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Cosmology, Quantum Mechanics & Consciousness Message Board › What IS "consciousness"?

What IS "consciousness"?

Camilla M.
user 7151822
London, GB
Post #: 17
I see what you're driving at Andrew.
That Peter is here only talking about awareness.
But look at Peter's middle sentence in yellow.

He said:

I think my definition of consciousness here corresponds to your definition of awareness in your thread. Do you concur?

You clearly see consciousness as in some way different: and here, I think we disagree.

My underlying perception can be summed up by this saying:


A quantitative change of sufficient magnitude is a qualitative change

My view is that consciousness is what you get when you have awareness in a sufficiently powerful brain. This view has the advantage that no sudden qualitative change need occur. The phenomenon is a continuum, with no watershed. This view has the advantage that it fully explains why we find it so hard to define the difference.

This is where what you're saying that he's saying doesn't quite fit.
He really is claiming that quality is no different (except in complexity) than quantity.

So, even if he encompasses that within awareness, rather than in a move from awareness to consciousness, he still admits there is a change in outcome.
It is a marginally lesser claim, that quantity is of the same type as quality, I take your point. Still unlikely.

In saying that though, he stills seems to me to be claiming that there is some great alteration even if it is within the concept/process of awareness that is to be explained. And then that becomes called consciousness.
Is this a difference that really makes a difference?
It's all just learning and feedback routines.
Does it account for the 'illumination' you spoke of? The What It's Likeness.
If so, how?

So, for Peter, it seems that either things are actually more of the same, he can have no values in life, no experiences that aren't simply more quantifying of relations between things in a functionalist way - everything he does would just be a function and a note to self that he'd done it - or else he does notice that there is a difference between quality and quantity but wants to make them commensurate. Perhaps that's unfair. It seems too personal, I said it to illustrate dramatically.
Too much reliance is put on this sort of allegation "in any complex measurement dimensions, more of the same goes on... and then this just happens!" As if that explains anything.



lan B.
user 10895495
London, GB
Post #: 113

Thanks Camilla.

Good stuff and I hope by now comprehensible to all, even if only by dint of relentless repetition!

I still haven't fully digested everything exchanged since the weekend in St Albans. Yours Camilla is the most technical so I'll need to trawl through everything from that point onward with a fine toothcomb. I don't think there is anything specific that you've said with which I could in principle disagree, but there might be one or 2 minor technicalities which could foster the seeds of mistaken dissent.

Haven't yet checked the Dave Chalmers disagreement re so-called strong and weak emergence. will have a quick look o/l now before we close, beginning with a "Wikiwhack".

lan B.
user 10895495
London, GB
Post #: 114


Ah, here it is, Andrew (Wiki: Emergence).

Sub-section on "Strong and Weak Emergence":[color/]

Strong and weak emergence

The usage of the notion "emergence" may generally be subdivided into two perspectives, that of "weak emergence" and "strong emergence". Weak emergence describes new properties arising in systems as a result of the interactions at an elemental level. Emergence, in this case, is merely part of the language, or model that is needed to describe a system's behaviour.

But if, on the other hand, systems can have qualities not directly traceable to the system's components, but rather to how those components interact, and one is willing to accept that a system supervenes on its components, then it is difficult to account for an emergent property's cause. These new qualities are irreducible to the system's constituent parts (Laughlin 2005). The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This view of emergence is called strong emergence. Some fields in which strong emergence is more widely used include etiology, epistemology and ontology.

Regarding strong emergence, Mark A. Bedau observes:

"Although strong emergence is logically possible, it is uncomfortably like magic. How does an irreducible but supervenient downward causal power arise, since by definition it cannot be due to the aggregation of the micro-level potentialities? Such causal powers would be quite unlike anything within our scientific ken. This not only indicates how they will discomfort reasonable forms of materialism. Their mysteriousness will only heighten the traditional worry that emergence entails illegitimately getting something from nothing."(Bedau 1997)



I couldn't agree more. I could have written this definition myself!

