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Qualia as a function of being alive

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.
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Qualia as a function of being alive

Post by Greta » January 4th, 2019, 2:31 am

There are all manner of convoluted and esoteric ideas in this area, which I suspect just complicates the issue and may have ramifications as we attempt to digitise minds.

Daniel Dennett pointed out that consciousness is not especially any more exotic than digestion, each being a means of processing. I would take it one step further. The proposition of this thread is that the metabolism, not the brain, is the primary source of qualia and the brain the primary shaper of qualia, with some overlap due to the gut/brain axis.

The metabolism is like a farmer, producing the raw materials of qualia that the brain can process and turns them into something more useful for us. If the "manufacturers" (brains) has severe enough problems then the "raw materials" (sensations) will remain unprocessed, eg. a vegetative state. This impact on consciousness, I suspect, is why people so often mistakenly (IMO) assume that qualia is generated, rather than processed, by the brain.

As such, I reject the brain in a jar thought experiment unless an excellent digital reproduction of metabolic actions fed that brain. Even so, I would probably expect a "tinny" kind of consciousness as compared with ours, like comparing a child's first electronic keyboard with a Steinway grand piano.
The interaction between brain and gut is far more subtle and interactive than the latter being a mere energy provider for the former.

The situation is made clear by our evolutionary history. First came metabolisms. Then scattered nerve receptors (glial cells). This helped metabolisms find food and avoid dangers. Then nerve nets evolved to provide full body coverage. Then brains emerged to coordinate all that information which allows different parts of the body to work ever more in concert with each other, as governments do (theoretically). Then brains developed further, shaping the raw sensation of being (qualia) mainly generated by metabolic processes into various kinds of awareness.

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Re: Qualia as a function of being alive

Post by Intellectual_Savnot » January 4th, 2019, 3:11 am

How could nervous sensations be digested and produced by the digestive system, when the stomach takes many hours to decompose material, while meanwhile a nervous impulse can travel from hand through nerves never passing through the digestive? If the argument is that qualia is mainly of the stomach, produced through the person's consumed nutrients, I must ask, where does this happen and can you prove it through evidence?

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Re: Qualia as a function of being alive

Post by Greta » January 4th, 2019, 4:31 pm

Disappointed at the response, given the keen replies to threads making the unfounded claims that qualia is basically nothing.
Intellectual_Savnot wrote:
January 4th, 2019, 3:11 am
How could nervous sensations be digested and produced by the digestive system, when the stomach takes many hours to decompose material, while meanwhile a nervous impulse can travel from hand through nerves never passing through the digestive? If the argument is that qualia is mainly of the stomach, produced through the person's consumed nutrients, I must ask, where does this happen and can you prove it through evidence?
Actually, the gut has hundred of millions of neurons and is often termed "the second brain". Further, metabolism is not just digestion but breathing and circulation. Thus, your question does not make sense.

The evidence for the claim lies right in front of us, in evolutionary history, as per the opening post.

The "brain-first" notion is simply naive, disregarding of biology, not unlike the weak practice of psychology that almost never even looks at the state of the organ being treated. By the same token, life started as metabolisms, not brains. Indisputable fact. The latter arrived because metabolisms that responded to their environments survived better than those that had relied on dumb luck. The sensations have been there since the first glial cells and awareness of those sensations afterwards.

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Re: Qualia as a function of being alive

Post by Consul » January 5th, 2019, 12:50 am

Greta wrote:
January 4th, 2019, 4:31 pm
Actually, the gut has hundred of millions of neurons and is often termed "the second brain".
Speaking of the enteric nervous system (= "the second brain"), Colin McGinn has written a very nice short text titled "The Second Mind":

