Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.
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Consul
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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Consul » June 24th, 2018, 1:57 pm

Mosesquine wrote:
June 24th, 2018, 1:04 pm
Whatever we can find is in the physical world!!! Nonphysical things are just things that can't be found anywhere!!!
Dualists will reply that you can find nonphysical things in your mind, in your consciousness, which is directly accessible to introspection.
Mosesquine wrote:
June 24th, 2018, 1:04 pm
If your mind is nonphysical, then your mind does not exist. Your mind is, as you wish, nonphysical. Therefore, your mind does not exist!!!
"Nonphysical" and "nonexistent" are surely not synonyms.

Be aware of the difference between arguing from physicalism (by presupposing it) and arguing for physicalism (without presupposing it)!
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Consul
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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Consul » June 24th, 2018, 2:11 pm

Consul wrote:
June 24th, 2018, 1:57 pm
Dualists will reply that you can find nonphysical things in your mind, in your consciousness, which is directly accessible to introspection.
However, that we don't innerly perceive (and conceive) our subjective experiences as physical entities doesn't mean that we innerly perceive entities which are really nonphysical.

"When, using our introspective powers, we turn our attention to our own minds we find nothing that suggests that the mental processes we are monitoring are processes in the brain. Indeed, I think that many would have held, up to quite recently, that introspective evidence shows, perhaps conclusively, that the mind is not the brain. We can call this the Argument from Introspection. The brain may be the immediate cause that sustains the mind in its operations, upholders of this argument often concede, but it is not the mind itself.
I believe that there is a simple observation that explains why the anti-materialist position should seem attractive even while it may be false. Unfortunately, I had not noticed the point when I published my book A Materialist Theory of the Mind (1968), so I was not able to include it in the book. But I did publish a little article in Analysis in 1968: 'The Headless Woman Illusion and the Defence of Materialism'. This illusion is brought about by exhibiting a woman (or, of course, a man!) against a totally black background with the head of the woman swathed with the same black material. It is apparently very striking, and could lead unsophisticated persons to think that the woman lacks a head. It is clear what is going on here. The spectators cannot see the head, and as a result make a transition to a strong impression that there was no head to see. An illegitimate operator shift is at work, taking people from not seeing the head to seeming to see that the woman did not have a head. The shift of the 'not', the operator, occurs because it is, in the circumstances, the natural and normally effective way to reason. If you can’t see anybody in the room, you may conclude, very reasonably, there is nobody in the room. In general you will be right. In the same way, we emphatically do not perceive introspectively that the mind is material process in our heads, so we have the impression that it is not material. This seems to nullify the force of the Argument from Introspection, while still explaining the seductiveness of that reasoning."


(Armstrong, D. M. Sketch for a Systematic Metaphysics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. pp. 106-7)
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Wayne92587 » June 24th, 2018, 2:28 pm

The problem is that you are attempting to solve a problem that has raged for 10,000 years.

The Battle between the Spirit and the Flesh.

You can not live on the Physical Plain and be a Spiritual Being.

Man is a duality, being partially physical and Partially Spiritual, there being no percentage of which or when one or the other is dominant.

In order for a person to become a Spiritual person they must die, (in the Flesh); the desires of the Flesh Body must be laid to rest, must be placed in the grave.

The so-called Christ, savior of mankind, in order to fulfill the prophecy of the coming savior of Mankind.

The so-called Christ, Jesus had to die in the flesh, be buried, and then to rise up to the Heavens in Spirit, the Spirit to then return to the flesh body, the two to then rise up and walk the Earth having both a Spiritual Body and a Flesh Body.

I think that everyone here knows that girl babies at one tim were simply killed.

The reason for this was that Eve, as in Adam-Eve, that Eve, Woman, is a metaphor, that Eve being a creation not being born of the dust of the ground was aetheral, airy, was not of this Earth, was not a physical Being.

Before you on this forum can become Spiritual, conscious, you will have to be lined up against the wall and shot dead.

