Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Discussions on the nature of being, existence, reality and knowledge. What is? How do we know?

Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby charon on August 21st, 2020, 7:28 pm 

140 years ago, a physiologist had listed scores of experiments demonstrating that what we see, hear, touch, feel or taste, can actually produce measurable changes to our physiological functioning


Any Tom, Dick or Harry could have told us that. Really, I...

Why don't we DO something???
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby Dave_C on August 22nd, 2020, 12:01 am 

doogles » August 21st, 2020, 3:57 pm wrote:I probably made a mistake in thinking that someone with a philosophical leaning might appreciate the knowledge that 140 years ago, a physiologist had listed scores of experiments demonstrating that what we see, hear, touch, feel or taste, can actually produce measurable changes to our physiological functioning, and that this could be a factor in the 'experience' we associate with such sensory stimuli.

Hi doogles. Note that whether or not our phenomenal experiences have a causal affect on the body, isn't an issue regarding the hard problem. The hard problem is only about why we should have those experiences at all. The problem regarding whether or not our phenomenal experiences have a causal influence on our behavior regards the problem of mental causation.

We often talk about our phenomenal experiences "emerging" from the interactions of neurons. Depending on how we envision this process of emergence works, this leaves us with some scientific explaining to do as to how those emergent phenomena might cause anything else as suggested by William James for example. Not too many people would argue that phenomenal experiences are causally efficacious, but how those emergent phenomena might be causally efficacious is a very difficult issue that tends to violate what we know about nature.

Philosophical discussions are not just word salad. They require an in depth understanding of how nature and science works. I provided some background on emergence here as a discussion around how emergence:
viewtopic.php?p=279554

This is intended as a reference to consider how various 'levels of nature' interact and how emergent phenomena at a higher level might causally influence phenomena at a lower level. The natural sciences from biology to engineering to meteorology utilize a form of 'weak emergence'. Neuroscience also uses a type of weak emergence to reduce neurons into "compartments" as they call them. Understanding how these levels work and interact is crucial to understanding how our emergent qualia might have some causal efficacy.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby charon on August 22nd, 2020, 2:53 am 

The hard problem is only about why we should have those experiences at all.


That's because you don't understand the word experience.

PS. Don't forget to ignore me :-)
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby Positor on August 22nd, 2020, 9:21 am 

Dave_C » August 22nd, 2020, 5:01 am wrote:I provided some background on emergence here as a discussion around how emergence:
viewtopic.php?p=279554

This is intended as a reference to consider how various 'levels of nature' interact and how emergent phenomena at a higher level might causally influence phenomena at a lower level. The natural sciences from biology to engineering to meteorology utilize a form of 'weak emergence'. Neuroscience also uses a type of weak emergence to reduce neurons into "compartments" as they call them. Understanding how these levels work and interact is crucial to understanding how our emergent qualia might have some causal efficacy.

Thanks, I have just re-read the thread you linked. I note that you did not believe in strong emergence (nor do I). Is that still the case? Do you rule out the causal efficacy of qualia?
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby charon on August 22nd, 2020, 10:20 am 

Do you rule out the causal efficacy of qualia?


I think this means that if I eat a meal that tastes really, utterly foul and want to throw the left-overs at the wall, and actually do throw the left-overs at the wall, that the qualia involved have been particularly causally effective in the physical world. Especially when I have to clear up the mess.

But I could be wrong.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby Dave_C on August 22nd, 2020, 8:31 pm 

charon » August 22nd, 2020, 1:53 am wrote:That's because you don't understand the word experience.

Please read the OP for definitions. Tx...
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby charon on August 22nd, 2020, 8:38 pm 

Dave -

I don't have to read something to find out what experience is. Neither do you really, do you? Experience is the stored memory of events, which is knowledge. According to that, we think. You can't think of anything you haven't already known before in some way.

It's a fact.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby Dave_C on August 22nd, 2020, 8:58 pm 

Positor » August 22nd, 2020, 8:21 am wrote:Thanks, I have just re-read the thread you linked. I note that you did not believe in strong emergence (nor do I). Is that still the case? Do you rule out the causal efficacy of qualia?

Hi Positor. I haven't changed any opinions on that thread. I do believe qualia are causally efficacious, but I disagree with a fundamental premise in mainstream neuroscience; that qualia emerge from the interactions between neurons (ie: from the sum total of all neuron interactions). There are single cell theories of consciousness, Steven Sevush and Jonathan Edwards are two good examples.
Sevush: https://www.researchgate.net/publicatio ... sciousness
(From Amazon) "Steven Sevush is Emeritus Associate Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at the University of Miami, USA. He has been a teacher, researcher, and clinician in behavioural neurology and neuropsychiatry for over thirty years. His written works include The Single-Neuron Theory of Consciousness published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology."

Edwards: https://www.researchgate.net/publicatio ... dual_Cells
Also: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/rheumatology-bloo ... cpropcells

I've written my own paper on it and posted here:
viewtopic.php?f=39&t=34944
This paper examines the various logical dilemmas being argued about today and provides a resolution. It also provides a theory that is objectively testable.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby charon on August 22nd, 2020, 9:04 pm 

Further, since we've also probably forgotten a lot of it anyway, our experience is partial, therefore our thought is also partial and extremely limited.

We may think we know a lot but it's a deception.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby neuro on August 26th, 2020, 6:04 am 

charon » August 20th, 2020, 9:42 am wrote:It's very obvious how we know we're having an experience - because we recognise it. The only we way we can recognise it is because we've had it before. Or, if not the same one, something very like it.

Bravo!
My impression is that this answers most of the questions about "qualia" and phenomenal consciousness.
Any activity that occurs in our brain produces specific responses in the serotonergic median raphe, in the dopaminergic ventral tegmental area and substantia nigra and in the amygdala, nucleus accumbens and hypothalamus: all this subcortical activity is integrated by the limbic cortex which generates an emotional state (the current experience/situation is/isn't vitally and/or affectively relevant, is good/bad, is right/wrong, is joyful/sad, is/isn't irritating, understandable, is known/novel...).
This multifaceted emotional painting of the current experience, combined with the many different relations (emotional as well as cognitive) it bears with any specific past experiences of ours, constitute the set of "qualia" that define this particular experience experience.
In a sense, the first time you see "red" there is no associated qualia, except maybe for some physiological higher level of arousal than you would feel in seeing a grey, opaque or pale object. The "qualia" come later on, the second, third and nth time you see "red" and it recalls in your brain everything that has been associated to red in your past experience
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby neuro on August 26th, 2020, 6:17 am 

TheVat » August 20th, 2020, 5:46 pm wrote:Qualia somehow add to our knowledge.

I'd say they actually CONSTITUTE our knowledge: things are and occur out there. DATA and SEQUENCES (information) are out there.

They are sensed and elaborated by our brain, and they are perceived as the COMBINATION of the sensation they have elicited plus any emotional/affective response they have generated plus all cognitive, emotional and operational aspects that are evoked by any image our memory tends to revive in association with them.

Such combination is no more mere information, it is now KNOWLEDGE (information with a meaning), and its meaning, before we even try to tell it in words, IS the set of "qualia" we experience.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby charon on August 26th, 2020, 6:53 am 

neuro -

I think that's right, yes.
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