Consciousness without a brain?

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NickGaspar
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

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Consul wrote: June 8th, 2021, 10:55 pm
Consul wrote: June 8th, 2021, 10:42 pm To be more precise, the phrase "nonconscious mind" is ambiguous between "phenomenally nonconscious mind" and "phenomenally conscious mind of which its subject is not conscious". Above, I'm using the phrase in the first sense.
If "nonconscious experience" means "phenomenally nonconscious experience", it's a contradiction in terms; but it isn't if it means "(phenomenally conscious) experience of which its subject isn't introspectively/reflectively conscious".
Mark Solms lecture on his latest Theory on Consciousness.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmuYrnOVmfk
Mark Solms is the founder of the field of Neuropsychoanalysis and the author of a groundbreaking paper on the mechanisms of Dreams.
Solms theory revisits the role of the Ascending Reticular Activating System (ARAS) and explains the confusion people have between the property of brain to establish conscious states and the content of those states enabled by higher cognitive functions of the brain.
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Consul
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

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NickGaspar wrote: June 10th, 2021, 5:13 am Mark Solms lecture on his latest Theory on Consciousness.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmuYrnOVmfk
Mark Solms is the founder of the field of Neuropsychoanalysis and the author of a groundbreaking paper on the mechanisms of Dreams.
Solms theory revisits the role of the Ascending Reticular Activating System (ARAS) and explains the confusion people have between the property of brain to establish conscious states and the content of those states enabled by higher cognitive functions of the brain.
Thanks! I just acquired an e-copy of his new book "The Hidden Spring: A Journey to the Source of Consciousness".
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars
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Consul
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

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Consul wrote: June 10th, 2021, 1:48 pmThanks! I just acquired an e-copy of his new book "The Hidden Spring: A Journey to the Source of Consciousness".
Here's a review by Anil Seth, a leading neuroscientist:

https://neurobanter.com/2021/02/18/mixe ... en-spring/

Solms argues that the brainstem is the source of phenomenal consciousness, especially of emotional experiences, so that even hydranencephalic children lacking the cerebral cortex can enjoy feelings. Seth remains sceptical, referring to this paper:

Heather Berlin: The Brainstem Begs the Question: "'Petitio Principii" (PDF)
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

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As long as we base all studies on human consciousness, the hard problem will remain unsolved. Quite possibly, the hard problem will be rejected as invalid per se, just as questions about what happened before the Big Bang were (wrongly) rejected.

If we define consciousness based on ANY human experience, we are forming a definition based on the very most extreme outlier. Conceptually, that is akin to discounting the existence of gravity in anything that doesn't behave like a black hole.
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

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Sy Borg wrote: June 10th, 2021, 10:06 pm As long as we base all studies on human consciousness, the hard problem will remain unsolved. Quite possibly, the hard problem will be rejected as invalid per se, just as questions about what happened before the Big Bang were (wrongly) rejected.

If we define consciousness based on ANY human experience, we are forming a definition based on the very most extreme outlier. Conceptually, that is akin to discounting the existence of gravity in anything that doesn't behave like a black hole.
The questions about what happened before the Big Bang isn't rejected. We just don't have the access to produce a meaningful answer through our current methodologies. Still we have hypotheses guided by our understanding of physics and our improved observations of the early stages of the universe. Most importantly is a genius "what" question. We ask what was there...not why it was there.
Its intellectually honest to acknowledge the limitats of our observations and reserve belief regarding all hypotheses.
The "hard problem" (Chalmers) is a made up one that can not be answered objectively since it is nothing more than a collection of "why" questions. The unfortunately thing is that even if this pseudo question has been rejected by science for years, philosophers still insist in reproducing the same epistemically meaningless questions.

