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 25th, 2020, 7:29 am

Greta wrote:
March 24th, 2020, 11:12 pm
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.
Protoconsciousness qua original or primitive consciousness is the evolutionarily first and oldest form of (phenomenal) consciousness. That is, where there is protoconsciousness, there is subjective experience/sentience.
If "protoconsciousness" means "preconsciousness", then it's on the side of nonconsciousness. There's a difference between the evolutionary prehistory of consciousness, during which there is no (phenomenal) consciousness yet, and its evolutionary history, beginning with its first appearance or emergence at some unknown time in the past in some unknown animal species.
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Re: Consideration of "Panpsychism, Intuitions, and the Great Chain of Being"

Post by Consul » March 25th, 2020, 7:39 am

Consul wrote:
March 25th, 2020, 7:29 am
Protoconsciousness qua original or primitive consciousness is the evolutionarily first and oldest form of (phenomenal) consciousness.
It's important to stress that it's phenomenal consciousness (aka subjective experience/sentience) that is in question here, because phenomenal consciousness is in fact evolutionarily preceded by transitive creature consciousness = perceptual consciousness. However, perceptual consciousness of something doesn't entail experiential/phenomenal consciousness. Brainless animals such as jellyfish and starfish are perceptually conscious (aware) of things, but their perceptual states aren't experiential (phenomenally conscious) ones; that is, they lack subjective sensory qualia. There is objective sensory information but no subjective sensation.
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Re: Consideration of "Panpsychism, Intuitions, and the Great Chain of Being"

Post by Terrapin Station » March 25th, 2020, 12:01 pm

Greta wrote:
March 24th, 2020, 11:12 pm
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.

Say what?

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

Post by Atla » March 25th, 2020, 12:33 pm

'Pan' in panpsychism rather means that panpsychism doesn't end here and there.

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

Post by Greta » March 25th, 2020, 4:27 pm

Consul wrote:
March 25th, 2020, 7:39 am
Consul wrote:
March 25th, 2020, 7:29 am
Protoconsciousness qua original or primitive consciousness is the evolutionarily first and oldest form of (phenomenal) consciousness.
It's important to stress that it's phenomenal consciousness (aka subjective experience/sentience) that is in question here, because phenomenal consciousness is in fact evolutionarily preceded by transitive creature consciousness = perceptual consciousness. However, perceptual consciousness of something doesn't entail experiential/phenomenal consciousness. Brainless animals such as jellyfish and starfish are perceptually conscious (aware) of things, but their perceptual states aren't experiential (phenomenally conscious) ones; that is, they lack subjective sensory qualia. There is objective sensory information but no subjective sensation.
There are only so many times that one can say that proto-consciousness is not the same as consciousness. I went to great lengths to explain this above and you ignored it.

Do you think a proto-star is the same as a star? Or a proto-human is the same as a human? Do you treat proto-languages as languages? Is the proto-planetary disc the same as planets?

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

Post by Consul » March 25th, 2020, 8:16 pm

Greta wrote:
March 25th, 2020, 4:27 pm
There are only so many times that one can say that proto-consciousness is not the same as consciousness. I went to great lengths to explain this above and you ignored it.
Do you think a proto-star is the same as a star? Or a proto-human is the same as a human? Do you treat proto-languages as languages? Is the proto-planetary disc the same as planets?
The ambiguity of "proto-" is problematic. If "proto-" means "relating to a precursor", then protoconsciousness (protophenomenal consciousness) is preconsciousness (prephenomenal consciousness), which is still nonconsciousness (nonphenomenal 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 Greta » March 25th, 2020, 10:22 pm

Consul wrote:
March 25th, 2020, 8:16 pm
Greta wrote:
March 25th, 2020, 4:27 pm
There are only so many times that one can say that proto-consciousness is not the same as consciousness. I went to great lengths to explain this above and you ignored it.
Do you think a proto-star is the same as a star? Or a proto-human is the same as a human? Do you treat proto-languages as languages? Is the proto-planetary disc the same as planets?
The ambiguity of "proto-" is problematic. If "proto-" means "relating to a precursor", then protoconsciousness (protophenomenal consciousness) is preconsciousness (prephenomenal consciousness), which is still nonconsciousness (nonphenomenal consciousness).
However, its closer to consciousness than anything else, just as a proto-star is closer to a star or a proto-human is closer to a human. In terms of properties, these proto-phenomena lie between the "main" phenomena and other phenomena.
When it comes to consciousness, what else senses and responds, other than reflexes (biological or mechanical) and consciousness?

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

Post by Consul » March 26th, 2020, 4:32 pm

Greta wrote:
March 25th, 2020, 10:22 pm
However, its closer to consciousness than anything else, just as a proto-star is closer to a star or a proto-human is closer to a human. In terms of properties, these proto-phenomena lie between the "main" phenomena and other phenomena. When it comes to consciousness, what else senses and responds, other than reflexes (biological or mechanical) and consciousness?
The hard problem is to comprehend and explain the neurological transformation of objective sensory signals into subjective sensory qualia.

