions–a percept is product. This creativity, in our cosmopolitan world, gets identified with technological advances, beauty (art) and ethics—all of which can be measured against the significance of b~b~bb—the most potentially expressive product of freedom’s dialectic. Someday, perhaps, the day will come when people will thirst for cooperation, education and shared resources in the same way that today they thirst for power, wealth, and fame.

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The Principle Of Relativity Includes In Itself The Observing Intellect End Of Life Story Chapter 5

January 15, 2010

My conversation with the Devil continues to cite the connectivity problems that arise in the micro universe and then draws upon Relativity theory for confirmation of the necessary opposites that shape God’s footprint. In the discussion of temporality that follows—given the theory of God’s footprint—the message is that because unidirectional time is not found in space-time human beings are free to seek knowledge, make decisions and reverence the God of all possibilities!

God’s Physical Footprint Answers So Many Questions

Relativity Is A Theory Made To Order For A Consciousness That Is Independent Of Events

Future Time Nine Continued

“God’s footprint answers so many questions,” said MV, “fundamental questions, like, why are we here?”

“We’re here,” I replied, “because God is free.”

“Yes, of course,” responded MV, “but it’s in the details that we find answers to the really difficult questions and the more we focus on these details the more meaningful God’s footprint becomes. For instance, why are the parameters of the universe—the relative strengths of gravity and electromagnetism [so far, three dozen and counting (Laszlo, 2004)]—so fine-tuned to the existence and survival of life? Our connection to a friendly universe is just one of the ‘connectivity problems’ that must be dealt with. God’s footprint becomes more meaningful when the observation problems relating to the collapse of the wave function and/or the wave/particle dualities (Bohr’s complementarity theory) are considered. But the real connectivity stumper, and where God’s footprint also comes into play, is found in our participation in a quantum event that instantaneously connects us to an event theoretically on the other side of the universe. That connection presupposes a whole different kind of connection. It’s that kind of connection that David Bohm was referring to when he pointed out that in the two basic theories of physics-Relativity and quantum mechanics—there are “entirely contradictory concepts which have not been brought together; this is one of the problems that remain. They both agree, however, on the unbroken wholeness of the universe, although in different ways.’”

“Now I’m lost,” I said, “what does all that have to do with God’s footprint?”

“Remember, from a structural perspective, the footprint remains a closed system,” responded MV, “but, in terms of content, there’s more to the footprint than closure. The formulation rules of structure, affirmative ideal, transformation, wholeness, and self-regulation, permit the structuring process some degree of freedom, which, ultimately, works to transform the ‘micro world’s duality based structure/content form’ into a more ‘independent, structure content form,’ or the independent form of consciousness and events; and further, when this independent form of consciousness turns it’s lens back upon duality based structure/content, the limiting aspect of structure/content—complementarity—comes into focus.”

“Whatever you say,” I replied, “But what about Relativity? How can Relativity and the duality bound nature of the micro world be consistent?”

“You’re not listening,” said MV. “Relativity is a theory made to order for a consciousness that is independent of events. In fact, a consciousness that is independent of events is one of the underlying principles of Relativity. Indeed, the working concepts in Relativity, — determinism, locality, and continuity, are not only used to describe what Relativity takes to be the interdependent relationships that exist between observers, reference frames, and physical events, these concepts may also be used to describe, at least in part, the closed system structure of God’s footprint. That said, however, micro level structure is different from macro level structure, and there’s the rub. Remember, form is content for a higher form and content is form relative to some inferior content. When the observer penetrates duality based structure/content form, ~~b, the observer’s independent relationship with the event comes to an end. This consequence is the result of the closed system nature of God’s footprint.”

“I’m listening but I still don’t understand,” I replied. “Do you mean that Relativity explains physical phenomena in the macro world because the structure/content of b~b~bb permits self-consciousness to exist independent of the events, while, at the micro level Relativity does not explain physical phenomena because physical phenomena, at that level, is really an inferior form of the b~b~bb structure/content?”

“Precisely,” responded MV. “The concepts of indeterminism, non locality, and discontinuity are the concepts that best describe physical phenomena at the micro level of experience. And further, it is precisely those participation problems found in quantum physics, ‘the agencies of observation problems,’ which validate the existence of God’s footprint!”

The Self, ~bb, Generates The Salience Of Cognitive Objects

Future Time Nine Continued

“Ok, help me out here,” I replied. “Let’s walk through this, or better yet, let me take it from here. You correct me if I’m wrong. Going back to the basics; were talking about God’s freedom and the liberation of consciousness. It begins with a simple footprint; that is, the micro world’s duality based, ‘structure/content form,’ or ~~b. Consciousness, in this simple footprint, is caught between the two ‘nots,’– not this, not that. However, the footprint grows when the ‘two nots’ become, after a structural transformation, caught in the life/death struggle that we call life. In this higher structure/content form, God’s footprint expands, and consciousness becomes freer. But wait, it’s not over yet. Another structural transformation occurs and God’s footprint expands again thus liberating an even freer form of consciousness. In this new structure/content form, consciousness becomes independent of its surrounding environment and begins to think for itself–becomes self-consciousness. How am I doing?”

