Consciousness: A State of Matter? (General)

by BBella @, Saturday, October 29, 2016, 21:09 (450 days ago)

PHYSICISTS SAY CONSCIOUSNESS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED A STATE OF MATTER:
THE “NON PHYSICAL” IS REAL

http://tinyurl.com/hch7qvd

"He is basically saying that the immaterial ‘substance’ of consciousness is directly intertwined with what we perceive to be our physical material world in some sort of way, shape or form, that consciousness is required for matter to be, that it becomes after consciousness….and he’s not the only physicist to believe that."

We have been here before in this discussion -
but interesting to revisit at this point.

Consciousness: A State of Matter?

by David Turell @, Sunday, October 30, 2016, 00:52 (449 days ago) @ BBella

Bbella: PHYSICISTS SAY CONSCIOUSNESS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED A STATE OF MATTER:
THE “NON PHYSICAL” IS REAL

http://tinyurl.com/hch7qvd

"He is basically saying that the immaterial ‘substance’ of consciousness is directly intertwined with what we perceive to be our physical material world in some sort of way, shape or form, that consciousness is required for matter to be, that it becomes after consciousness….and he’s not the only physicist to believe that."

We have been here before in this discussion -
but interesting to revisit at this point.

My take has always been that consciousness came first, then matter, which is how I interpret the thoughts in the above website

Consciousness: A State of Matter?

by dhw, Sunday, October 30, 2016, 12:28 (449 days ago) @ David Turell

Bbella: PHYSICISTS SAY CONSCIOUSNESS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED A STATE OF MATTER:
THE “NON PHYSICAL” IS REAL

http://tinyurl.com/hch7qvd

"He is basically saying that the immaterial ‘substance’ of consciousness is directly intertwined with what we perceive to be our physical material world in some sort of way, shape or form, that consciousness is required for matter to be, that it becomes after consciousness….and he’s not the only physicist to believe that."
We have been here before in this discussion -
but interesting to revisit at this point.

DAVID: My take has always been that consciousness came first, then matter, which is how I interpret the thoughts in the above website.

Chicken and egg. If consciousness came before matter, we have some form of God. If matter came first, we have no God (at least of the conventional monotheistic kind). The expression “a state of matter” is not clear to me, but it would seem to imply panpsychism (the true meaning of which is that all forms of matter have some mental aspect). I don’t know how this leads to the conclusion that “The Universe is immaterial – mental and spiritual. Live, and enjoy”, but there are gaps in the quote, so perhaps it’s out of context. Clearly none of us would be alive if matter was not a real part of the universe, so my conclusion would be that, regardless of what came first, unless you believe that neither we nor our thoughts are real, our world at least (we don’t know about the rest of the universe) is both material and mental, and we can enjoy both.

I am hoping to find a spare hour this week to formulate my own dastardly plan to reconcile dualism and materialism!

Consciousness: A State of Matter?

by David Turell @, Sunday, October 30, 2016, 14:21 (449 days ago) @ dhw

Bbella: PHYSICISTS SAY CONSCIOUSNESS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED A STATE OF MATTER:
THE “NON PHYSICAL” IS REAL

http://tinyurl.com/hch7qvd

"He is basically saying that the immaterial ‘substance’ of consciousness is directly intertwined with what we perceive to be our physical material world in some sort of way, shape or form, that consciousness is required for matter to be, that it becomes after consciousness….and he’s not the only physicist to believe that."
We have been here before in this discussion -
but interesting to revisit at this point.

DAVID: My take has always been that consciousness came first, then matter, which is how I interpret the thoughts in the above website.

dhw: Chicken and egg. If consciousness came before matter, we have some form of God. If matter came first, we have no God (at least of the conventional monotheistic kind). The expression “a state of matter” is not clear to me, but it would seem to imply panpsychism (the true meaning of which is that all forms of matter have some mental aspect). I don’t know how this leads to the conclusion that “The Universe is immaterial – mental and spiritual. Live, and enjoy”, but there are gaps in the quote, so perhaps it’s out of context. Clearly none of us would be alive if matter was not a real part of the universe, so my conclusion would be that, regardless of what came first, unless you believe that neither we nor our thoughts are real, our world at least (we don’t know about the rest of the universe) is both material and mental, and we can enjoy both.

I am hoping to find a spare hour this week to formulate my own dastardly plan to reconcile dualism and materialism!

If you read the whole website, my statement stands, consciousness first.

Consciousness: A State of Matter?

by dhw, Monday, October 31, 2016, 11:52 (448 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: Chicken and egg. If consciousness came before matter, we have some form of God. If matter came first, we have no God (at least of the conventional monotheistic kind). The expression “a state of matter” is not clear to me, but it would seem to imply panpsychism (the true meaning of which is that all forms of matter have some mental aspect). I don’t know how this leads to the conclusion that “The Universe is immaterial – mental and spiritual. Live, and enjoy”, but there are gaps in the quote, so perhaps it’s out of context. Clearly none of us would be alive if matter was not a real part of the universe, so my conclusion would be that, regardless of what came first, unless you believe that neither we nor our thoughts are real, our world at least (we don’t know about the rest of the universe) is both material and mental, and we can enjoy both.

DAVID: If you read the whole website, my statement stands, consciousness first.

Yes, I realized that the article agrees with you. That is why I tried to restore some balance in my comment!:-)

Consciousness: A State of Matter?

by David Turell @, Monday, October 31, 2016, 17:06 (448 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: If you read the whole website, my statement stands, consciousness first.

dhw: Yes, I realized that the article agrees with you. That is why I tried to restore some balance in my comment!:-)

Thank you.

Consciousness: not split in split-brain patients

by David Turell @, Monday, January 30, 2017, 20:53 (356 days ago) @ David Turell

The two hemispheres of the brain are connected by a band of fibers known as the corpus callosum. In patients with one-sided epilepsy, this body has been entirely sliced apart. In some patients it appears that consciousness might be split apart. New research says not so:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/315508.php

"A new research study contradicts the established view that so-called split-brain patients have a split consciousness. Instead, the researchers behind the study, led by UvA psychologist Yair Pinto, have found strong evidence showing that despite being characterised by little to no communication between the right and left brain hemispheres, split brain does not cause two independent conscious perceivers in one brain.

"Split brain is a lay term to describe the result of a corpus callosotomy, a surgical procedure first performed in the 1940s to alleviate severe epilepsy among patients. During this procedure, the corpus callosum, a bundle of neural fibres connecting the left and right cerebral hemispheres, is severed to prevent the spread of epileptic activity between the two brain halves. While mostly successful in relieving epilepsy, the procedure also virtually eliminates all communication between the cerebral hemispheres, thereby resulting in a 'split brain'.

"This condition was made famous by the work of Nobel laureate Roger Sperry and Michael Gazzaniga. In their canonical work, Sperry and Gazzaniga discovered that split-brain patients can only respond to stimuli in the right visual field with their right hand and vice versa. This was taken as evidence that severing the corpus callosum causes each hemisphere to gain its own consciousness.

"For their study, Pinto and his fellow researchers conducted a series of tests on two patients who had undergone a full callosotomy. In one of the tests, the patients were placed in front of a screen and shown various objects displayed in several locations. The patients were then asked to confirm whether an object appeared and to indicate its location. In another test, they had to correctly name the object they had seen, a notorious difficulty among spit-brain patients. 'Our main aim was to determine whether the patients performed better when responding to the left visual field with their left hand instead of their right hand and vice versa', says Pinto, assistant professor of Cognitive Psychology. 'This question was based on the textbook notion of two independent conscious agents: one experiencing the left visual field and controlling the left hand, and one experiencing the right visual field and controlling the right hand.'

"To the researchers' surprise, the patients were able to respond to stimuli throughout the entire visual field with all the response types: left hand, right hand and verbally. Pinto: 'The patients could accurately indicate whether an object was present in the left visual field and pinpoint its location, even when they responded with the right hand or verbally. This despite the fact that their cerebral hemispheres can hardly communicate with each other and do so at perhaps 1 bit per second, which is less than a normal conversation. I was so surprised that I decide repeat the experiments several more times with all types of control.'

"According to Pinto, the results present clear evidence for unity of consciousness in split-brain patients. 'The established view of split-brain patients implies that physical connections transmitting massive amounts of information are indispensable for unified consciousness, i.e. one conscious agent in one brain. Our findings, however, reveal that although the two hemispheres are completely insulated from each other, the brain as a whole is still able to produce only one conscious agent. This directly contradicts current orthodoxy and highlights the complexity of unified consciousness.'"

Comment: I view this study as strong evidence for my contention that the brain is a receiver of consciousness. If the brain creates consciousness its two separated lobes should produce dual consciousnesses. That is not the case. If the brain is a receiver, then both sides receive one whole consciousness which works as a whole in the patient's perception. Note that there is separation in physical sensation, visual appreciation as noted. A major finding!

Consciousness: not split in split-brain patients

by dhw, Tuesday, January 31, 2017, 21:22 (355 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: "According to Pinto, the results present clear evidence for unity of consciousness in split-brain patients. 'The established view of split-brain patients implies that physical connections transmitting massive amounts of information are indispensable for unified consciousness, i.e. one conscious agent in one brain. Our findings, however, reveal that although the two hemispheres are completely insulated from each other, the brain as a whole is still able to produce only one conscious agent. This directly contradicts current orthodoxy and highlights the complexity of unified consciousness.'"

David's comment: I view this study as strong evidence for my contention that the brain is a receiver of consciousness. If the brain creates consciousness its two separated lobes should produce dual consciousnesses. That is not the case. If the brain is a receiver, then both sides receive one whole consciousness which works as a whole in the patient's perception. Note that there is separation in physical sensation, visual appreciation as noted. A major finding!

It certainly is a fascinating discovery. Am I right in thinking that you have drawn attention in the past to cases in which a whole section of the brain was actually missing, and yet the patient was somehow able to fill the “gaps”? It would be interesting to hear the response of a materialist to these findings. In the meantime, I must mull over the implications for my attempted reconciliation of the two schools of thought!

Consciousness: not split in split-brain patients

by David Turell @, Wednesday, February 01, 2017, 00:51 (355 days ago) @ dhw


David's comment: I view this study as strong evidence for my contention that the brain is a receiver of consciousness. If the brain creates consciousness its two separated lobes should produce dual consciousnesses. That is not the case. If the brain is a receiver, then both sides receive one whole consciousness which works as a whole in the patient's perception. Note that there is separation in physical sensation, visual appreciation as noted. A major finding!

dhw: It certainly is a fascinating discovery. Am I right in thinking that you have drawn attention in the past to cases in which a whole section of the brain was actually missing, and yet the patient was somehow able to fill the “gaps”? It would be interesting to hear the response of a materialist to these findings. In the meantime, I must mull over the implications for my attempted reconciliation of the two schools of thought!

Yes, full mentation with missing brain! But complex enough to receive consciousness.

Consciousness: not split in split-brain patients

by David Turell @, Tuesday, September 26, 2017, 16:53 (118 days ago) @ David Turell

A comment by the research scientist who produced the result in the prior post:

https://aeon.co/ideas/when-you-split-the-brain-do-you-split-the-person?utm_source=Aeon+...

"In so-called ‘split-brain’ patients, the corpus callosum – the highway for communication between the left and the right cerebral hemispheres – is surgically severed to halt otherwise intractable epilepsy.

"The operation is effective in stopping epilepsy; if a neural firestorm starts in one hemisphere, the isolation ensures that it does not spread to the other half. But without the corpus callosum the hemispheres have virtually no means of exchanging information.

***

"We’ve got to admit that split-brain patients feel and behave normally. If a split-brain patient walks into the room, you would not notice anything unusual. And they themselves claim to be completely unchanged, other than being rid of terrible epileptic seizures. If the person was really split, this wouldn’t be true.

***

"Based on these findings, we have proposed a new model of the split-brain syndrome. When you split the brain, you still end up with only one person. However, this person experiences two streams of visual information, one for each visual field. And that person is unable to integrate the two streams. It is as if he watches an out-of-sync movie, but not with the audio and video out of sync. Rather, the two unsynced streams are both video.

"And there’s more. While the previous model provided strong evidence for materialism (split the brain, split the person), the current understanding seems to only deepen the mystery of consciousness. You split the brain into two halves, and yet you still have only one person.
How does a brain, consisting of many modules, create just one person? And, how do split-brainers operate as one when these parts are not even talking to each other?"

Comment: More proof that consciousness has no true basis in the idea that it is being produced by the brain. The brain receives the mechanism of consciousness and uses it.

Consciousness: not split in split-brain patients

by dhw, Wednesday, September 27, 2017, 10:49 (117 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: "And there’s more. While the previous model provided strong evidence for materialism (split the brain, split the person), the current understanding seems to only deepen the mystery of consciousness. You split the brain into two halves, and yet you still have only one person.
How does a brain, consisting of many modules, create just one person? And, how do split-brainers operate as one when these parts are not even talking to each other?"

DAVID’s comment: More proof that consciousness has no true basis in the idea that it is being produced by the brain. The brain receives the mechanism of consciousness and uses it.

This is a fascinating discovery. It’s based, though, on an almost throw-away statement that slightly bothers me:
“But without the corpus callosum the hemispheres have virtually no means of exchanging information.
Why “virtually”? If there is any means at all of exchanging information, how do we know the extent to which it can be operative? As I say, I’m only slightly bothered by it, and the source and nature of consciousness and the force that unifies ALL our cell communities, including those of the brain, remain an endlessly intriguing mystery which we shall keep returning to. As usual, many thanks for keeping us so well informed about all the latest findings.

Consciousness: not split in split-brain patients

by David Turell @, Wednesday, September 27, 2017, 15:07 (117 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTE: "And there’s more. While the previous model provided strong evidence for materialism (split the brain, split the person), the current understanding seems to only deepen the mystery of consciousness. You split the brain into two halves, and yet you still have only one person.
How does a brain, consisting of many modules, create just one person? And, how do split-brainers operate as one when these parts are not even talking to each other?"

DAVID’s comment: More proof that consciousness has no true basis in the idea that it is being produced by the brain. The brain receives the mechanism of consciousness and uses it.

dhw: This is a fascinating discovery. It’s based, though, on an almost throw-away statement that slightly bothers me:
“But without the corpus callosum the hemispheres have virtually no means of exchanging information.
Why “virtually”? If there is any means at all of exchanging information, how do we know the extent to which it can be operative? As I say, I’m only slightly bothered by it, and the source and nature of consciousness and the force that unifies ALL our cell communities, including those of the brain, remain an endlessly intriguing mystery which we shall keep returning to. As usual, many thanks for keeping us so well informed about all the latest findings.

The word 'virtually' implies that there might be an unknown way of communicating. Just covering all possibilities.

Consciousness: And relation to quantum mechanics

by David Turell @, Sunday, February 19, 2017, 20:12 (337 days ago) @ BBella

This is a very long review article which takes us from the realization that what we decide to do in quantum experimentation affects how the particles themselves react as if our consciousness is related directly to the particles. He then goes on to discuss the way quantum activity might be present in cells, in neurons, and thus somehow create consciousness:

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20170215-the-strange-link-between-the-human-mind-and-qua...

"For one thing, the mind seemed, to the great discomfort of physicists, to force its way into early quantum theory. What's more, quantum computers are predicted to be capable of accomplishing things ordinary computers cannot, which reminds us of how our brains can achieve things that are still beyond artificial intelligence. "Quantum consciousness" is widely derided as mystical woo, but it just will not go away.

***

"Today some physicists suspect that, whether or not consciousness influences quantum mechanics, it might in fact arise because of it. They think that quantum theory might be needed to fully understand how the brain works.

"Might it be that, just as quantum objects can apparently be in two places at once, so a quantum brain can hold onto two mutually-exclusive ideas at the same time?

These ideas are speculative, and it may turn out that quantum physics has no fundamental role either for or in the workings of the mind. But if nothing else, these possibilities show just how strangely quantum theory forces us to think.

***

"The physicist Pascual Jordan, who worked with quantum guru Niels Bohr in Copenhagen in the 1920s, put it like this: "observations not only disturb what has to be measured, they produce it… We compel [a quantum particle] to assume a definite position." In other words, Jordan said, "we ourselves produce the results of measurements."

"If that is so, objective reality seems to go out of the window.

***

"just as Bohr confidently predicted, it makes no difference whether we delay the measurement or not. As long as we measure the photon's path before its arrival at a detector is finally registered, we lose all interference.

It is as if nature "knows" not just if we are looking, but if we are planning to look.

***

"physicists do not agree on the best way to interpret these quantum experiments, and to some extent what you make of them is (at the moment) up to you. But one way or another, it is hard to avoid the implication that consciousness and quantum mechanics are somehow linked.

"Beginning in the 1980s, the British physicist Roger Penrose suggested that the link might work in the other direction. Whether or not consciousness can affect quantum mechanics, he said, perhaps quantum mechanics is involved in consciousness.

***

"Penrose first proposed that quantum effects feature in human cognition in his 1989 book The Emperor's New Mind. The idea is called Orch-OR, which is short for "orchestrated objective reduction". The phrase "objective reduction" means that, as Penrose believes, the collapse of quantum interference and superposition is a real, physical process, like the bursting of a bubble.

"Orch-OR draws on Penrose's suggestion that gravity is responsible for the fact that everyday objects, such as chairs and planets, do not display quantum effects. Penrose believes that quantum superpositions become impossible for objects much larger than atoms, because their gravitational effects would then force two incompatible versions of space-time to coexist.

"Penrose developed this idea further with American physician Stuart Hameroff. In his 1994 book Shadows of the Mind, he suggested that the structures involved in this quantum cognition might be protein strands called microtubules. These are found in most of our cells, including the neurons in our brains. Penrose and Hameroff argue that vibrations of microtubules can adopt a quantum superposition.

"But there is no evidence that such a thing is remotely feasible.

***

"In a study published in 2015, physicist Matthew Fisher of the University of California at Santa Barbara argued that the brain might contain molecules capable of sustaining more robust quantum superpositions. Specifically, he thinks that the nuclei of phosphorus atoms may have this ability.

***

"In other words, the mind could genuinely affect the outcomes of measurements.
It does not, in this view, exactly determine "what is real". But it might affect the chance that each of the possible actualities permitted by quantum mechanics is the one we do in fact observe, in a way that quantum theory itself cannot predict. Kent says that we might look for such effects experimentally.

"He even bravely estimates the chances of finding them. "I would give credence of perhaps 15% that something specifically to do with consciousness causes deviations from quantum theory, with perhaps 3% credence that this will be experimentally detectable within the next 50 years," he says.

