Brain workings and freedom

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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Eduk
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by Eduk » May 21st, 2018, 4:37 am

CIN can you imagine having an imagination?
You don't seem to address this type of concern? We can all agree that we directly experience consciousness. I cannot think of a way for me to imagine experiencing I without actually experiencing I. Conceptually how would it be possible to conceptualise something like that.
For example some people are born without empathy. Now they have read about empathy. But can they conceptualise empathy?

Gertie
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by Gertie » May 21st, 2018, 9:19 am

CIN
Gertie wrote: ↑
Yesterday, 9:43 pm
You seem to be claiming there is no causal gap between the reason(s) and the action.
Nearly. Not reasons as such, but the weighing and consideration of reasons, plus other things going on in the agent's mind, such as feelings.

Which as I took the time to explain, is the gap between reasons/options and action Searle is pointing to. Where he identifies the Self-Agent causally intervening to mentally weigh the reasons (logical/emotional/whatev), mentally make/cause the decision, and mentally will/cause the action. He's not making a mistake. it's a sound hypothesis with a fair bit of explanatory power, we just can't know if it's right. We experience this every day, and Searle claims it's what is actually happening. It is supported by the evidence of consciousness evolving for utility - to do the causal job of making beneficial causal decisions for Me, this Self-Agent. If physical causation alone could do the job, there would be no evolutionary pressure for a parallel mental causation process to arise. It would be redundant baggage, which you have previously claimed it isn't.


But then next you claim this, that the physical brain does all the causal work, making mental causation redundant -

quote]By the way, I note here that you seem to accept psychological/mental causation is real, but a couple of posts later you claim physical brains ''cause'' mental states - these appear to be contradictory positions. If physical brains operating in a closed physical system ''cause'' mental states, how ca…
Because I hold, as a working hypothesis based on the only available evidence, that mental causation is reducible to physical causation. For example, when I burn my finger and pull my finger away from the flame, what is happening is that a physical event in my finger causes a physical event in my brain (i.e. pain: I hold that pain is experienced by brains, and since brains are physical, so is pain) which causes another physical event in my brain (the issuing of a command to my finger).
[/quote]


So we're back to why did conscious reason/emotion/memory/sensations like pain evolve, and why do they causally mirror the physical processes if the causal work is already being done by the physical body?

And you might not realise but you're shifting or muddying your position again, by saying that conscious experience IS physical matter, IS brain flesh in motion, not that the brain 'somehow' CAUSES mental experience as you previously claimed (say like a fire causes heat). This is a different claim requiring a different type of explanation. It's popular because it offers a conceptual handle on our observation of neural correlation, but raises its own problems once you start thinking it through. And it certainly looks like it breaks the logical Law of Identity. Which suggests that reliance on logical formulations such as the Standard Argument Against Free Will looks rather dodgy in the face of how the world might actually be. And how the world actually is should be the goal of our scientific and philosophical enquiries - if it turns out the the evidence doesn't fit our current models (as seems to be the case with the Mind-Body problem), then it's our models which need to change. So we should follow the evidence rather than start by assuming the model is correct. Especially when our usual toolkit for knowing stuff seems inadequate.


Which was my original point, so I'm going to leave it there.

Gertie
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by Gertie » May 21st, 2018, 10:01 am

BB
Gertie wrote:
May 19th, 2018, 9:54 pm

See, this is why I shouldn't go dropping QM into arguments like I know what I'm talking about! :shock:

Thanks BB, I appreciate the clarification tho I still can't really get my head round it.

In the context I was refering to, I think it at least questions the universality of our classically rooted notions of logic, such as the Law of Identity. Would you agree?
Don't feel bad we all do it because it does confuse, even violate, the rules of standard logic. Try to remember that elementary objects like protons, electrons , etc. are just not objects in the normal use of common language. Familiar objects are made up of atoms but atoms, themselves, are not made up of atoms. They have parts but not ones that are like all our familiar macro objects.
Do you mind if I pick your brain a bit and ask some really dumb basic questions? It's hard to find sources pitched at my level of unknowledge ;)

What are sub-atomic particles made of? I know they're made of quarks, but what kind of stuff is it? Or isn't it stuff?