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Present awareness » June 24th, 2018, 2:43 pm

Consul wrote:
June 24th, 2018, 1:34 pm
Present awareness wrote:
June 24th, 2018, 12:37 pm
How could something purely physical naturally produce anything nonphysical?
The physical neclear reaction within the Sun produces non physical light as a by-product. If you consider massless light to be physical, then there is simply a difference of opinion on the definition of the word physical.
I know no philosopher or scientist who defines "physical" in such a way that light becomes nonphysical. Light (as "the form of electromagnetic radiation to which the human eye is sensitive" – Oxford Dictionary of Physics) and photons are certainly physical phenomena. There is no "nonphysical light".
There is no physics that describes any deeper transformation that happens to the photon while it gets created or destroyed. There is no 'inside' of a photon. It is massless and cannot be decomposed into more fundamental particles. All we can meaningfully talk about is that, it is a quantum of energy that can get fully absorbed by an interacting particle, and in the process, the photon will be 'gone'. Similarly, with annihilation or with simply transition to lower energy levels, photons can also be created. It is also interesting to note that, one cannot 'tag' and 'distinguish' between photons in a sea of photons. They are bosons and are indistinguishable from one another. So, there is no meaning in talking about, whether a photon that was destroyed during absorption is the same that is later created upon emission either.

We just know that, photons can be created/destroyed by means of energy transfer, in particle interactions.

In summary, the photon goes nowhere. It just gets destroyed, when absorbed, and its energy transferred to the absorbing matter.

The above statement indicates to me that matter can absorb energy or release energy, which is an interaction between the physical (matter) and the non physical (energy). To say that a photon is non physical does not mean that it doesn’t exist, only that it doesn’t have mass.
Even though you can see me, I might not be here.

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Gertie » June 24th, 2018, 2:53 pm

Consul wrote:
June 24th, 2018, 1:50 pm
Gertie wrote:
June 24th, 2018, 1:23 pm
Speaking of 'semantic information' presupposes already existing consciousness, because the (syntactical) material processes are only meaningful (semantic) if there's a conscious subject already there to find meaning in them.
Charles Peirce wrote that "a sign is an object which stands for another to some mind," but does it have to be a conscious mind? Is it impossible in principle for a nonconscious AI robot to perceive and process semantic information?
Depends on definitions I suppose, but I'd say a non-conscious robot doesn't understand the meaning of the symbols input into its circuitry, or anything else for that matter, if it doesn't have conscious experiential states.

I can type numbers and a plus sign into a calculator, and it will give an answer, but that's only meaningful to me, not the calculator. If it was programmed differently, it would give the wrong answer just as automatically, following the different steps of the new program. I'd be the one who the wrong answer had meaning to, who had a notion of it being incorrect, misinterpreting the symbols.

When it comes to brains, you can say that a certain pattern of neural interactions is a symbolic representation of a red ball, for example, which might interact with motor neurons and eventually cause my foot to kick it and score a goal, yay. But without my experiential states giving that meaning, it's just physics, like two billiard balls colliding.

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Consul
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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Consul » June 24th, 2018, 3:36 pm

Present awareness wrote:
June 24th, 2018, 2:43 pm
The above statement indicates to me that matter can absorb energy or release energy, which is an interaction between the physical (matter) and the non physical (energy). To say that a photon is non physical does not mean that it doesn’t exist, only that it doesn’t have mass.
"Massless" and "nonphysical" aren't synonyms, and there is nothing nonphysical about energy (as defined by physicists).
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by ThomasHobbes » June 24th, 2018, 4:00 pm

Tamminen wrote:
June 24th, 2018, 4:55 am
ThomasHobbes wrote:
June 24th, 2018, 4:38 am
Feelings of all kinds are physical.
Neurological correlations of feelings are physical. We must make a conceptual distinction here.
This is not just correlation. It is what it is. No brain, no feeling.

We have no ned to make a conceptual distinction. That would be a fudge.