"…This raises intriguing philosophical questions. We can envisage a philosophy of the second mind. Given the anatomical and functional similarities between the first brain and the second brain, it is reasonable to suppose that the second brain gives rise to some sort of mind—just as we suppose that other animals with brains have minds too. This is a complex and subtle nervous system, functioning autonomously, so it may well have a mind of its own. We therefore ask: What is it like to be an intestine? Some sort of sentience presumably attends the second brain's use of its intestinal pressure detectors—there is some way things seem to it. It feels the pressure and as a result acts appropriately—by initiating peristaltic action. We often feel as if our bowels 'have a will of their own'—well, maybe they do, literally. They sense and act, according to their own needs and job description. Presumably there are intestinal qualia. These qualia may or may not be like those delivered by any sense seated in the first brain—they may differ from the sort of feeling of pressure we have when touching an object or the feeling of a full stomach. We may, in fact, never know what it is like to be an intestine, though there is something it is like. The intestine has alien subjectivity."

(McGinn, Colin. "The Second Mind." In Philosophical Provocations: 55 Short Essays, 25-28. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2017. pp. 25-6)

Well, cool—but nay, literally and seriously speaking: Presumably there are no "intestinal qualia", and the intestine does not have "alien subjectivity". Presumably the only organ of qualitative subjective experience is "the first brain" = the central nervous system in our heads. If the "second brain" is a "second mind", it's a nonconscious mind, a "zombie mind".

"I have had another psychological being living inside of me—not as a parasite but as a symbiotic partner (I help him too): My gut has been supervised and run by an intelligent being of sorts, with thoughts and feelings of its own. It is just that I will never get to know this being—not unless huge strides are made in enteric psychology. I suppose that brain scans might in principle be employed on the second brain, enabling us to learn more about this particular other mind (do its pleasure centers light up when digestion is going well?). As things are, I have to accept that I am a divided creature in possession of two minds, one intimately known to me, the other not known at all. Given Kant's principle of respect for persons, I should respect my bowels more. Maybe my gut is not the reflective rational being that I am, but it may be more interesting than I ever gave it credit for. Maybe one day we could even be friends."

(McGinn, Colin. "The Second Mind." In Philosophical Provocations: 55 Short Essays, 25-28. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2017. p. 28)

8)
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Re: Qualia as a function of being alive

Post by Consul » January 5th, 2019, 1:00 am

Greta wrote:
January 4th, 2019, 4:31 pm
…life started as metabolisms, not brains. Indisputable fact.
Yes, the first living organisms had no brain; but, as far as I know, the scientific controversy over "metabolism first" vs. "replication first" is still unresolved.
Greta wrote:
January 4th, 2019, 4:31 pm
The latter arrived because metabolisms that responded to their environments survived better than those that had relied on dumb luck. The sensations have been there since the first glial cells and awareness of those sensations afterwards.
There is no good reason to believe that psychological sentience (as opposed to purely (neuro)physiological sensitivity) doesn't require fully developed central nervous systems (brains).
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Re: Qualia as a function of being alive

Post by Consul » January 5th, 2019, 1:14 am

Greta wrote:
January 4th, 2019, 2:31 am
Daniel Dennett pointed out that consciousness is not especially any more exotic than digestion, each being a means of processing.
Dennett is in effect an eliminative materialist about (phenomenal) consciousness; that is, he denies its existence. Well, he himself denies being a denialist; but the so-called "consciousness" whose existence he acknowledges is not what deserves to be called so, because it's really something else:

"Materialists, after a lot of beating around the bush, do typically end up by denying the existence of consciousness, even though most of them are too embarrassed to come right out and say: 'Consciousness does not exist. No human or animal has ever been conscious.' Instead, they redefine 'consciousness' so that it no longer refers to inner, qualitative, subjective mental states but rather to some third-person phenomena, phenomena that are neither inner, qualitative, nor subjective in the senses I have explained. Consciousness is reduced to the behavior of the body, to computational states of the brain, information processing, or functional states of a physical system. Daniel Dennett is typical of materialists in this regard. Does consciousness exist for Dennett? He would never deny it. And what is it? Well, it is a certain bunch of computer programs implemented in the brain.
Such answers, I am afraid, will not do. Consciousness is an inner, subjective, first-person, qualitative phenomenon. Any account of consciousness that leaves out these features is not an account of consciousness but of something else."


