Why All Current Scientific Theories Of Consciousness Fail

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Consul
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Re: Why All Current Scientific Theories Of Consciousness Fail

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SteveKlinko wrote: November 25th, 2021, 9:01 am We need to know what Blueness is and what Redness is before we can make any sense out of their differences. First things first.
We're all directly acquainted with phenomenal colors, since they constitute our visual experiences. So we know very well from our own visual experiences what phenomenal blue is, what phenomenal red is, and what the phenomenal difference between them is. This is not to say that we have introspective knowledge of the real essence, nature, or constitution of visual or other sensory experiences. The working hypothesis of the (still young) neuroscience of consciousness is that all sensory experiences are constituted by neural processes. All kinds of subjective experiences are realized by and thus explicable in terms of electrochemical mechanisms in the CNS.
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Re: Why All Current Scientific Theories Of Consciousness Fail

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Consul wrote: November 25th, 2021, 3:02 pm
SteveKlinko wrote: November 25th, 2021, 9:01 am We need to know what Blueness is and what Redness is before we can make any sense out of their differences. First things first.
We're all directly acquainted with phenomenal colors, since they constitute our visual experiences. So we know very well from our own visual experiences what phenomenal blue is, what phenomenal red is, and what the phenomenal difference between them is. This is not to say that we have introspective knowledge of the real essence, nature, or constitution of visual or other sensory experiences. The working hypothesis of the (still young) neuroscience of consciousness is that all sensory experiences are constituted by neural processes. All kinds of subjective experiences are realized by and thus explicable in terms of electrochemical mechanisms in the CNS.
But there is no Theory or even Speculation about what Redness is within the context of our Manifest Existence. We do not in fact Know what the Redness is, we only Experience the Redness. Science doesn't Know what the Redness is and Science doesn't Know what we are. Science has tried for a hundred years to figure out how the Neurons produce the Conscious Experience, and Science has exactly Zero understanding of Redness or any other Conscious Experience. This is an extreme embarrassment for Science. The Visual Conscious Experience will not be pushed back into the Neurons, rather, the Conscious Visual Experience just seems to hover there in front of our faces. Science needs a new Perspective on this whole problem. They are literally getting nowhere.
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Re: Why All Current Scientific Theories Of Consciousness Fail

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SteveKlinko wrote: November 25th, 2021, 3:25 pmBut there is no Theory or even Speculation about what Redness is within the context of our Manifest Existence. We do not in fact Know what the Redness is, we only Experience the Redness. Science doesn't Know what the Redness is and Science doesn't Know what we are. Science has tried for a hundred years to figure out how the Neurons produce the Conscious Experience, and Science has exactly Zero understanding of Redness or any other Conscious Experience. This is an extreme embarrassment for Science. The Visual Conscious Experience will not be pushed back into the Neurons, rather, the Conscious Visual Experience just seems to hover there in front of our faces.
The apparent externality of colors—that they seem to be out there on the surfaces of material objects or in them (if the objects are transparent)—is a phenomenal illusion (illusory projection), because your field of phenomenal consciousness is wholly located inside your brain.
SteveKlinko wrote: November 25th, 2021, 3:25 pm Science needs a new Perspective on this whole problem. They are literally getting nowhere.
I think the neuroscientists are beginning to get somewhere—especially with the help of advanced neuroimaging technology. The solution to the riddle of subjective experience lies somewhere in the enormous complexity of the information-encoding neural networks of the brain.

QUOTE>
"We’re now ready to meet what I call the real problem of consciousness. This is a way of thinking about consciousness science that has taken shape for me over many years, assimilating and building on the insights of many others. Addressing the real problem is, I believe, the approach by which a science of consciousness is most likely to succeed.

According to the real problem, the primary goals of consciousness science are to explain, predict, and control the phenomenological properties of conscious experience. This means explaining why a particular conscious experience is the way it is – why it has the phenomenological properties that it has – in terms of physical mechanisms and processes in the brain and body. These explanations should enable us to predict when specific subjective experiences will occur, and enable their control through intervening in the underlying mechanisms. In short, addressing the real problem requires explaining why a particular pattern of brain activity – or other physical process – maps to a particular kind of conscious experience, not merely establishing that it does.