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Consul
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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Consul » June 24th, 2018, 4:22 pm

ThomasHobbes wrote:
June 24th, 2018, 4:00 pm
We have no ned to make a conceptual distinction. That would be a fudge.
There is a distinction between psychological concepts/predicates and neurophysiological ones.
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Consul » June 24th, 2018, 4:26 pm

Consul wrote:
June 24th, 2018, 4:22 pm
There is a distinction between psychological concepts/predicates and neurophysiological ones.
…which is compatible with physicalism, because non-synonymity (difference in meaning/sense) doesn't exclude co-referentiality (non-difference in reference).
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Tamminen » June 24th, 2018, 4:29 pm

ThomasHobbes wrote:
June 24th, 2018, 4:00 pm
No brain, no feeling.
That is right, because it is one and the same event, seen from two conceptually incompatible points of view. Brain and mind are identical in one sense but conceptually there is an insurmountable wall between them. If this wall really is insurmountable is the question we are discussing here, and as you see it is not as simple as you seem to think. There are many other hypotheses than the identity hypothesis.

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Wayne92587 » June 24th, 2018, 8:56 pm

Present awarness; what you are speaking of in your post today as being a photon or a Boson is Blasphemous.

The terms Photon and Boson are false names that do not speak of their Identities.
What you are speaking is an Infinitely Finite Indivisible Singularity that has no
relative numerical value, has a numerical value of Zero-0.

A Singularity of zero-0 does have existence it just has no Mass.

The motion of this particle is meaningless, has no displacement, no angular momentum, no velocity of speed and direction, is not measurable as to location and Momentum, resulting in said particle to not be readily apparent; for the existence or non-existence of this Particle to be unproven, uncertain.

Said Particle existing as pure unadulterated Heat Energy.

This Heat Energy is produced, Generated, Created, by an insignificant innate inner motion within the Particle, said particle existing without displacement, with angular momentum, without Velocity of Speed and Direction, while making a humming sound, OHM.

The existence, or non-existence of this Particle being Uncertain.

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Karpel Tunnel » June 25th, 2018, 3:14 am

Consul wrote:
June 24th, 2018, 10:41 am
An entity is physical iff it is either narrowly physical (physicSal) in the sense that it belongs to the subject matter of physics, or broadly physical in the sense that it is ontologically reducible to (identifiable with) or emergent from (systems of) narrowly physical (physicSal) entities.

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Karpel Tunnel » June 25th, 2018, 3:40 am

Sorry, hit send. Related to the above post then....
'belonging to the subject matter of physics' seems to me a definition not based on substance, but rather based on what a certain portion of professionals focus on as part of their research. At any given moment we can look at that set of 'things' and try to come up with a description of the properties of that set of things. It seems like each generation of these professionals infers, measures, or determines that new 'things' are affecting what was previously considered the set of physical things. These new 'things' are then considered 'physical' because they affect physical things: that is, they affect matter, energy, measuring devices, or seem to be parts of 'things' already considered physical. It is not the properties of the 'things' but the affects.

If we are going to say that anything that affects the physical is physical, then we are not really saying that only a certain substance exists, but rather that we want effects we can reproduce that seem to be coming from something we have not be able to posit and verify before, before we can add it to the category physical (and the category real).

I would guess there are some dualists who would have a problem with this, being attached to two different substances. Other might be more instrumental in their view. They might think it is useful to consider, say, matter and energy two substances - even though they can transform into one another - but would now think that they can translate the monists use of language into their own. Other dualists who posit 'things' not yet verified via scientific research, might also think, well, of course souls affect matter and matter affects souls- or ghosts, God, whatever. So, we are using language differently AND we include in the set of the real things not yet verified by scientists. The set of the real has always contained things not yet but later verified by scientists. We are in the middle of the history of science. This is not an issue that has to be resolved in this moment. They have their epistemology, we have ours - with various amounts of overlap depending on the specific dualists and monists in question.

Idealists my think that the physical emerges (or doesn't even emerge) from the non-physical. Until we know how far 'down' consciousness goes- with the panpsychists thinking 'all the way down' we cannot speak with full confidence about the direction of emergence. Of course many physicalists think we do know the direction of emergence. I think they generally confuse function with consciousness (awareness). We have no memory of what we experienced when unconscious so it is assumed there was no consciousness. But most people have no memory of deep non-rem sleep, but after meditation practice one can have memory of this state - i have. I haven't been knocked out. I don't know if my skills would cover that. My guess is not or not always- just bare intuition - but I think many of the physicalist objections have to do with loss of cognitive functions, but we do not know if bare awareness continues. This also is the case in relation to other forms of life - like plants which are gaining ground as potentially conscious within science - and beyond.