-"If we define consciousness based on ANY human experience, we are forming a definition based on the very most extreme outlier. Conceptually, that is akin to discounting the existence of gravity in anything that doesn't behave like a black hole."
-that is a non sequitur. There is an objective study of our mental ability to be conscious. The fields studying this phenomenon are Neuroscience, Neuropsychoanalysis, Psychology and Cognitive Science as an interdisciplinary approach.
We don't discount any objective empirical observations so your analogy about gravity and "black holes" is an unfortunate one!
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

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Consul wrote: June 10th, 2021, 9:00 pm
Consul wrote: June 10th, 2021, 1:48 pmThanks! I just acquired an e-copy of his new book "The Hidden Spring: A Journey to the Source of Consciousness".
Here's a review by Anil Seth, a leading neuroscientist:

https://neurobanter.com/2021/02/18/mixe ... en-spring/

Solms argues that the brainstem is the source of phenomenal consciousness, especially of emotional experiences, so that even hydranencephalic children lacking the cerebral cortex can enjoy feelings. Seth remains sceptical, referring to this paper:

Heather Berlin: The Brainstem Begs the Question: "'Petitio Principii" (PDF)
Yes I am familiar with their disagreement. In my opinion its a classic case of addressing slightly different qualities. Solms argues for the property( what enables the ability) of being conscious and Anil for the experience(what enables the content). I could be wrong of course. I have to dig a little more and compare their frameworks.
You will see that same problem highlighted in the podcast I posted where Ginger presents and explains the discrepancies found in different theories.(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGwOfSKmo_I&t=)
Antonio Damasio has concluded to the same fundamental mechanism (with Solms) holding our emotions as the driving force behind the arousal of the ARAS. After this arousal we can share the stimuli(emotion) with the rest of our higher cognitive states and reason them in to feelings, find meaning through patter seeking and symbolic thinking, compare to previous experience and flood our conscious state with content.
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

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Consul wrote: June 10th, 2021, 1:48 pm
NickGaspar wrote: June 10th, 2021, 5:13 am Mark Solms lecture on his latest Theory on Consciousness.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmuYrnOVmfk
Mark Solms is the founder of the field of Neuropsychoanalysis and the author of a groundbreaking paper on the mechanisms of Dreams.
Solms theory revisits the role of the Ascending Reticular Activating System (ARAS) and explains the confusion people have between the property of brain to establish conscious states and the content of those states enabled by higher cognitive functions of the brain.
Thanks! I just acquired an e-copy of his new book "The Hidden Spring: A Journey to the Source of Consciousness".
Thanks! I just acquired an e-copy of his new book "The Hidden Spring: A Journey to the Source of Consciousness".
[/quote]

That's really great. I am really happy to hear that there are still people eager to inform their philosophy with our latest systematic knowledge.

IT is also on my list of books after I finish a couple of books supportive of the topic.
Well I just finished Robert Sapolsky's book "Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst " which is an amazing work on what we know about human biology and how it affects behavior . I have just started Carolyn Merchant book "Autonomous Nature:Problems of Prediction and Control From Ancient Times to the Scientific Revolution"
It explains the role of emergence in nature and how this property undermines our ability to predict, produce applications and provide final explanations.
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Sy Borg
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

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NickGaspar wrote: June 11th, 2021, 5:23 am
Sy Borg wrote: June 10th, 2021, 10:06 pm As long as we base all studies on human consciousness, the hard problem will remain unsolved. Quite possibly, the hard problem will be rejected as invalid per se, just as questions about what happened before the Big Bang were (wrongly) rejected.

If we define consciousness based on ANY human experience, we are forming a definition based on the very most extreme outlier. Conceptually, that is akin to discounting the existence of gravity in anything that doesn't behave like a black hole.
The questions about what happened before the Big Bang isn't rejected. We just don't have the access to produce a meaningful answer through our current methodologies. Still we have hypotheses guided by our understanding of physics and our improved observations of the early stages of the universe. Most importantly is a genius "what" question. We ask what was there...not why it was there.
Its intellectually honest to acknowledge the limitats of our observations and reserve belief regarding all hypotheses.
The "hard problem" (Chalmers) is a made up one that can not be answered objectively since it is nothing more than a collection of "why" questions. The unfortunately thing is that even if this pseudo question has been rejected by science for years, philosophers still insist in reproducing the same epistemically meaningless questions.

-"If we define consciousness based on ANY human experience, we are forming a definition based on the very most extreme outlier. Conceptually, that is akin to discounting the existence of gravity in anything that doesn't behave like a black hole."
-that is a non sequitur. There is an objective study of our mental ability to be conscious. The fields studying this phenomenon are Neuroscience, Neuropsychoanalysis, Psychology and Cognitive Science as an interdisciplinary approach.
We don't discount any objective empirical observations so your analogy about gravity and "black holes" is an unfortunate one!
Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong.