“Not bad,” said MV, “but we’re supposed to be taking this somewhere. It’s about the details; the implications, remember?”

“I’m getting there, be patient,” I replied, “in fact, I am there! It’s all starting to come back to me now. It’s right there in the transformation between the consciousness of struggle– life–and the higher consciousness of independent thought. When life consciousness transforms into self-consciousness temporality or ‘time of mind’ is birthed and from this new born the spirit of self-liberation follows. In fact, I included ‘time of mind’, the ~bb structure of b~b~bb, in my thesis. To get an acceptable thesis I had to write a paper explaining what my thesis was going to be about and I remember how difficult it was to talk about structure without talking about the structure of b~b~bb. Instead, I talked about the inner component of self that generates the salience of cognitive objects, or the ‘time of mind’ aspect of mind. Fortunately, my thesis was approved. Here’s a bit of the summation that I used to convince my professor to let me write my thesis:

[This argument will begin with a description of Descartes’ cogito (Flew, 1979), giving specific attention to the “identity inference” implied by this cogito. This inference is described by Anscombe (Ed. Cassam,1994, p152) as: “The thinking that thinks this thought–that is what is guaranteed by cogito”. I will then describe how the self (when the self is understood in terms of the triadic relationship, “me-self,” negation of the “me-self,” and, “I-self”) offers a different conceptual basis from which to derive the “identity inference” without attaching itself to Descartes’ excess baggage, or, as this baggage is described by Hermans, et al., (1993, p. 39), “the existence of a unitary, closed, highly centralized subject or self, as an entity in itself, having an existence ‘above’ or ‘outside’ the social environment.”

With the triadic self-concept in place, I will then proceed to describe why “a relativity to a basis,” according to Evans (Ed. Cassam, 1994, p. 196), “becomes a conditional attribute of the self-ascription of mental predicates,” and, why acquiring knowledge (accessing the truth or falsity of knowledge) invokes an act of self-reference where the subject is required to reflect on the credibility, or basis, of the knowledge in question.

From this model of a triadic concept of self I will be able to forcefully argue that much of what Mead (1934) and James (1890) described as the socially generated component parts of self are, in fact, an accurate description of self. However, I will also argue that, as a consequence of the conditional attribute of the self-ascription of mental predicates, a second, inner component of self is at work. It is this inner component of self that generates the salience of cognitive objects, and, in so far as this inner-self is capable of instantiating inner directed values, e.g., numbers, sets, multi-valued logics, this inner-self makes possible the hypothetical-deductive method of scientific explanation and prediction. It is relevant that the source of these inner values can be traced to the space that differentiates the self into a “neither this” (social), “nor that” (individual), circumstance, as opposed to Descartes’ “clear and distinct ideas.” Since the time of Descartes, these “clear and distinct ideas,” have been considered the source of these inner values and, hence the source of rational thought.]

“Just to get clear on one point,” said MV, “this ‘time of mind’ that you refer to, is that the same as the measured time of clocks?”

“No, it’s different, but it is embedded in the time of clocks,” I replied, “because it is an event. Einstein revolutionized space and time by merging the two in his space-time concept, but ‘time of mind’ is not included in space-time. However, space-time includes ‘time of mind’s negative condition.’ In fact, it is the negation of ‘time of mind’ which, on a structural level, closes God’s footprint, the footprint that now incorporates the independent form of consciousness and events.”

“Since you have already worked this subject over in your writing,” said MV, “I see no point in continuing this conversation. Instead, let’s take a look at your expanded explanation. I will say this, though, your particular sense of ‘time of mind’ may not be included in Einstein’s space-time, but the consciousness that is independent of events is one of the underlying principles of Relativity. This is not my belief; rather, it comes from no less of an authority than Hermann Minkowski, the first person to see the four-dimensional space-time continuum embedded in relativistic equations. According to Minkowski:

“The principle of relativity includes in itself the observing intellect, which is a circumstance of the greatest importance…this principle gives indications concerning things which take place in moving bodies, not only in relation to physical and chemical phenomena, but also in relation to phenomena of life, and therefore also to the quest of man. It is remarkable as an example of a thesis based on strictly scientific experiment in the purely physical domain, which bridges the gulf between two worlds generally considered to be of different nature.” (P.D. Ouspensky, Tertium Organum, 1982, p. 104)