It seems to me that even if one has no experience that makes using what is considered dualistic language useful, one can remain agnostic both about substance and especially about posited entities. Also one could be open to the possibility that we are no longer talking about substance anymore, whether or not other physicalists or dualists realize that substance may not be the issue.

IOW perhaps what we have here is a problem exacerbated by unnecessary clinging by everyone to substance terms that are in flux, combined with sometimes radically different empirical situations (experiences).

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by chewybrian » June 25th, 2018, 6:21 am

Consul wrote:
June 24th, 2018, 9:47 am
chewybrian wrote:
June 24th, 2018, 4:53 am
Again, none of this is intended to 'prove' consciousness is not physical, but only to show that you can not, have not proven that it is, and that there is considerable doubt.
The doubt that consciousness is nonphysical is much stronger:

"How could a nonphysical property or entity suddenly arise in the course of animal evolution? A change in a gene is a change in a complex molecule which causes a change in the biochemistry of the cell. This may lead to changes in the shape or organization of the developing embryo. But what sort of chemical process could lead to the springing into existence of something nonphysical? No enzyme can catalyze the production of a spook! Perhaps it will be said that the nonphysical comes into existence as a by-product: that whenever there is a certain complex physical structure, then, by an irreducible extraphysical law, there is also a nonphysical entity. Such laws would be quite outside normal scientific conceptions and quite inexplicable: they would be, in Herbert Feigl’s phrase, 'nomological danglers.' To say the very least, we can vastly simplify our cosmological outlook if we can defend a materialistic philosophy of mind."

(Smart, J. J. C. "Materialism." Journal of Philosophy 60, no. 22 (October 1963): 651-662. p. 660)

An extremely plausible principle can be derived from Smart's statements:

Whatever naturally arises/emerges from or is naturally caused/produced by (nothing but) physical entities is physical itself.


"Three (nonapodictic) reasons might be offered in support of the hypothesis [that consciousness is a state of matter]. First, it is hard to see what else consciousness could be. Consciousness exists in a world of matter/energy, not outside of that world (as God and his angels might be supposed to exist), and depends essentially on (other) forms of matter, causally and otherwise. Given that Cartesian dualism has daunting problems, and is not even clearly intelligible, there doesn't seem much of an alternative to supposing mind to be in some way a modification of matter; the question is, in what way. What we really want to know, in thinking about the mind-body problem, is how it is possible for consciousness to be what we know that it must be. What kind of materialism (if we must use the term) is defensible? Put differently, consciousness must be an aspect of the same world that (other) forms of matter are also aspects of, notably the brain. Organisms are modes of matter, with some distinctive properties, and consciousness is a biological property of organisms; so it is only natural to assume that consciousness too is a form of matter. To say that it is a form of an 'immaterial' substance is to fly in the face of the obvious truth that consciousness is part of the world of embodied organisms—not a separate parallel world, with strange causal connections to the regular corporeal world. There is really nothing else for consciousness to be a mode of than the very stuff that everything else is a mode of.

Secondly, conservation laws in physics preclude the idea of a radically new kind of stuff, energy or matter, coming into existence. So when consciousness came to exist, no new substance was added to the world: old stuff simply took on a new form. Descartes' dualism violates conservation, since extra causal powers—extra energy—are introduced by the injection of mind into the world. His immaterial substance is an independent source of energy and hence motion, so that conservation is bluntly violated. A better view is that pre-existing matter takes new forms in cosmic history—from galaxies to organisms—and consciousness must itself be a form of what existed earlier. But there must be a fundamental constancy in the underlying substance of the world, whatever that may be: so consciousness must be a variant on this substance, not a new type of substance.