"If that happens, it would transform our ideas about both physics and the mind. That seems a chance worth exploring."

Comment: We are as confused as ever about consciousness. Can we ever understand quantum reality? Perhaps we are not supposed to.

Consciousness: And relation to quantum mechanics

by dhw, Monday, February 20, 2017, 16:04 (336 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: This is a very long review article which takes us from the realization that what we decide to do in quantum experimentation affects how the particles themselves react as if our consciousness is related directly to the particles. He then goes on to discuss the way quantum activity might be present in cells, in neurons, and thus somehow create consciousness:
http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20170215-the-strange-link-between-the-human-mind-and-qua...

Thank you for this article, which as you say leaves us “as confused as ever about consciousness.” I’ll cherrypick some quotes:

QUOTE: “These ideas are speculative, and it may turn out that quantum physics has no fundamental role either for or in the workings of the mind.”

Yep. Both materialism and dualism are speculative too. Nobody has a clue.

QUOTE: In other words, Jordan said, "we ourselves produce the results of measurements."…"If that is so, objective reality seems to go out of the window.”

Even if it is so, I suggest for the umpteenth time that all of these quantum physicists should do another test and step in front of a moving bus.

Quote: "Beginning in the 1980s, the British physicist Roger Penrose suggested that the link might work in the other direction. Whether or not consciousness can affect quantum mechanics, he said, perhaps quantum mechanics is involved in consciousness.”

Might or might not, perhaps or perhaps not.

"Penrose first proposed that quantum effects feature in human cognition in his 1989 book The Emperor's New Mind. The idea is called Orch-OR, which is short for "orchestrated objective reduction". The phrase "objective reduction" means that, as Penrose believes, the collapse of quantum interference and superposition is a real, physical process, like the bursting of a bubble."

Give something a name, and you give it scientific credibility. Multiverse, string theory, dark energy and dark matter, Orch-OR… Except (let me put on my theist’s hat for a moment) if you theorize that life and the universe are the product of design and you call the designer God, you will lose all scientific credibility.

Quote: “Penrose and Hameroff argue that vibrations of microtubules can adopt a quantum superposition…But there is no evidence that such a thing is remotely feasible.”

As the bard put it, then: Much Ado About Nothing.

Consciousness: And relation to quantum mechanics

by David Turell @, Monday, February 20, 2017, 17:48 (336 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: As the bard put it, then: Much Ado About Nothing.

Except we have to live with quantum theory that underlies all of reality. We use it but don't understand it.

Consciousness: using total brain connectivity?

by David Turell @, Friday, March 17, 2017, 14:26 (311 days ago) @ David Turell

this article decries the modular approach to brain function and suggests that the whole brain must be studied to understand consciousness:

https://theconversation.com/the-brain-a-radical-rethink-is-needed-to-understand-it-74460

"Understanding the human brain is arguably the greatest challenge of modern science. The leading approach for most of the past 200 years has been to link its functions to different brain regions or even individual neurons (brain cells). But recent research increasingly suggests that we may be taking completely the wrong path if we are to ever understand the human mind.

"The idea that the brain is made up of numerous regions that perform specific tasks is known as “modularity”. And, at first glance, it has been successful. For example, it can provide an explanation for how we recognise faces by activating a chain of specific brain regions in the occipital and temporal lobes. Bodies, however, are processed by a different set of brain regions. And scientists believe that yet other areas – memory regions – help combine these perceptual stimuli to create holistic representations of people. The activity of certain brain areas has also been linked to specific conditions and diseases.

"The reason this approach has been so popular is partly due to technologies which are giving us unprecedented insight into the brain. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which tracks changes in blood flow in the brain, allows scientists to see brain areas light up in response to activities – helping them map functions. Meanwhile, Optogenetics, a technique that uses genetic modification of neurons so that their electrical activity can be controlled with light pulses – can help us to explore their specific contribution to brain function.

"While both approaches generate fascinating results, it is not clear whether they will ever provide a meaningful understanding of the brain. A neuroscientist who finds a correlation between a neuron or brain region and a specific but in principle arbitrary physical parameter, such as pain, will be tempted to draw the conclusion that this neuron or this part of the brain controls pain. This is ironic because, even in the neuroscientist, the brain’s inherent function is to find correlations – in whatever task it performs.

"But what if we instead considered the possibility that all brain functions are distributed across the brain and that all parts of the brain contribute to all functions? If that is the case, correlations found so far may be a perfect trap of the intellect. We then have to solve the problem of how the region or the neuron type with the specific function interacts with other parts of the brain to generate meaningful, integrated behaviour. So far, there is no general solution to this problem – just hypotheses in specific cases, such as for recognising people.

***

"Some researchers now believe the brain and its diseases in general can only be understood as an interplay between tremendous numbers of neurons distributed across the central nervous system. The function of any one neuron is dependent on the functions of all the thousands of neurons it is connected to. These, in turn, are dependent on those of others. The same region or the same neuron may be used across a huge number of contexts, but have different specific functions depending on the context.

"It may indeed be a tiny perturbation of these interplays between neurons that, through avalanche effects in the networks, causes conditions like depression or Parkinson’s disease. Either way, we need to understand the mechanisms of the networks in order to understand the causes and symptoms of these diseases. Without the full picture, we are not likely to be able to successfully cure these and many other conditions.

"In particular, neuroscience needs to start investigating how network configurations arise from the brain’s lifelong attempts to make sense of the world. We also need to get a clear picture of how the cortex, brainstem and cerebellum interact together with the muscles and the tens of thousands of optical and mechanical sensors of our bodies to create one, integrated picture.

"Connecting back to the physical reality is the only way to understand how information is represented in the brain. One of the reasons we have a nervous system in the first place is that the evolution of mobility required a controlling system. Cognitive, mental functions – and even thoughts – can be regarded as mechanisms that evolved in order to better plan for the consequences of movement and actions.

"So the way forward for neuroscience may be to focus more on general neural recordings (with optogenetics or fMRI) – without aiming to hold each neuron or brain region responsible for any particular function. This could be fed into theoretical network research, which has the potential to account for a variety of observations and provide an integrated functional explanation. In fact, such a theory should help us design experiments, rather than only the other way around."

Comment: On its face the modular approach makes no sense, even if it is the current approach. Look at the figures showing the connectivity of the whole brain.

Consciousness: Dennett says it is an ilusion

by David Turell @, Thursday, March 23, 2017, 00:48 (305 days ago) @ David Turell

John Horgan thinks he is wrong:

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/is-consciousness-real/?WT.mc_id=SA_MB_...

"The idea that consciousness isn’t real has always struck me as crazy, and not in a good way, but smart people espouse it. One of the smartest is philosopher Daniel Dennett, who has been questioning consciousness for decades, notably in his 1991 bestseller Consciousness Explained.

"I’ve always thought I must be missing something in Dennett’s argument, so I hoped his new book, From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds, would enlighten me. It does, but not in the way Dennett intended.

"Dennett restates his claim that Darwinian theory can account for all aspects of our existence. We don’t need an intelligent designer, or “skyhook,” to explain how eyes, hands and minds came to be, because evolution provides “cranes” for constructing all biological phenomena.

***

"But human cognition, Dennett emphasizes, still consists mainly of competence without comprehension. Our conscious thoughts represent a minute fraction of all the information processing carried out by our brains. Natural selection designed our brains to provide us with thoughts on a “need to know” basis, so we’re not overwhelmed with data.

***

"Our perceptions, memories and emotions are grossly simplified, cartoonish representations of hidden, hideously complex computations.

"None of this is novel or controversial. Dennett is just reiterating, in his oh-so-clever, neologorrheic fashion, what mind-scientists and most educated lay folk have long accepted, that the bulk of cognition happens beneath the surface of awareness.

***

"Trouble arises when Dennett, extending the computer-interface analogy, calls consciousness a “user-illusion.” I italicize illusion, because so much confusion flows from Dennett’s use of that term. An illusion is a false perception. Our thoughts are imperfect representations of our brain/minds and of the world, but that doesn’t make them necessarily false.

***

"Consider how Dennett talks about qualia, philosophers’ term for subjective experiences. My qualia at this moment are the smell of coffee, the sound of a truck rumbling by on the street, my puzzlement over Dennett’s ideas. Dennett notes that we often overrate the objective accuracy and causal power of our qualia. True enough.

"But he concludes, bizarrely, that therefore qualia are fictions, “an artifact of bad theorizing.” If we lack qualia, then we are zombies, creatures that look and even behave like humans but have no inner, subjective life.

***

"Dennett gets annoyed when critics accuse him of saying “consciousness doesn’t exist,” and to be fair, he never flatly makes that claim. His point seems to be, rather, that consciousness is so insignificant, especially compared to our exalted notions of it, that it might as well not exist.

"Dennett’s arguments are so convoluted that he allows himself plausible deniability, but he seems to be advocating eliminative materialism, which the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines as “the radical claim that our ordinary, common-sense understanding of the mind is deeply wrong and that some or all of the mental states posited by common-sense do not actually exist.”

***

"Reviewing From Bacteria to Bach, Nagel rebukes Dennett thus:

“'To say that there is more to reality than physics can account for is not a piece of mysticism: it is an acknowledgement that we are nowhere near a theory of everything, and that science will have to expand to accommodate facts of a kind fundamentally different from those that physics is designed to explain.”

***

"Some people surely have an unhealthy attachment to mysteries, but Dennett has an unhealthy aversion to them, which compels him to stake out unsound positions. His belief that consciousness is an illusion is nuttier than the belief that God is real.

Comment: I'm with Horgan and Nagel.

Consciousness: Dennett says it is an ilusion

by dhw, Thursday, March 23, 2017, 13:07 (305 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: "Some people surely have an unhealthy attachment to mysteries, but Dennett has an unhealthy aversion to them, which compels him to stake out unsound positions. His belief that consciousness is an illusion is nuttier than the belief that God is real."

DAVID's comment: I'm with Horgan and Nagel.

So am I, apart from the totally unnecessary comparison with belief in God. Why on Earth does he bring God into it?

Consciousness: Dennett says it is an ilusion

by David Turell @, Thursday, March 23, 2017, 14:31 (305 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTE: "Some people surely have an unhealthy attachment to mysteries, but Dennett has an unhealthy aversion to them, which compels him to stake out unsound positions. His belief that consciousness is an illusion is nuttier than the belief that God is real."

DAVID's comment: I'm with Horgan and Nagel.

dhw: So am I, apart from the totally unnecessary comparison with belief in God. Why on Earth does he bring God into it?

I believe Horgan admits to atheism

Consciousness: physicist/psychiatrist explains?

by David Turell @, Thursday, May 18, 2017, 15:51 (249 days ago) @ David Turell

This odd mix of PhD's does not lead to an explanation:

https://aeon.co/essays/consciousness-is-not-a-thing-but-a-process-of-inference?utm_sour...

"As a physicist and psychiatrist, I find it difficult to engage with conversations about consciousness. My biggest gripe is that the philosophers and cognitive scientists who tend to pose the questions often assume that the mind is a thing, whose existence can be identified by the attributes it has or the purposes it fulfils.

"But in physics, it’s dangerous to assume that things ‘exist’ in any conventional sense. Instead, the deeper question is: what sorts of processes give rise to the notion (or illusion) that something exists?

***

"As a consequence, I’m compelled to treat consciousness as a process to be understood, not as a thing to be defined. Simply put, my argument is that consciousness is nothing more and nothing less than a natural process such as evolution or the weather. My favourite trick to illustrate the notion of consciousness as a process is to replace the word ‘consciousness’ with ‘evolution’ – and see if the question still makes sense. For example, the question What is consciousness for? becomes What is evolution for? Scientifically speaking, of course, we know that evolution is not for anything. It doesn’t perform a function or have reasons for doing what it does – it’s an unfolding process that can be understood only on its own terms. Since we are all the product of evolution, the same would seem to hold for consciousness and the self.

***

"Applying the same thinking to consciousness suggests that consciousness must also be a process of inference. Conscious processing is about inferring the causes of sensory states, and thereby navigating the world to elude surprises. While natural selection performs inference by selecting among different creatures, consciousness performs inference by selecting among different states of the same creature (in particular, its brain).

***

"But if consciousness is inference, does that mean all complex inferential processes are conscious, from evolution to economies to atoms? Probably not. A virus possesses all the self-organising dynamics to qualify as a process of inference; but clearly a virus doesn’t have the same qualities as a vegetarian. So what’s the difference?

What distinguishes conscious and non-conscious creatures is the way they make inferences about action and time.

***

" In our daily lives, this suggests that temporal thickness or depth waxes and wanes with the sleep-wake cycle – that there’s a mapping between the level of consciousness and the thickness of the inference we’re engaged in. On this view, a loss of consciousness occurs whenever our models lose their ‘thickness’ and become as ‘thin’ as a virus’s.

***

"We’ve gone fairly rapidly through the arguments. First, if we want to talk about complex systems, including living ones, we have to identify the necessary behaviours that their processes exhibit. This is fairly easy to do by noting that living entails existing in a set of attracting states that are frequented time and time again. This implies the existence of a Lyapunov function that is identical to (negative) self-evidence or surprise in information theory. This means that all biological processes can be construed as performing some form of inference, from evolution right through to conscious processing.

"If this is the case, then at what point do we invoke consciousness? The proposal on offer here is that the mind comes into being when self-evidencing has a temporal thickness or counterfactual depth, which grounds the inferences it can make about the consequences of future actions. There’s no real reason for minds to exist; they appear to do so simply because existence itself is the end-point of a process of reasoning. Consciousness, I’d contend, is nothing grander than inference about my future."

Comment: He describes what consciousness does, but not its inner mechanism if one exists. Very long complex article.

Consciousness: relationship to time

by David Turell @, Thursday, June 29, 2017, 00:12 (207 days ago) @ David Turell

Time is something our consciousness observes, but physics treats it differently than our approach in which it has a one way arrow:

http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-time-of-our-lives

"But it is the unfolding of time, and its apparent “unidirectionality” — always moving (or so we are inclined to say) from earlier to later — that matters most in our experience of time. The attempts of physicists to explain this feature of time have on the whole been thoroughly inadequate, including the attempt, which we will discuss later in this essay, to define the direction of time in terms of an accumulation of information. The idea of time as an “arrow of information,” as it is sometimes called, shows the general inability of physics to accommodate the conscious observer that makes physical science possible — the inability, that is, to connect an objective explanation of time, understood as a feature of material events, with a person’s subjective experience of time.

***

"Physicists and philosophers of time feel that the unidirectionality of time is not simply a matter of definition but is connected with something fundamental about the universe in which we live.

***

"While every event in the universe is in theory temporally related to every other event, without an observer to experience the events and to connect them, they are neither “earlier” nor “later,” “before” or “after.” For example, an unobserved event on a distant planet does not have this ordering in relation to the events that I am aware of as going on around me now or indeed other unobserved events on that planet. This is why some have argued that, if there is an arrow of time, it must be built not out of the intrinsic properties of material events but out of the linkage of events through the succession of the experiences of them. Without this linkage, two happenings would not as it were reach beyond their own boundaries to relate to each other. Thus the basic argument for time’s arrow being a “psychological arrow.”

***

"The psychological theory of the arrow sits ill with the fact that something outside of consciousness, or a conscious individual, is the final determinant of the succession of events. What’s more, implicit in the notion that time’s arrow is based on our perception of the succession of events is the assumption that there is a succession of events to be perceived — that temporal order and direction is intrinsic to the events we perceive — that gives rise to the experience of succession. There is a confounder arising out of the fact that the order in which we perceive things also to some extent depends on us (just as what we perceive depends to some extent on where I choose to look from and the direction of my gaze). But this is not sufficient to determine the order of events, though it does determine the order of my perceptions.

***

"the forward movement of time is an accumulation of information, reflected in a difference between what we have known and what we will know; or between a remembered past of irreversible, determinate events, and an unknown, indeterminate future.

"This is expressed most clearly by Paul Davies: “The fact that we remember the past, rather than the future,” he says, “is an observation not of the passage of time but of the asymmetry of time.” Given that (as he and many others believe) memory is a matter of “information,” so the difference between the determinate past and the indeterminate future is also a matter of information. We obviously have more information about the past than we do about the future. Indeed, in one sense we have no information about the future, except at a probabilistic level. So, as the indeterminate future becomes a determinate past, information accumulates.

***

"Paul Davies again: As physicists have realized over the past few decades, the concept of entropy is closely related to the information content of a system. For this reason, the formation of memory is a unidirectional process — new memories add information and raise the entropy of the brain. We might perceive this unidirectionality as the flow of time.

***

"The notion of the unidirectionality of time, in short, is inseparable from our awareness of our mortality, of a life that has a diminishing quantity ahead and an increasing quantity behind; of birth as a one-way ticket to the grave. And a sense of our ignorance in the face of the future — contrasted with our knowledge of the past — lies at the root of the “arrow of information.” We may know how things turned out; never how they will turn out.

***

"In the final count, time is a fundamental property of the relationship between the universe and the observer which cannot be reduced to anything else.

***

"The project of understanding time is to try to get a clear and just idea of the nature of the relationship between the universe and the observer in respect of time. By rethinking time in this way, we may elude a form of naturalism that sees us as being at bottom material objects whose nature will ultimately be described by physics. We are more than cogs in the universal clock, forced to collaborate with the very progress that pushes us towards our own midnight. By placing human consciousness at the heart of time, it is possible to crack ajar a door through which a sense of possibility can stream."

Comment: We have consciousness, therefore we have time. That is a simplest view. Very long article, much skipped.

Consciousness: a neurosurgeon's observations

by David Turell @, Friday, June 30, 2017, 00:02 (206 days ago) @ David Turell

Egnor has been quoted before. As a neurosurgeon he has seen awake patients react while under brain surgery. Consciousness works seamlessly as parts of the brain are removed:

https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2017/06/a-map-of-the-soul

"Francis Crick, neuroscientist and co-discoverer of the helical structure of DNA, expressed the widespread view that the mind is a function of material stuff: “A person’s mental activities are entirely due to the behavior of nerve cells, glial cells, and the atoms, ions, and molecules that make them up and influenced them.” How, then, is it possible to converse with someone while removing the large portions of her brain that serve thought and reasoning?

***

"I have scores of patients who are missing large areas of their brains, yet who have quite good minds. I have a patient born with two-thirds of her brain absent. She’s a normal junior high kid who loves to play soccer. Another patient, missing a similar amount of brain tissue, is an accomplished musician with a master’s degree in English.