Time And Problem Solving Are Interdependent

Science deals with time on three levels. There is the time, which following from Newton’s laws of motion, is used to predict the future of moving objects. It terms of our solar system, this is the time that allows for space travel. Reflecting on this time, the French mathematician Laplace declared that the existence of God was an unnecessary hypothesis. He realized that the initial conditions at the birth of the universe predetermined everything, thus everything becomes predictable, — both backwards and forwards. There is also the time encountered in thermodynamics and in the biological sciences—a unidirectional arrow of time. According to the second law of thermodynamics energy dissipates while entropy (disorder) increases, or, in other words, things decay. A third level of time is found in Relativity and in quantum mechanics. This time gets measured by the t-coordinate in an undifferentiated continuum, and, according to Denbigh, “if this coordinate is ‘taken for real’ as has been the tendency among many scientists and philosophers, the familiar distinction between past, present and future, so important in human affairs, comes to be regarded as a mere peculiarity of consciousness” (Kenneth Denbigh, Three Concepts of Time, 1981, p. 4).

In the above time examples, time and problem solving become co-dependent. This dependency is itself dependent, from the perspective of freedom’s dialectic, on the space of implication or ~bb. We are free to problem solve and act on our environment in a consistent and systematic manner. We acquired this freedom only after embedded consciousness, after a lengthy evolutionary journey, liberated consciousness’s implicative aspect in human consciousness.

The Unidirectional Flow Of Time Is About Conservation

Identifying The Absence Of The “Unidirectional Time” In The Negative Space Of Freed Embedded Consciousness, We Are Once Again Brought Back To The Realization That If It were Not For The Four-Dimensional Space Time Aspect Of Freed Consciousness, You And I Would Not Be Free In A World Of Our Own Experience, Making Decisions, Seeking Knowledge, And Paying Reverence To The God That Has Made All This Possible

Temporality Concluded

Discontinuity occurring in continuity, or ~bb, in freedoms dialectic, permits the dissociations that help build, one upon another, the fruits of civilization. But, on a more personal note, one can also fall victim to the culturally imposed conformity that acts to stifle intelligence and creativity. In this respect, the practice of dissociation breathes fresh air into the dull mental habits that suffocate creativity and imagination. Here’s what Douglas Hofstadter has to say about this kind of dissociation. He calls it “jumping out of the system”:

“One can certainly jump from a subsystem of one’s brain into a wider subsystem. One can step out of ruts on occasion. This is still due to the interaction of various subsystems of one’s brain, but it can feel very much like stepping entirely out of oneself…This drive to jump out of the system is a pervasive one, and lies behind all progress in art, music and other human endeavors” (Hofstadter, Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, 1979, p. 25)

In much the same way as Hofstadter suggests, the necessary condition, in my opinion, that allowed Einstein to jump out of the system of absolute time (in his attempt to reconcile the results of the Michelson Morley experiment) is found in the implicative, unidirectional temporal nature of ~bb, — the same “time of mind” that identified reversible time and entropy. In fact, one has to look no further than the communication of meaningful sentences for evidence of the primary character of unidirectional time. Not only does ordinary experience support this claim, but so to does Relativity theory.

Sense experience moves in one direction only. In perception and cognition we cannot unsee, unhear, unsmell, untouch, and unknow. According to freedom’s dialectic, rational discourse is a product of unidirectional time, but also, according to freedom’s dialectic, unidirectional time is embedded in its opposite condition. We may then ask, what is the opposite condition of unidirectional time? Fortunately, for confirmation of “time of mind’s opposite,” we need only look to the implications of Relativity theory. In the book, Ideas and Opinions, Einstein describes the significance of the four-dimensional space-time continuum with special emphasis placed on the fate of the now:

“The four-dimensional structure (Minkowski-space) is thought of as being the carrier of matter and of the field…Since there exist in this four-dimensional structure no longer any sections which represent “now” objectively, the concepts of happening and becoming are indeed not completely suspended, but yet complicated. It appears therefore more natural to think of physical reality as a four-dimensional existence, instead of, as hitherto, the evolution of a three—dimensional existence” (Einstein, Ideas And Opinions, 1954, p. 371).

And, agreeing with Einstein, Hermann Minkowski, the creator of the four-dimensional space/time continuum (he discovered the mathematical significance of relativistic equations) says this about “time of mind’s negative condition”:

“In the universe all is given: for it there is no past or future, it is—the eternal present; it has no limits either in space or in time. Changes take place in individualities and correspond to their displacement along the world ways in the four-dimensional, eternal and boundless manifold. In the domain of philosophic thought these ideas should produce a greater revolution than the displacement of the earth from the center of the universe by Copernicus” (P.D Ouspensky, Tertium Organum, 1982, p.105).

Identifying the absence of “unidirectional time” in the negative space of freed embedded consciousness, we are brought back to the realization that were it not for the conditional aspect of space-time, we would not be free to pursue agendas (for the most part agendas of our own choosing), make decisions, seek knowledge, achieve goals, and, reverence the Divinity that makes it all possible.