Consideration of "Panpsychism, Intuitions, and the Great Chain of Being"

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Consul
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Re: Consideration of "Panpsychism, Intuitions, and the Great Chain of Being"

Post by Consul » March 18th, 2020, 3:54 pm

anonymous66 wrote:
March 18th, 2020, 2:42 pm
So what exactly is this "great chain of being" intuition?
The four highest intuitive divisions of natural things:

1. nonthinking nonexperiencing nonliving things

2. nonthinking nonexperiencing living things

3. nonthinking experiencing living things

4. thinking experiencing living things (persons)
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Re: Consideration of "Panpsychism, Intuitions, and the Great Chain of Being"

Post by anonymous66 » March 22nd, 2020, 2:40 pm

To continue on with 2. The Great Chain of Being Intuition:
It's difficult to characterize the pattern mentioned above. We can't just say that all living things are conscious- because we tend to think of trees as not having consciousness. But it's not simply the claim that non-animals are not conscious- because the intuition doesn't deny the possibility of a conscious plant or computer. What we need to do is to capture the structure of our uncertainty.

The authors suggest Nagel has summed up the uncertainty with this statement- "[although] we all believe that bats have experience... if one travels too far down the phylogenetic tree, people gradually shed their faith that there is [subjective, conscious] experience there at all." Pretty much everyone is generally sure that adult humans are conscious, and pretty much everyone is generally sure that rocks, table, and chairs are not conscious- but there is a large region wherein our subjective judgment of the probability that that specific entity or creature is conscious declines.

The authors mention Aaronson, who identified a number of paradigm cases:
  • You are conscious (but not when anesthetized)

    Most other people appear to be conscious, judging from their behavior

    Many animals appear to be conscious, though probably to a lesser degree than humans (and the degree of consciousness in each particular species is far from obvious).

    A rock is not conscious. A wall is not conscious. A Reed-Solomon code is not conscious. Microsoft Word is not conscious (though a Word macro that passed the Turing test conceivably would be).
Fetuses, coma patients, fish, and hypothetical AIs are the more difficult cases- the ones where we might actually need a formal definition to adjudicate the truth.

Nagel's and Aaronson's rankings are generally tracking what "we" all tend to assume. If this pattern of intuitions is so prevalent, say the authors, we ought to give it a name- they propose that we call it the "Great Chain of Being (GCOB) intuition". This label harks back to Aristotle's views- but in the authors' words "the GCOB intuition says nothing about the metaphysics of form, matter, perfection, or divinity, nor need it cleave to the specific rankings given by Aristotle or others".

The authors suggest we can break this intuition down into 5 levels

Level 1- Denying consciousness would verge on absurdity- Mature, awake, human beings

Level 2- Denying consciousness would be surprising- "Higher" animals (birds, mammals, cephalopods,) human infants, dreaming humans.

Level 3- Neither denying nor affirming consciousness would be surprising- "lower" animals (fish, invertebrates), human fetuses, humans in states like sleepwalking

Level 4- Affirming consciousness would be surprising- Non-animal organisms (plants, bacteria, fungi, animals without brains), human embryos, humans in dreamlike sleep, coma, and similar "unconscious" states.

Level 5- Affirming consciousness would verge on absurdity- Inanimate objects, corpses, everything else (space, fluids, light).

Considering those 5 levels, there is obviously some debate about where we should draw the line-"but the ordering is usually preserved". For example, it would be surprising if someone believed that plants are conscious, but not fish. And it would be surprising if someone believed that cats were unconscious but also believed that fish were conscious.

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Re: Consideration of "Panpsychism, Intuitions, and the Great Chain of Being"

Post by Terrapin Station » March 23rd, 2020, 10:25 am

Consul wrote:
March 18th, 2020, 3:54 pm
anonymous66 wrote:
March 18th, 2020, 2:42 pm
So what exactly is this "great chain of being" intuition?
The four highest intuitive divisions of natural things:

1. nonthinking nonexperiencing nonliving things

2. nonthinking nonexperiencing living things

3. nonthinking experiencing living things

4. thinking experiencing living things (persons)
Are you reserving "thinking" for "rational" thinking a la logical implications, etc.?