1. If you read what I said you'd notice that the questions about what happened before the Big Bang WERE wrongly rejected. Not ARE. That mistake by earlier physicists is now acknowledged, but for many years any suggestion that there was a before the Big Bang was said to make no sense. In fact, it was ridiculed. Even today some scientists repeat Stephen Hawkings's offhand claim that speaking about what happened before the Big Bang is like trying to travel north of the north pole.

2. There was no intellectual dishonesty by me, but by you. The fact is that we do NOT know enough about consciousness for you to make such confident claims, as if the game is all sown up. My problem is with your misplaced certainty, even more than with your reliance of gimmicky smears.

3. You are just another who denies the hard problem, as discussed. The hard problem most certainly has not been rejected by "science". It has been rejected by some scientists, but they do not represent all. The jury remains out.

4. My argument comparing the use of outliers as model examples is most certainly not a non sequitur. Do you know what a non sequitur is??

The issue here is that using outliers to model any phenomena is illogical. Science is, by nature, a bottom-up discipline. Anyone considering the phenomenon of consciousness by using human consciousness as a standard model is starting from near the top. That's fine if you want to research issues that will aid treatments for those with brain disease or injury. Medicine, of course, will be the source of most research dollars. To consider explorations of human consciousness in medical research as explorations of consciousness per se in all of life is irrational.

You might as well study economics by using Jeff Bezos as a standard, and then declare that most people have no money whatsoever.
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

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Sy Borg wrote: June 11th, 2021, 9:09 am
3. You are just another who denies the hard problem, as discussed. The hard problem most certainly has not been rejected by "science". It has been rejected by some scientists, but they do not represent all. The jury remains out.
I'm glad you admit that the jury is still out, which is extremely refreshing to see from anyone who takes the hard problem seriously and thinks it is a genuine issue. Most of those I've encountered seem to have an almost unshakable religious faith in it.

My own take is that the vast majority of scientists don't actually understand what Chalmers meant by the hard problem and how radical a position it is. I think that if they really did understand him most would reject the hard problem as something that almost by design poses consciousness as forever beyond the reach of any form of science that would be recognized as such today. It's basic function is as a conversation stopper.
Sy Borg wrote: June 11th, 2021, 9:09 am
The issue here is that using outliers to model any phenomena is illogical.
I appreciate your concerns here, but the logic in starting with the human case is that human beings are literally the only beings everyone agrees are conscious. Once you get to other animals, you immediately run into disputes over whether they have fully conscious minds or not.

For instance, the case could be made that language use is a requirement for full, human style consciousness because language transforms experience in ways that are deep and significant. (Years ago I watched a demonstration in which persons from a small tribe which did not have a word for "blue" could not tell the difference between blue and green objects, something I never would have believed if I hadn't seen them fail the test repeatedly.)

I'm actually very sympathetic to that claim though I don't have any strong opinions one way or the other. The point is that with the existence of such disputes, by necessity we have to start with humans and work our way backwards, presumably with evolutionary history as our guide. Until we fix the meaning of our terms at the top, if you will, we wouldn't have an indisputable, evidence based way to make claims about other creatures.
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Consul
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

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Sy Borg wrote: June 8th, 2021, 10:07 pm When it comes to the basics of consciousness or qualia, I'm consider responses that could be considered pre-emotional, eg. feeling an itch or other irritation and unthinkingly scratching it. It's a fascinating notion, distinguishing between conscious and unconscious minds. I am think the opposite in a way. That is, qualia seems to be involved in the basic sense-response dynamics of microbes, as distinct from emotional dynamics. In essence, I am not sure that a mind is needed for organisms to experience being - in a very, very, very basic way, I must stress.

When it comes to actual emotions, however, would agree that that would need a brain. Emotions are basically the bridge between body and mind, and one can't expect brainless organisms to have minds as such.

That qualia can exist in lieu of a mind to shape it. So while a microbe will not have the apparatus needed to feel, say, pain, they have aversive sense-response mechanisms, which are assumed by many not to be qualia, but I am not so sure.