The real problem is distinct from the hard problem, because it is not – at least not in the first instance – about explaining why and how consciousness is part of the universe in the first place. It does not hunt for a special sauce that can magic consciousness from mere mechanism (or the other way around). It is also distinct from the easy problem(s), because it focuses on phenomenology rather than on function or behaviour. It doesn’t sweep the subjective aspects of consciousness away under the carpet. And because of its emphasis on mechanisms and processes, the real problem aligns naturally with a physicalist worldview on the relationship between matter and mind."

(Seth, Anil. Being You: A New Science of Consciousness. New York: Dutton, 2021. pp. 25-6)
<QUOTE
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Re: Why All Current Scientific Theories Of Consciousness Fail

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Consul wrote: November 25th, 2021, 3:54 pm
SteveKlinko wrote: November 25th, 2021, 3:25 pmBut there is no Theory or even Speculation about what Redness is within the context of our Manifest Existence. We do not in fact Know what the Redness is, we only Experience the Redness. Science doesn't Know what the Redness is and Science doesn't Know what we are. Science has tried for a hundred years to figure out how the Neurons produce the Conscious Experience, and Science has exactly Zero understanding of Redness or any other Conscious Experience. This is an extreme embarrassment for Science. The Visual Conscious Experience will not be pushed back into the Neurons, rather, the Conscious Visual Experience just seems to hover there in front of our faces.
The apparent externality of colors—that they seem to be out there on the surfaces of material objects or in them (if the objects are transparent)—is a phenomenal illusion (illusory projection), because your field of phenomenal consciousness is wholly located inside your brain.
SteveKlinko wrote: November 25th, 2021, 3:25 pm Science needs a new Perspective on this whole problem. They are literally getting nowhere.
I think the neuroscientists are beginning to get somewhere—especially with the help of advanced neuroimaging technology. The solution to the riddle of subjective experience lies somewhere in the enormous complexity of the information-encoding neural networks of the brain.

QUOTE>
"We’re now ready to meet what I call the real problem of consciousness. This is a way of thinking about consciousness science that has taken shape for me over many years, assimilating and building on the insights of many others. Addressing the real problem is, I believe, the approach by which a science of consciousness is most likely to succeed.

According to the real problem, the primary goals of consciousness science are to explain, predict, and control the phenomenological properties of conscious experience. This means explaining why a particular conscious experience is the way it is – why it has the phenomenological properties that it has – in terms of physical mechanisms and processes in the brain and body. These explanations should enable us to predict when specific subjective experiences will occur, and enable their control through intervening in the underlying mechanisms. In short, addressing the real problem requires explaining why a particular pattern of brain activity – or other physical process – maps to a particular kind of conscious experience, not merely establishing that it does.

The real problem is distinct from the hard problem, because it is not – at least not in the first instance – about explaining why and how consciousness is part of the universe in the first place. It does not hunt for a special sauce that can magic consciousness from mere mechanism (or the other way around). It is also distinct from the easy problem(s), because it focuses on phenomenology rather than on function or behaviour. It doesn’t sweep the subjective aspects of consciousness away under the carpet. And because of its emphasis on mechanisms and processes, the real problem aligns naturally with a physicalist worldview on the relationship between matter and mind."

(Seth, Anil. Being You: A New Science of Consciousness. New York: Dutton, 2021. pp. 25-6)
<QUOTE
Seth's Real Problem is just stating the Hard Problem with different words. I suspect he will ultimately need a Secret Sauce even to solve his Real Problem. Scientists should stop hiding from the Hard Problem. They need to just admit that they don't know and continue on. The Hard Problem is alive and well in spite of all attempts to ignore it and hide it from view.
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Re: Why All Current Scientific Theories Of Consciousness Fail

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SteveKlinko wrote: November 25th, 2021, 4:35 pmSeth's Real Problem is just stating the Hard Problem with different words. I suspect he will ultimately need a Secret Sauce even to solve his Real Problem. Scientists should stop hiding from the Hard Problem. They need to just admit that they don't know and continue on. The Hard Problem is alive and well in spite of all attempts to ignore it and hide it from view.
It seems many mystery lovers are so romantically enamoured of the hard problem that they dearly hope it will never be solved by science.

