Announcement: Your votes are in! The January 2019 Philosophy Book of the Month is The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World by David Eagleman and Anthony Brandt.

How does a disembodied soul/mind/consciousness operate?

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.
Post Reply
User avatar
Consul
Posts: 1344
Joined: February 21st, 2014, 6:32 am
Location: Germany

Re: How does a disembodied soul/mind/consciousness operate?

Post by Consul » May 8th, 2018, 9:05 am

@Felix: Please use the normal quote function (with the resulting quote boxes)!
Felix wrote:
May 7th, 2018, 2:38 pm
Consul said: "An immaterial/spiritual substance is a zero-dimensional object like a mathematical point."

We won't get very far trying to construct a viable metaphysical edifice on an empty plot of space so let's start instead by proposing that spirits are other-dimensional rather than nondimensional.
What does "other-dimensional" mean? Whatever, immaterial/mental/spiritual substances are spatially unextended by definition, having the size of a mathematical point. Immaterial souls/spirits are zero-dimensional soul-points. (As far as I know, no substance dualist or spiritualist substance monist has ever claimed that souls/spirits are two- or one-dimensional, i.e. that they are surfaces or lines.)
Note that I'm talking about the philosophical, Cartesian&post-Cartesian concept of a soul/spirit. The ones described or depicted in folk-mythological stories or movies aren't really nonphysical substances in this sense but "paraphysical" ones consisting of some three-dimensional "ghost-stuff", some exotic sort of matter.
Felix wrote:
May 7th, 2018, 2:38 pm
This leads us to your second point: the possible means of interaction between immaterial (supradimensional) beings and material beings.

Consul: "And a soul-point seems equally incapable of external behaviour or action. For instance, how could a soul-point move in space (together with the body to which it is connected)?"

As immaterial beings, they presumably would be incapable of directly influencing physical matter with their spirit minds any more than we can do so with our physical brain-based minds (assuming that psychokinesis is not possible). Therefore their only avenue for material interaction would be communication with the inhabitants of the material world who are capable of receiving and translating their communiqués, which is apparently a tiny minority of the population, especially in a materialistic culture like ours where those who claim they can talk with spirits run the risk of being committed to a mental institution.
How could an immaterial spirit communicate with bodies?

Felix wrote:
May 7th, 2018, 2:38 pm
Consul: "But a mental substance with a nonmental essence that functions as a substrate of mental attributes is no different from a material/physical substance."

Even in our material world, "mental substance" or mind is markedly different enough to confound the physical scientists.
My point is that we don't even have a coherent concept of a mental/spiritual substance, so that substance dualism or spiritualist substance monism is an ontological nonstarter.
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

User avatar
Consul
Posts: 1344
Joined: February 21st, 2014, 6:32 am
Location: Germany

Re: How does a disembodied soul/mind/consciousness operate?

Post by Consul » May 8th, 2018, 10:42 am

Greta wrote:
May 6th, 2018, 11:36 pm
It's well established that are equivalent mechanisms to neurons that produce seemingly intelligent or aware behaviour in simple organisms.
Yes, "intelligent behaviour can be observed in organisms and cells that do not possess a nervous system." (p. 221)

But: "Plants have no defined nervous system." (p. 16)

"[P]lants do not possess a nervous system." (p. 77)

"A plant ‘brain’ is certainly a metaphor because Darwin recognized that plants have no nerves or nervous system, and he makes this very clear." (p. 155)

"Plants are obviously organisms that lack both a nervous system and a brain." (p. 201)

(Trewavas, Anthony. Plant Behaviour and Intelligence. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.)

The point is that there are no structures or functions in plants which are equivalent to the structure and function of animal nervous systems. There are some similarities, but these are much too weak to justify the claim that there are equivalences, i.e. that plants (literally) have nervous systems.