For example, for cognitivist reductionists such as Peter Carruthers "there is no point at which a light gets turned on (nor does any light get turned on gradually, come to that), and no special properties emerge" (Human and Animal Minds, 181). That is, according to him, an ontological emergence of special sensory qualia in addition to and distinct from sensory information never occurred during the course of evolution, because phenomenal consciousness is nothing over and above globally broadcast nonconceptual information. So there was only an evolutionary transition from nonglobally broadcast sensory information to globally broadcast sensory information.

Sensory information becomes phenomenally conscious if and only if it is globally broadcast in a mind/brain by becoming part of or entering the content of working memory (the mind's/brain's "global workspace"), and thus being accessible or available to all or most cognitive modules (or "executive functions"—see quote below!). Therefore, the difference between phenomenally preconscious/preexperiential neural information and phenomenally conscious/experiential neural information is that the latter is part of the content of the mind's/brain's global workspace and the former is not—which means that it's a purely functional difference between degrees of cognitive accessibility or availability of neural information, such that it is not constituted by any ontological emergence of functionally-informationally irreducible experiential qualia. The defenders of this cognitivistic account of phenomenal consciousness argue that it is thereby demystified and fully "naturalized".

The global-workspace theory of consciousness (GWT) was originally developed by Bernard Baars (and is now defended by Carruthers and others): https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/cons ... obNeurWork

However, GWT isn't accepted by all psychologists and philosophers of mind; and it has been criticized by qualia dualists such as Chalmers, who thinks it doesn't really provide a reductive explanation of phenomenal consciousness but of access consciousness at most:

QUOTE>
"Baars brings all sorts of experimental evidence to bear in establishing his main thesis: consciousness is a kind of global workspace in a distributed system of intelligent information processors. When processors gain access to the global workspace, they broadcast a message to the entire system, as if they had written it on a blackboard. The contents of the global workspace are the contents of consciousness.

Baars uses this model to explain a remarkable number of properties of human processing. The model provides a very suggestive framework for explaining a subject's access to information, and its role in attention, reportability, voluntary control, and even the development of a self-concept. The global workspace framework is therefore well suited to explaining consciousness in its whole bundle of psychological senses. There is at least a general theory of awareness on offer.

But there is no reductive explanation of experience to be found here. The question of why these processes should give rise to experience is simply not addressed. One might suppose that according to the theory, the contents of experience are precisely the contents of the workspace. But even if this is so, nothing internal to the theory explains why it is that the information within the global workspace is experienced. The best the theory can do is to say that the information is experienced because it is globally accessible. But now the question arises in a different form: Why should global accessibility give rise to conscious experience? This bridging question is not addressed in Baar's work."

(Chalmers, David J. The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. p. 112)

"Phenomenal consciousness is at least conceptually distinct from access consciousness (Block 1995, 2007). Both are forms of mental-state consciousness: it is mental states that are thought to have phenomenal properties, and that can be accessible to enter into decision-making, reasoning, and verbal report. As has been stressed, however, phenomenal consciousness is a first-person notion. One can only understand what that concept is intended to pick out by directing one’s attention to some of one’s own phenomenally conscious states. Access consciousness, in contrast, is functionally defined, and the concept could be fully understood by a zombie. A mental state is said to be access conscious if it is accessible to a wide range of other systems for further processing, specifically those involved in decision-making, in reasoning, in issuing verbal reports, and in the formation of long-term memories.
It is controversial whether or not there is any real distinction between access consciousness and phenomenal consciousness. Put differently: although the concepts are certainly distinct, it is disputed whether the two concepts pick out distinct properties or converge on the same property."

(Carruthers, Peter. Human and Animal Minds: The Consciousness Questions Laid to Rest. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019. p. 3)
<QUOTE

QUOTE>
"Executive functions (EFs; also called executive control or cognitive control) refer to a family of top-down mental processes needed when you have to concentrate and pay attention, when going on automatic or relying on instinct or intuition would be ill-advised, insufficient, or impossible. Using EFs is effortful; it is easier to continue doing what you have been doing than to change, it is easier to give into temptation than to resist it, and it is easier to go on “automatic pilot” than to consider what to do next. There is general agreement that there are three core EFs: inhibition [inhibitory control, including self-control (behavioral inhibition) and interference control (selective attention and cognitive inhibition)], working memory (WM), and cognitive flexibility (also called set shifting, mental flexibility, or mental set shifting and closely linked to creativity). From these, higher-order EFs are built such as reasoning, problem solving, and planning. EFs are skills essential for mental and physical health; success in school and in life; and cognitive, social, and psychological development."