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Re: Consideration of "Panpsychism, Intuitions, and the Great Chain of Being"

Post by Consul » March 23rd, 2020, 12:42 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:
March 23rd, 2020, 10:25 am
Are you reserving "thinking" for "rational" thinking a la logical implications, etc.?
Reasoning is a kind of thinking, but not all thinking is reasoning. Of course, the basic question is what is thinking or thought?

QUOTE>
The central hypothesis of cognitive science is that thinking can best be understood in terms of representational structures in the mind and computational procedures that operate on those structures. While there is much disagreement about the nature of the representations and computations that constitute thinking, the central hypothesis is general enough to encompass the current range of thinking in cognitive science, including connectionist theories which model thinking using artificial neural networks.

Most work in cognitive science assumes that the mind has mental representations analogous to computer data structures, and computational procedures similar to computational algorithms. Cognitive theorists have proposed that the mind contains such mental representations as logical propositions, rules, concepts, images, and analogies, and that it uses mental procedures such as deduction, search, matching, rotating, and retrieval.

Cognitive Science: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/cognitive-science/
<QUOTE

QUOTE>
The notion of a “mental representation” is, arguably, in the first instance a theoretical construct of cognitive science. As such, it is a basic concept of the Computational Theory of Mind, according to which cognitive states and processes are constituted by the occurrence, transformation and storage (in the mind/brain) of information-bearing structures (representations) of one kind or another.

However, on the assumption that a representation is an object with semantic properties (content, reference, truth-conditions, truth-value, etc.), a mental representation may be more broadly construed as a mental object with semantic properties.

Mental Representation: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ment ... sentation/
<QUOTE

So this is the most general definition as used in cognitive psychology:

QUOTE>
"[T]hinking is the processing of mental representations."

(Shea, Nicholas. Representation in Cognitive Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. p. 4)
<QUOTE

Thus defined, many animals who aren't persons capable of self-referential, self-conscious, self-reflective thought are thinkers too.

Then we find different sorts of (processings or employings/usings of) mental representations:

1. conscious ones
2. nonconscious ones
3. linguistic ones
4. nonlinguistic ones

In the narrowest sense, thought is conscious linguistic thought, the conscious processing of linguistic representations, i.e. inner speaking; and personhood requires the capacity for this kind of thought. In my previous post I use "thinking beings" in that sense.
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Re: Consideration of "Panpsychism, Intuitions, and the Great Chain of Being"

Post by Terrapin Station » March 23rd, 2020, 3:15 pm

Consul wrote:
March 23rd, 2020, 12:42 pm
Terrapin Station wrote:
March 23rd, 2020, 10:25 am
Are you reserving "thinking" for "rational" thinking a la logical implications, etc.?
Reasoning is a kind of thinking, but not all thinking is reasoning. Of course, the basic question is what is thinking or thought?

QUOTE>
The central hypothesis of cognitive science is that thinking can best be understood in terms of representational structures in the mind and computational procedures that operate on those structures. While there is much disagreement about the nature of the representations and computations that constitute thinking, the central hypothesis is general enough to encompass the current range of thinking in cognitive science, including connectionist theories which model thinking using artificial neural networks.

Most work in cognitive science assumes that the mind has mental representations analogous to computer data structures, and computational procedures similar to computational algorithms. Cognitive theorists have proposed that the mind contains such mental representations as logical propositions, rules, concepts, images, and analogies, and that it uses mental procedures such as deduction, search, matching, rotating, and retrieval.

Cognitive Science: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/cognitive-science/
<QUOTE

QUOTE>
The notion of a “mental representation” is, arguably, in the first instance a theoretical construct of cognitive science. As such, it is a basic concept of the Computational Theory of Mind, according to which cognitive states and processes are constituted by the occurrence, transformation and storage (in the mind/brain) of information-bearing structures (representations) of one kind or another.

However, on the assumption that a representation is an object with semantic properties (content, reference, truth-conditions, truth-value, etc.), a mental representation may be more broadly construed as a mental object with semantic properties.

Mental Representation: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ment ... sentation/
<QUOTE

So this is the most general definition as used in cognitive psychology:

QUOTE>
"[T]hinking is the processing of mental representations."

(Shea, Nicholas. Representation in Cognitive Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. p. 4)
<QUOTE

Thus defined, many animals who aren't persons capable of self-referential, self-conscious, self-reflective thought are thinkers too.