One can feel things while not caring, feeling unemotional about sensations. A few months ago I had two root canal therapies while affected by some drug that took away my care. I could feel the dentist hacking away in there with pneumatic drill, bulldozer, pick axe and shovel (subjective impressions :) but I had no opinion or thoughts about it as I lolled relatively mindlessly in the chair. Of course, even this diminished human experience is exponentially more complex than the simple pulses and tingles that may be at the evolutionary root of qualia in the biosphere (wherever those limits may lie).
Local anesthetics as used by dentists can suppress the typical emotional and intellectual reactions to unpleasant or painful sensations. The question is whether you would have felt any tactile sensations in your mouth or teeth at all if there had been no cognitive access to them whatsoever, in virtue of which you were aware of them.

The general question is whether cognitively unaccessed or even unaccessible experiences are still experienced occurrences rather than nonexperiences. Unfortunately, the insoluble epistemic problem is that we cannot know if there are cognitively unaccessed, "brute" or "raw" experiences, since any knowledge of them would be based and dependent on actual cognitive access to them. That an experience is there when I cognize or perceive it doesn't mean that it would still have been there if I hadn't cognized or perceived it. Berkeley's famous dictum "esse est percipi" is not true of external, physical reality; but it may well be true of internal, mental/experiential reality.

Solms claims that hydranencephalic children lacking the cerebral cortex can nonetheless enjoy feelings; but if they can, their emotions are cognitively inaccessible to them in principle owing to the absence of the cortex, where cognition and perception take place. So the big problem is:

"[H]ow do you distinguish an unaccessed state of phenomenal consciousness of which you are not aware from a nonconscious state of which you are not aware? Awareness in each case depends on access. So what is unaccessed phenomenal consciousness?"

(LeDoux, Joseph. Anxious: Using the Brain to Understand and Treat Fear and Anxiety. New York: Viking, 2015. p. 164)

The very concept of a brute or raw experience, i.e. one which is totally uncognized or unperceived by its subject, is of questionable coherence. Such cognitively unaccessed or even unaccessible experiences (experiential qualia) would be the psychological counterparts of Kant's undetectable and unknowable noumena.
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

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Funny that even on a philosophy forum, most people don't realize that the Hard problem is a philosophical problem, not a scientific one. One sees this clearly, once one has finished absorbing all relevant scientific knowledge from every branch of science.
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

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Sy Borg wrote: June 11th, 2021, 9:09 am
If you read what I said you'd notice that the questions about what happened before the Big Bang WERE wrongly rejected.
That mistake by earlier physicists is now acknowledged, but for many years any suggestion that there was a before the Big Bang was said to make no sense. In fact, it was ridiculed. Even today some scientists repeat Stephen Hawkings's offhand claim that speaking about what happened before the Big Bang is like trying to travel north of the north pole.
-This is a common misconception and blind generalization . Early questions were about the state of the universe before the Big Bang. That was a nonsensical statement since there was no Universe to point to. The ticking of the process(time) that resulted to what we identify as universe started with the big bang . Only by introducing the concept of the Cosmos, the question gained some meaning and epistemic value.

2. There was no intellectual dishonesty by me, but by you. The fact is that we do NOT know enough about consciousness for you to make such confident claims, as if the game is all sown up. My problem is with your misplaced certainty, even more than with your reliance of gimmicky smears.
We also don't know what is responsible for the misplacement of our keys......but we don't make up invisible magical agents to explain it.(well some of us do lol)
Again. We DON'T KNOW means WE DON'T KNOW...lets study what we observe directly. It doesn't mean "lets introduce a bigger mystery as an answer to a small one. We only have to demonstrate Necessity and Sufficiency of an observable causal mechanism (brain) and we have, sure we don't know every single detail or mechanism, but we are not done yet. The brain has complex functions, so before introducing magical mechanisms why don't you hold your horses and wait until the investigation is done?
3. You are just another who denies the hard problem, as discussed. The hard problem most certainly has not been rejected by "science". It has been rejected by some scientists, but they do not represent all. The jury remains out.
-THere is a hard problem, but it has nothing to do with Chalmer's "why" pseudo philosophical questions or similar claims from the rest of the pseudo philosophical circle. Science ignores his "why" questions because they are epistemically useless, not because of a philosophical bias.
As Solms has pointed out the difficulty is to isolate the brain area responsible for our conscious states from the areas responsible for introducing the content in those states.
"Philosophers'' may say whatever they want about "an imaginary remaining jury"that doesn't change anything. They did and still doing it with "life", they do it with theistic ideas etc. The fact is that the Philosophical Hard Problem of consciousness is dead for good.