***

"Aquinas began by reaching back to an earlier thinker. Following Aristotle, he posited that the human soul has three kinds of powers. It has vegetative powers, which serve physiological functions such as heartbeat, respiration, and metabolism. It has sensitive powers, such as sensation, perception, memory, sensitive appetite, and locomotion. The vegetative and sensitive powers are caused by matter, in a purely physical way.

"But the human soul also has intellect and will, powers of a wholly different kind. With our intellect, we can think of universal concepts, such as mercy and justice and abstract mathematics. With our will, we can act on abstract principles. Because thinking of abstract concepts entails thoughts removed from particular things, Aquinas reasoned, intellect couldn’t be a material thing. Intellect and will are immaterial powers.

"Aquinas taught that our soul’s immaterial powers are only facilitated by matter, not caused by it, and the correlation is loose. His insight presaged certain findings of modern neuroscience.

"Wilder Penfield, an early-twentieth-century neurosurgeon who pioneered seizure surgery, noted that during brain stimulation on awake patients, he was never able to stimulate the mind itself—the sense of “I”—but only fragmented sensations and perceptions and movements and memories. Our core identity cannot be evoked or altered by physical stimulation of the brain.

"Relatedly, Penfield observed that spontaneous electrical discharges in the brain cause involuntary sensations and movements and even emotions, but never abstract reasoning or calculation. There are no “calculus” seizures or “moral” seizures, in which patients involuntarily take second derivatives or ponder mercy.

"Similar observations emerge from Roger Sperry’s famous studies of patients who had undergone surgery to disconnect the hemispheres of the brain. This was done to prevent seizures. The post-operative patients experienced peculiar perceptual and behavioral changes, but they retained unity of personal identity—a unified intellect and will. The changes Sperry discovered in his research (for which he won a Nobel Prize) were so subtle as to pass unnoticed in everyday life.

***

"The woman on the operating table who was talking to me while I removed her frontal lobe had both material and immaterial powers of mind. Our higher brain functions defy precise mapping onto brain tissue, because they are not generated by tissue, as our lower brain functions are.

"Materialism, the view that matter is all that exists, is the premise of much contemporary thinking about what a human being is. Yet evidence from the laboratory, operating room, and clinical experience points to a less fashionable conclusion: Human beings straddle the material and immaterial realms. ((my bold)

"We can do better science—and medicine—when we recognize that human beings have abilities that transcend reductionist material explanations. In this century of unprecedented advances in brain research, it’s remarkable that the deepest insights emerge from an ancient paradigm: Thomas Aquinas’s map of the soul."

Comment: Key point, when we stimulate the brain we only get sensory or motor events, never immaterial thought. Why? Because the brain is an active receiver and user of an immaterial consciousness which exists in the universe and is received by each newborn human.

Consciousness: video of active human brain fibers

by David Turell @, Friday, June 30, 2017, 14:46 (206 days ago) @ David Turell

Take a look:

http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/49772/title/Image-of-the-Day--Gol...

Comment: The pinnacle of evolutionary complexity. Do you think God is not present?

Consciousness: awareness and metacognition

by David Turell @, Thursday, September 21, 2017, 00:54 (123 days ago) @ David Turell

Raises the question whether we develop consciousness or is it given?

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/consciousness-goes-deeper-than-you-th...

"An article on the neuroscience of infant consciousness, which attracted some interest a few years ago, asked: “When does your baby become conscious?” The premise, of course, was that babies aren’t born conscious but, instead, develop consciousness at some point. (According to the article, it is about five months of age). Yet, it is hard to think that there is nothing it feels like to be a newborn.

"Newborns clearly seem to experience their own bodies, environment, the presence of their parents, etcetera—albeit in an unreflective, present-oriented manner. And if it always feels like something to be a baby, then babies don’t become conscious. Instead, they are conscious from the get-go.

"The problem is that, somewhat alarmingly, the word “consciousness” is often used in the literature as if it entailed or implied more than just the qualities of experience. Dijksterhuis and Nordgren, for instance, insisted that “it is very important to realize that attention is the key to distinguish between unconscious thought and conscious thought. Conscious thought is thought with attention.” This implies that if a thought escapes attention, then it is unconscious. But is the mere lack of attention enough to assert that a mental process lacks the qualities of experience? Couldn’t a process that escapes the focus of attention still feel like something?

***

"Jonathan Schooler has established a clear distinction between conscious and meta-conscious processes. Whereas both types entail the qualities of experience, meta-conscious processes also entail what he called re-representation. “Periodically attention is directed towards explicitly assessing the contents of experience. The resulting meta-consciousness involves an explicit re-representation of consciousness in which one interprets, describes or otherwise characterizes the state of one’s mind.

***

"Because the study of the Neural Correlates of Consciousness (NCC) is, by and large, dependent on subjective reports of experience, what passes for the NCC is liable to be merely the neural correlates of meta-consciousness. As such, potentially conscious mental activity—in the sense of activity correlated with experiential qualities—may evade recognition as such.

***

"By mistaking meta-consciousness for consciousness, we create two significant problems: First, we fail to distinguish between conscious processes that lack re-representation and truly unconscious processes. After all, both are equally unreportable to self and others. This misleads us to conclude there is a mental unconscious when, in reality, there may always be something it feels like to have each and every mental process in our psyche. Second, we fail to see our partial and tentative explanations for the alleged rise of consciousness may concern merely the rise of metacognition.

"This is liable to create the illusion we are making progress toward solving the “hard problem of consciousness” when, in fact, we are bypassing it altogether: Mechanisms of metacognition are entirely unrelated to the problem of how the qualities of experience could arise from physical arrangements.

"Consciousness may never arise—be it in babies, toddlers, children or adults—because it may always be there to begin with. For all we know, what arises is merely a metacognitive configuration of preexisting consciousness. If so, consciousness may be fundamental in nature—an inherent aspect of every mental process, not a property constituted or somehow generated by particular physical arrangements of the brain. Claims, grounded in subjective reports of experience, of progress toward reducing consciousness to brain physiology may have little—if anything—to do with consciousness proper, but with mechanisms of metacognition instead."

Comment: Exactly. Consciousness may be a mechanism we receive at birth. Some paragraphs are skipped which may help in following the discussion.

Consciousness: awareness and metacognition

by dhw, Thursday, September 21, 2017, 13:14 (123 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: If so, consciousness may be fundamental in nature—an inherent aspect of every mental process, not a property constituted or somehow generated by particular physical arrangements of the brain. Claims, grounded in subjective reports of experience, of progress toward reducing consciousness to brain physiology may have little—if anything—to do with consciousness proper, but with mechanisms of metacognition instead." (dhw’s bold)

DAVID’s comment: Exactly. Consciousness may be a mechanism we receive at birth. Some paragraphs are skipped which may help in following the discussion.

An awful lot of words to describe the obvious and absolutely vital fact that there are different levels of consciousness. My bold suggests panpsychism. Your agreement that consciousness may not be “generated by particular physical arrangements of the brain” is, of course, essential to your dualism, but also makes a mockery of your claim that brainless organisms cannot be conscious.

Consciousness: awareness and metacognition

by David Turell @, Thursday, September 21, 2017, 14:59 (123 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTE: If so, consciousness may be fundamental in nature—an inherent aspect of every mental process, not a property constituted or somehow generated by particular physical arrangements of the brain. Claims, grounded in subjective reports of experience, of progress toward reducing consciousness to brain physiology may have little—if anything—to do with consciousness proper, but with mechanisms of metacognition instead." (dhw’s bold)

DAVID’s comment: Exactly. Consciousness may be a mechanism we receive at birth. Some paragraphs are skipped which may help in following the discussion.

dhw: An awful lot of words to describe the obvious and absolutely vital fact that there are different levels of consciousness. My bold suggests panpsychism. Your agreement that consciousness may not be “generated by particular physical arrangements of the brain” is, of course, essential to your dualism, but also makes a mockery of your claim that brainless organisms cannot be conscious.

You forget that being conscious is not the same as consciousness. Of course, the brainless receive stimuli and have responses which are generally automatic.

Consciousness: awareness and metacognition

by dhw, Friday, September 22, 2017, 13:07 (122 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: An awful lot of words to describe the obvious and absolutely vital fact that there are different levels of consciousness. My bold suggests panpsychism. Your agreement that consciousness may not be “generated by particular physical arrangements of the brain” is, of course, essential to your dualism, but also makes a mockery of your claim that brainless organisms cannot be conscious.

DAVID: You forget that being conscious is not the same as consciousness. Of course, the brainless receive stimuli and have responses which are generally automatic.

Unless you're talking about syntax, I don't know what you mean. Being conscious is the same as having consciousness. But being conscious is not the same as having the same degree of consciousness as a human. I like your "generally". I’m interested in the responses that are not automatic.

Consciousness: awareness and metacognition

by David Turell @, Friday, September 22, 2017, 15:02 (122 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: An awful lot of words to describe the obvious and absolutely vital fact that there are different levels of consciousness. My bold suggests panpsychism. Your agreement that consciousness may not be “generated by particular physical arrangements of the brain” is, of course, essential to your dualism, but also makes a mockery of your claim that brainless organisms cannot be conscious.

DAVID: You forget that being conscious is not the same as consciousness. Of course, the brainless receive stimuli and have responses which are generally automatic.

dhw: Unless you're talking about syntax, I don't know what you mean. Being conscious is the same as having consciousness. But being conscious is not the same as having the same degree of consciousness as a human. I like your "generally". I’m interested in the responses that are not automatic.

Do any organisms but humans have consciousness? Not proven. We do not know where in the progression of evolved organisms, being conscious appeared. You and I debate this all the time.

Consciousness: awareness and metacognition

by dhw, Saturday, September 23, 2017, 12:41 (121 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: You forget that being conscious is not the same as consciousness. Of course, the brainless receive stimuli and have responses which are generally automatic.

dhw: Unless you're talking about syntax, I don't know what you mean. Being conscious is the same as having consciousness. But being conscious is not the same as having the same degree of consciousness as a human. I like your "generally". I’m interested in the responses that are not automatic.

DAVID: Do any organisms but humans have consciousness? Not proven. We do not know where in the progression of evolved organisms, being conscious appeared. You and I debate this all the time.

The debate goes nowhere unless you explain what you mean by consciousness. Some people say that not even humans are conscious. Definitions mean translating words into other words, so one can play an endless game of asking for definitions of definitions, but I would hope for a more productive approach. By consciousness I mean an organism’s awareness of things inside and outside itself. The degree of consciousness will correspond to the quantity and nature of things the organism is aware of. I would assume – perhaps wrongly – that the simplest organisms are only aware of things in their immediate environment. Humans are aware not only of things that exist outside their immediate environment, but also of things that may not exist at all and even of their own awareness of being aware. However, awareness on its own would be pretty useless unless the organism used it to some purpose. That is where intelligence comes in. If consciousness is awareness, intelligence is the ability to use awareness. I can only define intelligence by its attributes, the most basic of which I would suggest are sentience (awareness of the environment), the ability to process information, to communicate, to take decisions. Every organism we know of possesses these basic attributes, but not to anything like the same degree as humans.

I regard it as feasible that the basic attributes listed above appeared when life began, i.e. that the first living cells possessed them. The only way we can gauge whether this is true is by studying the behaviour of single cells, and there seems little doubt that they conform to my definition. If, however, you have a different definition of consciousness and of intelligence, then perhaps you would share it with us.

Consciousness: awareness and metacognition

by David Turell @, Saturday, September 23, 2017, 14:34 (121 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: You forget that being conscious is not the same as consciousness. Of course, the brainless receive stimuli and have responses which are generally automatic.

dhw: Unless you're talking about syntax, I don't know what you mean. Being conscious is the same as having consciousness. But being conscious is not the same as having the same degree of consciousness as a human. I like your "generally". I’m interested in the responses that are not automatic.

DAVID: Do any organisms but humans have consciousness? Not proven. We do not know where in the progression of evolved organisms, being conscious appeared. You and I debate this all the time.

dhw:The debate goes nowhere unless you explain what you mean by consciousness. Some people say that not even humans are conscious. Definitions mean translating words into other words, so one can play an endless game of asking for definitions of definitions, but I would hope for a more productive approach. By consciousness I mean an organism’s awareness of things inside and outside itself. The degree of consciousness will correspond to the quantity and nature of things the organism is aware of. I would assume – perhaps wrongly – that the simplest organisms are only aware of things in their immediate environment. Humans are aware not only of things that exist outside their immediate environment, but also of things that may not exist at all and even of their own awareness of being aware. However, awareness on its own would be pretty useless unless the organism used it to some purpose. That is where intelligence comes in. If consciousness is awareness, intelligence is the ability to use awareness. I can only define intelligence by its attributes, the most basic of which I would suggest are sentience (awareness of the environment), the ability to process information, to communicate, to take decisions. Every organism we know of possesses these basic attributes, but not to anything like the same degree as humans.

I regard it as feasible that the basic attributes listed above appeared when life began, i.e. that the first living cells possessed them. The only way we can gauge whether this is true is by studying the behaviour of single cells, and there seems little doubt that they conform to my definition. If, however, you have a different definition of consciousness and of intelligence, then perhaps you would share it with us.

I'm sorry but I disagree. To be conscious is not consciousness. Organisms are conscious by recognizing stimuli and reacting to them both inside and out. Consciousness involves being aware of that state and philosophizing about it. I make a much sharper distinction than you do. As for intelligence and use of stimuli, simple organisms respond using intelligent information they are given.

Consciousness: awareness and metacognition

by dhw, Sunday, September 24, 2017, 13:19 (120 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw:[…] By consciousness I mean an organism’s awareness of things inside and outside itself. The degree of consciousness will correspond to the quantity and nature of things the organism is aware of. I would assume – perhaps wrongly – that the simplest organisms are only aware of things in their immediate environment. Humans are aware not only of things that exist outside their immediate environment, but also of things that may not exist at all and even of their own awareness of being aware. However, awareness on its own would be pretty useless unless the organism used it to some purpose. That is where intelligence comes in. If consciousness is awareness, intelligence is the ability to use awareness. I can only define intelligence by its attributes, the most basic of which I would suggest are sentience (awareness of the environment), the ability to process information, to communicate, to take decisions. Every organism we know of possesses these basic attributes, but not to anything like the same degree as humans.
I regard it as feasible that the basic attributes listed above appeared when life began, i.e. that the first living cells possessed them. The only way we can gauge whether this is true is by studying the behaviour of single cells, and there seems little doubt that they conform to my definition. If, however, you have a different definition of consciousness and of intelligence, then perhaps you would share it with us.

DAVID: I'm sorry but I disagree. To be conscious is not consciousness. Organisms are conscious by recognizing stimuli and reacting to them both inside and out. Consciousness involves being aware of that state and philosophizing about it. I make a much sharper distinction than you do. As for intelligence and use of stimuli, simple organisms respond using intelligent information they are given.

You seem to think the noun has a different meaning from the adjective! You agree that an organism is conscious if it recognizes stimuli and reacts to them both inside and out. I’ll settle for that, thank you. Bacteria are therefore conscious. But I do not for one second believe that their degree of being conscious extends to their being self-conscious and philosophizing about being conscious.

Consciousness: awareness and metacognition

by David Turell @, Sunday, September 24, 2017, 14:41 (120 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: I'm sorry but I disagree. To be conscious is not consciousness. Organisms are conscious by recognizing stimuli and reacting to them both inside and out. Consciousness involves being aware of that state and philosophizing about it. I make a much sharper distinction than you do. As for intelligence and use of stimuli, simple organisms respond using intelligent information they are given.

dhw: You seem to think the noun has a different meaning from the adjective! You agree that an organism is conscious if it recognizes stimuli and reacts to them both inside and out. I’ll settle for that, thank you. Bacteria are therefore conscious. But I do not for one second believe that their degree of being conscious extends to their being self-conscious and philosophizing about being conscious.

My goodness, we agree!

Consciousness: awareness and metacognition

by dhw, Monday, September 25, 2017, 13:17 (119 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: I'm sorry but I disagree. To be conscious is not consciousness. Organisms are conscious by recognizing stimuli and reacting to them both inside and out. Consciousness involves being aware of that state and philosophizing about it. I make a much sharper distinction than you do. As for intelligence and use of stimuli, simple organisms respond using intelligent information they are given.

dhw: You seem to think the noun has a different meaning from the adjective! You agree that an organism is conscious if it recognizes stimuli and reacts to them both inside and out. I’ll settle for that, thank you. Bacteria are therefore conscious. But I do not for one second believe that their degree of being conscious extends to their being self-conscious and philosophizing about being conscious.

DAVID: My goodness, we agree!

I have just walked round the house, announcing your agreement that bacteria are conscious, and I heard a strange sound in every room. It took some time for me to identify it, but with my newly invented microscope-amplifier-unicell-detector, I eventually discovered what it was. All the bacteria were singing “Cellelujah!”

Consciousness: awareness and metacognition

by David Turell @, Monday, September 25, 2017, 14:29 (119 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: I'm sorry but I disagree. To be conscious is not consciousness. Organisms are conscious by recognizing stimuli and reacting to them both inside and out. Consciousness involves being aware of that state and philosophizing about it. I make a much sharper distinction than you do. As for intelligence and use of stimuli, simple organisms respond using intelligent information they are given.

dhw: You seem to think the noun has a different meaning from the adjective! You agree that an organism is conscious if it recognizes stimuli and reacts to them both inside and out. I’ll settle for that, thank you. Bacteria are therefore conscious. But I do not for one second believe that their degree of being conscious extends to their being self-conscious and philosophizing about being conscious.

DAVID: My goodness, we agree!

dhw: I have just walked round the house, announcing your agreement that bacteria are conscious, and I heard a strange sound in every room. It took some time for me to identify it, but with my newly invented microscope-amplifier-unicell-detector, I eventually discovered what it was. All the bacteria were singing “Cellelujah!”

I'm sure as a cell committee they Handeled it well.

Consciousness: awareness and metacognition

by dhw, Tuesday, September 26, 2017, 12:07 (118 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: I have just walked round the house, announcing your agreement that bacteria are conscious, and I heard a strange sound in every room. It took some time for me to identify it, but with my newly invented microscope-amplifier-unicell-detector, I eventually discovered what it was. All the bacteria were singing “Cellelujah!”

DAVID: I'm sure as a cell committee they Handeled it well.

A great line, which they have greeted with a chorus of approval.