Andrew, I've just noticed the appearance of your very own personalised consciousness thread! How could I possibly resist? No jargon, I promise. We'll have to conduct the 2 in tandem, with perhaps more unapaltable philosophical teccie stuff over "on this side"

A former member
Post #: 60
Dear Camilla,

Please stop claiming that I said things I didn't, and that I believe things I don't.

It is really very booring and quite pointless.


Until you desist I shall ignore your posts



Love


Peter


A former member
Post #: 61
Peter you said:
The definition of predictability that I originally supplied puts requirements on the error (i.e. divergence from reality) between the Functions output and reality. Specifically, for any given required accuracy, you must be able to choose a suitable causitive network and its associated Function(s) that guarantee the error cannot exceed the required limit.

Which is PRECISELY what you CANNOT do.

Look, I know you're a Platonist, i.e. taking the numbers more seriously than causal networks but what then is REALITY?
It seems a redundant term.
Reality is the states (through time) of the actual system under consideration. This sequence of states is the consequence of and measurable effects of the causal network of the system.


Of course at other times you are claiming that there simply just ARE strange, rare and peculiar behaviours actually appearing all around us.

No. I have never claimed anything of the sort. I have no idea where this idea came from.

How could these 'appear' objectively but be non causal?

I have never claimed this either. I have not in fact ever used the word "causal" in this discussion except in this post in response to your use of the term.

I'm getting the feeling that you think that if a system is non-reductive it must also be non-causal. I don't see any reason to believe that might be the case.

But we know that non-analytic systems exist... QED

Nothing's been QED'd, you haven't even proved they exist, in any meaningful way.


The definition of a non-analytic system is quite clear and precise. It is simply a system whose equations of state admit to no analytic solution. In order to prove that such things exist I need only to produce one example. I earlier pointed out that the 3 body gravitational problem was such a system. This has been mathematically proven. I do not understand how you can deny the existence of non-analytic systems.

What is not meaningful about this proof, please?



Nothing's been QED'd, you haven't even proved they exist, in any meaningful way.

When I describe non-analytic systems as maybe not predictable but post hoc causally reducible, having existence in that manner, you demur.

Indeed I do. Assuming I understand correctly what you mean by" post hoc causally reducible" than if you could achieve that entirely within the laws of physics you could use the reduction to provide an analytic solution to a non-analytic set of equations. I cannot see how this could be possible: it would make the entire Universe analytic.


Well, you can't help yourself to both knowledge based unpredictability AND non causality whilst claiming that there is something in the real world it is possible for unpredictability of either stripe to be about. (Fn)s are not non referring terms.

I am unclear what you mean by "knowledge based" when applied to unpredictability and I am not aware of having said anything about causality. Does it mean the same thing as determinism?

However, I see no reason why something cannot be deterministic, unpredictable and causal (assuming I correctly understand what you mean by causal).

The reference to Fn(s) in this context baffles me.



Peter
Camilla M.
user 7151822
London, GB
Post #: 19
Read them, don't read 'em, it'll just look as though you can't answer the questions.

I do put what you've actually said in the message, then sort out your claims, which keep changing.
Comparisons between them are standard practise in looking for consistency, on the way to understanding any overall argument.
A person's claims and argument, if there is one detected, can be challenged in the interests of progress on this sort of message board you know, it's not a preaching platform.
Otherwise, this would devolve down to unremarked upon conversational handwaving and so why should we believe your story?

Boring
So far your entire repertoire makes the standard functionalist claim that all is identical with the well, functional activity, as it is performed. That number crunching covers all that - with the grand exception of unpredictability. Then the problem of p-consciousness has to be manipulated into a-consciousness, which you've had a go at too. Disagree?
If you disagree, what has all the stuff about mathematical modelling, non analytic functions' interpretations vis a vis prediction and non prediction been about? Nobody is fascinated to read reams of messages about that if it doesn't lead up to anything important here.