"So what do we conclude? The notion that plants have brains in some sense is both interesting and thought-provoking. So provocative, indeed, that in 2007 investigators from thirty-three institutions published an open letter in a widely read plant sciences journal stating that they “maintain that plant neurobiology does not add to our understanding of plant physiology, plant cell biology or signaling,” and imploring the proponents of the initiative to just “cut it out.” Overall, the response from the plant neurobiologists on the matter of plant “brains” has been rather conflicted. Anthony Trewavas of the University of Edinburgh suggested that “plant neurobiology is a metaphor”— and nothing more. His focus was on the term itself. And his interest was principally in its importance in driving science to understand the cell biology of plants, as well as on the significance of the interesting and provocative observations made about plant cell-to-cell communication and signaling. But the European biologists František Baluška and Stefano Mancuso strenuously argued for the literal existence of nervous systems in plants, suggesting that “removing the old Aristotelian schism between plants and animals will unify all multicellular organisms under one conceptual umbrella.”

Obviously, both perspectives cannot be right. And the argument for metaphor seems to us to be the more reasonable one, given the scientific and evolutionary context of the phenomena used to support the existence of brains, or even just of synapses, in plants. As we noted in chapter 1, the theme of confused sameness (“convergence” or, as Darwin put it, “analogy”) is pervasive in the study of the nervous system. Trewavas seems to us to call it like it is: simply a case of discussing similarities. It is the metaphor itself that makes statements about the sameness of plant and animal systems so interesting. But to make it useful, you have to acknowledge that it is metaphor. If we do unify plants and animals under a single “conceptual umbrella” when there really isn’t one, then we will have a genuine problem. For one thing, there is good evidence that plants and animals do not share a common ancestor to the exclusion of all other organisms on the planet. Fungi and many single-celled eukaryotes get in the way. And the unifying umbrella would both disguise this and obviate the utility of the metaphor. When a metaphor is no longer recognized as such, fallacy becomes the rule of the day."


(DeSalle, Rob, and Ian Tattersall. The Brain: Big Bangs, Behaviors, and Beliefs. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012. pp. 74-5)
Greta wrote:
May 6th, 2018, 11:36 pm
Since we don't entirely understand the mechanism of consciousness - aka the hard problem - we cannot discount the possibility that seemingly entirely mindless organisms have some small sense of being, although that sense may seem insignificant enough to count as zero to our perception.
It is true that the mechanisms of consciousness are still a mystery, but from the scientific perspective there is no doubt that they are neurological ones, that consciousness is realized by and in the brain by means of neural (electrochemical) processes.

Plant consciousness isn't logically impossible, but this doesn't mean that it is physically possible. I think it's not: no brain, no consciousness!
(So if you want to create artificial consciousness, you have to create an artificial brain.)
Greta wrote:
May 6th, 2018, 11:36 pm
A common analogy is the idea that certain entities are "dark inside" - there is nothing going on. To illustrate the point via that analogy, there are numerous shades of black, and many of them will be too subtle for the human eye to tell the difference. The issue of consciousness may operate similarly.

I wouldn't disagree if you countered that that there are emergent qualities in the consciousness of brained organisms that were not present before. However, I would suggest that such emergences are still only matters of degree, but exponentially so, and these will tend to be perceived as absolute rather than relative difference.
There are no degrees of consciousness in the sense of degrees of subjecthood. The state of being a subject of consciousness is binary, being an all-or-nothing, on-off affair. Note that this is not to say that there are no degrees or levels of consciousness in other senses of the term such as degrees of wakefulness or degrees of self-consciousness; but these are all different states within the state of consciousness.
Greta wrote:
May 6th, 2018, 11:36 pm
Consul wrote:What exactly makes an activity or ability a mental one is a contentious issue; but even if "mental" or "cognitive" abilities and activities (defined in purely functional-informational terms) can meaningfully and truly be ascribed to plants too, this in no way means that they are subjects of consciousness/experience—that there is something it is like to be a plant from a subjective point of view.
That's my point, it may feel like something to be a plant. If so, it would feel like nothing by our standards - the vegetative state. However, studies of consciousness in other species have consistently debunked prior - and very certainly stated - notions from leading thinkers that other animals are less conscious than they are. Many experts over the years have denied the consciousness of any non-human species.