Consciousness: bird brain vs. human brain

by David Turell @, Thursday, September 28, 2017, 14:52 (116 days ago) @ dhw

Pigeon vs. human in a speed test, the bird wins. Why?

http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/50506/title/Pigeons-Can-Switch-Ta...

Recent research has demonstrated that many bird species have high-order cognitive processing abilities comparable to primates. Sure enough, in a new study, when researchers asked pigeons and humans to switch between two activities as quickly as possible, they found that the birds performed just as well as, and sometimes even better than, the people. The scientists say the results emphasize that the brain region once thought to be required for such capabilities in humans may not be necessary.

“For a long time, scientists used to believe the mammalian cerebral cortex to be the anatomical cause of cognitive ability,” coauthor Sara Letzner of Ruhr-Universität Bochum says in a press release. But birds have no cortex. “That means the structure of the mammalian cortex cannot be decisive for complex cognitive functions such as multitasking.”

Instead, pigeons have a brain region known as the pallium, which, while it doesn’t have the layered structure of the human cortex, does have a high density of neurons—with about six times more cells per cubic millimeter than the human brain. This means that pigeon neurons are about 50 percent closer together than human neurons, which may allow for electrical signals to be relayed at a faster rate.

In this study, published this week (September 25) in Current Biology, the researchers asked both birds and humans to switch the nature of the task they were performing. For humans, this involved pushing buttons when they saw certain patterns on a screen. Pigeons were trained to peck at particular buttons based on light signals. 

When the signal to commence the second task came at the same time as the signal to stop the first task, both bird and human participants were able to switch with about the same speed. But when there was a short, 300-millisecond delay between the signal to stop the first task and the signal to start the second, the birds performed better than the human volunteers, with response times about 200 ms faster.

Comment: I think the study is misinterpreted. The birds are trained to respond automatically. The human metacognition, introspective brain comes to play when the delayed signal is introduced. But those birds are bright!

Consciousness: not explained by panpsychism

by David Turell @, Sunday, November 19, 2017, 05:28 (64 days ago) @ David Turell

At least according to this essay:

http://bigthink.com/aeon-ideas/why-panpsychism-fails-to-solve-the-mystery-of-consciousn...

"Is consciousness everywhere? Is it a basic feature of the Universe, at the very heart of the tiniest subatomic particles? Such an idea – panpsychism as it is known – might sound like New Age mysticism, but some hard-nosed analytic philosophers have suggested it might be how things are, and it’s now a hot topic in philosophy of mind.

"Panpsychism’s popularity stems from the fact that it promises to solve two deep problems simultaneously. The first is the famous ‘hard problem’ of consciousness. How does the brain produce conscious experience? How can neurons firing give rise to experiences of colour, sound, taste, pain and so on? In principle, scientists could map my brain processes in complete detail but, it seems, they could never detect my experiences themselves – the way colours look, pain feels and so on.

***

"Yet physics seems to leave out something very important from its picture of the basic particles. It tells us, for example, that an electron has a certain mass, charge and spin. But this is a description of how an electron is disposed to behave: to have mass is to resist acceleration, to have charge is to respond in a certain way to electromagnetic fields, and so on. Physics doesn’t say what an electron, or any other basic particle, is like in itself, intrinsically.

***

"Here, some philosophers argue, there is scope for an exciting synthesis. Maybe consciousness – the elusive subjective aspect of our brain states – is the ingredient missing from physics. Perhaps phenomenal properties, or ‘proto-phenomenal’ precursors of them, are the fundamental intrinsic properties of matter we’re looking for, and each subatomic particle is a tiny conscious subject. This solves the hard problem: brain and consciousness emerge together when billions of basic particles are assembled in the right way.

***

"There are problems for panpsychism, of course, perhaps the most important being the combination problem. Panpsychists hold that consciousness emerges from the combination of billions of subatomic consciousnesses, just as the brain emerges from the organisation of billions of subatomic particles. But how do these tiny consciousnesses combine? We understand how particles combine to make atoms, molecules and larger structures, but what parallel story can we tell on the phenomenal side? How do the micro-experiences of billions of subatomic particles in my brain combine to form the twinge of pain I’m feeling in my knee?

***

"A related problem concerns conscious subjects. It’s plausible to think that there can’t be conscious experience without a subject who has the experience. I assume that we and many other animals are conscious subjects, and panpsychists claim that subatomic particles are too.

***

"I remain unpersuaded, and I’m not alone in this. Even if we accept that basic physical entities must have some categorical nature (and it might be that we don’t; perhaps at bottom reality is just dispositions), consciousness is an unlikely candidate for this fundamental property. For, so far as our evidence goes, it is a highly localised phenomenon that is specific not only to brains but to particular states of brains (attended intermediate-level sensory representations, according to one influential account). It appears to be a specific state of certain highly complex information-processing systems, not a basic feature of the Universe.

***

"Panpsychism offers no distinctive predictions or explanations. It finds a place for consciousness in the physical world, but that place is a sort of limbo. Consciousness is indeed a hard nut to crack, but I think we should exhaust the other options before we take a metaphysical sledgehammer to it.

"I’m not a panpsychist. I agree with panpsychists that it seems as if our experiences have a private, intrinsic nature that cannot be explained by science. But I draw a different conclusion from this.

"Rather than thinking that this is a fundamental property of all matter, I think that it is an illusion. As well as senses for representing the external world, we have a sort of inner sense, which represents aspects of our own brain activity. And this inner sense gives us a very special perspective on our brain states, creating the impression that they have intrinsic phenomenal qualities that are quite different from all physical properties. It is a powerful impression, but just an impression. Consciousness, in that sense, is not everywhere but nowhere. Perhaps this seems as strange a view as panpsychism. But thinking about consciousness can lead one to embrace strange views."

Comment: What I present is disjointed, therefore, read the whole essay, but I don't think consciousness is an illusion

Consciousness: not explained by panpsychism

by dhw, Sunday, November 19, 2017, 14:41 (64 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: “Panpsychism offers no distinctive predictions or explanations. It finds a place for consciousness in the physical world, but that place is a sort of limbo. Consciousness is indeed a hard nut to crack, but I think we should exhaust the other options before we take a metaphysical sledgehammer to it.
"Rather than thinking that this is a fundamental property of all matter, I think that it is an illusion. As well as senses for representing the external world, we have a sort of inner sense, which represents aspects of our own brain activity. And this inner sense gives us a very special perspective on our brain states, creating the impression that they have intrinsic phenomenal qualities that are quite different from all physical properties. It is a powerful impression, but just an impression. Consciousness, in that sense, is not everywhere but nowhere. Perhaps this seems as strange a view as panpsychism. But thinking about consciousness can lead one to embrace strange views."

DAVID's comment: What I present is disjointed, therefore, read the whole essay, but I don't think consciousness is an illusion.

If he thinks consciousness is an illusion, then of course panpsychism is a non-starter. And I agree with him completely when he says his view is every bit as strange as panpsychism. Many panpsychists are theists, but there is no need for a God if one takes the view that all matter already contains some rudimentary form of consciousness. Then it would be a matter of that rudimentary consciousness evolving step by step as matter begins to organize itself into living forms, which themselves become increasingly conscious. Yes indeed, it is an idea that is every bit as strange as no consciousness at all, or as chance engendering consciousness, or as a conscious mind that never had a source at all and was capable of creating a universe. Once again, it’s enough to drive a person to agnosticism.

Consciousness: not explained by panpsychism

by David Turell @, Sunday, November 19, 2017, 15:39 (64 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTE: “Panpsychism offers no distinctive predictions or explanations. It finds a place for consciousness in the physical world, but that place is a sort of limbo. Consciousness is indeed a hard nut to crack, but I think we should exhaust the other options before we take a metaphysical sledgehammer to it.
"Rather than thinking that this is a fundamental property of all matter, I think that it is an illusion. As well as senses for representing the external world, we have a sort of inner sense, which represents aspects of our own brain activity. And this inner sense gives us a very special perspective on our brain states, creating the impression that they have intrinsic phenomenal qualities that are quite different from all physical properties. It is a powerful impression, but just an impression. Consciousness, in that sense, is not everywhere but nowhere. Perhaps this seems as strange a view as panpsychism. But thinking about consciousness can lead one to embrace strange views."

DAVID's comment: What I present is disjointed, therefore, read the whole essay, but I don't think consciousness is an illusion.

dhw: If he thinks consciousness is an illusion, then of course panpsychism is a non-starter. And I agree with him completely when he says his view is every bit as strange as panpsychism. Many panpsychists are theists, but there is no need for a God if one takes the view that all matter already contains some rudimentary form of consciousness. Then it would be a matter of that rudimentary consciousness evolving step by step as matter begins to organize itself into living forms, which themselves become increasingly conscious. Yes indeed, it is an idea that is every bit as strange as no consciousness at all, or as chance engendering consciousness, or as a conscious mind that never had a source at all and was capable of creating a universe. Once again, it’s enough to drive a person to agnosticism.

He has no answer for consciousness so he decides it is an illusion. That is simply throwing out the baby with the bath water. My brain allows me, and all of us, to experience consciousness. After that we are all stuck with the 'hard problem'. I believe the entire universe is conscious and it is God's.

Consciousness: not explained by panpsychism

by dhw, Monday, November 20, 2017, 14:02 (63 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: If he thinks consciousness is an illusion, then of course panpsychism is a non-starter. And I agree with him completely when he says his view is every bit as strange as panpsychism. Many panpsychists are theists, but there is no need for a God if one takes the view that all matter already contains some rudimentary form of consciousness. Then it would be a matter of that rudimentary consciousness evolving step by step as matter begins to organize itself into living forms, which themselves become increasingly conscious. Yes indeed, it is an idea that is every bit as strange as no consciousness at all, or as chance engendering consciousness, or as a conscious mind that never had a source at all and was capable of creating a universe. Once again, it’s enough to drive a person to agnosticism.

DAVID: He has no answer for consciousness so he decides it is an illusion. That is simply throwing out the baby with the bath water. My brain allows me, and all of us, to experience consciousness. After that we are all stuck with the 'hard problem'. I believe the entire universe is conscious and it is God's.

I agree with your criticism of the article. With regard to belief, as I made clear above, I have as much difficulty imagining conscious chemicals and rocks as I have imagining a conscious, universal being that creates them, so you are right: I am stuck with the ‘hard problem’!

Consciousness: Egnor on dualism

by David Turell @, Monday, November 27, 2017, 15:41 (56 days ago) @ David Turell

Neurosurgeon supports dualism:

https://evolutionnews.org/2017/11/what-the-craniopagus-twins-teach-us-about-the-mind-an...

"Krista and Tatiana Hogan, are conjoined twins who share connections between their brains. The twins are the subject of two CBC TV documentaries, telling their remarkable stories at, respectively, ages seven and eleven. They have much to teach us about the relationship between the brain and the mind.

"The twins share portions of their brains and a common blood flow to their brains. They can never be safely surgically separated. The most important brain structure that they share is a thalamic bridge, which is a bundle of nerve axons. A similar connection exists in all people, and it connects the two sides of the thalamus. The thalamus is a critical part of the brain that mediates wakefulness and motor and sensory function.

***

"They are two people. They remain completely distinct children — they have, we might say, two separate souls, not one soul with two bodies. They remain different and fully distinct people. In fact, their story wouldn’t be so remarkable if they were one person, because centralized sensation and control of limbs is normal for one person, but quite remarkable for two people.

"It is important to understand the aspects of mind that they do share. They share some motor control, some common sensations, and probably share some aspects of imagination — that is, the ability to reconstruct sensory images (visual, auditory, olfactory, etc.).

"This sharing of some aspects of the mind, but not others, is remarkably consistent with classical Thomistic dualism. In Thomistic dualism, the human soul is the composite of three powers: vegetative, sensory, and rational. Vegetative powers are what we today call autonomic physiological control — control of heart rate, control of blood pressure, control of growth, reproduction, respiration, hormonal control, etc. These are unconscious powers that make life possible in the most fundamental way.

"We also have “sensory” powers, which include (in modern terminology) sensation as well as motor function, and imagination and emotion. These vegetative and sensory powers of the mind are common to those of plants and animals, who have physiological (plants) and motor and sensory (animals) powers akin to those of humans.

"Human beings alone have rational powers, which is the ability to think abstractly, without reference to particular things. Abstract mathematics, and abstract thought about logic or morality, are examples of rational powers of the human soul that are not shared by plants or animals.

"However, rational powers of the soul — abstract thought — are immaterial powers. They are not caused by matter, although material processes, such as wakefulness, normal physiology, vision, imagination, etc., are necessary for normal expression of immaterial abstract thought. In the Thomistic understanding, material powers “present” information to the immaterial rational aspect of the soul, which abstracts the intelligible species (immaterial form) from the matter and comprehends it.

"In light of this Thomistic understanding of the soul, the abilities that Tatiana and Krista share are the material powers of the brain, which we expect them to share, because they share brain matter. What they don’t appear to share is the immaterial aspect of the soul — reasoning in an abstract sense, and personal identity, individuality, etc. They are separate souls who share some material brain tissue, and thus share some material powers of the mind. They do not share immaterial powers of the mind, because immaterial powers can’t be shared, because immaterial powers aren’t material things that can be common to two people.

"Tatiana’s and Krista’s shared and individual powers of mind are just what Thomistic dualism predicts. They share material powers of mind, but not immaterial powers. They remain distinct souls.

***

"Roger Sperry’s Nobel Prize-winning studies of split brain operations showed that what was “split” by surgically dividing the brain in half were sensory powers of the mind. A patient with a split brain remains a discrete individual person, with one self and one mind.

***

"A similar phenomenon was noted by Wilder Penfield, who was the pioneering neurosurgeon who started the discipline of epilepsy surgery. He noted that while operating on conscious patients he could stimulate many sensory and motor aspects of brain function, but he couldn’t stimulate or ablate that patient’s sense of self or experience of unitary existence. There was, Penfield noted, as aspect of the mind that he couldn’t reach, that remained beyond his surgical instruments.

"Neuroscientist Benjamin Libet, who pioneered the scientific study of consciousness and of free will, also found an immaterial power of the mind that appears distinct from and prior to material mental powers. He concluded that free will is real.

***

"The evidence for dualism, and specifically for Thomistic dualism, is abundant in neuroscience. We are composites of material powers and immaterial powers. In the traditional way of understanding man, we are composites of matter and spirit, and we bridge the gap between the two realms of nature."

Comment: Egnor says dualism is real. Read the whole essay.

Consciousness: Egnor on dualism

by dhw, Tuesday, November 28, 2017, 13:58 (55 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: "The evidence for dualism, and specifically for Thomistic dualism, is abundant in neuroscience. We are composites of material powers and immaterial powers. In the traditional way of understanding man, we are composites of matter and spirit, and we bridge the gap between the two realms of nature."

DAVID's comment: Egnor says dualism is real. Read the whole essay.

A very interesting essay, and I doubt if even a materialist would disagree with the distinction between material and immaterial powers. The question is not what we can do, but what is the SOURCE of what we can do. However, before passing any further comment, I need your professional expertise. It’s clear from the pictures that there are areas of the brain the twins do NOT share, whereas the article only dwells on those they do. I’d be grateful if you would tell us exactly which parts of the brain they do NOT share, and what functions those parts are normally associated with.

Consciousness: Egnor on dualism

by David Turell @, Tuesday, November 28, 2017, 15:34 (55 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTE: "The evidence for dualism, and specifically for Thomistic dualism, is abundant in neuroscience. We are composites of material powers and immaterial powers. In the traditional way of understanding man, we are composites of matter and spirit, and we bridge the gap between the two realms of nature."

DAVID's comment: Egnor says dualism is real. Read the whole essay.

dhw: A very interesting essay, and I doubt if even a materialist would disagree with the distinction between material and immaterial powers. The question is not what we can do, but what is the SOURCE of what we can do. However, before passing any further comment, I need your professional expertise. It’s clear from the pictures that there are areas of the brain the twins do NOT share, whereas the article only dwells on those they do. I’d be grateful if you would tell us exactly which parts of the brain they do NOT share, and what functions those parts are normally associated with.

Basically they share some sensory and motor controls, but there seems to be some prefrontal connection since they appear at times to read each others thoughts. And they share some posterior cortical information (vision). All of this seems quite clear to Egnor, short of doing an autopsy. The key to his discussion is that they are clearly separate personalities despite the connectivity. This would mean the way they speak and express their thoughts are separate. Speech is in a middle area of the cortex as is the motor control strip. There is no 'exactly' that I can give you. What is it you want and why?

Consciousness: Egnor on dualism

by dhw, Wednesday, November 29, 2017, 18:38 (54 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: A very interesting essay, and I doubt if even a materialist would disagree with the distinction between material and immaterial powers. The question is not what we can do, but what is the SOURCE of what we can do. However, before passing any further comment, I need your professional expertise. It’s clear from the pictures that there are areas of the brain the twins do NOT share, whereas the article only dwells on those they do. I’d be grateful if you would tell us exactly which parts of the brain they do NOT share, and what functions those parts are normally associated with.

DAVID: Basically they share some sensory and motor controls, but there seems to be some prefrontal connection since they appear at times to read each others thoughts. And they share some posterior cortical information (vision). All of this seems quite clear to Egnor, short of doing an autopsy. The key to his discussion is that they are clearly separate personalities despite the connectivity. This would mean the way they speak and express their thoughts are separate. Speech is in a middle area of the cortex as is the motor control strip. There is no 'exactly' that I can give you. What is it you want and why?

I know what is meant by separate personalities. But if this is to be regarded as proof of dualism, we need to know which parts of the brain are joined and which are separate. Egnor only tells us about some parts that are shared (as you say, they are mainly sensory and motor). If other parts of the brain are responsible for thought and personality, as materialists believe, and those parts are separate, the case for dualism is far from proven. I noticed in the pictures that the back of one head is joined to one front side of the other (not really much “pre-frontal connection”), but I don’t know enough about the brain to tell how significant this might be. If “pre-frontal” sections help to form personality (materialist approach), then Egnor’s “evidence” for dualism is badly weakened. But I’m not prejudging – I’d just like to know. And thank you again for telling us about this extraordinary case

Consciousness: Egnor on dualism

by David Turell @, Wednesday, November 29, 2017, 20:03 (54 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: If “pre-frontal” sections help to form personality (materialist approach), then Egnor’s “evidence” for dualism is badly weakened. But I’m not prejudging – I’d just like to know. And thank you again for telling us about this extraordinary case.

You are welcome. But I would state it differently. The soul/consciousness uses the prefrontal cortex as the personality develops in a child.