(Searle, John. Mind, Language and Society: Philosophy in the Real World. London: Phoenix, 2000. p. 50)

"The peculiarity of Daniel Dennett's book [Consciousness Explained] can now be stated: he denies the existence of the data. He thinks there are no such things as the second sort of entity, the feeling of pain. He thinks there are no such things as qualia, subjective experiences, first-person phenomena, or any of the rest of it. Dennett agrees that it seems to us that there are such things as qualia, but this is a matter of a mistaken judgment we are making about what really happens. Well, what does really happen according to him?
What really happens, according to Dennett, is that we have stimulus inputs, such as the pressure on your skin in my experiment, and we have dispositions to behavior, 'reactive dispositions' as he calls them. And in between there are 'discriminative states' that cause us to respond differently to different pressures on the skin and to discriminate red from green, etc., but the sort of state that we have for discriminating pressure is exactly like the state of a machine for detecting pressure. It does not experience any special feeling; indeed it does not have any inner feelings at all, because there are no such things as 'inner feelings'. It is all a matter of third-person phenomena: stimulus inputs, discriminative states (p. 372 ff.), and reactive dispositions. The feature that makes these all hang together is that our brains are a type of computer and consciousness is a certain sort of software, a 'virtual machine' in our brain.
The main point of Dennett's book is to deny the existence of inner mental states and offer an alternative account of consciousness, or rather what he calls 'consciousness'. The net effect is a performance of Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark."


(Searle, John R. The Mystery of Consciousness. New York: The New York Review of Books, 1997. pp. 99-100)
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Re: Qualia as a function of being alive

Post by Consul » January 5th, 2019, 1:40 am

Greta wrote:
January 4th, 2019, 2:31 am
The metabolism is like a farmer, producing the raw materials of qualia that the brain can process and turns them into something more useful for us. If the "manufacturers" (brains) has severe enough problems then the "raw materials" (sensations) will remain unprocessed, eg. a vegetative state. This impact on consciousness, I suspect, is why people so often mistakenly (IMO) assume that qualia is generated, rather than processed, by the brain.
"Metabolism" =
"1. The chemical processes occurring within a living cell or organism that are necessary for the maintenance of life. In metabolism some substances are broken down to yield energy for vital processes while other substances, necessary for life, are synthesized.
2. The processing of a specific substance within a living cell or organism: iodine metabolism."

Source: https://www.ahdictionary.com/word/searc ... metabolism

The sort of chemical and electrical processes required for the production of experiential qualia take place only in the brain and nowhere else in the organism. The brain and nothing but the brain is the organ of consciousness/experience.

Your mistake is to equate the raw sensory materials, i.e. the physical or chemical signals or signal-information received by some sense organ, with sensations in the psychological sense, i.e. with sense-experiences or experiential sense-qualia. The non-/pre-/sub-experiential neurophysiological processing of sensory information is not to be confused with psychological sensation as a kind of subjective experience.
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Re: Qualia as a function of being alive

Post by Intellectual_Savnot » January 5th, 2019, 5:51 am

Greta wrote:
January 4th, 2019, 4:31 pm
The "brain-first" notion is simply naive, disregarding of biology, not unlike the weak practice of psychology that almost never even looks at the state of the organ being treated. By the same token, life started as metabolisms, not brains. Indisputable fact. The latter arrived because metabolisms that responded to their environments survived better than those that had relied on dumb luck. The sensations have been there since the first glial cells and awareness of those sensations afterwards.
So is the entire basis of your argument that organisms started with no brains and that scientists don't think that your argument is correct? Seems like a weak claim, one that doesn't even connect to qualia. Either way, how can you prove that the mind didn't evolve afterwards like you said, but as a completely separate organ that contains qualia? Or that qualia didn't start existing in tandem to the mind's evolution? I don't mean disrespect, but it seems like an unfounded claim in the face of very many scientists who conducted dozens of experiments with precise analyses and far dominant evidence.