So far, I don't consider you're saying anything interesting. By which I mean really germane to this debate and it is a debate that has long pedigree.
You could look up neuroscience's working definition instead of on the other thread dismissing their whole research in favour of what? Your naive ideas?
I am putting effort into keeping up in this whole area, neuroscience, related areas of scientific enquiry such as on attention & memory and giving an ear to philosophical input, instead of merely promoting my own folk intuitions whilst dreaming up rules for partcipants.

It seems to have annoyed you and Andrew to have been queried, at all.
Perhaps you expected ruminations to be waved through? Why write on a Cosmology, QM and Consciousness board, then? There are hobby sites.

I'll take it then overall that you can't address my questions.
A former member
Post #: 62
Hi Ian,


Yes.. this is the definition of Strong vs Weak emergence that I have been using, though I never quoted it.



Ah, here it is, Andrew (Wiki: Emergence).

Sub-section on "Strong and Weak Emergence":[color/]

Strong and weak emergence

The usage of the notion "emergence" may generally be subdivided into two perspectives, that of "weak emergence" and "strong emergence".


...


These new qualities are irreducible to the system's constituent parts (Laughlin 2005). The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This view of emergence is called strong emergence. Some fields in which strong emergence is more widely used include etiology, epistemology and ontology.

Regarding strong emergence, Mark A. Bedau observes:

"Although strong emergence is logically possible, it is uncomfortably like magic. How does an irreducible but supervenient downward causal power arise, since by definition it cannot be due to the aggregation of the micro-level potentialities? Such causal powers would be quite unlike anything within our scientific ken. This not only indicates how they will discomfort reasonable forms of materialism. Their mysteriousness will only heighten the traditional worry that emergence entails illegitimately getting something from nothing."(Bedau 1997)


However I take issue with this at the point where it stops being a definition and starts to discuss the issue, i.e. where it says:
"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts"
This is a very vague phrase and somewhat prejudicial. I do not think that Strong Emergence implies this, but I am quite certain that you could arrange that it did by suitably defining what that phrase really meant.

Mark A. Bedau's contribution seems to me to be equally vague, confused and prejudicial. He seems to be saying that he can't understand something, therefor it is magic, therefore it is wrong. Sorry... but the failure lies in his mind.

I have given a number of examples of Strong Emergence in these threads now. None are strange or magic. All are causal (if I understand the term correctly) and deterministic, but we simply do not have any means, in principle, to deduce or predict the behaviour of the systems that exhibit Strong Emergence from basic Physics. They are common, everyday systems - not strange, rare or magic. So common, in fact, that most people scarcely notice them, and totally fail to recognise that their behaviour cannot be deduced from the basic physics.


Peter
Camilla M.
user 7151822
London, GB
Post #: 20
Peter: I have not in fact ever used the word "causal" in this discussion except in this post in response to your use of the term.

Why claim not to have used the word causal when you have employed it rather a lot?
Here is the main sentence that boggles the mind:

The concept of Functions has in fact been used in this thread to confer spurious accuracy to the causal network of non-analytic systems.

I can make no sense of it.
At the time I let it pass thinking you had expressed yourself badly but all would become clear.
To me, it seems to say that causal networks could be inaccurate. How so? When they are the events unfolding themselves? Whether or not the system is described by a non analytic function, when run, it still causally plays out in the real world?

I'm getting the feeling that you think that if a system is non-reductive it must also be non-causal.
I don't see any reason to believe that might be the case.


Of course! There is no such thing as a non reductive system of realtime events.
This isn't assertion - that is in scientific practice.
We might model something non-reductive in hyper dimensions, perhaps, who knows if it would turn out to be analytic.
I don't find that to be the issue.