Consciousness: Egnor on dualism

by dhw, Thursday, November 30, 2017, 13:13 (53 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: If “pre-frontal” sections help to form personality (materialist approach), then Egnor’s “evidence” for dualism is badly weakened. But I’m not prejudging – I’d just like to know. And thank you again for telling us about this extraordinary case.

DAVID: You are welcome. But I would state it differently. The soul/consciousness uses the prefrontal cortex as the personality develops in a child.

If the prefrontal cortex is the seat of the personality, and the children are not joined at the prefrontal cortex, I’m afraid Egnor’s example provides no evidence whatsoever for dualism. Your own comment simply means that the two children have different souls, and that would apply to everybody, joined or not.

Consciousness: Egnor on dualism

by David Turell @, Thursday, November 30, 2017, 14:32 (53 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: If “pre-frontal” sections help to form personality (materialist approach), then Egnor’s “evidence” for dualism is badly weakened. But I’m not prejudging – I’d just like to know. And thank you again for telling us about this extraordinary case.

DAVID: You are welcome. But I would state it differently. The soul/consciousness uses the prefrontal cortex as the personality develops in a child.

dhw: If the prefrontal cortex is the seat of the personality, and the children are not joined at the prefrontal cortex, I’m afraid Egnor’s example provides no evidence whatsoever for dualism. Your own comment simply means that the two children have different souls, and that would apply to everybody, joined or not.

Egnor's opinion repeated:

"The evidence for dualism, and specifically for Thomistic dualism, is abundant in neuroscience. We are composites of material powers and immaterial powers. In the traditional way of understanding man, we are composites of matter and spirit, and we bridge the gap between the two realms of nature."

'Nuff said.

Consciousness: Egnor on dualism

by dhw, Friday, December 01, 2017, 11:56 (52 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: If “pre-frontal” sections help to form personality (materialist approach), then Egnor’s “evidence” for dualism is badly weakened. But I’m not prejudging – I’d just like to know. And thank you again for telling us about this extraordinary case.

DAVID: You are welcome. But I would state it differently. The soul/consciousness uses the prefrontal cortex as the personality develops in a child.

dhw: If the prefrontal cortex is the seat of the personality, and the children are not joined at the prefrontal cortex, I’m afraid Egnor’s example provides no evidence whatsoever for dualism. Your own comment simply means that the two children have different souls, and that would apply to everybody, joined or not.

DAVID: Egnor's opinion repeated:
"The evidence for dualism, and specifically for Thomistic dualism, is abundant in neuroscience. We are composites of material powers and immaterial powers. In the traditional way of understanding man, we are composites of matter and spirit, and we bridge the gap between the two realms of nature."
'Nuff said.

Not ‘nuff said. I know what dualism means, and I am not disagreeing with Egnor’s opinion. I am simply pointing out that this particular case, which he cites as EVIDENCE of dualism, is no such thing if the shared part of the brain only governs activities unrelated to the individual personality of each twin.

Consciousness: Egnor on dualism

by David Turell @, Friday, December 01, 2017, 14:47 (52 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: If “pre-frontal” sections help to form personality (materialist approach), then Egnor’s “evidence” for dualism is badly weakened. But I’m not prejudging – I’d just like to know. And thank you again for telling us about this extraordinary case.

DAVID: You are welcome. But I would state it differently. The soul/consciousness uses the prefrontal cortex as the personality develops in a child.

dhw: If the prefrontal cortex is the seat of the personality, and the children are not joined at the prefrontal cortex, I’m afraid Egnor’s example provides no evidence whatsoever for dualism. Your own comment simply means that the two children have different souls, and that would apply to everybody, joined or not.

DAVID: Egnor's opinion repeated:
"The evidence for dualism, and specifically for Thomistic dualism, is abundant in neuroscience. We are composites of material powers and immaterial powers. In the traditional way of understanding man, we are composites of matter and spirit, and we bridge the gap between the two realms of nature."
'Nuff said.

dhw: Not ‘nuff said. I know what dualism means, and I am not disagreeing with Egnor’s opinion. I am simply pointing out that this particular case, which he cites as EVIDENCE of dualism, is no such thing if the shared part of the brain only governs activities unrelated to the individual personality of each twin.

Good point.

Consciousness: and brain damage

by David Turell @, Tuesday, December 26, 2017, 00:53 (27 days ago) @ David Turell

This review article demonstrates how much consciousness function can survive a variety of brain injuries or abnormalities:

https://med.virginia.edu/perceptual-studies/wp-content/uploads/sites/360/2017/12/Discre...

"Abstract: Neuroscientists typically assume that human mental functions are
generated by the brain and that its structural elements, including the different cell
layers and tissues that form the neocortex, play specific roles in this complex process.
Different functional units are thought to complement one another to create
an integrated self-awareness or episodic memory. Still, findings that pertain to
brain dysplasia and brain lesions indicate that in some individuals there is a considerable
discrepancy between the cerebral structures and cognitive functioning.
This seems to question the seemingly well-defined role of these brain structures.
This article provides a review of such remarkable cases. It contains overviews of
noteworthy aspects of hydrocephalus, hemihydranencephaly, hemispherectomy,
and certain abilities of “savants.” We add considerations on memory processing,
comment on the assumed role of neural plasticity in these contexts, and highlight
the importance of taking such anomalies into account when formulating
encompassing models of brain functioning."

***

"how important the usual
anatomy of the brain and its cellular layers really is. It still needs to be
determined according to which principles the involved synapses, cells,
and tissues of the brain successfully organize their fine-tuned neural circuits
under such abnormal anatomical and physiological conditions.
This problem is even more apparent after hemispherectomies in which,
for example, the language center was removed along with the malfunctioning
hemisphere. Assuming that a given brain structure dictates
the mental capacities of the individual, it remains difficult to explain
how the remaining brain structures and their neural activities can
“know” that a “language center” is missing now, and how these neurons
induce and guide its duplication in their own hemisphere. Majorek
(2012) argued that this activity requires the existence of a higher control
center that would be able to detect this gap in function and to initiate
steps that lead to its mending. He stressed that so far, the existence of
such a control center in the brain has not been reported and that, given
the decentralized organization of the brain, itwould be difficult to imagine
where such a control center could be located.

"Indeed, one might wonder whether such processes of reorganization
are purely self-organizing processes of neuronal tissue in response
to external stimuli, or whether the mind or “the self ” actively participates
in these processes. Several studies suggest that the brain can indeed be altered by mental stimuli and processes on the molecular, cellular,
and neural circuit levels. In a review focusing on neuroimaging
studies, Beauregard (2007) summarized examples of mental influence
on brain structure from research into emotional self-regulation, psychotherapy,
and placebo experiments. He concluded that these studies
strongly support the view that thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and volition
do exert a causal influence on brain plasticity, and he pointed to the obvious
fact that mental causation is an essential ingredient for successful
therapies. This is, of course, also valid for patients who train to regain
lost faculties after strokes, hemispherectomy, or brain injuries. The degree
of success in rewiring the brain is clearly dependent on the patients'
volition and purposeful training. According to Beauregard (2007), such
findings call into question positions in which all mental processes are
thought to be entirely reducible to biochemical processes.

"In sum, the relation between the brain's structure and its functional
capacities, and the principles that govern neural rewiring processes after
or during developmental damage are still poorly understood. The cases
presented in this article highlight that there is still much to learn about
“the brain and its self ” from a neurobiological perspective.
On the basis of the different cases of discrepancy between cerebral
and cognitive functioning discussed in the present article, some authors
doubt that the brain serves as a comprehensive memory store, arguing
that its function more closely resembles a receptor or transmitter of
memory and allied cognitive processes."

Comment: Bruce Greyson has described and agrees with the way consciousness leaves the brain in NDE's. He is quoted in my first book. I believe consciousness as an operative entity uses the brain to bridge these problems.

Consciousness: and brain damage

by dhw, Wednesday, December 27, 2017, 16:00 (26 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: This review article demonstrates how much consciousness function can survive a variety of brain injuries or abnormalities:
https://med.virginia.edu/perceptual-studies/wp-content/uploads/sites/360/2017/12/Discre...

Thank you for this extremely revealing article, which deals with many of the aspects of consciousness we have been discussing, but from an angle we have not considered before. I am going to cherrypick quotes that strike me as particularly relevant.

Neuroscientists typically assume that human mental functions are generated by the brain…

This of course is the materialist view.

“…findings that pertain to brain dysplasia and brain lesions indicate that in some individuals there is a considerable discrepancy between the cerebral structures and cognitive functioning.”

This makes it clear that the current attribution of certain cognitive functions to certain parts of the brain is unreliable.

"Assuming that a given brain structure dictates the mental capacities of the individual, it remains difficult to explain how the remaining brain structures and their neural activities can “know” that a “language center” is missing now, and how these neurons
induce and guide its duplication in their own hemisphere. Majorek(2012) argued that this activity requires the existence of a higher control center that would be able to detect this gap in function and to initiate steps that lead to its mending. He stressed that […] given the decentralized organization of the brain, it would be difficult to imagine where such a control center could be located
.”

We are getting very close to the nub of the matter now. It is clear that something organizes the materials of the brain to enable them to provide the elements that have gone missing. The dualist would argue that this is the immaterial “soul”/self/conscious mind. However:

Several studies suggest that the brain can indeed be altered by mental stimuli and processes on the molecular, cellular, and neural circuit levels.”

And this is the sentence that really made me prick up my ears. It lies at the very heart of the hypothesis which I suggest links the whole history of life, evolution and consciousness together: namely, the intelligent cell. Like every other cell community, the brain is an interlinking network in which individual cells and individual clusters communicate with one another. If one cluster is diseased or missing, the something that does the reorganizing may be the cells themselves, cooperating intelligently to fill the gap. An analogy would be ant communities, which never fail to fill any gaps in their social structure, although it is “difficult to imagine “ where a control centre could be located. Combined intelligences would explain at ALL levels of life and evolution precisely how each community works. David insists that cells only APPEAR to be intelligent, and it was all either preprogrammed 3.8 billion years ago by his God, or his God dabbled. My hypothesis is that cells ARE intelligent, but it allows for a God to be the creator of cellular intelligence.

“[Beauregard] concluded that these studies strongly support the view that thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and volition do exert a causal influence on brain plasticity, and he pointed to the obvious fact that mental causation is an essential ingredient for successful
therapies.”

Once again we have evidence that thought and the effort made by consciousness/the mind create changes in the brain, just like the Indian women learning to write. The brain does not change in anticipation of the thought/effort.

According to Beauregard (2007), such findings call into question positions in which all mental processes are thought to be entirely reducible to biochemical processes.”

This clearly opens the way to the dualistic split between mind and body.

DAVID’s comment: Bruce Greyson has described and agrees with the way consciousness leaves the brain in NDE's. […]

This is the point at which we need a reconciliation between the two theories, and one of these days I shall return to that subject!

Consciousness: and brain damage

by David Turell @, Wednesday, December 27, 2017, 18:23 (26 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: We are getting very close to the nub of the matter now. It is clear that something organizes the materials of the brain to enable them to provide the elements that have gone missing. The dualist would argue that this is the immaterial “soul”/self/conscious mind. However:

dhw: “Several studies suggest that the brain can indeed be altered by mental stimuli and processes on the molecular, cellular, and neural circuit levels.”

And this is the sentence that really made me prick up my ears. It lies at the very heart of the hypothesis which I suggest links the whole history of life, evolution and consciousness together: namely, the intelligent cell. Like every other cell community, the brain is an interlinking network in which individual cells and individual clusters communicate with one another. If one cluster is diseased or missing, the something that does the reorganizing may be the cells themselves, cooperating intelligently to fill the gap. An analogy would be ant communities, which never fail to fill any gaps in their social structure, although it is “difficult to imagine “ where a control centre could be located. Combined intelligences would explain at ALL levels of life and evolution precisely how each community works. David insists that cells only APPEAR to be intelligent, and it was all either preprogrammed 3.8 billion years ago by his God, or his God dabbled. My hypothesis is that cells ARE intelligent, but it allows for a God to be the creator of cellular intelligence.

And I will insist they are programmed by God to act automatically intelligently


dhw: “[Beauregard] concluded that these studies strongly support the view that thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and volition do exert a causal influence on brain plasticity, and he pointed to the obvious fact that mental causation is an essential ingredient for successful therapies.”

Once again we have evidence that thought and the effort made by consciousness/the mind create changes in the brain, just like the Indian women learning to write. The brain does not change in anticipation of the thought/effort.

This applies to any existing level of pre-cortical development in an pre-sapiens type brain as well as to sapiens. It does not explain the jumps in cortical, pre-cortical size and complexity at each fossil level.


dhw: “According to Beauregard (2007), such findings call into question positions in which all mental processes are thought to be entirely reducible to biochemical processes.”

This clearly opens the way to the dualistic split between mind and body.

DAVID’s comment: Bruce Greyson has described and agrees with the way consciousness leaves the brain in NDE's. […]

This is the point at which we need a reconciliation between the two theories, and one of these days I shall return to that subject!

The mental processes are biochemical processes at the base of consciousness functioning. But they are dthe living wet hardware!

Consciousness: and brain damage

by dhw, Friday, December 29, 2017, 08:52 (24 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: “Several studies suggest that the brain can indeed be altered by mental stimuli and processes on the molecular, cellular, and neural circuit levels.”

dhw: And this is the sentence that really made me prick up my ears. It lies at the very heart of the hypothesis which I suggest links the whole history of life, evolution and consciousness together: namely, the intelligent cell. Like every other cell community, the brain is an interlinking network in which individual cells and individual clusters communicate with one another. If one cluster is diseased or missing, the something that does the reorganizing may be the cells themselves, cooperating intelligently to fill the gap. An analogy would be ant communities, which never fail to fill any gaps in their social structure, although it is “difficult to imagine “ where a control centre could be located. Combined intelligences would explain at ALL levels of life and evolution precisely how each community works. David insists that cells only APPEAR to be intelligent, and it was all either preprogrammed 3.8 billion years ago by his God, or his God dabbled. My hypothesis is that cells ARE intelligent, but it allows for a God to be the creator of cellular intelligence.

DAVID: And I will insist they are programmed by God to act automatically intelligently

“Automatically intelligently” is another of your obfuscations which needs to be clarified. Either the cells are automatons that have been programmed with each and every one of their responses and therefore do not require even one iota of autonomous intelligence, or they have been endowed (perhaps by God) with autonomous intelligence which they naturally use when confronted with new problems.

QUOTE: “[Beauregard] concluded that these studies strongly support the view that thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and volition do exert a causal influence on brain plasticity, and he pointed to the obvious fact that mental causation is an essential ingredient for successful therapies.”

Dhw: Once again we have evidence that thought and the effort made by consciousness/the mind create changes in the brain, just like the Indian women learning to write. The brain does not change in anticipation of the thought/effort.

DAVID: This applies to any existing level of pre-cortical development in an pre-sapiens type brain as well as to sapiens. It does not explain the jumps in cortical, pre-cortical size and complexity at each fossil level.

As I keep saying, nobody can explain the jumps, which is why we have so many different theories. However, since we KNOW that mental activity changes the brain, whereas there is absolutely no evidence of the brain changing in anticipation of mental activity (your theory that God enlarged the pre-sapiens brain before it could come up with its new concepts), my proposal at least has a degree of scientific backing, unlike your own.

QUOTE: “According to Beauregard (2007), such findings call into question positions in which all mental processes are thought to be entirely reducible to biochemical processes.
Dhw: This clearly opens the way to the dualistic split between mind and body.
DAVID’s comment: Bruce Greyson has described and agrees with the way consciousness leaves the brain in NDE's. […]
Dhw: This is the point at which we need a reconciliation between the two theories, and one of these days I shall return to that subject!
DAVID: The mental processes are biochemical processes at the base of consciousness functioning. But they are the living wet hardware!

I have no idea what this means. You have always insisted that mental processes are the province of the soul/self/consciousness and NOT of biochemical processes. If this is true, then biochemical processes provide information which is processed by the s/s/c, whose mental processes then trigger further biochemical processes to implement decisions made by the s/s/c.

Consciousness: and brain damage

by David Turell @, Monday, January 08, 2018, 15:52 (14 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: And I will insist they are programmed by God to act automatically intelligently

dhw: “Automatically intelligently” is another of your obfuscations which needs to be clarified. Either the cells are automatons that have been programmed with each and every one of their responses and therefore do not require even one iota of autonomous intelligence, or they have been endowed (perhaps by God) with autonomous intelligence which they naturally use when confronted with new problems.

I chose the first of your theories as you well know. The second involves the ability for independent thought without any sign of brain function being present in a cell.


DAVID: This applies to any existing level of pre-cortical development in an pre-sapiens type brain as well as to sapiens. It does not explain the jumps in cortical, pre-cortical size and complexity at each fossil level.

dhw: As I keep saying, nobody can explain the jumps, which is why we have so many different theories. However, since we KNOW that mental activity changes the brain, whereas there is absolutely no evidence of the brain changing in anticipation of mental activity (your theory that God enlarged the pre-sapiens brain before it could come up with its new concepts), my proposal at least has a degree of scientific backing, unlike your own.

I understand that God is not accepted by science! But the brains suddenly enlarged in each new stage and then the products of that new-sized brain appeared. That sequence tells us the new cortex could produce new thoughts and concepts, whereas the smaller brain could not.

DAVID: The mental processes are biochemical processes at the base of consciousness functioning. But they are the living wet hardware!

dhw: I have no idea what this means. You have always insisted that mental processes are the province of the soul/self/consciousness and NOT of biochemical processes. If this is true, then biochemical processes provide information which is processed by the s/s/c, whose mental processes then trigger further biochemical processes to implement decisions made by the s/s/c.

You keep refusing to accept my analogy that the brain is used as a computer by the s/s/c and for the living person, the brain is the access to the s/s/c. After death that connection is not required.

Consciousness: and brain damage

by dhw, Wednesday, January 10, 2018, 10:48 (12 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: And I will insist they are programmed by God to act automatically intelligently

dhw: “Automatically intelligently” is another of your obfuscations which needs to be clarified. Either the cells are automatons that have been programmed with each and every one of their responses and therefore do not require even one iota of autonomous intelligence, or they have been endowed (perhaps by God) with autonomous intelligence which they naturally use when confronted with new problems.

DAVID: I chose the first of your theories as you well know. The second involves the ability for independent thought without any sign of brain function being present in a cell.