Meanwhile, intelligent behaviour has been found in plants that, if reported a century ago, might have placed one at risk of being sent to an insane asylum. Put all of the above points together and I would not discount the possibility of minimal plant consciousness, odd as that may seem based on what we know today.
The concept of intelligence as defined by cognitive science is a purely functional-informational one that is independent of (the concept of) consciousness. A "mind" in the cognitive-scientific sense is an IPS (information-processing system) and a CPU (central processing unit) regulating behavior and internal processes. Such cognitive "minds" are consciousness-independent and often nonconscious ones that are multiply implementable by various types of physical/physiological mechanisms/systems. However, plants don't even possess an IPS which is a (brainlike) CPU. There is no such central organ in a plant.

As I already said above, plant consciousness is merely a logical possibility; but there are no good reasons to believe in its actuality, especially as there are good reasons to believe in its physical impossibility and hence in its non-actuality.
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

User avatar
Felix
Posts: 2037
Joined: February 9th, 2009, 5:45 am

Re: How does a disembodied soul/mind/consciousness operate?

Post by Felix » May 8th, 2018, 2:06 pm

Consul: "What does "other-dimensional" mean?"

Hyperdimensional, hyperspatial, transcending three-dimensional reality.

Consul: "How could an immaterial spirit communicate with bodies?"

It's transmental, not transcorporeal, essentially a variant of the Vulcan mind meld (just kidding).... Through the use of symbols and images, just as we do in 3-D reality. As I said, one must be capable of understanding them, just as one must understand the meaning of mathematical symbols to converse in that language. And apparently one must possess an innate psychic ability to "commune with spirits." It's analogous to being a mathematical medium, a.k.a., an idiot savant.

Consul: "My point is that we don't even have a coherent concept of a mental/spiritual substance"

Nor of physical substance, although we are obviously much farther along with that.

"The point is that there are no structures or functions in plants which are equivalent to the structure and function of animal nervous systems. There are some similarities, but these are much too weak to justify the claim that there are equivalences, i.e. that plants (literally) have nervous systems."

I'm not a botanist but apparently there are evident similarities between tree root dendrites and neuronal ganglions. To survive, plants must, like animals, overcome barriers to obtaining water and nutrients, which is not a passive process, it is survival of the fittest... or I guess the weediest. :)
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

User avatar
Greta
Site Admin
Posts: 7435
Joined: December 16th, 2013, 9:05 pm

Re: How does a disembodied soul/mind/consciousness operate?

Post by Greta » May 9th, 2018, 1:56 am

Consul wrote:
May 8th, 2018, 10:42 am
Greta wrote:
May 6th, 2018, 11:36 pm
It's well established that are equivalent mechanisms to neurons that produce seemingly intelligent or aware behaviour in simple organisms.
Yes, "intelligent behaviour can be observed in organisms and cells that do not possess a nervous system." (p. 221)

But: "Plants have no defined nervous system." (p. 16)

"[P]lants do not possess a nervous system." (p. 77)

"A plant ‘brain’ is certainly a metaphor because Darwin recognized that plants have no nerves or nervous system, and he makes this very clear." (p. 155)

"Plants are obviously organisms that lack both a nervous system and a brain." (p. 201)

(Trewavas, Anthony. Plant Behaviour and Intelligence. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.)

The point is that there are no structures or functions in plants which are equivalent to the structure and function of animal nervous systems. There are some similarities, but these are much too weak to justify the claim that there are equivalences, i.e. that plants (literally) have nervous systems.
I'm not saying that plants have structures that are equivalent to nervous systems, but that they may do; I am only calling into question the the completeness of current research in the area, not its quality.

This century has seen repeated debunking of old assumptions made about the minds of other organisms, and it is has always been a matter of finding other organisms to be more like us than expected. Consider the assumptions previously made about bird intelligence because they lacked a neocortex, but neuroscience revealed a structure in their brains called the pallium that performs equivalent functions to the neocortex in mammals.

Conclusion of 2016 paper, Plant Intelligence: An Overview:
Plant behavior is similar to cognition in an analogous sense to that of a human being. A plant continually gathers and updates diverse information about its environment, integrates this with information on its present internal state, and then makes decisions that reconcile its well-being with its environment. Understanding plant behavior and intelligence has become one of the most exciting new and fast-moving frontiers in plant biology.
The paper quotes Darwin:
Darwin (1880) argued, “The tip of the root having the power of redirecting the movements of the adjoining parts acts like the brain of one of the lower animals receiving the impressions of sense organs and directing the several movements.”
Worth considering?
Consul wrote:
Greta wrote:
May 6th, 2018, 11:36 pm
Since we don't entirely understand the mechanism of consciousness - aka the hard problem - we cannot discount the possibility that seemingly entirely mindless organisms have some small sense of being, although that sense may seem insignificant enough to count as zero to our perception.
It is true that the mechanisms of consciousness are still a mystery, but from the scientific perspective there is no doubt that they are neurological ones, that consciousness is realized by and in the brain by means of neural (electrochemical) processes.