(Diamond, Adele. "Executive Functions." Annual Review of Psychology 64 (2013): 135–168. p. 136)
<QUOTE
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Re: Consideration of "Panpsychism, Intuitions, and the Great Chain of Being"

Post by Greta » March 26th, 2020, 4:41 pm

Yes, as stated emphatically by me more than once on this thread, proto-consciousnesses, or reflexes, are not the same as consciousness, just as a proto-star is not the same as a star. But nothing is more similar to a star than a proto-star and nothing is more similar to consciousness than proto-consciousness.

The subjective situation remains a mystery, after centuries of finding that our assumptions about others' subjective experiences have been completely wrong.

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

Post by Consul » March 26th, 2020, 5:01 pm

Greta wrote:
March 26th, 2020, 4:41 pm
Yes, as stated emphatically by me more than once on this thread, proto-consciousnesses, or reflexes, are not the same as consciousness, just as a proto-star is not the same as a star. But nothing is more similar to a star than a proto-star and nothing is more similar to consciousness than proto-consciousness.The subjective situation remains a mystery, after centuries of finding that our assumptions about others' subjective experiences have been completely wrong.
Obviously, a non-/pre-experiential state cannot be experientially similar to an experiential state, since there's nothing experiential about the former; so there can only be nonexperiential, i.e. functional or informational (representational), similarities between them. An experiential state and a non-/pre-experiential one may play the same role or have the same effect in the mind/brain, and represent the same thing or state of affairs. But the question is whether the dissimilarity or difference between non-/pre-experiential states and experiential ones can be reductively explained in terms of a functional and informational (representational) dissimilarity or difference (as attempted by Baars, Dehaene, and Carruthers).
"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 Consul » March 26th, 2020, 5:23 pm

Consul wrote:
March 26th, 2020, 5:01 pm
Obviously, a non-/pre-experiential state cannot be experientially similar to an experiential state, since there's nothing experiential about the former; so there can only be nonexperiential, i.e. functional or informational (representational), similarities between them.…
If both pre-experiential states and experiential ones are neural states, there may also be structural similarities between the respectively underlying neural networks. But it's extremely difficult for neuroscientists to detect the relevant type-difference between dynamic patterns of neuronal activity which makes the difference between the absence and the presence of experiential states.
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Re: Consideration of "Panpsychism, Intuitions, and the Great Chain of Being"

Post by Consul » March 26th, 2020, 6:32 pm

I neither believe nor disbelieve in the global-workspace theory of consciousness. A global mental workspace (working memory) may not be sufficient for phenomenal consciousness, but it is arguably necessary at least; and a global mental workspace arguably requires a centered mind that itself requires a central nervous system or brain.

QUOTE>
"Working memory is thought to provide a central 'workspace' in the mind, in which representations can be sustained and manipulated.

The systems that consume and respond to the contents of working memory will vary widely across species, of course. But the basic 'centering' function of working memory seems to be highly conserved."

(Carruthers, Peter. Human and Animal Minds: The Consciousness Questions Laid to Rest. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019. p. 34)
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Re: Consideration of "Panpsychism, Intuitions, and the Great Chain of Being"

Post by Greta » March 26th, 2020, 9:10 pm

You assume that all experience stems from neurons and you dismiss the idea of sensations falling into a grey area that's not really consciousness but not entirely unconscious.

As stated in previous chats, I will agree with you when there is definitive evidence of the exact process how patterns of neural activity translate into the theatre of the mind. At this stage we have a few weak and untested hypotheses.

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

Post by Consul » March 26th, 2020, 9:49 pm

Greta wrote:
March 26th, 2020, 9:10 pm
You assume that all experience stems from neurons…
Yes, indeed, because it's by far the scientifically most plausible and most promising assumption. Panpsychism sucks!
Greta wrote:
March 26th, 2020, 9:10 pm
…and you dismiss the idea of sensations falling into a grey area that's not really consciousness but not entirely unconscious.
I cannot ever convince you that "phenomenal consciousness is all-or-nothing" (Carruthers), that there is no possible intermediate or transitional state between experiencing (sensing/feeling) nohow and experiencing (sensing/feeling) somehow, can I?
Even the faintest and shortest case of experiencing (sensing/feeling) is definitely, determinately a phenomenally conscious event.
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Re: Consideration of "Panpsychism, Intuitions, and the Great Chain of Being"

Post by Consul » March 26th, 2020, 10:32 pm

@Greta
Note that to say that there can be no partial phenomenal consciousness is not to say that there can be no partial introspective/reflective consciousness of one's phenomenal consciousness. A subject can certainly be more or less introspectively/reflectively conscious (aware) of its experiences.
The evolutionarily first sentient animals were totally, completely introspectively/reflectively unconscious (unaware) of their sensations, lacking any degree of knowledge and understanding of them. That is, their phenomenally conscious, first-order conscious states were higher-order nonconscious states, because they had no intellectual awareness of their experiential states.
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