Have a good day!

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Re: Qualia as a function of being alive

Post by Greta » January 5th, 2019, 7:17 am

Thanks for your replies, Consul.

Re: McGinn's question as to what it's like to be an intestine is a logical error. What's it like to be a cerebellum or an amygdala? Or an arm, a nose or a foot? Same answer. These are only systemic parts. 'What is it like to be an overall system?' is perhaps more the question.

I don't actually agree with DD, but his comparisons between consciousness and digestion struck me as being spot on. Until then I was, like many, hoodwinked into thinking of consciousness as something "other". Yet these two major systems of the body - one born of the endoderm of the blastocyst, the other of the ectoderm - are actually equivalent.

These are the two great processes of the body - the metabolism and the nervous system, the processor of energy and the processor of information. Yet the roles are not truly exclusive because anything that processes information must process energy and vice versa, so that is a matter of emphasis. The brain's energy processing is subtle, as is the gut's informational processing.

I don't see qualia - being - as requiring any awareness of being whatsoever. To think of qualia in relation to adult human consciousness is akin to thinking about the nature of a child's lemonade stand in relation to a multinational conglomerate. The former is not recognised as a business (more a learning vehicle) because it's so trivial but, in essence, the stand is a business as soon as the first exchange of drink and coin takes place,


Re: Metabolism first vs replication first. Even if replication came first, replicating entities like viruses that lack a metabolism are classified as nonliving (even if an arguable notion). Interesting, though, to ponder the role of the reproductive system in terms of information processing (sans qualia). Still, my point above that metabolism came before the nervous system, which came before brains. I think of metabolism as essential being, and the nervous system and brains as an extension of the metabolism.

It makes sense to me that qualia is breathing, the churn of the gut, the beat of a heart. I think of what the metabolism produces as not qualia so much as the raw clay from which qualia is shaped by the nervous system.

As such, I expect that the artificial brains being built will never achieve qualia without something a heavily integrated energy processor on which the artificial brain relies, not just for power. Consider some of the links between the two great systems of the body, which extend far beyond mere oxygen and blood supplies:
The findings, published Jan. 16 in Nature Communications, reveal that metabolism controls the processes that inhibit brain activity, such as that involved in convulsions. The study uncovers a link between how brain cells make energy and how the same cells signal information – processes that neuroscientists have often assumed to be distinct and separate.
...
The experiments showed an unexpected link between how the mitochondria of brain cells make energy and how the same cells signal information. Brain cells couple these two independent functions by using small chemical messengers, called reactive oxygen species (or ROS), that are normally associated with signaling cell death. While ROS are known to have roles in diseases of aging, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, the new study shows they also play important roles in the healthy brain.
https://www.mcgill.ca/newsroom/channels ... ked-232462

Consider the links between mental state and the microbiome, in particular gut flora.
Consul wrote:Your mistake is to equate the raw sensory materials, i.e. the physical or chemical signals or signal-information received by some sense organ, with sensations in the psychological sense, i.e. with sense-experiences or experiential sense-qualia. The non-/pre-/sub-experiential neurophysiological processing of sensory information is not to be confused with psychological sensation as a kind of subjective experience.
Nope, the ambiguities of language, as always, are tricky here. The situation is more nuanced than that. The "sense of being" is generated by metabolic systems, but the "sense of being an entity" requires a brain. (As a matter of interest, are such conversations as impacted by ambiguities in the German language?)