Then we find different sorts of (processings or employings/usings of) mental representations:

1. conscious ones
2. nonconscious ones
3. linguistic ones
4. nonlinguistic ones

In the narrowest sense, thought is conscious linguistic thought, the conscious processing of linguistic representations, i.e. inner speaking; and personhood requires the capacity for this kind of thought. In my previous post I use "thinking beings" in that sense.
The reason I asked is that I use "thinking" broadly enough that experience implies thinking. So there wouldn't be an "experiencing but not thinking" category. You must be using "thinking" more narrowly.

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Re: Consideration of "Panpsychism, Intuitions, and the Great Chain of Being"

Post by Consul » March 23rd, 2020, 3:39 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:
March 23rd, 2020, 3:15 pm
The reason I asked is that I use "thinking" broadly enough that experience implies thinking. So there wouldn't be an "experiencing but not thinking" category. You must be using "thinking" more narrowly.
Conscious thought or inner speech (qua use of linguistic imagery) is experienced by subjects, so consciously thinking or innerly speaking implies experience; but I'm not sure what you mean by "experience implies thinking". Do you presuppose the higher-order thought theory of consciousness?
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Re: Consideration of "Panpsychism, Intuitions, and the Great Chain of Being"

Post by Terrapin Station » March 23rd, 2020, 5:17 pm

Consul wrote:
March 23rd, 2020, 3:39 pm
Terrapin Station wrote:
March 23rd, 2020, 3:15 pm
The reason I asked is that I use "thinking" broadly enough that experience implies thinking. So there wouldn't be an "experiencing but not thinking" category. You must be using "thinking" more narrowly.
Conscious thought or inner speech (qua use of linguistic imagery) is experienced by subjects, so consciously thinking or innerly speaking implies experience; but I'm not sure what you mean by "experience implies thinking". Do you presuppose the higher-order thought theory of consciousness?
In other words, I use "thought" broadly enough that consciousness/awareness is sufficient.

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Re: Consideration of "Panpsychism, Intuitions, and the Great Chain of Being"

Post by Consul » March 23rd, 2020, 5:28 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:
March 23rd, 2020, 5:17 pm
In other words, I use "thought" broadly enough that consciousness/awareness is sufficient.
I still can't follow you. Descartes uses "thought" so broadly that it becomes synonymous with "consciousness". Is that what you mean to say?

QUOTE>

"By the word 'thought', I understand all those things which occur in us while we are conscious, insofar as the consciousness of them is in us. And so not only understanding, willing, and imagining, but also sensing, are here the same as thinking."

(Descartes, Réne. Principles of Philosophy. 1644. Translated by V. R. Miller and R. P. Miller. Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1991. Part 1:9, p. 5)

"The term 'thought'—pensée, cogitatio—had, in Descartes's time, a much wider meaning than it has now. It embraced not only 'thought' as it is now understood, but all mental acts and data: will, feeling, judgment, perception, and so on. The terms cogitation and to cogitate, that are commonly used in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, have, unfortunately, become obsolete; thus we have in most cases to render 'thought' by 'consciousness'."

(Koyré, Alexander. Introduction to Descartes: Philosophical Writings, vii-xliv. Translated and edited by Elizabeth Anscombe and Peter Thomas Geach. Reprint, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1971. p. xxxvii, n. 2)

"It is an important point that in Descartes’s usage the Latin verb cogitare and the French verb penser and the related nouns cogitatio and pensée, have a wider significance than the English think and thought. In English, such terms are specially connected with ratiocinative or cognitive processes. For Descartes, however, a cogitatio or pensée is any sort of conscious state or activity whatsoever; it can as well be a sensation (at least, in its purely psychological aspect) or an act of will, as judgement or belief or intellectual questioning."

(Williams, Bernard. Descartes: The Project of Pure Enquiry. Abingdon: Routledge, 2005. p. 62)
<QUOTE
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Re: Consideration of "Panpsychism, Intuitions, and the Great Chain of Being"

Post by Terrapin Station » March 23rd, 2020, 7:10 pm

Consul wrote:
March 23rd, 2020, 5:28 pm
Terrapin Station wrote:
March 23rd, 2020, 5:17 pm
In other words, I use "thought" broadly enough that consciousness/awareness is sufficient.
I still can't follow you. Descartes uses "thought" so broadly that it becomes synonymous with "consciousness". Is that what you mean to say?
How are you getting "Descartes" from "I"?