4. My argument comparing the use of outliers as model examples is most certainly not a non sequitur. Do you know what a non sequitur is??
-Yes your conclusion did not follow from your premises...it was a logically unfounded comparison, with wrong accusations.
The issue here is that using outliers to model any phenomena is illogical.
-Science is the most systematic and methodical tool we currently have for the evaluation of our epistemic claims. Claiming that our scientific position on the subject is an outlier is a fractally wrong accusation
Science is, by nature, a bottom-up discipline. Anyone considering the phenomenon of consciousness by using human consciousness as a standard model is starting from near the top. That's fine if you want to research issues that will aid treatments for those with brain disease or injury. Medicine, of course, will be the source of most research dollars. To consider explorations of human consciousness in medical research as explorations of consciousness per se in all of life is irrational.
-You are ignorant on how we scientifically explore the ability of the human brain to be arouses and how it consciously processes stimuli from the environment and its organism. Medical research is only one out of numerous methodologies that inform our puzzle. Our medical applications are only the instrumental verification of the ability of our foundings to produce useful explanations and testable predictions. Our Surgery and Medical protocols work because their predictions are testable and they are testable because we can directly evaluate them. If only your ideology could have similar usefulness or relevance to reality! Why do you insist on talking about things you know nothing about????

You might as well study economics by using Jeff Bezos as a standard, and then declare that most people have no money whatsoever.
-Your last statement is equally as bad as the rest of your arguments.

Why won't you leave these arguments from ignorance aside and present a positive argument on why you believe our mental states aren't a product of the brain.
"because we can not prove it" is not an argument...but a fallacy. Give your best shot and produce the reason why you think that the source of consciousness is supernatural.
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

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Atla wrote: June 11th, 2021, 11:39 am Funny that even on a philosophy forum, most people don't realize that the Hard problem is a philosophical problem, not a scientific one. One sees this clearly, once one has finished absorbing all relevant scientific knowledge from every branch of science.
Pseudo philosophical "why questions" are not philosophical problems. You can not do philosophy without science(at least meaningful or real philosophy) and you can not do science without Philosophy. SO pls stop trying to play tennis without the net......
The problem with those who still search answers in the "supernatural" is that they are ignorant of the actual science.
Making up realms and mysteries to answer things we don't know...is not Philosophy. sorry.
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

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NickGaspar wrote: June 11th, 2021, 12:03 pm
Atla wrote: June 11th, 2021, 11:39 am Funny that even on a philosophy forum, most people don't realize that the Hard problem is a philosophical problem, not a scientific one. One sees this clearly, once one has finished absorbing all relevant scientific knowledge from every branch of science.
Pseudo philosophical "why questions" are not philosophical problems. You can not do philosophy without science(at least meaningful or real philosophy) and you can not do science without Philosophy. SO pls stop trying to play tennis without the net......
The problem with those who still search answers in the "supernatural" is that they are ignorant of the actual science.
Making up realms and mysteries to answer things we don't know...is not Philosophy. sorry.
Once again no one was talking about teleology, the supernatural, and making up realms, except you. You make it clear for the Nth time that you are incapable of holding a philosophical conversation.
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

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So lets explain why your "way of thinking'' is useless and irrelevant to our understanding of our world.
Is it possible that the brain is not the source of consciousness?
Is it possible that the electromagnetic cohesion of the molecules of a cup is not responsible for the shape of the fluid in it?
Is it possible that a god is responsible for the "mechanism" of Evolution.
Sure, we can not exclude higher level causal agents and mechanisms being responsible for all of those phenomena.
Ok ......good for us, we solved all those mysteries!We came up with answers to all our questions! Lets pet each other on the back and say..... WHAT? Lets do WHAT with all those arbitrary answers???
Can we work upon those claims, produce further knowledge, predictions, applications and inform the rest of our philosophy?
Are we sure that our epistemic grounds are solid for our metaphysical work to be steady and relevant to reality?
of course......NOT
We are just a bunch of guys pretending to know things that we don't know, or can not observe or claims we can not verify.....while ignoring real KNOWLEDGE produced in Science.
Congrats.
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