When they say particles spin, do they literally mean spin round? How do they know!
I do believe that to claim a particle is both a wave and a particle violates the Law of Identity when it is used as a wave in one context and as a particle in another context and that is exactly what QM does with "It's" use of our language.
Right, nicely put.

What's the current thinking on the observer/measurement effect? Is there an explanation of how measuring can result in result in a particle fixing its position (if that's the right way to think of it)?


I think it is of importance to understand the significance of Bohr's QM Indeterminacy. His QM is not based on the lack of knowledge about hidden variables and their distributions. What that means is that the theory is asserting the absolute Platonic mathematical form as the final Truth of things rather than the nominalism of most other scientific formalisms. You can't really get data to contradict it.
Can you explain this idea a bit more? I think of maths as a type of information telling us about the things which actually exist, are you suggesting anything more than that this is the best (most truthful or fundamental) type of information about the things which exist?

Eduk
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by Eduk » May 21st, 2018, 10:12 am

Spin when referring to particles has no classical counterpart. I know almost nothing about QM but the fact that I know I know almost nothing means that I do know a lot more than average.
There is no consensus on what QM tell us about the nature of reality. The Copenhagen interpretation says that QM says nothing about the nature of reality and that to ask what QM tell us about the nature of reality is unscientific. There is no consensus as to whether the Copenhagen interpretation is right.
If you are interested there is a podcast I listen to called the skeptics guide to the galaxy. Episode 670 has an interesting interview with Adam Becker (an astrophysicist) who talks about this very problem.

Gertie
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by Gertie » May 21st, 2018, 10:39 am

Thanks Eduk, and I''ll def check out the podcast.

CIN
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by CIN » May 21st, 2018, 4:22 pm

Gertie wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 9:19 am
And you might not realise but you're shifting or muddying your position again, by saying that conscious experience IS physical matter, IS brain flesh in motion, not that the brain 'somehow' CAUSES mental experience as you previously claimed (say like a fire causes heat).
I'm actually claiming that the physical process of getting burned causes the physical process of feeling pain, which in turn causes the physical process of withdrawing the burned finger. And I'm not saying conscious experience is physical matter, I'm saying that it's an emergent (but entirely physical) property of physical matter, i.e. matter in a certain configuration has consciousness as a purely physical property. If at any point I have been unclear about this, I apologise.

But I agree with you that we have pretty much come full circle. I never like to outstay my welcome, and I'm happy to let this one rest.

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ThomasHobbes
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by ThomasHobbes » May 21st, 2018, 5:43 pm

CIN wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 4:22 pm
I'm actually claiming that the physical process of getting burned causes the physical process of feeling pain, which in turn causes the physical process of withdrawing the burned finger.
Just to throw a spanner in the works.
Moving your finger away from the heat is NOT caused by consciousness. It is, like many reflexes caused by an autonomic process, by-passing the conscious brain.
As a conscious entity we only become aware of the hotness after the burn happens.

BigBango
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by BigBango » May 21st, 2018, 6:38 pm

Gertie wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 10:01 am
BB

Don't feel bad we all do it because it does confuse, even violate, the rules of standard logic. Try to remember that elementary objects like protons, electrons , etc. are just not objects in the normal use of common language. Familiar objects are made up of atoms but atoms, themselves, are not made up of atoms. They have parts but not ones that are like all our familiar macro objects.
Do you mind if I pick your brain a bit and ask some really dumb basic questions? It's hard to find sources pitched at my level of unknowledge ;)

What are sub-atomic particles made of? I know they're made of quarks, but what kind of stuff is it? Or isn't it stuff?

When they say particles spin, do they literally mean spin round? How do they know!
I do believe that to claim a particle is both a wave and a particle violates the Law of Identity when it is used as a wave in one context and as a particle in another context and that is exactly what QM does with "It's" use of our language.
Right, nicely put.