A cell can hardly show brain function if it hasn’t got a brain. We normally judge intelligence by the ability of organisms to act intelligently, and if they are able to solve new problems, some of us would take that as a sign that they know what they’re doing. Any dualist who claims that intelligence is impossible without a brain is arguing against himself. Hence the continued confusion exemplified by your next comment:

DAVID: […] the brains suddenly enlarged in each new stage and then the products of that new-sized brain appeared. That sequence tells us the new cortex could produce new thoughts and concepts, whereas the smaller brain could not.

But according to you, the cortex does NOT produce thoughts and concepts! You keep forgetting that you are a dualist! However, if the cortex is indeed the producer of thoughts – materialist view, which may well be correct – it is perfectly feasible that individual old cortexes produced new thoughts and concepts (you don’t seem to recognize that just like sapiens some individual hominids might have been cleverer than others), but these required additional abilities for their implementation, and so just as the illiterate women’s brains rewired themselves IN RESPONSE to new concepts, the pre-sapiens brain expanded IN RESPONSE to the need for new abilities, i.e. the implementation of the concept was the cause of the expansion.

DAVID: The mental processes are biochemical processes at the base of consciousness functioning. But they are the living wet hardware!

Once again, you the dualist are telling us that mental processes are biochemical!

DAVID: You keep refusing to accept my analogy that the brain is used as a computer by the s/s/c and for the living person, the brain is the access to the s/s/c. After death that connection is not required.

The computer analogy leads to nothing but confusion. What is your dualistic self/soul/consciousness if it’s not the living person? So apparently the brain is the living person’s means of access to the living person. What does that mean? If the s/s/c is NOT confined to biochemical processes (your dualism), then mental processes are NOT biochemical processes, and no amount of obfuscation with computer analogies can disguise this contradiction! (See “learning new tasks” for yet more computer obfuscations).

Consciousness: and brain damage

by David Turell @, Wednesday, January 10, 2018, 15:02 (12 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: […] the brains suddenly enlarged in each new stage and then the products of that new-sized brain appeared. That sequence tells us the new cortex could produce new thoughts and concepts, whereas the smaller brain could not.

dhw: But according to you, the cortex does NOT produce thoughts and concepts! You keep forgetting that you are a dualist!

I never forget I am a dualist as I sit in front of my computer, from which I am totally separate. I view ( and you refuse to do so) my brain as a wet biologic computer which I (s/s/c) use within my body, but the s/s/c is a separate software as shown by NDE's.

dhw: However, if the cortex is indeed the producer of thoughts – materialist view, which may well be correct – it is perfectly feasible that individual old cortexes produced new thoughts and concepts (you don’t seem to recognize that just like sapiens some individual hominids might have been cleverer than others), but these required additional abilities for their implementation, and so just as the illiterate women’s brains rewired themselves IN RESPONSE to new concepts, the pre-sapiens brain expanded IN RESPONSE to the need for new abilities, i.e. the implementation of the concept was the cause of the expansion.

Twisted thought, backwards. An existing large cortex shrinks with use! These is no evidence that new desired uses forces expansion, but it is a neat theory to avoid God.


DAVID: The mental processes are biochemical processes at the base of consciousness functioning. But they are the living wet hardware!

dhw: Once again, you the dualist are telling us that mental processes are biochemical!

Of course they are! Read above.


DAVID: You keep refusing to accept my analogy that the brain is used as a computer by the s/s/c and for the living person, the brain is the access to the s/s/c. After death that connection is not required.

dhw: The computer analogy leads to nothing but confusion. What is your dualistic self/soul/consciousness if it’s not the living person?

My s/s/c is immaterially existing within me and can separate from me. NDE's!

dhw: So apparently the brain is the living person’s means of access to the living person. What does that mean? If the s/s/c is NOT confined to biochemical processes (your dualism), then mental processes are NOT biochemical processes, and no amount of obfuscation with computer analogies can disguise this contradiction! (See “learning new tasks” for yet more computer obfuscations).

Just try to imagine what I clearly see. Our personalities cannot be seen or felt. I know your personality but I can't see it or touch it. But I can see your face in my memory and recognize it, all immaterial. All of us are wet biology with functional immaterial s/s/c's existing in us to run the brain.

Consciousness: and brain damage

by dhw, Thursday, January 11, 2018, 15:02 (11 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: […] the brains suddenly enlarged in each new stage and then the products of that new-sized brain appeared. That sequence tells us the new cortex could produce new thoughts and concepts, whereas the smaller brain could not.
dhw: But according to you, the cortex does NOT produce thoughts and concepts! You keep forgetting that you are a dualist!
DAVID: I never forget I am a dualist as I sit in front of my computer, from which I am totally separate. I view ( and you refuse to do so) my brain as a wet biologic computer which I (s/s/c) use within my body, but the s/s/c is a separate software as shown by NDE's.

You keep desperately trying to hide the contradictions by reverting to your convoluted computer analogy. Do you, the dualist, believe that the cortex produces your thoughts, or is it your dualist “soul” that produces your thoughts?

dhw: […] just as the illiterate women’s brains rewired themselves IN RESPONSE to new concepts, the pre-sapiens brain expanded IN RESPONSE to the need for new abilities, i.e. the implementation of the concept was the cause of the expansion.
DAVID: Twisted thought, backwards. An existing large cortex shrinks with use! These is no evidence that new desired uses forces expansion, but it is a neat theory to avoid God.

The existing large cortex shrinks because the brain and skull have reached their optimum size, and so expansion has been replaced by complexification. This has proved so efficient that some cells and connections are no longer needed. The hypothesis that brain expansion was caused by the need for new abilities to implement new concepts does not avoid God – it merely avoids your theory that God preprogrammed or engineered expansion before hominins were able to come up with new concepts. If God exists, he would have set up the whole mechanism of cellular intelligence on which my hypothesis depends.

DAVID: The mental processes are biochemical processes at the base of consciousness functioning. But they are the living wet hardware!
dhw: Once again, you the dualist are telling us that mental processes are biochemical!
DAVID: Of course they are! Read above.

I have read above, and you simply refuse to answer the simple question: Do you, the dualist, believe that the material cortex produces your immaterial thoughts, or is it your immaterial soul that produces your immaterial thoughts? (Not to be conflated with the material processes of perception and implementation.)

DAVID: You keep refusing to accept my analogy that the brain is used as a computer by the s/s/c and for the living person, the brain is the access to the s/s/c. After death that connection is not required.
dhw: The computer analogy leads to nothing but confusion. What is your dualistic self/soul/consciousness if it’s not the living person?
DAVID: My s/s/c is immaterially existing within me and can separate from me. NDE's!

THAT is indeed dualism, and you do not need a computer analogy to muddy the waters with incomprehensible convolutions like the brain/computer being “the access to the s/s/c”.

dhw: If the s/s/c is NOT confined to biochemical processes (your dualism), then mental processes are NOT biochemical processes, and no amount of obfuscation with computer analogies can disguise this contradiction!
DAVID: Just try to imagine what I clearly see. Our personalities cannot be seen or felt. I know your personality but I can't see it or touch it. But I can see your face in my memory and recognize it, all immaterial. All of us are wet biology with functional immaterial s/s/c's existing in us to run the brain.

At last a clear and meaningful account of your dualistic beliefs, mercifully freed from the messy computer analogy, and specifying that it is the immaterial s/s/c that runs the material brain. If it is true, it is a complete rebuttal of your statements that the cortex PRODUCES the thoughts and concepts, and that mental processes are biochemical.

Consciousness: and brain damage

by David Turell @, Thursday, January 11, 2018, 15:44 (11 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: […] just as the illiterate women’s brains rewired themselves IN RESPONSE to new concepts, the pre-sapiens brain expanded IN RESPONSE to the need for new abilities, i.e. the implementation of the concept was the cause of the expansion.

DAVID: Twisted thought, backwards. An existing large cortex shrinks with use! These is no evidence that new desired uses forces expansion, but it is a neat theory to avoid God.

dhw: The existing large cortex shrinks because the brain and skull have reached their optimum size, and so expansion has been replaced by complexification. This has proved so efficient that some cells and connections are no longer needed. The hypothesis that brain expansion was caused by the need for new abilities to implement new concepts does not avoid God – it merely avoids your theory that God preprogrammed or engineered expansion before hominins were able to come up with new concepts. If God exists, he would have set up the whole mechanism of cellular intelligence on which my hypothesis depends.

The bold: I'm glad you know exactly what God would do. The complexity has nothing to do with optimum size. That is your theory, nothing more. And the shrinkage involved more wiring and connections of the neurons used, not less, i.e., more complexity of connections.

DAVID: My s/s/c is immaterially existing within me and can separate from me. NDE's!

dhw: THAT is indeed dualism, and you do not need a computer analogy to muddy the waters with incomprehensible convolutions like the brain/computer being “the access to the s/s/c”.

dhw: If the s/s/c is NOT confined to biochemical processes (your dualism), then mental processes are NOT biochemical processes, and no amount of obfuscation with computer analogies can disguise this contradiction!

DAVID: Just try to imagine what I clearly see. Our personalities cannot be seen or felt. I know your personality but I can't see it or touch it. But I can see your face in my memory and recognize it, all immaterial. All of us are wet biology with functional immaterial s/s/c's existing in us to run the brain.

dhw: At last a clear and meaningful account of your dualistic beliefs, mercifully freed from the messy computer analogy, and specifying that it is the immaterial s/s/c that runs the material brain. If it is true, it is a complete rebuttal of your statements that the cortex PRODUCES the thoughts and concepts, and that mental processes are biochemical.

I have always tried to present the concepts in the statement I've given above, and I think you have finally understood my position, except your last comment. Of course thoughts and concepts are produced by the pre-frontal and frontal cortex, directed by the s/s/c. The base of mental processes is of course biochemical as that describes the material funtional brain which does act as a computer under control of the s/s/c software. The ability to produce very complex thought requires a very complex enlarged cortex for the s/s/c to use. Proven by new artifact production by each stage of hominin.

Consciousness: and brain damage

by dhw, Friday, January 12, 2018, 13:07 (10 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: An existing large cortex shrinks with use! These is no evidence that new desired uses forces expansion, but it is a neat theory to avoid God.
dhw: The existing large cortex shrinks because the brain and skull have reached their optimum size, and so expansion has been replaced by complexification. This has proved so efficient that some cells and connections are no longer needed. The hypothesis that brain expansion was caused by the need for new abilities to implement new concepts does not avoid God – it merely avoids your theory that God preprogrammed or engineered expansion before hominins were able to come up with new concepts. If God exists, he would have set up the whole mechanism of cellular intelligence on which my hypothesis depends. (David's bold)
DAVID: The bold: I'm glad you know exactly what God would do. The complexity has nothing to do with optimum size. That is your theory, nothing more. And the shrinkage involved more wiring and connections of the neurons used, not less, i.e., more complexity of connections.

The bold: you claimed that my hypothesis avoided God. I have shown you that it doesn’t. Of course I don’t know exactly what a God would do. Nor do you, with your hypothesis that your God preprogrammed or dabbled every innovation, lifestyle and natural wonder in the history of evolution in order to produce the human brain! As regards optimum size, you yourself said that an infinitely expanding brain/skull was the stuff of science fiction. But yes, my hypothesis is that any further increase would have led to problems for the rest of the anatomy, and so complexification took over from expansion. I am more than happy to be corrected on the exact nature of the shrinkage: if it does not entail the loss of cells and connections no longer needed, perhaps you would tell us exactly what the shrinkage consists of.

DAVID: Just try to imagine what I clearly see. Our personalities cannot be seen or felt. I know your personality but I can't see it or touch it. But I can see your face in my memory and recognize it, all immaterial. All of us are wet biology with functional immaterial s/s/c's existing in us to run the brain.
dhw: At last a clear and meaningful account of your dualistic beliefs, mercifully freed from the messy computer analogy, and specifying that it is the immaterial s/s/c that runs the material brain. If it is true, it is a complete rebuttal of your statements that the cortex PRODUCES the thoughts and concepts, and that mental processes are biochemical.
DAVID: I have always tried to present the concepts in the statement I've given above, and I think you have finally understood my position, except your last comment. Of course thoughts and concepts are produced by the pre-frontal and frontal cortex, directed by the s/s/c. The base of mental processes is of course biochemical as that describes the material funtional brain which does act as a computer under control of the s/s/c software. The ability to produce very complex thought requires a very complex enlarged cortex for the s/s/c to use. Proven by new artifact production by each stage of hominin.

I’m sorry, but this makes no sense to me. The whole essence of dualism is that the self/soul/consciousness IS the person’s thoughts, ideas, concepts, emotions, memories. The crucial obfuscation lies in your penultimate sentence: as physical beings (forget about the afterlife) we are able to produce thought – whether complex or not – and this requires the material brain for the provision of information and the material expression or implementation of thought (both of which processes are biochemica), but for a dualist the thought itself comes from the “soul” and not from the cortex. To use your otherwise totally unhelpful computer image: the software (soul) does the thinking, and the computer (brain) does the implementing. THAT is how the s/s/c “uses” the complexities of the brain. If you insist that the cortex (computer) does the thinking, then the soul (software) has no function.

dhw: (under "new tasks”) [Pre-sapiens brains] can only produce new advances by expanding. In my hypothesis, the expansion does not precede the production, it is CAUSED by the production.
DAVID: The artifacts appear only after the larger brain has arrived. You can't avoid the time sequence.

Of course that is the sequence. The artefacts CAN only appear once the brain has acquired the ability to produce them. The illiterate women’s rewiring took place while they learned to write, and by the time they could write, the rewiring was complete. The hominin brain changed through the process of making its tools, and by the time the tools were made, the expansion was complete. The appearance of the artefacts coincided with the expansion which, like the rewiring, did not take place before the implementation of the concept, but was caused BY the implementation of the concept.

Consciousness: and brain damage

by David Turell @, Saturday, January 13, 2018, 01:05 (9 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: The bold: I'm glad you know exactly what God would do. The complexity has nothing to do with optimum size. That is your theory, nothing more. And the shrinkage involved more wiring and connections of the neurons used, not less, i.e., more complexity of connections.

dhw: I am more than happy to be corrected on the exact nature of the shrinkage: if it does not entail the loss of cells and connections no longer needed, perhaps you would tell us exactly what the shrinkage consists of.

From the original article:

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2132589-learning-to-read-and-write-rewires-adult-b...

"Rewired brains
By the end of the study, the team saw significant changes in the brains of the people who had learned to read and write. These individuals showed an increase in brain activity in the cortex, the outermost layer of the brain, which is involved in learning.

"Learning to read also seemed to change brain regions that aren’t typically involved in reading, writing or learning. Two regions deep in the brain, in particular, appeared more active after training – portions of the thalamus and the brainstem."

Not in this article but in some other entry I presented it has been shown that sapiens brains have shrunk during the development of our new civilization activities. I have assumed that the shrinkage is due to the demonstrated rewiring.

DAVID: I have always tried to present the concepts in the statement I've given above, and I think you have finally understood my position, except your last comment. Of course thoughts and concepts are produced by the pre-frontal and frontal cortex, directed by the s/s/c. The base of mental processes is of course biochemical as that describes the material funtional brain which does act as a computer under control of the s/s/c software. The ability to produce very complex thought requires a very complex enlarged cortex for the s/s/c to use. Proven by new artifact production by each stage of hominin.

dhw: I’m sorry, but this makes no sense to me. The whole essence of dualism is that the self/soul/consciousness IS the person’s thoughts, ideas, concepts, emotions, memories. The crucial obfuscation lies in your penultimate sentence: as physical beings (forget about the afterlife) we are able to produce thought – whether complex or not – and this requires the material brain for the provision of information and the material expression or implementation of thought (both of which processes are biochemica), but for a dualist the thought itself comes from the “soul” and not from the cortex. To use your otherwise totally unhelpful computer image: the software (soul) does the thinking, and the computer (brain) does the implementing. THAT is how the s/s/c “uses” the complexities of the brain. If you insist that the cortex (computer) does the thinking, then the soul (software) has no function.

I can easily accept your version of my theory as you state it. I think that is what I have been stating all along, but perhaps not clearly.


dhw: (under "new tasks”) [Pre-sapiens brains] can only produce new advances by expanding. In my hypothesis, the expansion does not precede the production, it is CAUSED by the production.

DAVID: The artifacts appear only after the larger brain has arrived. You can't avoid the time sequence.

dhw: Of course that is the sequence. The artefacts CAN only appear once the brain has acquired the ability to produce them. The illiterate women’s rewiring took place while they learned to write, and by the time they could write, the rewiring was complete. The hominin brain changed through the process of making its tools, and by the time the tools were made, the expansion was complete. The appearance of the artefacts coincided with the expansion which, like the rewiring, did not take place before the implementation of the concept, but was caused BY the implementation of the concept.

We remain at opposite poles. I can only see the brain enlarging and only then the thoughts and concepts can appear. The enlargement is provided by God's action. Enlargement first, artifacts second. More intense thought shrinks the brain in sapiens and it is the only real evidence we have about thought and brain size. If evolution builds on the past, previous more ancient brains employed this same course. Why should only sapiens brains do this? Your statement that our brain is at a non-enlarging state in evolution only supports my contnetion that our brain is the end point of God's purpose.

Consciousness: and brain damage

by dhw, Saturday, January 13, 2018, 14:17 (9 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: The complexity has nothing to do with optimum size. That is your theory, nothing more. And the shrinkage involved more wiring and connections of the neurons used, not less, i.e., more complexity of connections.
dhw: I am more than happy to be corrected on the exact nature of the shrinkage: if it does not entail the loss of cells and connections no longer needed, perhaps you would tell us exactly what the shrinkage consists of.

DAVID: From the original article:
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2132589-learning-to-read-and-write-rewires-adult-b...
"Rewired brains
By the end of the study, the team saw significant changes in the brains of the people who had learned to read and write. These individuals showed an increase in brain activity in the cortex, the outermost layer of the brain, which is involved in learning.”
[dhw: Other areas of the brain were also affected]
DAVID: Not in this article but in some other entry I presented it has been shown that sapiens brains have shrunk during the development of our new civilization activities. I have assumed that the shrinkage is due to the demonstrated rewiring.

I don’t dispute brain shrinkage! But thank you for once more confirming the all-important fact that the brain RESPONDS to the implementation of new concepts! You challenged my statement that complexification had proved so efficient that “some cells and connections are no longer needed”. Shrinkage must mean that something is lost, and so I asked what else the shrinkage could consist of. You have not answered.