____I_____ use the term "thinking" that broadly. I'm not saying anything about Descartes.

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Re: Consideration of "Panpsychism, Intuitions, and the Great Chain of Being"

Post by Consul » March 24th, 2020, 12:33 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:
March 23rd, 2020, 7:10 pm
____I_____ use the term "thinking" that broadly. I'm not saying anything about Descartes.
Okay, but "thought" obviously isn't synonymous with "consciousness" or "experience".
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Re: Consideration of "Panpsychism, Intuitions, and the Great Chain of Being"

Post by Terrapin Station » March 24th, 2020, 5:11 pm

Consul wrote:
March 24th, 2020, 12:33 pm
Terrapin Station wrote:
March 23rd, 2020, 7:10 pm
____I_____ use the term "thinking" that broadly. I'm not saying anything about Descartes.
Okay, but "thought" obviously isn't synonymous with "consciousness" or "experience".
I'd agree that it's not synonymous in that "thought" can refer to things that are more specific than just consciousness, but I use "thought" so that consciousness or awareness are sufficient to indicate thought.

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Re: Consideration of "Panpsychism, Intuitions, and the Great Chain of Being"

Post by Greta » March 24th, 2020, 7:10 pm

Thoughts are a long way removed from the idea of panpsychism which is, at its core, an argument for the existence of proto-consciousness within all energetic processes. As Consul and I have thrashed out at length on various threads, proto-consciousness - the idea that some minimal experience may be present in entities without brains - is the sticking point.

Does consciousness emerge from phenomena that are somewhat related to it? Or is consciousness a completely novel emergence that is utterly unrelated to the phenomena from which it came?

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Re: Consideration of "Panpsychism, Intuitions, and the Great Chain of Being"

Post by Terrapin Station » March 24th, 2020, 7:20 pm

Greta wrote:
March 24th, 2020, 7:10 pm
Thoughts are a long way removed from the idea of panpsychism which is, at its core, an argument for the existence of proto-consciousness within all energetic processes. As Consul and I have thrashed out at length on various threads, proto-consciousness - the idea that some minimal experience may be present in entities without brains - is the sticking point.

Does consciousness emerge from phenomena that are somewhat related to it? Or is consciousness a completely novel emergence that is utterly unrelated to the phenomena from which it came?
I don't buy panpsychism simply because there doesn't seem to be any good reason to buy it (a la any sort of evidence, any sort of plausible argument for it).

Consciousness would only "emerge" as a property of particular dynamic relations of matter. So far only brains seem to serve as the right matter.

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Re: Consideration of "Panpsychism, Intuitions, and the Great Chain of Being"

Post by Greta » March 24th, 2020, 11:12 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:
March 24th, 2020, 7:20 pm
Greta wrote:
March 24th, 2020, 7:10 pm
Thoughts are a long way removed from the idea of panpsychism which is, at its core, an argument for the existence of proto-consciousness within all energetic processes. As Consul and I have thrashed out at length on various threads, proto-consciousness - the idea that some minimal experience may be present in entities without brains - is the sticking point.

Does consciousness emerge from phenomena that are somewhat related to it? Or is consciousness a completely novel emergence that is utterly unrelated to the phenomena from which it came?
I don't buy panpsychism simply because there doesn't seem to be any good reason to buy it (a la any sort of evidence, any sort of plausible argument for it).

Consciousness would only "emerge" as a property of particular dynamic relations of matter. So far only brains seem to serve as the right matter.
As far as I can tell, consciousness as we know it is the aggregation and filtering of reflexes, be they sensory, muscular, gastro-intestinal, or whatever. What is the closest phenomena we know to consciousness? Reflexes. Complaints about me referring to these as "proto-consciousness" miss the point, because the prefix "proto-" means "original" or "primitive". Of course "proto-consciousness" is never touted as being the same as "consciousness". That would be bizarre, so I'd just like to nip that one in the bud so we all avoid going in circles.

Reflexes are clearly the building blocks of consciousness, with emotions being perhaps the most complex of them, being a meta-reflex that controls multiple suites of more localised reflexes.

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Re: Consideration of "Panpsychism, Intuitions, and the Great Chain of Being"

Post by Jklint » March 25th, 2020, 4:11 am

Consciousness doesn't rely on any sense of "I" or even that there be a single thought affirming its presence. It can exist as a pure observational entity without any further tinting of thought or emotion not unlike light which simply reflects back to the receiver any object it encounters.

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