QUOTE>
"The hard-problem view has a pinch of defeatism in it. I suspect that for some people it also has a pinch of religiosity. It is a keep-your-scientific-hands-off-my-mystery perspective. One conceptual difficulty with the hard-problem view is that it argues against any explanation of consciousness without knowing what explanations might arise. It is difficult to make a cogent argument against the unknown. Perhaps an explanation exists such that, once we see what it is, once we understand it, we will find that it makes sense and accounts for consciousness."

(Graziano, Michael S. Consciousness and the Social Brain. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. p. 7)
<QUOTE
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars
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Re: Why All Current Scientific Theories Of Consciousness Fail

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Consul wrote: November 25th, 2021, 5:52 pm
SteveKlinko wrote: November 25th, 2021, 4:35 pmSeth's Real Problem is just stating the Hard Problem with different words. I suspect he will ultimately need a Secret Sauce even to solve his Real Problem. Scientists should stop hiding from the Hard Problem. They need to just admit that they don't know and continue on. The Hard Problem is alive and well in spite of all attempts to ignore it and hide it from view.
It seems many mystery lovers are so romantically enamoured of the hard problem that they dearly hope it will never be solved by science.
"The hard-problem view has a pinch of defeatism in it. I suspect that for some people it also has a pinch of religiosity. It is a keep-your-scientific-hands-off-my-mystery perspective. One conceptual difficulty with the hard-problem view is that it argues against any explanation of consciousness without knowing what explanations might arise. It is difficult to make a cogent argument against the unknown. Perhaps an explanation exists such that, once we see what it is, once we understand it, we will find that it makes sense and accounts for consciousness."

(Graziano, Michael S. Consciousness and the Social Brain. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. p. 7)
Speaking for myself, this particular mystery lover* hopes that researchers solve the hard problem, and abiogenesis too. If they fail to do the former then all Earthly sentience will be soon gone in geological time, along with all memory of Earth's extraordinary story.

As Steve said, the hard problem has not been solved. Grumping about people who point out unsolved scientific problems does not change that fact. The Mary's room thought experiment still holds as true as ever.

Is it science's job to make "cogent argument[s] against the unknown"? Seems to me that Graziano has allowed politics to seep into his science (understandable in the 2020s, to be fair). Still, I see science as extending the realm of the known and the levels of certainty of the partially known.


* Researchers perhaps love mysteries more than anyone. Mysteries are the the grist to their mill. For some, it's their raison d'etre, driving them to work insane hours without additional payment.
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Re: Why All Current Scientific Theories Of Consciousness Fail

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Consul wrote: November 25th, 2021, 5:52 pmIt seems many mystery lovers are so romantically enamoured of the hard problem that they dearly hope it will never be solved by science.
Neurophysiological explanations of consciousness surely won't be simple stories, but complicated scientific theories full of mathematical equations that are incomprehensible to laypersons.
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Re: Why All Current Scientific Theories Of Consciousness Fail

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Consul wrote: November 25th, 2021, 7:11 pm
Consul wrote: November 25th, 2021, 5:52 pmIt seems many mystery lovers are so romantically enamoured of the hard problem that they dearly hope it will never be solved by science.
Neurophysiological explanations of consciousness surely won't be simple stories, but complicated scientific theories full of mathematical equations that are incomprehensible to laypersons.
Makes sense to me. Whenever I try to understand any given phenomenon, my learning always hits a dead end with "mathematical equations that are incomprehensible to laypersons".
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Re: Why All Current Scientific Theories Of Consciousness Fail