DAVID: Of course thoughts and concepts are produced by the pre-frontal and frontal cortex, directed by the s/s/c. The base of mental processes is of course biochemical as that describes the material funtional brain which does act as a computer under control of the s/s/c software. The ability to produce very complex thought requires a very complex enlarged cortex for the s/s/c to use. Proven by new artifact production by each stage of hominin.

dhw: I’m sorry, but this makes no sense to me. The whole essence of dualism is that the self/soul/consciousness IS the person’s thoughts, ideas, concepts, emotions, memories. The crucial obfuscation lies in your penultimate sentence: as physical beings (forget about the afterlife) we are able to produce thought – whether complex or not – and this requires the material brain for the provision of information and the material expression or implementation of thought (both of which processes are biochemical), but for a dualist the thought itself comes from the “soul” and not from the cortex. To use your otherwise totally unhelpful computer image: the software (soul) does the thinking, and the computer (brain) does the implementing. THAT is how the s/s/c “uses” the complexities of the brain. If you insist that the cortex (computer) does the thinking, then the soul (software) has no function.

DAVID: I can easily accept your version of my theory as you state it. I think that is what I have been stating all along, but perhaps not clearly.

Statements like “of course thoughts and concepts are produced by the pre-frontal and frontal cortex”, and “the base of mental processes is of course biochemical”, can hardly mean that thoughts and concepts are produced by the soul and the soul is immaterial. Since you can now easily accept that the brain provides information and implements thoughts and concepts which according to your dualism are produced by the soul and not by the brain, perhaps you will also easily accept that the expansion of the brain must have followed on from and not preceded the soul’s acts of conceptualization, but no, back you go:

DAVID: We remain at opposite poles. I can only see the brain enlarging and only then the thoughts and concepts can appear. The enlargement is provided by God's action. Enlargement first, artifacts second.

But you believe thoughts and concepts are produced by the “soul” and so they do NOT depend on the brain! It is the implementation that depends on the brain, as is shown by the “only real evidence we have” (below). Therefore just as effort to read and write changes the brain (rewiring), effort to produce artefacts changed the brain (expansion).

DAVID: More intense thought shrinks the brain in sapiens and it is the only real evidence we have about thought and brain size. If evolution builds on the past, previous more ancient brains employed this same course. Why should only sapiens brains do this?

Yet again (if you keep asking the same question, I can only give the same answer): pre-sapiens brains may well have complexified to some degree, but they reached a stage at which more brain capacity was needed to implement new concepts – hence expansion. The brain/skull then reached a size at which further expansion would have caused anatomical problems (as you said yourself, an infinitely expanding brain/skull is the stuff of science fiction). Consequently, complexification took over from expansion, and was so efficient that the brain shrank. Please explain your objections to this hypothesis.

DAVID: Your statement that our brain is at a non-enlarging state in evolution only supports my contention that our brain is the end point of God's purpose.

Your God’s purpose is a separate issue from that of the mechanics of evolution, which is what we are discussing here.

Consciousness: and brain damage

by David Turell @, Saturday, January 13, 2018, 14:52 (9 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Not in this article but in some other entry I presented it has been shown that sapiens brains have shrunk during the development of our new civilization activities. I have assumed that the shrinkage is due to the demonstrated rewiring.

dhw: I don’t dispute brain shrinkage! But thank you for once more confirming the all-important fact that the brain RESPONDS to the implementation of new concepts! You challenged my statement that complexification had proved so efficient that “some cells and connections are no longer needed”. Shrinkage must mean that something is lost, and so I asked what else the shrinkage could consist of. You have not answered.

I have said the shrinkage is known, but I am unaware of what else might be lost. Losing neurons is possible if the remaining ones become more complex by altering their branching and the variety of their synapses variety of strength.


DAVID: I can easily accept your version of my theory as you state it. I think that is what I have been stating all along, but perhaps not clearly.

dhw: Statements like “of course thoughts and concepts are produced by the pre-frontal and frontal cortex”, and “the base of mental processes is of course biochemical”, can hardly mean that thoughts and concepts are produced by the soul and the soul is immaterial.

Of course the soul is not material. My point is it uses the brain which is material. there is a soul brain interface, thus dualism.

dhw; Since you can now easily accept that the brain provides information and implements thoughts and concepts which according to your dualism are produced by the soul and not by the brain, perhaps you will also easily accept that the expansion of the brain must have followed on from and not preceded the soul’s acts of conceptualization, but no, back you go:

DAVID: We remain at opposite poles. I can only see the brain enlarging and only then the thoughts and concepts can appear. The enlargement is provided by God's action. Enlargement first, artifacts second.

dhw: But you believe thoughts and concepts are produced by the “soul” and so they do NOT depend on the brain! It is the implementation that depends on the brain, as is shown by the “only real evidence we have” (below). Therefore just as effort to read and write changes the brain (rewiring), effort to produce artefacts changed the brain (expansion).

But the only evidence we have from our brains is the effort to 'produce' shrinks!


DAVID: More intense thought shrinks the brain in sapiens and it is the only real evidence we have about thought and brain size. If evolution builds on the past, previous more ancient brains employed this same course. Why should only sapiens brains do this?

dhw: Yet again (if you keep asking the same question, I can only give the same answer): pre-sapiens brains may well have complexified to some degree, but they reached a stage at which more brain capacity was needed to implement new concepts – hence expansion.

That is where God stepped in and created the next larger sized brain.

dhw: The brain/skull then reached a size at which further expansion would have caused anatomical problems (as you said yourself, an infinitely expanding brain/skull is the stuff of science fiction).

Taking my comment about science fiction brains out of original context doesn't help you. Our current brain was God's goal.

dhw: Consequently, complexification took over from expansion, and was so efficient that the brain shrank. Please explain your objections to this hypothesis.

No objection. God reached His goal.


DAVID: Your statement that our brain is at a non-enlarging state in evolution only supports my contention that our brain is the end point of God's purpose.

dhw: Your God’s purpose is a separate issue from that of the mechanics of evolution, which is what we are discussing here.

No it is not separate. Don't forget I think God used evolution to create us. God never goes away in my thinking, while you sneak Him in now and then when it suits your purpose.

Consciousness: and brain damage

by dhw, Sunday, January 14, 2018, 14:31 (8 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: You challenged my statement that complexification had proved so efficient that “some cells and connections are no longer needed”. Shrinkage must mean that something is lost, and so I asked what else the shrinkage could consist of. You have not answered.
DAVID: I have said the shrinkage is known, but I am unaware of what else might be lost. Losing neurons is possible if the remaining ones become more complex by altering their branching and the variety of their synapses variety of strength.

Since neurons are cells, I take it you now agree that shrinkage might consist in the loss of cells and their connections.

DAVID: I can easily accept your version of my theory as you state it. I think that is what I have been stating all along, but perhaps not clearly.
dhw: Statements like “of course thoughts and concepts are produced by the pre-frontal and frontal cortex”, and “the base of mental processes is of course biochemical”, can hardly mean that thoughts and concepts are produced by the soul and the soul is immaterial.
DAVID: Of course the soul is not material. My point is it uses the brain which is material. there is a soul brain interface, thus dualism.

In the context of dualism (I shall come back to materialism eventually) that is also my point, which is why I objected to the statements quoted above. We are now in agreement as to the meaning and implications of dualism, despite the next quote:
DAVID: We remain at opposite poles. I can only see the brain enlarging and only then the thoughts and concepts can appear. The enlargement is provided by God's action. Enlargement first, artifacts second.
dhw: But you believe thoughts and concepts are produced by the “soul” and so they do NOT depend on the brain! It is the implementation that depends on the brain, as is shown by the “only real evidence we have” (below). Therefore just as effort to read and write changes the brain (rewiring), effort to produce artefacts changed the brain (expansion).
DAVID: But the only evidence we have from our brains is the effort to 'produce' shrinks!

I offered the explanation that the brain had reached its optimum size and….
dhw: Consequently, complexification took over from expansion, and was so efficient that the brain shrank. Please explain your objections to this hypothesis.
DAVID: No objection. God reached His goal.

You have no objection, and yet you continue to argue against it:
dhw: The brain/skull then reached a size at which further expansion would have caused anatomical problems (as you said yourself, an infinitely expanding brain/skull is the stuff of science fiction).
DAVID: Taking my comment about science fiction brains out of original context doesn't help you. Our current brain was God's goal.

Are you now saying that the brain could expand indefinitely, and you can imagine humans with elephant-sized heads? See below for “God’s goal”.

dhw: Your God’s purpose is a separate issue from that of the mechanics of evolution, which is what we are discussing here.
DAVID: No it is not separate. Don't forget I think God used evolution to create us. God never goes away in my thinking, while you sneak Him in now and then when it suits your purpose.

If God exists, it is perfectly feasible that he created the evolutionary mechanisms I have described. I am challenging your personal reading of your God’s mind and your interpretation of how he might have used evolution. The fact that you always think of God does not give your hypothesis any more credibility than mine.

Consciousness: and brain damage

by David Turell @, Sunday, January 14, 2018, 15:26 (8 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: You challenged my statement that complexification had proved so efficient that “some cells and connections are no longer needed”. Shrinkage must mean that something is lost, and so I asked what else the shrinkage could consist of. You have not answered.
DAVID: I have said the shrinkage is known, but I am unaware of what else might be lost. Losing neurons is possible if the remaining ones become more complex by altering their branching and the variety of their synapses variety of strength.

dhw: Since neurons are cells, I take it you now agree that shrinkage might consist in the loss of cells and their connections.

Yes, I have proposed a way some neurons might be replaced by more complex ones, but since we don't autopsy living brains, I'm not sure there is any real evidence how the shrinkage happened.

dhw: But you believe thoughts and concepts are produced by the “soul” and so they do NOT depend on the brain! It is the implementation that depends on the brain, as is shown by the “only real evidence we have” (below). Therefore just as effort to read and write changes the brain (rewiring), effort to produce artefacts changed the brain (expansion).

DAVID: But the only evidence we have from our brains is the effort to 'produce' shrinks!

dhw: I offered the explanation that the brain had reached its optimum size and….
dhw: Consequently, complexification took over from expansion, and was so efficient that the brain shrank. Please explain your objections to this hypothesis.

DAVID: No objection. God reached His goal.

You have no objection, and yet you continue to argue against it:
dhw: The brain/skull then reached a size at which further expansion would have caused anatomical problems (as you said yourself, an infinitely expanding brain/skull is the stuff of science fiction).
DAVID: Taking my comment about science fiction brains out of original context doesn't help you. Our current brain was God's goal.

dhw: Are you now saying that the brain could expand indefinitely, and you can imagine humans with elephant-sized heads?

No, we have reached God's goal. You are supporting my view.


dhw: Your God’s purpose is a separate issue from that of the mechanics of evolution, which is what we are discussing here.
DAVID: No it is not separate. Don't forget I think God used evolution to create us. God never goes away in my thinking, while you sneak Him in now and then when it suits your purpose.

dhw: If God exists, it is perfectly feasible that he created the evolutionary mechanisms I have described. I am challenging your personal reading of your God’s mind and your interpretation of how he might have used evolution. The fact that you always think of God does not give your hypothesis any more credibility than mine.

I believe in my hypothesis, which means I'm convinced God exists. He is not credible to you.

Consciousness: and brain damage

by dhw, Monday, January 15, 2018, 14:11 (7 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: The brain/skull then reached a size at which further expansion would have caused anatomical problems (as you said yourself, an infinitely expanding brain/skull is the stuff of science fiction).

DAVID: Taking my comment about science fiction brains out of original context doesn't help you. Our current brain was God's goal.

dhw: Are you now saying that the brain could expand indefinitely, and you can imagine humans with elephant-sized heads?

DAVID: No, we have reached God's goal. You are supporting my view.

You agree that sapiens’ brain could not expand any more, and so complexification took over from expansion. I’m afraid I can’t see why that should mean your God’s purpose in creating billions of life forms (including hominids and hominins), lifestyles and natural wonders was to produce the brain of Homo sapiens. No, I am not supporting your view.

dhw: If God exists, it is perfectly feasible that he created the evolutionary mechanisms I have described. I am challenging your personal reading of your God’s mind and your interpretation of how he might have used evolution. The fact that you always think of God does not give your hypothesis any more credibility than mine.

DAVID: I believe in my hypothesis, which means I'm convinced God exists. He is not credible to you.

Being convinced that God exists does not give you exclusive access to your God’s mind. It is perfectly possible to believe in God and to believe that he purposefully created a mechanism which allowed for all life forms to develop as they have done, in an ever changing spectacle of wonders, including but not confined to the brain of Homo sapiens.

Consciousness: and brain damage

by David Turell @, Monday, January 15, 2018, 14:20 (7 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: No, we have reached God's goal. You are supporting my view.

dhw: You agree that sapiens’ brain could not expand any more, and so complexification took over from expansion. I’m afraid I can’t see why that should mean your God’s purpose in creating billions of life forms (including hominids and hominins), lifestyles and natural wonders was to produce the brain of Homo sapiens. No, I am not supporting your view.

dhw: If God exists, it is perfectly feasible that he created the evolutionary mechanisms I have described. I am challenging your personal reading of your God’s mind and your interpretation of how he might have used evolution. The fact that you always think of God does not give your hypothesis any more credibility than mine.

DAVID: I believe in my hypothesis, which means I'm convinced God exists. He is not credible to you.

dhw: Being convinced that God exists does not give you exclusive access to your God’s mind. It is perfectly possible to believe in God and to believe that he purposefully created a mechanism which allowed for all life forms to develop as they have done, in an ever changing spectacle of wonders, including but not confined to the brain of Homo sapiens.

God did create a mechanism of evolution that lead to the bush of life. We don't disagree. Where we differ is I see our brain as a purposeful end point.

Consciousness: a group of theories about it

by David Turell @, Tuesday, January 16, 2018, 00:29 (6 days ago) @ David Turell

Interesting:

http://bigthink.com/paul-ratner/why-a-genius-scientist-thinks-our-consciousness-origina...

"Human consciousness is one of the grand mysteries of our time on earth. How do you know that you are “you”? Does your sense of being aware of yourself come from your mind or is it your body that is creating it? What really happens when you enter an “altered” state of consciousness with the help of some chemical or plant? Are animals conscious? While you would think this basic enigma of our self-awareness would be at the forefront of scientific inquiry, science does not yet have strong answers to these questions.

"The integrated information theory, created by neuroscientist Giulio Tononi of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, proposes that conscious experience is an integration of a great of amount of information that comes into our brain, and that this experience is irreducible. Your brain interweaves a sophisticated information web from sensory and cognitive inputs.

"The global workspace theory of consciousness, developed by Bernard Baars, a neuroscientist at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, California, says that maybe consciousness is simply the act of broadcasting information around the brain from a memory bank.

"But there are some who think our attempts at understanding the nature of consciousness through neuroscience are doomed to fail unless quantum mechanics is involved. World-renowned Oxford University mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose, for one, thinks that consciousness has quantum origins.

"Together with noted anesthesiologist Stuart Hammeroff, who teaches at the University of Arizona, Penrose came up with the Orchestrated Objective Reduction theory of the mind. The theory is somewhat outlandish, but cannot be easily dismissed considering that Roger Penrose is regarded by many as one of the world’s most brilliant people for his contributions in cosmology and general relativity. He is known also for his prize-winning work with Stephen Hawking on black holes.

"Penrose believes that consciousness is not computational. Our awareness is not simply a mechanistic byproduct, like something you can make a machine do. And to understand consciousness, you need to revolutionize our understanding of the physical world. In particular, Penrose thinks the answer to consciousness may lie in a deeper knowledge of quantum mechanics.

"In an interview with Nautilus’s Steve Paulson, Penrose uses an example from quantum computing to explain that qubits of information remain in multiple states until coming together into an instantaneous calculation, called “quantum coherence,” making a large number of things act together in one quantum state.

"Here’s where Penrose’s theory draws upon the work of Hameroff by saying that this quantum coherence takes place in protein structures called “microtubules”. These microtubules reside inside the neurons in our brains and can store and process information and memory. Penrose and Hameroff think that microtubules are quantum devices that are orchestrating our conscious awareness.

"This theory is not appreciated by everyone in the scientific community, with many critics saying the brain is too “warm, wet, and noisy” and cannot sustain a quantum process. Another physicist, Max Tegmark, even calculated that the brain cannot possibly think as fast as this idea requires. Hawking is also not on board, suggesting Penrose should stick with his field of expertise.

"Yet, a 2013 study by Japanese scientists added some proof to the theory by Penrose and Hameroff as researchers detected vibrations in the microtubules. Penrose and Hameroff then proposed that by focusing brain stimulation on these vibrations one could conceivably “benefit a host of mental, neurological, and cognitive conditions.”

"Still, this theory of consciousness is rather on the outs in a field that hasn’t had much advancement in a while."

Comment: The website contains a six minute interview with Sir Roger which is worth a listen. I think he is on to something.

Consciousness: a group of theories about it

by dhw, Tuesday, January 16, 2018, 12:24 (6 days ago) @ David Turell

We discussed Penrose’s ideas on the thread with the horribly misleading title “Human Consciousness: Penrose: soul survives!

I couldn't get onto this site as it was heavily in demand. That's good to hear! I'll try again later.

Consciousness: a group of theories about it

by David Turell @, Tuesday, January 16, 2018, 17:37 (6 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: We discussed Penrose’s ideas on the thread with the horribly misleading title “Human Consciousness: Penrose: soul survives!

I couldn't get onto this site as it was heavily in demand. That's good to hear! I'll try again later.

I copied the whole story. Here is the Penrose video:

https://youtu.be/lJmzfdF4CZk

Consciousness: a group of theories about it

by dhw, Wednesday, January 17, 2018, 13:29 (5 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: We discussed Penrose’s ideas on the thread with the horribly misleading title “Human Consciousness: Penrose: soul survives!
I couldn't get onto this site as it was heavily in demand. That's good to hear! I'll try again later.

DAVID: I copied the whole story. Here is the Penrose video:

https://youtu.be/lJmzfdF4CZk

Many thanks, David. I'm afraid I didn't get much out of it beyond the fact that consciousness is a mysterious "extra", and maybe microtubules and quantum mechanics might just possibly somehow but so far inexplicably hold the key to what it is.

Consciousness: a group of theories about it

by David Turell @, Wednesday, January 17, 2018, 14:16 (5 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: We discussed Penrose’s ideas on the thread with the horribly misleading title “Human Consciousness: Penrose: soul survives!
I couldn't get onto this site as it was heavily in demand. That's good to hear! I'll try again later.