Plant consciousness isn't logically impossible, but this doesn't mean that it is physically possible. I think it's not: no brain, no consciousness!
(So if you want to create artificial consciousness, you have to create an artificial brain.)
I agree there appears to be no consciousness present but I would differentiate that with a sense of being, even if that sense is not at a level that would be considered of interest or value to humans, with our fast and active minds. What we consider to be unconscious within ourselves tends to be simply a lack of awareness of our processing; there is still plenty going on even in deep sleep, which I suggest probably does feel like something, just that we don't commit those sensations to memory.
Consul wrote:
Greta wrote:
May 6th, 2018, 11:36 pm
A common analogy is the idea that certain entities are "dark inside" - there is nothing going on. To illustrate the point via that analogy, there are numerous shades of black, and many of them will be too subtle for the human eye to tell the difference. The issue of consciousness may operate similarly.

I wouldn't disagree if you countered that that there are emergent qualities in the consciousness of brained organisms that were not present before. However, I would suggest that such emergences are still only matters of degree, but exponentially so, and these will tend to be perceived as absolute rather than relative difference.
There are no degrees of consciousness in the sense of degrees of subjecthood. The state of being a subject of consciousness is binary, being an all-or-nothing, on-off affair. Note that this is not to say that there are no degrees or levels of consciousness in other senses of the term such as degrees of wakefulness or degrees of self-consciousness; but these are all different states within the state of consciousness.
I suggest that those different states of consciousness are exactly that - degrees in the sense of subjecthood, and the differences would surely be much more profound between species.

Given the difficulty we humans have in parsing that which is reflexive and that which is wanted, I'm loathe to paint another organism's reflexes as entirely mechanical and insensate.
Consul wrote:
Greta wrote:
May 6th, 2018, 11:36 pm
That's my point, it may feel like something to be a plant. If so, it would feel like nothing by our standards - the vegetative state. However, studies of consciousness in other species have consistently debunked prior - and very certainly stated - notions from leading thinkers that other animals are less conscious than they are. Many experts over the years have denied the consciousness of any non-human species.

Meanwhile, intelligent behaviour has been found in plants that, if reported a century ago, might have placed one at risk of being sent to an insane asylum. Put all of the above points together and I would not discount the possibility of minimal plant consciousness, odd as that may seem based on what we know today.
The concept of intelligence as defined by cognitive science is a purely functional-informational one that is independent of (the concept of) consciousness. A "mind" in the cognitive-scientific sense is an IPS (information-processing system) and a CPU (central processing unit) regulating behavior and internal processes. Such cognitive "minds" are consciousness-independent and often nonconscious ones that are multiply implementable by various types of physical/physiological mechanisms/systems. However, plants don't even possess an IPS which is a (brainlike) CPU. There is no such central organ in a plant.

As I already said above, plant consciousness is merely a logical possibility; but there are no good reasons to believe in its actuality, especially as there are good reasons to believe in its physical impossibility and hence in its non-actuality.
As per the Darwin quote above, plant root tips take on at least some of the functions of a brain in a lower order animal. This is especially interesting in acacia trees, whose root tips pass signals via fungal filaments to other acacias when a leaf-eater is present, triggering the neighbouring trees to produce bitter tannins to repel the herbivore threat.

In short, a rather alien and unfamiliar sense of sense of being may be present in organisms that are not strictly speaking conscious. We humans only consider consciousness from our human standpoint (not having much choice in the matter) but this is akin to being in the ISS looking down on the Earth and assuming that the only things moving down there are clouds, smoke, dunes, water currents and ocean algal blooms.

CIN
Posts: 93
Joined: November 6th, 2016, 10:33 am

Re: How does a disembodied soul/mind/consciousness operate?