What's the current thinking on the observer/measurement effect? Is there an explanation of how measuring can result in result in a particle fixing its position (if that's the right way to think of it)?


I think it is of importance to understand the significance of Bohr's QM Indeterminacy. His QM is not based on the lack of knowledge about hidden variables and their distributions. What that means is that the theory is asserting the absolute Platonic mathematical form as the final Truth of things rather than the nominalism of most other scientific formalisms. You can't really get data to contradict it.
Can you explain this idea a bit more? I think of maths as a type of information telling us about the things which actually exist, are you suggesting anything more than that this is the best (most truthful or fundamental) type of information about the things which exist?
I am not the best expert on these issues but I have struggled to understand them. I'll try to give you some of my understanding or insight.

Atomic particles and subatomic particles are a form of static energy. They have mass(m). They convert to active energy according to the formula E = mc squared. I think "spin" is more like an electrical charge, but not too sure. I don't think of spin as something solid spinning. It is more like a whirlpool of energy. To me it seems an awful lot like a teeny black hole. Captured rotating energy.

Observer/measurement effect or the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is a claim that we can know (with measurement) only a particles position in space or its momentum not both. The principle of Complementarity is more general and covers other related properties of particles, but is rarely mentioned due to the popularity of the Uncertainty Principle. A metaphor is often used that an anthropologist observing a tribe cannot help disturbing the tribes customs. In QM theory the instruments used to observe matter cannot help but disturb the particles they are measuring. The observation can collapse the wave form of the particle and determine its position but it cannot at the same time determine the particles independent momentum, etc.

Are maths a type of information? It helps to understand Plato. Maths are more like "forms". Plato asserted that the ultimate truths are like "forms/universals/ideas". Plato was not an empiricist. Empiricism didn't start appearing until Aristotle. Plato thought there were "universals that we could "intuit". The world that we encounter directly is simply an imperfect reflection or approximation to what is true, like shadows in a cave. Along come empiricism and we use "forms/universals/ideas to make a model of processes in reality. We stopped thinking of the forms as nothing more than an approximation to the entities in the real world. The "forms" describe imperfectly the real world. That puts forms in their place as only "nominally" true. Newton's formula for gravity was sharpened up by Einstein by adding the curvature of space in to account thus making our GPS system more accurate. First we theorized that the orbits of planets were pure pure geometrical/circular orbits "celestial spheres". Then we tracked their more elliptical shapes. QM stands as an impeccable form that asserts the truth of the form and denies any hidden data could be found to challenge it. Very Platonic or pre-empirical. Kant claimed Euclidean Geometry to be true "a priori" but we take issue with it now in favor of non-Euclidean Geometry. Straight lines in space curve as if they follow geodesic paths.

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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by Belindi » May 22nd, 2018, 3:29 am

Gertie wrote:
(BigBango)Don't feel bad we all do it because it does confuse, even violate, the rules of standard logic. Try to remember that elementary objects like protons, electrons , etc. are just not objects in the normal use of common language. Familiar objects are made up of atoms but atoms, themselves, are not made up of atoms. They have parts but not ones that are like all our familiar macro objects.
(Gertie) Do you mind if I pick your brain a bit and ask some really dumb basic questions? It's hard to find sources pitched at my level of unknowledge ;)

What are sub-atomic particles made of? I know they're made of quarks, but what kind of stuff is it? Or isn't it stuff?

When they say particles spin, do they literally mean spin round? How do they know!
May I rephrase your question, Gertie, and ask if subatomics fit with space time coordinates? If so it's stuff, physical stuff, i.e. it's more than mathematical abstractions .And if that is so then each subatomic is a physically differentiated subatomic.
(I am striving by the usage "subatomics" to avoid 'particle' or 'wave'.)

I too am puzzled as to how they might spin. Do they spin on own axes? Waves do in fact spin in the sense that ocean waves are waves of elements moving around axes; i.e they are not moving axes from place to place. So what is the axis of a subatomic? That itself is not physical surely but is a Euclidean point with no dimensions, like the axis of an ocean wave is a Euclidean point with no dimensions. But the subatomic stuff that the wave is made of is physical.