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Re: Qualia as a function of being alive

Post by Greta » January 5th, 2019, 7:26 am

Intellectual_Savnot wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 5:51 am
Greta wrote:
January 4th, 2019, 4:31 pm
The "brain-first" notion is simply naive, disregarding of biology, not unlike the weak practice of psychology that almost never even looks at the state of the organ being treated. By the same token, life started as metabolisms, not brains. Indisputable fact. The latter arrived because metabolisms that responded to their environments survived better than those that had relied on dumb luck. The sensations have been there since the first glial cells and awareness of those sensations afterwards.
So is the entire basis of your argument that organisms started with no brains and that scientists don't think that your argument is correct? Seems like a weak claim, one that doesn't even connect to qualia. Either way, how can you prove that the mind didn't evolve afterwards like you said, but as a completely separate organ that contains qualia? Or that qualia didn't start existing in tandem to the mind's evolution? I don't mean disrespect, but it seems like an unfounded claim in the face of very many scientists who conducted dozens of experiments with precise analyses and far dominant evidence.

Have a good day!
Nope, the basis of my argument is in evolutionary history - and no evolutionary biologist would disagree that metabolisms evolved before nervous systems and brains. My argument is not with scientists but those who engage in philosophy with little regard to biology. Without a metabolism to guide and protect, what use is a nervous system or brain?

How much other life forms things sense is still open to question (as per Nagle et al), but I note researchers are increasingly finding structures in microbes that perform an equivalent function to a rudimentary nervous system. For all we know, it actually might feel like something to be an E. coli!

You have a good day too. So far this year I've broken my glasses, had food poisoning, family members separating, lack of sleep due to neck arthritis and my right knee has gone bung on me. Today was the first day when a new hassle did not unfold - 2019 is looking good :D

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Re: Qualia as a function of being alive

Post by Consul » January 5th, 2019, 2:02 pm

Greta wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 7:17 am
Re: McGinn's question as to what it's like to be an intestine is a logical error. What's it like to be a cerebellum or an amygdala? Or an arm, a nose or a foot? Same answer. These are only systemic parts. 'What is it like to be an overall system?' is perhaps more the question.
There's something it is like to be an animal organism.
Greta wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 7:17 am
I don't actually agree with DD, but his comparisons between consciousness and digestion struck me as being spot on.
He thinks that, like digestive processes, mental/neural processes in the brain don't involve any subjective, experiential qualities (qualia). But without qualia, there is no (phenomenal) consciousness; so I regard Dennett as an eliminativist about consciousness.
Greta wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 7:17 am
These are the two great processes of the body - the metabolism and the nervous system, the processor of energy and the processor of information. Yet the roles are not truly exclusive because anything that processes information must process energy and vice versa, so that is a matter of emphasis. The brain's energy processing is subtle, as is the gut's informational processing.
The brain is part of an organism, and as such it is just an organ and not a whole organism.
Greta wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 7:17 am
I don't see qualia - being - as requiring any awareness of being whatsoever. To think of qualia in relation to adult human consciousness is akin to thinking about the nature of a child's lemonade stand in relation to a multinational conglomerate. The former is not recognised as a business (more a learning vehicle) because it's so trivial but, in essence, the stand is a business as soon as the first exchange of drink and coin takes place,
Of course, it's a big mistake to equate consciousness with the personal self-consciousness we humans have. Primary consciousness starts with primitive sensations or emotions, whose occurrence is independent of higher-order or self-consciousness (self-awareness in the form of self-(re)cognition, introspection, reflection). Qualia as "raw feels" don't require a self-conscious mind.
Greta wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 7:17 am
Re: Metabolism first vs replication first. Even if replication came first, replicating entities like viruses that lack a metabolism are classified as nonliving (even if an arguable notion).
The status of viruses is still a contentious issue in biology. However, the biological classifications of organisms I know don't include them. They are borderline cases of life that may be regarded as quasibiological entities rather than as (definitely) nonbiological ones.
Greta wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 7:17 am
Interesting, though, to ponder the role of the reproductive system in terms of information processing (sans qualia). Still, my point above that metabolism came before the nervous system, which came before brains. I think of metabolism as essential being, and the nervous system and brains as an extension of the metabolism.
One thing is clear: The brain depends for its activity and survival on the metabolic activities of the organism of which it is part.
Greta wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 7:17 am
It makes sense to me that qualia is breathing, the churn of the gut, the beat of a heart. I think of what the metabolism produces as not qualia so much as the raw clay from which qualia is shaped by the nervous system.
Of course, metabolic processes involve chemical qualities of atoms and molecules, but these are very different from the psychical qualities called qualia. There is no extracerebral production of subjective qualia.
Greta wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 7:17 am
As such, I expect that the artificial brains being built will never achieve qualia without something a heavily integrated energy processor on which the artificial brain relies, not just for power. Consider some of the links between the two great systems of the body, which extend far beyond mere oxygen and blood supplies:…
In order to have a conscious life, you need to have a life first. I'm skeptical about the natural/physical possibility of realizing consciousness in a nonbiological machine. So is Michael Gazzaniga, one of the leading neuroscientists in the world:

