Inner Reality Unveiled

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

Re: Inner Reality Unveiled

Postby DragonFly on April 24th, 2018, 7:39 pm 

The baby steps of symbols so long ago continue the long road…

“…hereditary records contain not only information that specifies what to build but also information that specifies how to build it. Somehow, the information about what and how has been “recorded” in some type of symbolic form. There is a gap between the subjectively recorded symbol (genotype) and the phenotypic construction process and the phenotype. The symbols have to be translated into their meaning for construction to begin. If we think of a layered architecture, this would be the protocol between two layers. Pattee proposes that it was from the control interface between these two layers that the epistemic cut arose.

… a symbol, whether it is a sequence of nucleotides in DNA, a sequence of Morse code, or a sequence of mental simulations, is arbitrary.

Pattee explains there is a basic and extremely important distinction between laws and rules in nature. Laws are inexorable, meaning they are unchangeable, inescapable, and inevitable. We can never alter or evade laws of nature.

On the other hand, rules are arbitrary and can be changed.

Symbols lead a double life, with two different complementary modes of description depending on the job they are doing. In one life, symbols are made of physical material (DNA is made of hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, and phosphate molecules) that follows Newton’s laws and constrains the building process by its physical structure. However, in the other life, as repositories of information, the symbols ignore these laws. The double life of symbols has largely been ignored. Those interested in information processing ignore the objective material side, the physical manifestation of the symbol. Molecular biologists and determinists, interested in only the material side, ignore the subjective symbolic side. By claiming just one aspect, neither studies their full, complementary character. Which is not only a shame but a scientific travesty because, as we discussed earlier, for a self-reproducing and evolvable form of life to exist, physical symbols must perform both roles. Pattee argues that either one alone is insufficient. To avoid either side of the link results in missing the link altogether. He boldly states, “It is precisely this natural symbol-matter articulation that makes life distinct from non-living physical systems.”

Barbieri notes, “a semiotic system is a triad of signs, meanings, and code that are all produced by the same agent, i.e., by the same codemaker. Biosemiotics is the study of signs and codes in living systems. Foundational to the field is the notion that “the existence of the genetic code implies that every cell is a semiotic system.

The structure of molecules in the inorganic world, the world of objects such as computers and rocks, is determined by the bonds that form spontaneously between their atoms. The bonds themselves are determined by internal factors, the chemical and physical characteristics inherent to the atoms. Happily deterministic.
Not so in living systems. Genes are elaborate strings of nucleotides, and proteins are elaborate strings of amino acids. These strings do not come together spontaneously in a cell. It is not love at first sight drawing them together by an irresistable chemistry. Instead, they are cobbled together by the actions of an entire class of molecules, a whole system of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and protein matchmakers that help them. Barbieri points out that this is highly significant for its implications concerning the origin of life.

Pattee suggested that it is the very size of the molecules that ties the quantum and classical worlds together: ‘Enzymes are small enough to take advantage of quantum coherence to attain the enormous catalytic power on which life depends, but large enough to attain high specificity and arbitrariness in producing effectively decoherent products that can function as classical structures.’

To make another self, you need to describe, translate, and construct the parts that describe, translate, and construct. This self-referential loop is not just a headache. It amounts to a logical closure that, in fact, defines a ‘self.’

Pattee calls the physical conditions that are required for this exceptional interdependence of symbol-matter-function semiotic closure. He emphasizes that to physically execute this closure, the symbolic instructions must have a material structure. There can be no ghost in the system, and the physical structure must constrain all the lawful dynamic processes of construction following Newton’s laws. The closing of the semiotic loop, the physical bonding of the molecules, is what defines the limits of the “self,” the subject, in “self-replication.” No random structures floating around are being incorporated; the limits have been set. This does not imply that the cell is somehow self-aware. However, there can be no self-awareness without a self. The first steps must be toward a delimited self. The subsequent destinations of self-awareness, self-control, self-experience, self-consciousness, and self-absorption are all farther down the road.