If so how then can the subatomic thingy be itself a particle? Is the question, 'particle or wave' , a question about how we can know, or is it a question about the substance itself? I think it's a question of how we can know i.e. it's epistemological. Epistemologiocal i.e. how we can know anything is about how our brain-minds work. How our brain-minds work is attributable to culture which has affected our very physiologies.

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Consul
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by Consul » May 22nd, 2018, 9:03 am

BigBango wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 6:38 pm
Atomic particles and subatomic particles are a form of static energy. They have mass(m). They convert to active energy according to the formula E = mc squared.
To have a mass is not to be a mass. So if a particle has a mass, and mass is equivalent to energy, then it has but isn't energy. For things aren't identical to their properties.
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

Gertie
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by Gertie » May 22nd, 2018, 11:03 am

Thanks BB.

If this is too off-topic or cheeky, feel free to leave it there, no prob. But if you're game...

Atomic particles and subatomic particles are a form of static energy. They have mass(m). They convert to active energy according to the formula E = mc squared. I think "spin" is more like an electrical charge, but not too sure. I don't think of spin as something solid spinning. It is more like a whirlpool of energy. To me it seems an awful lot like a teeny black hole. Captured rotating energy.
OK so lets take an atom, with a nucleus and electrons whizzing round it. The parts, the nucleus and electrons, have mass, but they;re actually more like balls of static electricity?

In QM theory the instruments used to observe matter cannot help but disturb the particles they are measuring. The observation can collapse the wave form of the particle and determine its position but it cannot at the same time determine the particles independent momentum, etc.

Are there ideas as to why? Is it because something like the instruments are emitting subatomic particles themselves (eg photons) which interact with the particles they're measuring, or is something more abstract going on, or what?

Are maths a type of information? It helps to understand Plato. Maths are more like "forms". Plato asserted that the ultimate truths are like "forms/universals/ideas". Plato was not an empiricist. Empiricism didn't start appearing until Aristotle. Plato thought there were "universals that we could "intuit". The world that we encounter directly is simply an imperfect reflection or approximation to what is true, like shadows in a cave. Along come empiricism and we use "forms/universals/ideas to make a model of processes in reality. ...QM stands as an impeccable form that asserts the truth of the form and denies any hidden data could be found to challenge it. Very Platonic or pre-empirical.
Nice. :)

From an ontological perspective, would it be fair to say that QM has shown us that the universe is mathematically describable/patterned, and that our perceptions are limited and flawed (as are our cognitive abilities), but never-the-less that stuff (tables, bodies, galaxies) is real, not just abstract forms?

Or does it suggest that we create the universe of stuff (tables, bodies, etc) in our minds, as a flawed model of what is really going on - patterns of energy?

CIN
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by CIN » May 22nd, 2018, 3:59 pm

ThomasHobbes wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 5:43 pm
CIN wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 4:22 pm
I'm actually claiming that the physical process of getting burned causes the physical process of feeling pain, which in turn causes the physical process of withdrawing the burned finger.
Just to throw a spanner in the works.
Moving your finger away from the heat is NOT caused by consciousness. It is, like many reflexes caused by an autonomic process, by-passing the conscious brain.
I stand corrected. (I really must stop posting late at night when my brain is tired.) Let me try again. The physical process of touching the flame (I will avoid the ambiguous phrase 'getting burned') causes two physical processes: (1) the autonomic withdrawal reflex and (2) the feeling of pain. The first of these causes the withdrawal of the finger, while the second causes subsequent behaviour to protect the finger from further harm. And yes, the latter is mental causation, but since I hold that mental events are a subset of physical events, I hold that it is also physical causation.