Post by CIN » May 9th, 2018, 4:07 am

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
May 8th, 2018, 2:10 am
CIN wrote:
May 7th, 2018, 2:49 am
I would be inclined to dismiss the idea that plants are conscious, on the grounds that even the most complex plant is less complex than a living human brain that is in an unconscious state. If plants don't even make it to the level of complexity needed to support unconsciousness, how can they be conscious?
It seems from the above that you would not grant consciousness to other mammals since their brains are less complex than human brains.
You were quite right to pull me up on this, Karpel Tunnel. My remark was not properly thought through, and I apologise to everyone for making it. This forum deserves better from me.

User avatar
Greta
Site Admin
Posts: 7435
Joined: December 16th, 2013, 9:05 pm

Re: How does a disembodied soul/mind/consciousness operate?

Post by Greta » May 9th, 2018, 4:55 am

CIN wrote:
May 9th, 2018, 4:07 am
Karpel Tunnel wrote:
May 8th, 2018, 2:10 am

It seems from the above that you would not grant consciousness to other mammals since their brains are less complex than human brains.
You were quite right to pull me up on this, Karpel Tunnel. My remark was not properly thought through, and I apologise to everyone for making it. This forum deserves better from me.
With that level of humility and style you will always be welcome :)

User avatar
Consul
Posts: 1344
Joined: February 21st, 2014, 6:32 am
Location: Germany

Re: How does a disembodied soul/mind/consciousness operate?

Post by Consul » May 9th, 2018, 9:59 am

@Felix: Once again, the quote boxes are there to be used, so use them (as all others do)!
Felix wrote:
May 8th, 2018, 2:06 pm
Consul: "What does "other-dimensional" mean?"

Hyperdimensional, hyperspatial, transcending three-dimensional reality.
A 4- or >4-dimensional object/substance is a material/physical substance rather than an immaterial/mental one. As soon as you attribute spatial or hyperspatial extension to an object/substance, it cannot be an immaterial/nonphysical ghost or soul.

Felix wrote:
May 8th, 2018, 2:06 pm
Consul: "How could an immaterial spirit communicate with bodies?"
It's transmental, not transcorporeal, essentially a variant of the Vulcan mind meld (just kidding).... Through the use of symbols and images, just as we do in 3-D reality. As I said, one must be capable of understanding them, just as one must understand the meaning of mathematical symbols to converse in that language. And apparently one must possess an innate psychic ability to "commune with spirits." It's analogous to being a mathematical medium, a.k.a., an idiot savant.
Where there are signs (symbols or icons), there are material sign-vehicles; and the production of such sign-vehicles such as sound waves by an immaterial soul would be an unintelligible act of magic.
Felix wrote:
May 8th, 2018, 2:06 pm
Consul: "My point is that we don't even have a coherent concept of a mental/spiritual substance"

Nor of physical substance, although we are obviously much farther along with that.
Yes, we do have a coherent concept of a material/physical substance, of a body or organism.
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

User avatar
Consul
Posts: 1344
Joined: February 21st, 2014, 6:32 am
Location: Germany

Re: How does a disembodied soul/mind/consciousness operate?

Post by Consul » May 9th, 2018, 10:42 am

"Compare now what the neuroscientist can tell us about the brain, and what she can do with that knowledge, with what the dualist can tell us about spiritual substance, and what he can do with those assumptions. Can the dualist tell us anything about the internal constitution of mind-stuff? Of the nonmaterial elements that make it up? Of the nonphysical laws that govern their behavior? Of the mind's structural connections with the body? Of the manner of the mind's operations? Can he explain human capacities and pathologies in terms of its structures and defects? The fact is, the dualist can do none of these things because no detailed theory of mind-stuff has ever even be formulated. Compared to the rich resources and the explanatory successes of current materialism, dualism is not so much a theory of mind as it is an empty space waiting for a genuine theory of mind to be put in it."

(Churchland, Paul M. Matter and Consciousness. 3rd ed. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013. p. 31)

"Cartesian Dualism has important advantages over a 'Bundle' Dualism. The enduring spiritual substance provides the principle of unity between mental states for which the 'Bundle' Dualist searches in vain. Still more importantly, the spiritual substance provides the necessary background to mental states, which by themselves are incapable of independent existence. As grins stand to faces, or soporific virtues stand to physical substances, so mental states can stand to spiritual substances.

