Can Evolution Explain Consciousness?

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anonymous66
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Re: Can Evolution Explain Consciousness?

Post by anonymous66 » May 21st, 2018, 8:25 am

Halc wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 7:48 am
anonymous66 wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 7:11 am


Why couldn't there be a universe with no conscious beings? I'm able to imagine a universe consisting of only one atom.
LuckyR gave the answer you seek. A being that is conscious of its environment will have a massive survival advantage over a similar being that is not conscious of its environment. Evolution would quickly select for the former it would seem.
That doesn't fit with what I see in the world. Assuming that animals that pass the mirror test can be considered conscious, they don't appear to have any advantage over those who don't.

Tamminen
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Re: Can Evolution Explain Consciousness?

Post by Tamminen » May 21st, 2018, 9:16 am

anonymous66 wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 7:11 am
Why couldn't there be a universe with no conscious beings? I'm able to imagine a universe consisting of only one atom.
Fine if you can imagine such a world. I cannot even imagine a world where I do not exist.
Halc wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 7:48 am
Not so under idealism, where a world of non-conscious pre-evolutionary life (say only plants??) cannot even exist to eventually evolve into conscious life forms.
Evolution from non-conscious life forms into conscious ones is in total accordance with my views.

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Consul
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Re: Can Evolution Explain Consciousness?

Post by Consul » May 21st, 2018, 11:51 am

Tamminen wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 9:16 am
I cannot even imagine a world where I do not exist.
I don't believe you cannot imagine any period in the history of the world before your birth (e.g. the times when the dinosaurs roamed the earth).
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

Tamminen
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Re: Can Evolution Explain Consciousness?

Post by Tamminen » May 21st, 2018, 2:05 pm

Consul wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 11:51 am
Tamminen wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 9:16 am
I cannot even imagine a world where I do not exist.
I don't believe you cannot imagine any period in the history of the world before your birth (e.g. the times when the dinosaurs roamed the earth).
If the world is seen as a spatio-temporal whole, the time of the dinosaurs is part of the world where I exist.

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Consul
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Re: Can Evolution Explain Consciousness?

Post by Consul » May 21st, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tamminen wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 2:05 pm
Consul wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 11:51 am
I don't believe you cannot imagine any period in the history of the world before your birth (e.g. the times when the dinosaurs roamed the earth).
If the world is seen as a spatio-temporal whole, the time of the dinosaurs is part of the world where I exist.
For instance, imagine a whole world which is indistinguishable from that temporal part of your world which begins with the big bang and ends with your mother's birth! You aren't part of that world, but this doesn't mean you cannot imagine it, does it?
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

anonymous66
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Re: Can Evolution Explain Consciousness?

Post by anonymous66 » May 21st, 2018, 3:08 pm

To find the answer, I guess I'll have to work my way through this google search: https://www.google.com/search?q=evoluti ... irefox-b-1

Has anyone read Dennett's book From Bacteria to Bach and Back?

Tamminen
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Re: Can Evolution Explain Consciousness?

Post by Tamminen » May 21st, 2018, 4:36 pm

Consul wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 2:58 pm
For instance, imagine a whole world which is indistinguishable from that temporal part of your world which begins with the big bang and ends with your mother's birth! You aren't part of that world, but this doesn't mean you cannot imagine it, does it?
I cannot imagine such part-worlds as real worlds. It would only be an abstraction of a world. Of course I can imagine an abstraction, but we are speaking of the concrete world now. And there is only one of them, by definition.

There is this phenomenological a priori truth: If I did not exist, there would be nothing.
And then there is this empirical truth: If I did not exist, the world would exist without me.

The solution to this seeming paradox is that the 'I' in the first sentence denotes something else than the 'I' in the second sentence.

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Consul
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Re: Can Evolution Explain Consciousness?

Post by Consul » May 21st, 2018, 4:45 pm

Tamminen wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 4:36 pm
There is this phenomenological a priori truth: If I did not exist, there would be nothing.
No, this is not a truth but a falsity! If I didn't exist, there would be nothing for myself, but there would still be something (in itself).
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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ThomasHobbes
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Re: Can Evolution Explain Consciousness?

Post by ThomasHobbes » May 21st, 2018, 4:58 pm

anonymous66 wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 7:10 am
ThomasHobbes wrote:
May 19th, 2018, 5:40 pm

Since the universe is non intentional, there are no real explanations to be had. Explanations are attempts to answer why questions. There are no such reasons.

Evolution like all scientifically discovered mechanisms is descriptive. There is nothing here to explain, as such. What evolutionary theory can do is to speculate using knowledge of the mechanism of natural selection to describe how consciousness emerged.

Consciousness in this respect is like anything else. There is no why atoms exist, no why water behaves as it does. The universe is just how it is. We can only describe what we find in it.
It sounds like you're saying, "scientists don't ask questions". But it seems to me that science advances when people do ask questions.
I'm not saying that at all.
I am saying that science asks HOW and never why. There is not proper scientific question that cannot be asked with a "how". Any scientific question that is asked with a 'why' ought to be able to be changed to a 'how', it's clarity increased, or it's not really a science question.

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ThomasHobbes
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Re: Can Evolution Explain Consciousness?

Post by ThomasHobbes » May 21st, 2018, 4:59 pm

Tamminen wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 2:05 pm
Consul wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 11:51 am


I don't believe you cannot imagine any period in the history of the world before your birth (e.g. the times when the dinosaurs roamed the earth).
If the world is seen as a spatio-temporal whole, the time of the dinosaurs is part of the world where I exist.
You are not even in the same world you were in yesterday.

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LuckyR
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Re: Can Evolution Explain Consciousness?