CIN
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by CIN » May 22nd, 2018, 4:06 pm

Eduk wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 4:37 am
CIN can you imagine having an imagination?
You don't seem to address this type of concern? We can all agree that we directly experience consciousness. I cannot think of a way for me to imagine experiencing I without actually experiencing I. Conceptually how would it be possible to conceptualise something like that.
For example some people are born without empathy. Now they have read about empathy. But can they conceptualise empathy?
I'm not sure which post of mine you are answering. Is it this?
"'Should' has meaning, not because there is free will, but because people can imagine that there is, just as people can imagine that there are dragons."
If it is, then you would appear to be implying that we can only imagine dragons if we have experienced dragons.
I think I must be misunderstanding you. Can you please clarify?

BigBango
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by BigBango » May 22nd, 2018, 4:08 pm

Oh boy, I get goosies shooting around my body, just like the Voice judges when they hear a contestant putting emotion into the lyrics. Great posts are happening here and we are getting close to some BIG reveals.

Language, language ... metaphysics ... a collision of words ... meanings gained ... meanings lost. Oh boy, oh girl what fun ...

Thank you Consul for stuffing language back down our throats. Thank you Gertie and Felix for not swallowing it. Thank you Belindi for raising the question about the difference of "causation" between individual agents and the "oneness" of parts within an implicate whole. I'm still thinking about that conundrum.

Oh boy, let us see what's in our wheelhouse now!!! (Lionel Richie, American Idol judge).

The semi-finalists are - Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Whitehead, Searle, Crick, Penrose, Heidegger, Chalmers and the Ancients preceding the Egyptians (Genesis of the Cosmos by LaViiolette). Tonight we'll see which three make it into the finals to be aired next week LIVE, get your votes in please, the Judges will have one instant save to determine the final three ... segue to commercials.

Whose on first base? Plato and the Universals, Aristotle and the Empiricists, Kant ant the A prior's, Whitehead and the Actual Entities, Searle and the Folk Psychologists, Crick and the Unified Neurological States, Penrose and the Superposed Quantum States of Consciousness, Heidegger and the Human Reveals through Time, Chalmers and the Hard Rock Consciousness Players and LaViolette and the Astrologists. All the semi-finalists come with their own backup groups. These 10 contestants are listed as the top voter selections from last week but in no particular order.

The voting is closed, the West Coast has no say as usual. Please have some compassion for the East Coast audience, it's past their bedtime for goodness sake.

In the meantime let's hear it from the Galaxy Players with their number one hit that's been on top of the charts now for over 14 billion years.

Hit it Galaxy Players!!! ...

Man, don't they rock folks, as usual they set the standards for "Country Singing". A little bit of rock, a lot of soul and always blurring the lines between Country and Pop, shucks (Blake Shelton).

Here's the truth people, The Galaxy Players set THE Standards for us all. What are they? Who are they? I'll tell you who they are. They cover the spectrum, they have range, from hard rock (Black Hole Galactic Centers), pure physicality, to the pure soul of Ella Fitzgerald or Ravi Shankar's daughter Norah Jones with her Eastern influences.(Adam Levine)

Sorry Adam I have to say just one thing, the Girls are on Fire and let's not forget that. (Alicia Keys)

Hold on you two, I know I talk too much but I want to say only ONE thing ... ME TOO! (Kelly Clarkson)

I know I'm strictly POP but there is POP and then there is HOT POP! HOT POP is at the center of everything, she says as she tugs at the hem of her mini skirt. (Katy Perry)

Ok. so much for Allegory.

1.). Plato set our sights on Universal Truths but let us flounder in the caves of experiential reality.

2.) Aristotle gave us a glimmer of how to lift ourselves up out of the caves, but left us with a metaphysics that infects our common language and our pursuit of science. It works better for purely physical things but even there, as Consul points out, it can fail by suggesting that sub-atomic particles have mass therefore they must have a subject that "has" mass, rather than it is mass. But, out in the distance from the core of physicality, lie subjects with "mass" that carry their "meaning" and with their technology they flee the center of the galaxy that transforms their "meaning" like a centrifuge purifying blood.