When you say this about LaPlace it's very confusing too:

He is envisioning a causal network which (as per my original definition) is apart from, a separate entity to, and capable of being executed independently of, the original system, but which can still predict the original system. As I showed earlier such a causal network cannot exist for any non-analytic system.

It seems to imply that one causal network exists which is the n/a function running in realtime but that it would require its clone to be able to functionally describe it as a second order description but since clones don't exist in this universe (yeah, yeah, they would just BE the same system) it can't be transcribed. Or predicted as a function.

Confusing?
System is being used to mean both the real time process and the second order function that would try to describe it.
Causal network gets the same treatment.
You can't be too surprised if I took it that this might have meant the idea that a particular type of causal network depended on its functional description somehow for existence!
Putting the numbers first.

But I mean, system cannot be predicted, so what? This hasn't proved anything whatsoever about real systems behaviours.
Their surprising outcomes should still be ultimately describable by physics, even as the state of variables within the system cannot be precisely predicted throughout any run.
Decomposability says nothing about predictability.
You are going to have to read up elsewhere since you don't take it from me and then separate them.

I said earlier:

In fact, since causality goes through, any emergent must be fully decomposable in the scientific sense.

You then replied:
Because (though I can only guess what that means) all possible meanings I can come up with are formally disproved by Godel's theorem and informally demonstrated to be false by everyday events and phenomena in the world around us.

Wrong, conflation of phenomena with prior descriptive mathematical function.

You had already agreed (note in passing the use of the verb "smoothly", later brought into contention by yourself):

Its causal network comprises the system itself and its environment. It is part of reality and acts (deterministically of course by virtue of the definition you have supplied) in accordance with the laws of physics. These behave smoothly, of course.

As I said:

Strong Emergence is considered as an only slightly more complicated case of Weak Emergence in that both collapse into reductionist dimensional analysis, the barest measurements of classical physics, which is the paradigm scientific original methodology, observe then analyze, started by Francis Bacon.
The former Strong Emergence is simply less foreseeable depending on your prior assessment than the latter Weak Emergence which is entirely predictable. Both are then analyzable (= decomposable) into known physics components, standard forces and objects etc.

BTW, I used (fn) in another message to denote your use of the term function as a mathematical either analytic or non analytic function. There are letter count limits per message on this board, so shorthand is sometimes necessary.












A former member
Post #: 63
Because I have used it only as part of the defined terms causal network and causal network and never on it own.
Camilla M.
user 7151822
London, GB
Post #: 21
It's taken an hour to trawl for your definition of causal network.

And do you know what?
All the formatting, the all important italicising, is not there.
Do you remember I told you and Ian for it to be corrected so that the copy would not confuse others?
Well now, it just looks silly.
And frankly, I can't recall what was supposed to mean what.
Does anyone else on here know either?

This is the relevant extract from the page:

If I may define “causal network” as an attribute of the system, and “causal network” as a separate entity from the system in question, embodying all the rules/inferences of its “causal network” in a form which can be used to compute/predict the future behaviour of the system.

Find it yourself since you couldn't be bothered to simply repeat what you had intended by these two duplicates, helpfully, above. Wouldn't that have been the proper thing to do?

You won't find many people who are going to play your frequently obfuscating games by trawling about to satisfy definitional rules you've set up.

If I make one suggestion given how much time I've put into this search for so little reward - it's that we should choose proper existant terminology for these different terms. Then anyone can read them.

We can decide about that in the morning - for now I'll assume "causal network" means what it says, the same as causality, external to the system in my book not an attribute.
Then that function or f(x)cn = the supposed function that best attempts to describe a real world system embedded in the causal network. Putting N/A beforehand would tell us it is non analytic.
System should only be used really for real world processes, reserving some form of the term function for the rule and inference bearing descriptor. That's all we need.

Those are simply my suggestions.

Then we can unpack the difference between and reliance upon causality, prediction and, if any, supervenient (emergent) behaviours to an agreed standard.

Night night.







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