"The most surprising discovery for me is that I now think we humans will never build a machine that mimics our personal consciousness. Inanimate silicon-based machines work one way, and living carbon-based systems work another. One works with a deterministic set of instructions, and the other through symbols that inherently carry some degree of uncertainty. This perspective leads to the view that the human attempt to mimic intelligence and consciousness in machines, a continuing goal of the field of AI, is doomed."

(Gazzaniga, Michael S. The Consciousness Instinct: Unraveling the Mystery of How the Brain Makes the Mind. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2018. p. 236)
Greta wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 7:17 am
Consul wrote:Your mistake is to equate the raw sensory materials, i.e. the physical or chemical signals or signal-information received by some sense organ, with sensations in the psychological sense, i.e. with sense-experiences or experiential sense-qualia. The non-/pre-/sub-experiential neurophysiological processing of sensory information is not to be confused with psychological sensation as a kind of subjective experience.
Nope, the ambiguities of language, as always, are tricky here. The situation is more nuanced than that. The "sense of being" is generated by metabolic systems, but the "sense of being an entity" requires a brain. (As a matter of interest, are such conversations as impacted by ambiguities in the German language?)
No matter whether the language used is English or German or any other natural language, conceptual ambiguity or vagueness is always a problem in philosophical discussions. For example, the German word for "sense" is "Sinn", and like the English word it has many meanings. (For example, "der Sinn des Lebens" mustn't be translated as "the sense of life", because it means "the meaning of life".) You speak of "the sense of being (an entity)", and I'm not quite sure what the meaning of "sense" is here. One possible meaning is "an awareness or feeling that one is in a specified state" (Oxford Dictionary). In this sense of the word, one has a "sense of being" if one is aware or conscious of one's existence; and I doubt that an organism is aware/conscious of its existence (as an entity) solely by virtue of the physiological activities of its metabolic system.
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Re: Qualia as a function of being alive

Post by Intellectual_Savnot » January 5th, 2019, 6:11 pm

This will probably be my last comment on this discussion: The conscious that experiences qualia has no proven location in our physical location. The mind is the only place where the qualia experienced by the conscious entity seems to be observed and directly accessed, evidenced through brain waves. Whether the mind came first or not (which I do believe it did not), it is the only known receptor of this experience and the data it provides. There can be scientific proof that qualia is invented through metabolism because food can be read by the tongue where a signal is sent to the mind, and somewhere in that chain we experience qualia as taste. This is similar to photonic readings in the retina. It is possible that qualia is produced in
its respective locations, the retina, tongue, nerves. But if qualia is indeed only produced and simultaneously experienced as it is read by the mind then this is all void.
Have a happy un-birthday!

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Re: Qualia as a function of being alive

Post by Greta » January 5th, 2019, 7:54 pm

Consul wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 2:02 pm
He thinks that, like digestive processes, mental/neural processes in the brain don't involve any subjective, experiential qualities (qualia). But without qualia, there is no (phenomenal) consciousness; so I regard Dennett as an eliminativist about consciousness.
That's his public face. Many see Daniel Dennett's claims as exaggerated beyond his actual opinion to gain attention (fair enough too as it's easy to be ignored in today's meme marketplace). When questioned further, he does not eliminate consciousness but claims it's put on a false pedestal, being no more profound than digestion.