Nevertheless, there is something curiously formal and empty about the Cartesian solution. What is this which has these mental affections? One seems able to say nothing positive about it except that it has the mental affections. One can say negative things about it, that it lacks spatial properties, for instance, but its positive nature remains a mystery. By contrast, we can easily describe faces apart from their grins, or physical substances apart from their soporific virtues. Spiritual substance looks like something invented to be the solution of Dualist problems.

This emptiness of the Cartesian hypothesis is brought out in an interesting way in a dispute between Descartes and Locke. (I am indebted to C. B. Martin for pointing this out to me.) Descartes seems to be half-aware of the fact that, apart from the mental experiences, there is no way of characterizing the spiritual substance. It seems in part to be this that makes him say that 'thought' (by which he means any sort of mental happening) is the essence of the soul. His problem is not really solved then, but at least it is concealed. For now the spiritual substance is never completely indescribable, for we can always point to the 'thought' that the soul is having. Unfortunately, however, it follows from this view that we are 'thinking' at every moment of our existence. This revolted the common sense of Locke. Surely there is nothing going on in our minds at all when we are sleeping dreamlessly? 'Thus, methinks, every drowsy nod shakes this doctrine, who teach that the soul is always thinking' (Essay, Bk. II, Ch. 1, p. 13). But like Descartes, Locke is also a Cartesian Dualist, and he never faces up to the problem of what properties the soul has when there is no thought going on. It seems that he would have found it impossible to say.
Cartesian Dualism, then, may have formal advantages over 'Bundle' Dualism, but it is a doctrine of a very empty sort."


(Armstrong, D. M. A Materialist Theory of the Mind. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1968. pp. 23-4)
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

User avatar
Consul
Posts: 1344
Joined: February 21st, 2014, 6:32 am
Location: Germany

Re: How does a disembodied soul/mind/consciousness operate?

Post by Consul » May 9th, 2018, 10:55 am

Consul wrote:
May 9th, 2018, 10:42 am
"Compare now what the neuroscientist can tell us about the brain, and what she can do with that knowledge, with what the dualist can tell us about spiritual substance, and what he can do with those assumptions. Can the dualist tell us anything about the internal constitution of mind-stuff?…"

(Churchland, Paul M. Matter and Consciousness. 3rd ed. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013. p. 31)
The very concept of an immaterial/nonphysical "mind-stuff"/"soul-stuff" is incoherent, since it is in effect the self-contradictory concept of an immaterial matter. Moreover, it is highly questionable that a 0D object—be it a "soul-point" or a "body-point" ("point-particle")—can be a bit of matter or stuff of any kind. I think that if there are atoms of matter in the etymological sense of the term, i.e. "indivisibles" lacking proper parts, then they have some spatial extension. (Note that compositional simplicity doesn't exclude spatial extensionality.)
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

Tamminen
Posts: 750
Joined: April 19th, 2016, 2:53 pm

Re: How does a disembodied soul/mind/consciousness operate?

Post by Tamminen » May 9th, 2018, 11:18 am

Consul wrote:
May 9th, 2018, 10:55 am
I think that if there are atoms of matter in the etymological sense of the term, i.e. "indivisibles" lacking proper parts, then they have some spatial extension. (Note that compositional simplicity doesn't exclude spatial extensionality.)
According to the Standard Model elementary particles like electrons and quarks are extensionless. In fact the whole concept of extension seems to lose its meaning in this context.

My ontological "concept" of subjectivity has nothing to do with either material or spiritual points. The term 'point' that I have sometimes used is only metaphorical, like in the case of Wittgenstein.

User avatar
Consul
Posts: 1344
Joined: February 21st, 2014, 6:32 am
Location: Germany

Re: How does a disembodied soul/mind/consciousness operate?

Post by Consul » May 9th, 2018, 11:39 am

Tamminen wrote:
May 9th, 2018, 11:18 am
According to the Standard Model elementary particles like electrons and quarks are extensionless. In fact the whole concept of extension seems to lose its meaning in this context.
I'm not a physicist, but, as far as I know, the Standard Model is silent on whether or not elementary particles are really zero-dimensional. Anyway, there are well-known physical problems with the assumption that they are: they would have an infinite self-energy, and it is unclear how two point-particles (lacking a surface) can ever collide.