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Sy Borg wrote: November 25th, 2021, 6:39 pmSpeaking for myself, this particular mystery lover* hopes that researchers solve the hard problem, and abiogenesis too. If they fail to do the former then all Earthly sentience will be soon gone in geological time, along with all memory of Earth's extraordinary story.
Acosmogenesis (pre-big-bang —> big bang), abiogenesis (nonliving matter —> living matter), and apsychogenesis (nonconscious life —> conscious life) are the three toughest nuts to crack.
Sy Borg wrote: November 25th, 2021, 6:39 pmAs Steve said, the hard problem has not been solved. Grumping about people who point out unsolved scientific problems does not change that fact.
What we now know at least is that the solution is to be found in the dynamic architecture of central nervous systems.
Sy Borg wrote: November 25th, 2021, 6:39 pmThe Mary's room thought experiment still holds as true as ever.
It doesn't convince me as an argument for qualia dualism.

QUOTE>
"Frank Jackson (1982) formulates the intuition underlying his Knowledge Argument in a much cited passage using his famous example of the neurophysiologist Mary:

Mary is a brilliant scientist who is, for whatever reason, forced to investigate the world from a black and white room via a black and white television monitor. She specializes in the neurophysiology of vision and acquires, let us suppose, all the physical information there is to obtain about what goes on when we see ripe tomatoes, or the sky, and use terms like ‘red’, ‘blue’, and so on. She discovers, for example, just which wavelength combinations from the sky stimulate the retina, and exactly how this produces via the central nervous system the contraction of the vocal chords and expulsion of air from the lungs that results in the uttering of the sentence ‘The sky is blue’.… What will happen when Mary is released from her black and white room or is given a color television monitor? Will she learn anything or not? It seems just obvious that she will learn something about the world and our visual experience of it. But then is it inescapable that her previous knowledge was incomplete. But she had all the physical information. Ergo there is more to have than that, and Physicalism is false.

The argument contained in this passage may be put like this:

(1) Mary has all the physical information concerning human color vision before her release.

(2) But there is some information about human color vision that she does not have before her release.

Therefore

(3) Not all information is physical information."

Qualia: The Knowledge Argument: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qualia-knowledge/
<QUOTE

The subjective phenomenological information or knowledge Mary acquires when she is released from her black&white room couldn't have been derived by her a priori from her objective physical/physiological knowledge; so there is a difference between first-person phenomenological information and third-person physical/physiological information. But it doesn't follow that Mary's phenomenological knowledge of color qualia is knowledge of nonphysical, physically irreducible items.
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars
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Re: Why All Current Scientific Theories Of Consciousness Fail

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Here's an example of what neuroscience is already capable of doing:

QUOTE>
"End-to-End Deep Image Reconstruction From Human Brain Activity:

Deep neural networks (DNNs) have recently been applied successfully to brain decoding and image reconstruction from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) activity. However, direct training of a DNN with fMRI data is often avoided because the size of available data is thought to be insufficient for training a complex network with numerous parameters. Instead, a pre-trained DNN usually serves as a proxy for hierarchical visual representations, and fMRI data are used to decode individual DNN features of a stimulus image using a simple linear model, which are then passed to a reconstruction module. Here, we directly trained a DNN model with fMRI data and the corresponding stimulus images to build an end-to-end reconstruction model. We accomplished this by training a generative adversarial network with an additional loss term that was defined in high-level feature space (feature loss) using up to 6,000 training data samples (natural images and fMRI responses). The above model was tested on independent datasets and directly reconstructed image using an fMRI pattern as the input. Reconstructions obtained from our proposed method resembled the test stimuli (natural and artificial images) and reconstruction accuracy increased as a function of training-data size. Ablation analyses indicated that the feature loss that we employed played a critical role in achieving accurate reconstruction. Our results show that the end-to-end model can learn a direct mapping between brain activity and perception."