I think he is correct, not because consciousness is a workaday unremarkable phenomenon, but because the centrality of the metabolism to our being is routinely underestimated, and the metabolism and its products are every bit as remarkable as the brain. My angle here is similar to that which does not judge humans as superior to other animals, just different.

Thus, our hierarchy appears to be upsidedown, a perspective effect. We operate as if the brain is "you" - the subject - and the metabolism a mere energy source. In truth, metabolic processes are the subject - you literally ARE your metabolism - and your brain is the servant that works to keep the former healthy and fecund/prolific.
Consul wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 2:02 pm

Of course, it's a big mistake to equate consciousness with the personal self-consciousness we humans have. Primary consciousness starts with primitive sensations or emotions, whose occurrence is independent of higher-order or self-consciousness (self-awareness in the form of self-(re)cognition, introspection, reflection). Qualia as "raw feels" don't require a self-conscious mind.
I largely agree.
Consul wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 2:02 pm

In order to have a conscious life, you need to have a life first. I'm skeptical about the natural/physical possibility of realizing consciousness in a nonbiological machine. So is Michael Gazzaniga, one of the leading neuroscientists in the world:

"The most surprising discovery for me is that I now think we humans will never build a machine that mimics our personal consciousness. Inanimate silicon-based machines work one way, and living carbon-based systems work another. One works with a deterministic set of instructions, and the other through symbols that inherently carry some degree of uncertainty. This perspective leads to the view that the human attempt to mimic intelligence and consciousness in machines, a continuing goal of the field of AI, is doomed."

(Gazzaniga, Michael S. The Consciousness Instinct: Unraveling the Mystery of How the Brain Makes the Mind. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2018. p. 236)
Then again, when quantum computing becomes viable there will be probabilistic aspects brought into processing that was, as you say, deterministic.

Given the similarities between electricity and water flows, perhaps true equivalents can eventually be created? However, the complexity of fluid dynamics are still being unravelled and, without great precision in this area, any reproduction of consciousness without wetware will essentially be a "cheap copy". This seems a long way off.

I personally think that organisations are the true emerging AI, their algorithms being corporate aims and objectives, and corporate, strategic and business plans. The currently consist of many organic (human) components, which will reduce over time with automation, but they don't seem to be truly systematised like an organism and rather operate more like colonies, at this stage.

Consul wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 2:02 pm

No matter whether the language used is English or German or any other natural language, conceptual ambiguity or vagueness is always a problem in philosophical discussions. For example, the German word for "sense" is "Sinn", and like the English word it has many meanings. (For example, "der Sinn des Lebens" mustn't be translated as "the sense of life", because it means "the meaning of life".) You speak of "the sense of being (an entity)", and I'm not quite sure what the meaning of "sense" is here. One possible meaning is "an awareness or feeling that one is in a specified state" (Oxford Dictionary). In this sense of the word, one has a "sense of being" if one is aware or conscious of one's existence; and I doubt that an organism is aware/conscious of its existence (as an entity) solely by virtue of the physiological activities of its metabolic system.
Thanks. I was just wondering as there are some German words borrowed by English that have no equivalent. (I thought that "schadenfreude" would be one but apparently the English equivalent is "epicaricacy", which seems to makes clear why the German word was preferred).

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Greta
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Re: Qualia as a function of being alive

Post by Greta » January 5th, 2019, 8:17 pm

Intellectual_Savnot wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 6:11 pm
The conscious that experiences qualia has no proven location in our physical location. The mind is the only place where the qualia experienced by the conscious entity seems to be observed and directly accessed, evidenced through brain waves.
Qualia and the mind are not the same. I see qualia as pre-mind, the basic sense of being that the brain filters and shapes.