Post by LuckyR » May 22nd, 2018, 1:40 am

anonymous66 wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 7:06 am
LuckyR wrote:
May 20th, 2018, 3:02 am


Well because consciousness confers the single greatest survival advantage ever for genetic material.
What makes you think so? And if that is the case, why don't more animals have consciousness?
Uummm... don't you think that homo sapiens has accomplished somewhat more than the median among earth inhabitants?

It is easier to keep animals down (hunting, domestication) then raising them up (training, genetic engineering). But don't worry, it's coming (if it isn't here already).
"As usual... it depends."

Tamminen
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Re: Can Evolution Explain Consciousness?

Post by Tamminen » May 22nd, 2018, 4:03 am

Consul wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 4:45 pm
Tamminen wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 4:36 pm
There is this phenomenological a priori truth: If I did not exist, there would be nothing.
No, this is not a truth but a falsity! If I didn't exist, there would be nothing for myself, but there would still be something (in itself).
That is exactly what I wrote in the second sentence. You only read the first one. Both are true. And you missed the whole point. I am not saying that you should see the truth of the first sentence, because many do not see it. But the point is the paradox and its solution. The point is the meaning of the myself.

If I did not exist, there would be something, not in itself, but for others.

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Greta
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Re: Can Evolution Explain Consciousness?

Post by Greta » May 22nd, 2018, 4:14 am

LuckyR wrote:
May 22nd, 2018, 1:40 am
anonymous66 wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 7:06 am


What makes you think so? And if that is the case, why don't more animals have consciousness?
Uummm... don't you think that homo sapiens has accomplished somewhat more than the median among earth inhabitants?

It is easier to keep animals down (hunting, domestication) then raising them up (training, genetic engineering). But don't worry, it's coming (if it isn't here already).
Agreed. Brains are expensive in terms of energy use. Our brains make about about 2% of our body mass but use about 20% of the body's energy. So brains grow when there is enough food around to sustain them.

Humans gained a multiplier affect there because their intelligence allowed them to sustain the food supply. Interestingly, dinos had another strategy, using size rather than intelligence at a time when the Earth had an especially high percentage of free oxygen in the atmosphere. Gigantism (large predators, large meals!) was common during the Cretaceous in many animal groups, not just in dinosaurs. Size was even more expensive than brains, though, which left dinos vulnerable to climate change at first, and then the asteroid finished the rest off, aside from birds' descendants.

There is evidence that, since the Cretaceous atmosphere was so oxygenated, dinosaurs would have been regularly dealing with wildfires. Size, if accompanied by speed, would be an advantage, as would height to breathe and see above ground smoke and a tough hide. The large ones that could not burrow must have been mostly nomadic, never having the chance to settle, leading short and dangerous lives. Thus, intelligence and culture never had a chance to bloom, at least not in the large species, not even to the extent of social mammals and birds today.

anonymous66
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Re: Can Evolution Explain Consciousness?

Post by anonymous66 » May 22nd, 2018, 7:12 am

LuckyR wrote:
May 22nd, 2018, 1:40 am
anonymous66 wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 7:06 am


What makes you think so? And if that is the case, why don't more animals have consciousness?
Uummm... don't you think that homo sapiens has accomplished somewhat more than the median among earth inhabitants?

It is easier to keep animals down (hunting, domestication) then raising them up (training, genetic engineering). But don't worry, it's coming (if it isn't here already).
There are a lot of conscious humans.... But, what of conscious animals? Is their consciousness an advantage?
I see some conscious animals and some that don't display signs of consciousness (mirror test). It seems to me that animals without consciousness are doing quite well.

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Re: Can Evolution Explain Consciousness?

Post by Karpel Tunnel » May 22nd, 2018, 8:21 am

ThomasHobbes wrote:
May 19th, 2018, 5:40 pm
Since the universe is non intentional, there are no real explanations to be had.
This is a kind of metaphysical claim. It certainly fits with current scientific models, but it is not, for example, a conclusion after some kind of empirical research into whether it is true or not.
Explanations are attempts to answer why questions.
Presumably you mean here the kinds of why questions that have to do with intentions, which is a subset of why questions, but further it is an odd restriction on the word 'explanation'. 'Scientific explanation' is an utterly common phrase in science and since the primary meaning of explanation is 'make (an idea or situation) clear to someone by describing it in more detail or revealing relevant facts.'
Evolution like all scientifically discovered mechanisms is descriptive.
Evolutionary theory is descriptive and it is also an explanation. Evolution itself is neither.
There is nothing here to explain, as such. What evolutionary theory can do is to speculate using knowledge of the mechanism of natural selection to describe how consciousness emerged.
And it would be speculation. Though a lot depends on what one means by consciousness - which can be anything from awareness (that is, being some kind of experiencer) to being able to think of oneself.
Consciousness in this respect is like anything else. There is no why atoms exist, no why water behaves as it does. The universe is just how it is. We can only describe what we find in it.
But science goes far beyond describing what we find. It explains why and how things got to be the way they are. It posits things not present, not capable of being sensed (iow not directly empirical things) and how these lead to what we experience.
Further it speculates for example metaphysically - always allowing for revision - and this comes into play in theories and ontology. That everything is material - whatever that means, given how this category has shifted and expanded over time. That there are natural laws - a metaphysical assumption that is coming into revision and question within science. And so on.

But all this is a digression from his use of why. He could have used how and his main point is still interesting. Since we can imagine all the functions of animals being performed as non-conscious mechanisms, how did conscousness arise in evolution. The utterly determined chemical machines of animals do not need internal experience, they simply need to have those traits that lead to successful proceation. It would seem like awareness (consciousness) is simply an emergent byproduct.

His question has more to do with the zombie issue in philosophy.

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