Source: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10 ... 00021/full
<QUOTE

"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars
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Re: Why All Current Scientific Theories Of Consciousness Fail

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Consul wrote: November 25th, 2021, 7:42 pm
Sy Borg wrote: November 25th, 2021, 6:39 pmAs Steve said, the hard problem has not been solved. Grumping about people who point out unsolved scientific problems does not change that fact.
What we now know at least is that the solution is to be found in the dynamic architecture of central nervous systems.
Sy Borg wrote: November 25th, 2021, 6:39 pmThe Mary's room thought experiment still holds as true as ever.
It doesn't convince me as an argument for qualia dualism.

QUOTE>
"Frank Jackson (1982) formulates the intuition underlying his Knowledge Argument in a much cited passage using his famous example of the neurophysiologist Mary:

Mary is a brilliant scientist who is, for whatever reason, forced to investigate the world from a black and white room via a black and white television monitor. She specializes in the neurophysiology of vision and acquires, let us suppose, all the physical information there is to obtain about what goes on when we see ripe tomatoes, or the sky, and use terms like ‘red’, ‘blue’, and so on. She discovers, for example, just which wavelength combinations from the sky stimulate the retina, and exactly how this produces via the central nervous system the contraction of the vocal chords and expulsion of air from the lungs that results in the uttering of the sentence ‘The sky is blue’.… What will happen when Mary is released from her black and white room or is given a color television monitor? Will she learn anything or not? It seems just obvious that she will learn something about the world and our visual experience of it. But then is it inescapable that her previous knowledge was incomplete. But she had all the physical information. Ergo there is more to have than that, and Physicalism is false.

The argument contained in this passage may be put like this:

(1) Mary has all the physical information concerning human color vision before her release.

(2) But there is some information about human color vision that she does not have before her release.

Therefore

(3) Not all information is physical information."

Qualia: The Knowledge Argument: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qualia-knowledge/
<QUOTE

The subjective phenomenological information or knowledge Mary acquires when she is released from her black&white room couldn't have been derived by her a priori from her objective physical/physiological knowledge; so there is a difference between first-person phenomenological information and third-person physical/physiological information. But it doesn't follow that Mary's phenomenological knowledge of color qualia is knowledge of nonphysical, physically irreducible items.
Why do you imply that the only alternative to global workspace theory is dualism? IIT is the only logical game in town IMO. The general concept makes sense. That is, some matter is alive and conscious and some is not. So the answers to both abiogenesis and the hard problem of consciousness must lie in morphology and chemical configuration.

The answers will be, as you suggest, devilishly complex.
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Re: Why All Current Scientific Theories Of Consciousness Fail

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SteveKlinko wrote: November 25th, 2021, 9:33 am But eventually I realized that the Brain is where our Sub Conscious processes happen and it is not even really Conscious at all. ... I have come to understand that the more important part of our Minds is in the Conscious Experience aspect.
Our nonconscious minds are non-conscious by definition. Of course it's not conscious. But then you say that consciousness is the "more" (most?) important part of our minds? It could be so, but equally, it might not be. You seem quite sure of your conclusions. I wonder if your confidence is justified, or just wishful thinking?
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Re: Why All Current Scientific Theories Of Consciousness Fail

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Consul wrote: November 25th, 2021, 5:52 pm
SteveKlinko wrote: November 25th, 2021, 4:35 pmSeth's Real Problem is just stating the Hard Problem with different words. I suspect he will ultimately need a Secret Sauce even to solve his Real Problem. Scientists should stop hiding from the Hard Problem. They need to just admit that they don't know and continue on. The Hard Problem is alive and well in spite of all attempts to ignore it and hide it from view.
It seems many mystery lovers are so romantically enamoured of the hard problem that they dearly hope it will never be solved by science.

QUOTE>
"The hard-problem view has a pinch of defeatism in it. I suspect that for some people it also has a pinch of religiosity. It is a keep-your-scientific-hands-off-my-mystery perspective. One conceptual difficulty with the hard-problem view is that it argues against any explanation of consciousness without knowing what explanations might arise. It is difficult to make a cogent argument against the unknown. Perhaps an explanation exists such that, once we see what it is, once we understand it, we will find that it makes sense and accounts for consciousness."

