Evolution and humans: big brain size or use (Evolution)

by David Turell @, Sunday, May 14, 2017, 22:34 (2598 days ago) @ dhw
edited by David Turell, Sunday, May 14, 2017, 23:05

DAVID: You miss the point entirely. The radio receiver concept assumes consciousness is an independent entity pervading the universe. The brain does not develop consciousness. It RECEIVES consciousness and as through plasticity the brain develops, it learns how to use it. Personality development is part of the process; intellectual capacity, I.Q., depth of thought all part of development of its use as a tool.

dhw: Unless I have completely misunderstood the above, you seem to be suggesting some form of consciousness that has nothing to be conscious of: a blank that somehow enters each individual organism from outside. And then you say the plastic, developing brain learns how to use it, whereas your belief in free will suggests that consciousness uses the brain. Please clarify: do you think the brain uses consciousness, or consciousness uses the brain?

I'll try an other attempt at the analogy. The electromagnetic waves that arrive at the radio set are structured, contain information and the radio turns them into intelligible sound, or pictures and sound in the TV. There is a structured consciousness that runs the universe. We receive a bit of it with our brains and learn to use it. The brain uses to consciousness it receives. Granted the radio simply receives a working signal. Perhaps the best analogy is downloading an app to an I phone for special use by that phone. Our brains are much more versatile in that they can learn to use the consciousness signal, take control of it with free will decision making.

dhw: My starting point is that each individual organism has his/her/its personal consciousness. You asked if a newborn baby is “fully conscious”, and I think that’s an important question in relation to all the above. When a baby cries for food, its consciousness is operating at the lowest animal level: the body tells it what it needs and the brain triggers the appropriate actions to express its needs. As individual brains and bodies mature and subjectively experience the outer as well as the inner world, they complexify their needs and modes of expression, as there is more and more for them to be conscious of. The “independent entity” you have described above is a blanket external awareness of nothing – and incidentally as such can hardly be identified with your God, since he could not have created the universe if he wasn’t conscious of something. The only such nebulous concept I can think of that might “pervade the universe” is some form of panpsychism in which materials possess an innate degree of awareness. But in that case, consciousness is not an “independent entity”; it is confined to individual materials, and so the individual material brain has and develops its own consciousness, as opposed to receiving it as a blank blob of nothingness from outside itself. I’ll leave it at that for the time being, to get your angle on what I’ve said so far.

The consciousness of the universe is at the quantum level of reality. Everything is based on it. Remember, Penrose thinks consciousness is quantum activity in the brain.


"The philosopher David Chalmers has speculated that consciousness may be a fundamental property of nature existing outside the known laws of physics. Others—often branded “mysterians”—claim that subjective experience is simply beyond the capacity of science to explain.

"Penrose’s theory promises a deeper level of explanation. He starts with the premise that consciousness is not computational, and it’s beyond anything that neuroscience, biology, or physics can now explain. “We need a major revolution in our understanding of the physical world in order to accommodate consciousness,” Penrose told me in a recent interview. “The most likely place, if we’re not going to go outside physics altogether, is in this big unknown—namely, making sense of quantum mechanics.”

"He draws on the basic properties of quantum computing, in which bits (qubits) of information can be in multiple states—for instance, in the “on” or “off” position—at the same time. These quantum states exist simultaneously—the “superposition”—before coalescing into a single, almost instantaneous, calculation. Quantum coherence occurs when a huge number of things—say, a whole system of electrons—act together in one quantum state.

"It was Hameroff’s idea that quantum coherence happens in microtubules, protein structures inside the brain’s neurons.


"When they met in Oxford, Penrose realized that microtubules had the best chance of anything he’d seen that could mediate large-scale quantum coherence within the brain. And ever since, Penrose and Hameroff have been peddling their theory."

Comment: Quantum consciousness is very possible.

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