3.) Kant tried to rescue some of Plato's Universals by his use of synthetic a priori truths, but Riemann and Einstein colluded to displace Kant's veneration of Euclidean Geometry.

4.) Whitehead revolutionized Aristotle's metaphysics buy asserting that living actual entities were the substrate of ALL things. Thus giving us pan-psychism. Why did Whitehead fail? He failed and burned all his unpublished works just before his death because "purely physical things" in his thesis were that way because the actual entities of their substrate were just plain dullards, couch potatoes that had no taste for change or meaning. For that reason, why complicate pure physicality with "beingness" that has no chutzpah.

5.) Searle, believe it or not. is pretty much a realist. Not a Dawkins realist but a realist that accepts subjectivity and "folk psychological terms" as real things needed to understand reality, ala Wittgenstein and now Tamminen.

6.) Crick is important because he transitioned from a career in DNA's role in biology to the pursuit of finding the aspect of brain/nervous system function that would be an "in the flesh" correlate to the experiential states of consciousness. Note, Gertie, that he failed.

7.) Penrose, who is strictly a cosmological physicist, strays from his field of expertise, on occasion, to tease us with his found subject. A subject that hides behind quantum superposition in each cell. I wish he would stick to cosmology.

8.) Heidegger saw the failures of Aristotelian logic and gave us instead an evolutionary subject that can only be revealed through his deeds as exercised throughout an unending history.

9.) Chalmers, the base player in the Hard Rock Consciousness Players asserts that conscious thinkers may never escape their embedded POV to permit an objective analysis of what the F we are.

10.) LaViolette, a physicist, God Bless Him, asserts, as did Whitehead, that objects are not as science portrays them. Things with simple location in space. That notion has led to sciences description of things in space connected to other things only by the forces generated between the objects in a vacuous space. LaViolette's claim sees space as more of a "chemical" based medium within which stuff can arise. More like quantum foam, but not a quantum foam erupting from "nothing". It is, in my view a rich foam of subjectivity armed with the advanced technological tools needed to survive in a world of Gross physicality. This subjectivity spans the fractal evolution, across the Big Crunches and Big Bangs of worlds full of "Galaxies" that are gradually, in honor of Heidegger and Consul, evolving more and more complex systems of "SOCIALIZATION".

Karpel Tunnel
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by Karpel Tunnel » May 22nd, 2018, 4:12 pm

ThomasHobbes wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 5:43 pm
CIN wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 4:22 pm
I'm actually claiming that the physical process of getting burned causes the physical process of feeling pain, which in turn causes the physical process of withdrawing the burned finger.
Just to throw a spanner in the works.
Moving your finger away from the heat is NOT caused by consciousness. It is, like many reflexes caused by an autonomic process, by-passing the conscious brain.
As a conscious entity we only become aware of the hotness after the burn happens.
A number of interesting issues in here:
1) moving a hand away from a hot thing can be a fairly complex process. Nevertheless, the conscious mind need not be involved. In fact, we have all developed skills, at first consciously, that later require no consciousness. Some of these incredibly complex like driving. Consciousness is not necessary for behavior, or so it seems. Animals are born with the instant ability to stand and walk and a loud sound will make some of them take evasive action. They did not even need consciousness to learn these skills. So, really, there need not be consciousness in the animal kingdom. We could have functioning chemical machines that did not experience, had no inner life. Perhaps consciousness is a mere epiphenomenon. Perhaps it arises, but serves no purpose. We are aware. We experience. But we are perfectly determined machines, a la Libet and his experiments, but an emergent property is this innner awareness that is no causal. So it need no have evolved, since it serves no purpose, but it is, and so we have this inner life.
2) do we know that autonomic processes have no consciousness? I would say we do not. It's just that it is not the consciousness that we identify with. One can sometimes even become aware that one was aware of something, but did not focus on or notice this awareness. Perhaps this is us merging with the larger consciousness, the one that includes the consciousness that noticed the hot hand. After all the nerves involved may have rudimentary consciousness that is not shared by what we generally focus on or 'are'.

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