(Graziano, Michael S. Consciousness and the Social Brain. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. p. 7)
<QUOTE
The Hard problem Is definitely Hard when compared to the Easy Problem, and the Easy Problem is itself very, very difficult. Solving the Easy Problem requires using the limits of Scientific Technology. It's just goofy to say that the Hard Problem has anything to do with Religion. The Hard Problem is a reminder that all the Scientific knowledge we have about the Brain has contributed Zero knowledge to what Conscious Experience is.
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Re: Why All Current Scientific Theories Of Consciousness Fail

Post by SteveKlinko »

Consul wrote: November 25th, 2021, 8:14 pm Here's an example of what neuroscience is already capable of doing:

QUOTE>
"End-to-End Deep Image Reconstruction From Human Brain Activity:

Deep neural networks (DNNs) have recently been applied successfully to brain decoding and image reconstruction from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) activity. However, direct training of a DNN with fMRI data is often avoided because the size of available data is thought to be insufficient for training a complex network with numerous parameters. Instead, a pre-trained DNN usually serves as a proxy for hierarchical visual representations, and fMRI data are used to decode individual DNN features of a stimulus image using a simple linear model, which are then passed to a reconstruction module. Here, we directly trained a DNN model with fMRI data and the corresponding stimulus images to build an end-to-end reconstruction model. We accomplished this by training a generative adversarial network with an additional loss term that was defined in high-level feature space (feature loss) using up to 6,000 training data samples (natural images and fMRI responses). The above model was tested on independent datasets and directly reconstructed image using an fMRI pattern as the input. Reconstructions obtained from our proposed method resembled the test stimuli (natural and artificial images) and reconstruction accuracy increased as a function of training-data size. Ablation analyses indicated that the feature loss that we employed played a critical role in achieving accurate reconstruction. Our results show that the end-to-end model can learn a direct mapping between brain activity and perception."

Source: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10 ... 00021/full
<QUOTE

But Science has known for a hundred years that there is a mapping between Brain activity and Conscious Experience. The thing Science cannot do is measure the actual Conscious Experience of any Observer.
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Re: Why All Current Scientific Theories Of Consciousness Fail

Post by SteveKlinko »

Sy Borg wrote: November 25th, 2021, 6:39 pm
Consul wrote: November 25th, 2021, 5:52 pm
SteveKlinko wrote: November 25th, 2021, 4:35 pmSeth's Real Problem is just stating the Hard Problem with different words. I suspect he will ultimately need a Secret Sauce even to solve his Real Problem. Scientists should stop hiding from the Hard Problem. They need to just admit that they don't know and continue on. The Hard Problem is alive and well in spite of all attempts to ignore it and hide it from view.
It seems many mystery lovers are so romantically enamoured of the hard problem that they dearly hope it will never be solved by science.
"The hard-problem view has a pinch of defeatism in it. I suspect that for some people it also has a pinch of religiosity. It is a keep-your-scientific-hands-off-my-mystery perspective. One conceptual difficulty with the hard-problem view is that it argues against any explanation of consciousness without knowing what explanations might arise. It is difficult to make a cogent argument against the unknown. Perhaps an explanation exists such that, once we see what it is, once we understand it, we will find that it makes sense and accounts for consciousness."

(Graziano, Michael S. Consciousness and the Social Brain. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. p. 7)
Speaking for myself, this particular mystery lover* hopes that researchers solve the hard problem, and abiogenesis too. If they fail to do the former then all Earthly sentience will be soon gone in geological time, along with all memory of Earth's extraordinary story.

As Steve said, the hard problem has not been solved. Grumping about people who point out unsolved scientific problems does not change that fact. The Mary's room thought experiment still holds as true as ever.

Is it science's job to make "cogent argument[s] against the unknown"? Seems to me that Graziano has allowed politics to seep into his science (understandable in the 2020s, to be fair). Still, I see science as extending the realm of the known and the levels of certainty of the partially known.


* Researchers perhaps love mysteries more than anyone. Mysteries are the the grist to their mill. For some, it's their raison d'etre, driving them to work insane hours without additional payment.
Yes. The Hard problem is alive and well!
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