Energy is plausibly the fundamental conserved substance, so consciousness has to be a form of energy—a form of the very same thing that electricity and mass are forms of. Moreover, energy in its various forms can be transformed into mental energy—as when the chemical energy in food (deriving from solar energy) is converted into causally efficacious acts of will and other mental work. The energy that powers the mind is nothing other than the energy that exists in various physical forms; and so it is plausible to suppose that the mind itself is a manifestation of that energy. Certainly, the electromagnetic energy of the brain has everything to do with the energy exhibited by the mind, i.e., its ability to do work. The world we observe is a world where conservation is the norm—where nothing fundamentally new comes to be. Novelty comes from recombination, not from new basic realities. Similarly, when consciousness fades away, nothing basic goes out of existence; rather, it changes form—going back to material forms of other kinds. Such continuity suggests that consciousness is just matter/energy in one of its many guises. Kinds of matter/energy can go out of existence, or be created, but the underlying stuff stays constant—as when particles change into other kinds of particles or electrical energy converts to kinetic energy. And the same is true of the kind of matter/energy we call consciousness. Consciousness is a temporary form that universal matter/energy has taken, along with other forms.

Third, and connected, the big bang contained all the materials for generating the universe from then on. New particles came to be in the first few moments, and new forces too, but everything had to be implicit in the initial super-hot plasma: everything that followed had to be a form of what was there at the start. All novelty works with the raw materials of the primal singularity (just as the big bang itself had to be a conservation of what was there earlier). But if so, then consciousness must be somehow implicit in the big bang too: it must be a working out of the matter/energy there at that instant, like planets and organisms. Some of what is new is mere recombination (this is probably true of organisms, now that the élan vital has lost its appeal), and some of it consists in new forms of what was there earlier (were gravitation and electric charge explicitly present at the very earliest stages?). But nothing we see in the universe now belongs to neither category: so consciousness must be one or the other—and the recombination view is not credible. Consciousness must be a new form of the stuff that was present in the first moments of the universe—one of the modes of which matter is capable. There was no ghostly parallel big bang in which immaterial stuff was minted, with consciousness a form of that: consciousness had to have its origin in the very event that originated all the matter of the universe. If we think of the history of the universe since the first moments of the big bang as a process of differentiation in matter, then consciousness is one of the many ways in which matter came to be differentiated—and clearly it specializes in such differentiation. Matter is nothing if not protean."


(McGinn, Colin. "Consciousness as a Form of Matter." In Basic Structures of Reality: Essays in Meta-Physics, 175-191. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. pp. 179-81)
This is actually a compelling argument. Taking energy as physical, which I would not have done, and accepting consciousness as some type of energy makes it more reasonable. I'm not fully on board, as the experience of free will still compels me. A couple issues arise, even if all that above is accepted.

How or why did life emerge from non-life? Even if consciousness simply emerged along the way from simple life forms to complex ones, why did the simple ones come to be in the first place? Chemicals or energy alone do not act to protect themselves or enhance their well-being, as even simple life does.

And, what does materialism or emergence have to say about free will? If the implication is that free will does not exist, then I feel there is a flaw in the argument, because I experience free will. We are, after all, making difficult judgments about things not fully understood or verifiable. So, if our figuring leads us to a conclusion that is incompatible with experience, then we may have to scrap the process or start over. I'm unwilling to deny my own existence, even as I am experiencing it, in favor of a theory.
Present awareness wrote:
June 24th, 2018, 10:34 am
...to me, philosophy is not so much about proof, but rather more about a way of looking at things as they might be.
I have to agree. To me, philosophy is about ethics, about understanding why we make poor choices and how we can encourage ourselves to make the right ones. It's not that the science is not important or valuable or interesting, but at the point that it threatens our existence, maybe we are on the wrong path.
Mosesquine wrote:
June 24th, 2018, 1:04 pm
Whatever we can find is in the physical world!!! Nonphysical things are just things that can't be found anywhere!!!
If your mind is nonphysical, then your mind does not exist. Your mind is, as you wish, nonphysical. Therefore, your mind does not exist!!!
Ideas are not physical, yet they exist. Ideas are simply thoughts expressed, so perhaps your thoughts or consciousness lack a material existence as well. It is possible, in your 'everything is physical' reality, to say your mind does not exist, if it acts in ways not compatible with the laws governing physical things. It's not clear if it does or not. It's becoming clear, though, that you are only concerned with making declarations, so I'll stop bothering you with questions.

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Present awareness » June 25th, 2018, 10:04 am

Karpel tunnel, you make some very good points in post 241! Well done!
Even though you can see me, I might not be here.

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