DAVID: I copied the whole story. Here is the Penrose video:

https://youtu.be/lJmzfdF4CZk

dhw: Many thanks, David. I'm afraid I didn't get much out of it beyond the fact that consciousness is a mysterious "extra", and maybe microtubules and quantum mechanics might just possibly somehow but so far inexplicably hold the key to what it is.

I have the feeling that consciousness is at a quantum level of brain function, perhaps due to the fact both quantum mechanics and consciousness are so mysterious..

Consciousness: and brain damage

by dhw, Tuesday, January 16, 2018, 12:17 (6 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: Being convinced that God exists does not give you exclusive access to your God’s mind. It is perfectly possible to believe in God and to believe that he purposefully created a mechanism which allowed for all life forms to develop as they have done, in an ever changing spectacle of wonders, including but not confined to the brain of Homo sapiens.

DAVID: God did create a mechanism of evolution that lead to the bush of life. We don't disagree. Where we differ is I see our brain as a purposeful end point.

I’m afraid our disagreement is far wider-ranging, since I propose that the mechanism runs autonomously, whereas you insist that every innovation, lifestyle and natural wonder has been preprogrammed or dabbled. Your view of the human brain varies from it being the sole purpose to its being “a purposeful end point”. If it’s the latter, please tell us what other purposeful end points you think your God had in mind.

Consciousness: and brain damage

by David Turell @, Tuesday, January 16, 2018, 14:33 (6 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: Being convinced that God exists does not give you exclusive access to your God’s mind. It is perfectly possible to believe in God and to believe that he purposefully created a mechanism which allowed for all life forms to develop as they have done, in an ever changing spectacle of wonders, including but not confined to the brain of Homo sapiens.

DAVID: God did create a mechanism of evolution that lead to the bush of life. We don't disagree. Where we differ is I see our brain as a purposeful end point.

dhw: I’m afraid our disagreement is far wider-ranging, since I propose that the mechanism runs autonomously, whereas you insist that every innovation, lifestyle and natural wonder has been preprogrammed or dabbled. Your view of the human brain varies from it being the sole purpose to its being “a purposeful end point”. If it’s the latter, please tell us what other purposeful end points you think your God had in mind.

Of course our disagreement is wider-ranging. To review: life did not start by chance. Evolution cannot procede by chance changes, and the human brain is the pinnacle of life's evolution. That brain is God's main end point as it can relate to Him. I've never deviated from this view.

Consciousness: and brain damage

by dhw, Wednesday, January 17, 2018, 13:20 (5 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: God did create a mechanism of evolution that lead to the bush of life. We don't disagree. Where we differ is I see our brain as a purposeful end point.

dhw: I’m afraid our disagreement is far wider-ranging, since I propose that the mechanism runs autonomously, whereas you insist that every innovation, lifestyle and natural wonder has been preprogrammed or dabbled. Your view of the human brain varies from it being the sole purpose to its being “a purposeful end point”. If it’s the latter, please tell us what other purposeful end points you think your God had in mind.

DAVID: Of course our disagreement is wider-ranging. To review: life did not start by chance. Evolution cannot procede by chance changes, and the human brain is the pinnacle of life's evolution. That brain is God's main end point as it can relate to Him. I've never deviated from this view.

I would still like to know what other, less important end points you think your God may have had.

Consciousness: and brain damage

by David Turell @, Wednesday, January 17, 2018, 14:20 (5 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: God did create a mechanism of evolution that lead to the bush of life. We don't disagree. Where we differ is I see our brain as a purposeful end point.

dhw: I’m afraid our disagreement is far wider-ranging, since I propose that the mechanism runs autonomously, whereas you insist that every innovation, lifestyle and natural wonder has been preprogrammed or dabbled. Your view of the human brain varies from it being the sole purpose to its being “a purposeful end point”. If it’s the latter, please tell us what other purposeful end points you think your God had in mind.

DAVID: Of course our disagreement is wider-ranging. To review: life did not start by chance. Evolution cannot procede by chance changes, and the human brain is the pinnacle of life's evolution. That brain is God's main end point as it can relate to Him. I've never deviated from this view.

dhw: I would still like to know what other, less important end points you think your God may have had.

Beyond the brain, providing a broad bush of life to provide the necessary balance of nature to support an energy supply so the evolution of life could continue until sapiens appeared.

Consciousness: and brain damage

by dhw, Thursday, January 18, 2018, 14:05 (4 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: ...the human brain is the pinnacle of life's evolution. That brain is God's main end point as it can relate to Him. I've never deviated from this view.

dhw: I would still like to know what other, less important end points you think your God may have had.

DAVID: Beyond the brain, providing a broad bush of life to provide the necessary balance of nature to support an energy supply so the evolution of life could continue until sapiens appeared.

Which still means that the broad bush of life is geared to the production of sapiens’ brain, and so the broad bush of life is not an “end point” in itself. So let me approach the problem from another angle. You are continually educating us with an amazing array of Nature’s wonders, and they are just that. You and I both wonder at the marvellous inventiveness of existing organisms. (See today’s comment on the crab claw: "Nature always comes up with ingenious designs. Why not recognize the designer, God?") Even today, children are not the only ones fascinated by dinosaurs, long since dead. Religious people sing of “all things bright and beautiful…” for which they thank their God. Do you not think it possible that your God might also have enjoyed the bright and beautiful things produced by the process of evolution? Not as a mere means to an end – providing an energy supply so life could go on until sapiens appeared – but as an end in themselves?

Consciousness: and brain damage

by David Turell @, Thursday, January 18, 2018, 17:45 (4 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: ...the human brain is the pinnacle of life's evolution. That brain is God's main end point as it can relate to Him. I've never deviated from this view.

dhw: I would still like to know what other, less important end points you think your God may have had.

DAVID: Beyond the brain, providing a broad bush of life to provide the necessary balance of nature to support an energy supply so the evolution of life could continue until sapiens appeared.

dhw: Which still means that the broad bush of life is geared to the production of sapiens’ brain, and so the broad bush of life is not an “end point” in itself. So let me approach the problem from another angle. You are continually educating us with an amazing array of Nature’s wonders, and they are just that. You and I both wonder at the marvellous inventiveness of existing organisms. (See today’s comment on the crab claw: "Nature always comes up with ingenious designs. Why not recognize the designer, God?") Even today, children are not the only ones fascinated by dinosaurs, long since dead. Religious people sing of “all things bright and beautiful…” for which they thank their God. Do you not think it possible that your God might also have enjoyed the bright and beautiful things produced by the process of evolution? Not as a mere means to an end – providing an energy supply so life could go on until sapiens appeared – but as an end in themselves?

You've gone back to humanizing God. I feel I know what God weanted to accomplish. I cannot know about His emotions, but you seem to without belief in Him.

Consciousness: and brain damage

by dhw, Friday, January 19, 2018, 13:29 (3 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: I would still like to know what other, less important end points you think your God may have had.

DAVID: Beyond the brain, providing a broad bush of life to provide the necessary balance of nature to support an energy supply so the evolution of life could continue until sapiens appeared.

dhw: Which still means that the broad bush of life is geared to the production of sapiens’ brain, and so the broad bush of life is not an “end point” in itself. […] Do you not think it possible that your God might also have enjoyed the bright and beautiful things produced by the process of evolution? Not as a mere means to an end – providing an energy supply so life could go on until sapiens appeared – but as an end in themselves?

DAVID: You've gone back to humanizing God. I feel I know what God weanted to accomplish. I cannot know about His emotions, but you seem to without belief in Him.

We cannot even “know” that God exists, but that doesn’t stop you from insisting that he does. You cannot “know” what your God wanted to accomplish, but that doesn’t stop you from dismissing any hypothesis that differs from your own. You cannot “know” why your God wanted to create Homo sapiens, but that doesn’t stop you from believing he wants a relationship with us (how very “human” of him). But I’m not asking you to believe anything at all, and I’m not claiming to “know” anything myself. You have said you believe your God watches his creations with interest from his quantum hiding place. I wonder why he's interested. Now I’m asking if you do or do not think that he might enjoy all these bright and beautiful things for their own sake rather than just for the sake of their providing energy for sapiens. Possible or not possible?

Consciousness: and brain damage

by David Turell @, Friday, January 19, 2018, 19:07 (3 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: I would still like to know what other, less important end points you think your God may have had.

DAVID: Beyond the brain, providing a broad bush of life to provide the necessary balance of nature to support an energy supply so the evolution of life could continue until sapiens appeared.

dhw: Which still means that the broad bush of life is geared to the production of sapiens’ brain, and so the broad bush of life is not an “end point” in itself. […] Do you not think it possible that your God might also have enjoyed the bright and beautiful things produced by the process of evolution? Not as a mere means to an end – providing an energy supply so life could go on until sapiens appeared – but as an end in themselves?

DAVID: You've gone back to humanizing God. I feel I know what God weanted to accomplish. I cannot know about His emotions, but you seem to without belief in Him.

dhw: We cannot even “know” that God exists, but that doesn’t stop you from insisting that he does. You cannot “know” what your God wanted to accomplish, but that doesn’t stop you from dismissing any hypothesis that differs from your own. You cannot “know” why your God wanted to create Homo sapiens, but that doesn’t stop you from believing he wants a relationship with us (how very “human” of him). But I’m not asking you to believe anything at all, and I’m not claiming to “know” anything myself. You have said you believe your God watches his creations with interest from his quantum hiding place. I wonder why he's interested. Now I’m asking if you do or do not think that he might enjoy all these bright and beautiful things for their own sake rather than just for the sake of their providing energy for sapiens. Possible or not possible?

Again you attempt to humanize Him. I dismiss your hypotheses because I am firm in my faith. Since you don't believe in Him why do you bother to wonder about his possible interest in his creations? I'm sure He is interested in what He has created. 'Enjoy' is beyond my ability to know. Yes He might 'enjoy' as a possibility within His unique personality, since He is a person like no other person.

Consciousness: and brain damage

by dhw, Saturday, January 20, 2018, 14:01 (1 day, 19 hours, 51 min. ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: You've gone back to humanizing God. I feel I know what God weanted to accomplish. I cannot know about His emotions, but you seem to without belief in Him.

dhw: We cannot even “know” that God exists, but that doesn’t stop you from insisting that he does. You cannot “know” what your God wanted to accomplish, but that doesn’t stop you from dismissing any hypothesis that differs from your own. You cannot “know” why your God wanted to create Homo sapiens, but that doesn’t stop you from believing he wants a relationship with us (how very “human” of him). But I’m not asking you to believe anything at all, and I’m not claiming to “know” anything myself. You have said you believe your God watches his creations with interest from his quantum hiding place. I wonder why he's interested. Now I’m asking if you do or do not think that he might enjoy all these bright and beautiful things for their own sake rather than just for the sake of their providing energy for sapiens. Possible or not possible?

DAVID: Again you attempt to humanize Him. I dismiss your hypotheses because I am firm in my faith. Since you don't believe in Him why do you bother to wonder about his possible interest in his creations? I'm sure He is interested in what He has created. 'Enjoy' is beyond my ability to know. Yes He might 'enjoy' as a possibility within His unique personality, since He is a person like no other person.

To clarify: I am not discussing your faith in God, but only your hypotheses concerning your God’s goal and ‘modus operandi’. However, I wonder how you would respond to an atheist who dismissed all the evidence and careful reasoning behind your arguments for design on the grounds that he was “firm in his faith”, i.e. had already closed his mind.

All your God’s attributes, as well as his existence and his goal, are beyond our “ability to know”. But if enjoyment of his own creations is a possibility, then it is possible that his enjoyment was his reason for starting life and evolution. Such a goal might possibly include his enjoyment of watching a being so intelligent that he can even question the existence of God – not to mention the other admirable, detestable, beautiful, horrific wonders that intelligent being is capable of!

As for why I "bother", I am an agnostic, not an atheist. I wrote the “brief guide” and opened this website because I am fascinated by the subject, and eager to explore all its ramifications, which include the possible nature of God, if he exists. In turn I’m surprised that someone who is so dedicated to his faith in a purposeful God that he has written two brilliant books about it, should nevertheless be unwilling to discuss what his God’s nature might be.

Consciousness: and brain damage

by David Turell @, Saturday, January 20, 2018, 18:05 (1 day, 15 hours, 46 min. ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Again you attempt to humanize Him. I dismiss your hypotheses because I am firm in my faith. Since you don't believe in Him why do you bother to wonder about his possible interest in his creations? I'm sure He is interested in what He has created. 'Enjoy' is beyond my ability to know. Yes He might 'enjoy' as a possibility within His unique personality, since He is a person like no other person.

dhw: All your God’s attributes, as well as his existence and his goal, are beyond our “ability to know”. But if enjoyment of his own creations is a possibility, then it is possible that his enjoyment was his reason for starting life and evolution. Such a goal might possibly include his enjoyment of watching a being so intelligent that he can even question the existence of God – not to mention the other admirable, detestable, beautiful, horrific wonders that intelligent being is capable of!

As for why I "bother", I am an agnostic, not an atheist. I wrote the “brief guide” and opened this website because I am fascinated by the subject, and eager to explore all its ramifications, which include the possible nature of God, if he exists. In turn I’m surprised that someone who is so dedicated to his faith in a purposeful God that he has written two brilliant books about it, should nevertheless be unwilling to discuss what his God’s nature might be.

I maintain my unwillingness on the basis of Adler's contention that God is a person like no other person. I cannot consider human characteristics in Him.

Consciousness: and brain damage

by dhw, Sunday, January 21, 2018, 13:43 (20 hours, 9 minutes ago) @ David Turell

Dhw: I’m surprised that someone who is so dedicated to his faith in a purposeful God that he has written two brilliant books about it, should nevertheless be unwilling to discuss what his God’s nature might be.

DAVID: I maintain my unwillingness on the basis of Adler's contention that God is a person like no other person. I cannot consider human characteristics in Him.

You “cannot”? Of course you can, and you do (e.g. he watches us with interest, sets us problems, and wants a relationship with us). Nobody in his right mind would believe that a being who can create a whole universe is like any other “person”, but that does not mean he has no attributes in common with the beings he has created. Why bother to call him a “person” in the first place? Could it be that you are unwilling to consider another hypothesis (even though you acknowledge that you can find no fault in its reasoning) because it presents a logical threat to your firm belief in things you cannot “know” – such as the hypothesis that God’s only purpose in creating billions of life forms, lifestyles and natural wonders was to provide energy until sapiens arrived?

Consciousness: and brain damage

by David Turell @, Sunday, January 21, 2018, 15:00 (18 hours, 51 minutes ago) @ dhw

Dhw: I’m surprised that someone who is so dedicated to his faith in a purposeful God that he has written two brilliant books about it, should nevertheless be unwilling to discuss what his God’s nature might be.

DAVID: I maintain my unwillingness on the basis of Adler's contention that God is a person like no other person. I cannot consider human characteristics in Him.

dhw: You “cannot”? Of course you can, and you do (e.g. he watches us with interest, sets us problems, and wants a relationship with us). Nobody in his right mind would believe that a being who can create a whole universe is like any other “person”, but that does not mean he has no attributes in common with the beings he has created. Why bother to call him a “person” in the first place? Could it be that you are unwilling to consider another hypothesis (even though you acknowledge that you can find no fault in its reasoning) because it presents a logical threat to your firm belief in things you cannot “know” – such as the hypothesis that God’s only purpose in creating billions of life forms, lifestyles and natural wonders was to provide energy until sapiens arrived?

If you read Adler you might gain some understanding of the position. I can give God a goal (the brain) without attempting to personalize Him as you persist in doing. I do offer opinions about Him. I know that, but I do not know His underlying core positions. Religions claims He loves us. There is no proof, as an expmple of human wishful thinking. Does He respond to prayer? Adler says 50/50 chance. That is a reasonable point of view. Do you think God is humanlly logical. What is your proof?

Consciousness: Egnor on dualism:Decartes' blunder

by David Turell @, Wednesday, January 17, 2018, 22:28 (4 days ago) @ David Turell

He uses Thomist and Aristotelian principals to make his point:

https://evolutionnews.org/2018/01/descartess-blunder/

"He concludes, famously, that he can be certain only of this: that he exists. Cogito ergo sum. Because even to doubt his own existence presupposes his existence.

"Most fundamentally, he is wrong about the thing that we are most sure of.

"The foundation of epistemology is not self-awareness. This can be understood by considering Descartes’s maxim, “Cogito ergo sum.” Notice that we cannot conclude that we exist unless we can conclude. That is, we must first know the principle of non-contradiction — that being is not non-being — before we can conclude that “I think therefore I am.” (my bold)

“'Therefore,” not “I think” nor “I am,” is the crux of the most important thing we know. The principle of non-contradiction is prior to self-awareness.

"This is a foundation of Thomistic philosophy. St. Thomas notes:
By nature our intellect knows being and the immediate characteristic of being as being, out of which knowledge arises the understanding of first principles, of the principle, say, that affirmation and denial cannot coexist (opposition between being and non-being) …

"Aquinas derives his principle from Aristotle’s principle of non-contradiction: a thing cannot be and not be at the same time. It is the most fundamental thing we know, because if we do not know it, even Descartes’s first principle — cogito ergo sum — is not true. If being and not being could coexist, if contradiction were metaphysically possible, then it would be possible for me to think and at the same time not to exist.

"The law of non-contradiction, not cogito ergo sum, is the foundation of knowledge.

***

"Materialists and atheists claim that ID is scientifically wrong, and claim that ID is not scientifically testable. But of course, in order to be scientifically wrong, ID must be scientifically testable.

"Materialists and atheists believe that our minds evolved by natural selection. But if we evolved wholly by natural selection, we evolved to maximize reproductive success, not to discern truth, and thus we could not trust our belief that we evolved by natural selection.
Materialists and atheists believe that determinism is true and that free will is not real.

"But if determinism is true and we lack free will, then our opinions are determined by physical processes, which are not propositions and which lack truth value. Chemical reactions are neither true nor false, so a materialist’s opinion that determinism is true and free will is not real has no truth value.

"Materialists and atheists believe that the universe spontaneously came from nothing, and they define nothing as the laws of quantum mechanics.

"Materialists and atheists believe that the existence of evil disproves the existence of God, yet if there is no ultimate Source of right and wrong, there is no evil and no good; there are merely circumstances we like or dislike. Nietzsche, unlike the New Atheists, understood this.

"Again and again, materialists and atheists hold opinions that violate the law of non-contradiction. In this sense, atheism and materialism aren’t even really metaphysical theories. They’re just self-refuting nonsense."

Comment: Interesting point. We must be able to reach conclusions and never contradict. Certainy allows for dualism

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