"Elementary particles in the ordinary view of things are point particles. A point can’t have many, many properties. A point is too simple to have properties. However, we know that elementary particles have a lot of properties. They have spin, they have electric charge, they have something called isotopic spin, they have a quantum number called color - it’s not got anything to do with ordinary color - they have generations that they belong to, there are whole catalogs of different kinds of quantum numbers, of different kinds of properties that quarks, electrons, netrinos, or photons have. It sounds unreasonable for a point to have that structure. So the feeling most of us have is that, at some level, if you look deeply enough into things, you‘ll discover that particles aren’t points. That they must have all kinds of internal machinery that gives them these properties."

(Leonard Susskind, interview by George Zarkadakis, April 27, 2009. Feline Quanta Blog: http://felinequanta.blogspot.com/2009/0 ... skind.html)
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

User avatar
Felix
Posts: 2037
Joined: February 9th, 2009, 5:45 am

Re: How does a disembodied soul/mind/consciousness operate?

Post by Felix » May 9th, 2018, 2:54 pm

Consul: A 4- or >4-dimensional object/substance is a material/physical substance rather than an immaterial/mental one.
I am using the term hyperdimensional generically: a nonphysical, extrasensory dimension.
Consul: Where there are signs (symbols or icons), there are material sign-vehicles; and the production of such sign-vehicles such as sound waves by an immaterial soul would be an unintelligible act of magic.
Intuition, unlike, for example, logical analysis, need not involve the use of material sign-vehicles.
Consul: we do have a coherent concept of a material/physical substance, of a body or organism.
I was thinking in broader terms: an understanding of the nature of matter itself. But you did say "coherent concept" which can mean nothing more than an intelligible description of something, such as the theoretical description of elementary particles by Leonard Susskind you quoted.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

User avatar
Greta
Site Admin
Posts: 7435
Joined: December 16th, 2013, 9:05 pm

Re: How does a disembodied soul/mind/consciousness operate?

Post by Greta » May 9th, 2018, 5:01 pm

I appreciate Consul's position in not wishing to continue the ostensibly off-topic discussion about the possibility of it feeling like something to be a plant, but am disappointed. My first post on the topic broadly covered the situation as regards the science - there are some gaps into which the idea of a soul soul be inserted, but it's only conjecture. Any ideas that heap conjectures upon those conjectures are not going to be very reliable.

Given that the usual angles of this kind of topic have been covered more than once, I felt some tangential brainstorming could break the loop, by ignoring sophisticated human and mammalian "consciousness" and focusing purely on the sense of being of simpler entities - in the space where there is serious conjecture as to whether a sense of being exists.

Does it feel like anything to be a plant? Does it feel like anything to be dead? Does it feel like anything to be an ecosystem for disparate microbial communities? For all we know, the latter is what it feels like to be dead, since that's what the non-cremated will become.

User avatar
Consul
Posts: 1344
Joined: February 21st, 2014, 6:32 am
Location: Germany

Re: How does a disembodied soul/mind/consciousness operate?

Post by Consul » May 9th, 2018, 5:08 pm

Greta wrote:
May 9th, 2018, 5:01 pm
I appreciate Consul's position in not wishing to continue the ostensibly off-topic discussion about the possibility of it feeling like something to be a plant, but am disappointed.
I didn't say I don't want to continue our discussion on plant consciousness; I just said I don't want to do so here in this thread, which is about something completely different.
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

User avatar
Consul
Posts: 1344
Joined: February 21st, 2014, 6:32 am
Location: Germany

Re: How does a disembodied soul/mind/consciousness operate?

Post by Consul » May 9th, 2018, 5:11 pm

Tamminen wrote:
May 9th, 2018, 11:18 am
My ontological "concept" of subjectivity has nothing to do with either material or spiritual points. The term 'point' that I have sometimes used is only metaphorical, like in the case of Wittgenstein.
You cannot have subjectivity without subjects, so do you believe that subjects are spiritual substances?
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

Post Reply