Intellectual_Savnot wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 6:11 pm
Whether the mind came first or not (which I do believe it did not), it is the only known receptor of this experience and the data it provides. There can be scientific proof that qualia is invented through metabolism because food can be read by the tongue where a signal is sent to the mind, and somewhere in that chain we experience qualia as taste. This is similar to photonic readings in the retina. It is possible that qualia is produced in its respective locations, the retina, tongue, nerves. But if qualia is indeed only produced and simultaneously experienced as it is read by the mind then this is all void.
The mind receives the sense impressions, yes, but first there were sense impressions, making qualia primary, or at least foundational, with processing allowing for the more familiar awareness.

As a small thought experiment, I'll stand up and try to ignore all environmental factors as much as possible, to just pay attention to oneself as a tingling, churning, pulsating entity. Take away the brain and you'd just pulsating and churning, which I suspect would still feel like something, no matter how minimal, primitive and indistinct.

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Re: Qualia as a function of being alive

Post by Gertie » January 5th, 2019, 8:29 pm

Consul wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 1:14 am
Greta wrote:
January 4th, 2019, 2:31 am
Daniel Dennett pointed out that consciousness is not especially any more exotic than digestion, each being a means of processing.
Dennett is in effect an eliminative materialist about (phenomenal) consciousness; that is, he denies its existence. Well, he himself denies being a denialist; but the so-called "consciousness" whose existence he acknowledges is not what deserves to be called so, because it's really something else:

"Materialists, after a lot of beating around the bush, do typically end up by denying the existence of consciousness, even though most of them are too embarrassed to come right out and say: 'Consciousness does not exist. No human or animal has ever been conscious.' Instead, they redefine 'consciousness' so that it no longer refers to inner, qualitative, subjective mental states but rather to some third-person phenomena, phenomena that are neither inner, qualitative, nor subjective in the senses I have explained. Consciousness is reduced to the behavior of the body, to computational states of the brain, information processing, or functional states of a physical system. Daniel Dennett is typical of materialists in this regard. Does consciousness exist for Dennett? He would never deny it. And what is it? Well, it is a certain bunch of computer programs implemented in the brain.
Such answers, I am afraid, will not do. Consciousness is an inner, subjective, first-person, qualitative phenomenon. Any account of consciousness that leaves out these features is not an account of consciousness but of something else."


(Searle, John. Mind, Language and Society: Philosophy in the Real World. London: Phoenix, 2000. p. 50)

"The peculiarity of Daniel Dennett's book [Consciousness Explained] can now be stated: he denies the existence of the data. He thinks there are no such things as the second sort of entity, the feeling of pain. He thinks there are no such things as qualia, subjective experiences, first-person phenomena, or any of the rest of it. Dennett agrees that it seems to us that there are such things as qualia, but this is a matter of a mistaken judgment we are making about what really happens. Well, what does really happen according to him?
What really happens, according to Dennett, is that we have stimulus inputs, such as the pressure on your skin in my experiment, and we have dispositions to behavior, 'reactive dispositions' as he calls them. And in between there are 'discriminative states' that cause us to respond differently to different pressures on the skin and to discriminate red from green, etc., but the sort of state that we have for discriminating pressure is exactly like the state of a machine for detecting pressure. It does not experience any special feeling; indeed it does not have any inner feelings at all, because there are no such things as 'inner feelings'. It is all a matter of third-person phenomena: stimulus inputs, discriminative states (p. 372 ff.), and reactive dispositions. The feature that makes these all hang together is that our brains are a type of computer and consciousness is a certain sort of software, a 'virtual machine' in our brain.
The main point of Dennett's book is to deny the existence of inner mental states and offer an alternative account of consciousness, or rather what he calls 'consciousness'. The net effect is a performance of Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark."


(Searle, John R. The Mystery of Consciousness. New York: The New York Review of Books, 1997. pp. 99-100)
Spot on.

Being a bit of a showman Dennett makes an obfuscatory song and dance about it, but ''aye there's the rub'' as Hamlet said.

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