Semiotic closure must be present in all cells that self-replicate. Sure, “the self” became more elaborate through evolutionary processes, but even a cell follows Dirty Harry’s advice and “knows its limitations.” Whatever complex physical processes close the symbol-matter loop, they are the bridge that spans the physicist’s Schnitt, the explanatory gap, the chasm between the subject and object. They are the protocol between the quantum layer and the Newtonian layer. The processes that close the symbol-matter loop unite the two modes of description, spanning the gap that originated at the origin of life. The implication is that the gap between subjective conscious experience and the objective neural firings of our physical brains, those two modes of description, may be bridged by a similar set of processes, and it could even be possible that they are occurring inside cells.”

Excerpt From: Michael S. Gazzaniga. “The Consciousness Instinct.” iBooks. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-co ... 3607?mt=11
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Re: Inner Reality Unveiled

Postby DragonFly on April 25th, 2018, 11:20 pm 

Complementarity speaks, but we don't understand it yet:

…He saw mental events as the product of the configurational properties of the underlying neural circuitry. That underlying circuitry has both a physical and a symbolic structure. It controls what it is constructing, a mental event—Pattee’s physical symbols controlling construction. In short, he had the organism itself playing a role in its own destiny.

Simply trying to locate the structure that produces consciousness, as Descartes and many of his predecessors have attempted, will not unveil the Holy Grail, because consciousness is inherent throughout the brain. Cutting huge chunks from the cortex does not disrupt consciousness, but only changes its contents. It is not compartmentalized in the brain like many other mental capacities, such as speech production or visual processing, but is a crucial element of all these various capacities. Again, as I have discussed, the most compelling evidence for piecemeal consciousness is revealed through the minds of split-brain patients: When transmission between the hemispheres is severed, each will continue to have its own conscious experience.

While it is not intuitive to think that our consciousness emanates from several independent sources, this appears to be the brain’s design. Once this concept is fully grasped, the true challenge will be to understand how the design principles of the brain allow for consciousness to emerge in this manner. This is the future challenge for brain science.

As I look at James’s work now, I recognize a schema that fits the module/layering ideas. James appears to suggest that the structural aspects of instincts are inbuilt modules embedded in a layered architecture. Each instinct can function independently for simple behaviors, but they also work as a confederation. Individual instincts can be sequenced in a coordinated fashion for more complex actions that make them look an awful lot like higher-order instincts. The avalanche of sequences is what we call consciousness. James argues that the competitive dynamics that go into the sequencing of basic instincts can produce what appears to be a more complex behavior manifested from a complex internal state. He even adds a description of the animal’s experience of obeying an instinct: “Every impulse and every step of every instinct shines with its own sufficient light, and seems at the moment the only eternally right and proper thing to do. It is “done for its own sake exclusively.” It sounds like a lot of bubbles are conjoined by the arrow of time and produce something like what we call conscious experience.

The dynamics of which bubble pops up when is no doubt influenced by experience and learning. However, experience, learning, and consciousness must all be isomorphic—operational within the same system. Once the phenomenon is thought of in this way, we see conscious experience for what it is: Mother Nature’s trick. Thinking of consciousness as an evolved instinct (or a whole sequence of them) shows us where to look for how it emerged from the cold inanimate world. It opens our eyes to the realization that each aspect of a conscious experience is the unfolding of other instincts that humans possess, and that, by their very nature, the mechanisms and capacities they harbor produce the felt state of conscious experience. Remarkably, in the past few years biologists of all stripes have been able to come together in a breathtaking way to identify twenty-nine specific networks in the brain of a fly, each controlling a specific behavior. These individual behaviors can be flexibly combined and recombined into more complex patterns.

Capturing how the physical side of the gap, the neurons, works with the symbolic side, the mental dimensions, will be achieved through the language of complementarity.”

Excerpt From: Michael S. Gazzaniga. “The Consciousness Instinct.” iBooks. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-co ... 3607?mt=11
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Re: Inner Reality Unveiled

Postby mitchellmckain on April 26th, 2018, 1:21 am 

This is entirely consistent with my own claim that consciousness is a property of life in general but highly quantitative. This quantitative nature is not merely additive or aggregate but also hierarchical. By forming communities which encompass the process of life in the communal relationship, a higher order of life and consciousness is achieved. By specialization and cooperation communities can accomplish what individuals cannot -- what we call technology. But I think this term describes more than just the accomplishments of human civilization but also the achievements of multi-cellular organisms which greatly expand both awareness of the environment and the ability to take action.

To be sure this is stretching the meaning of the word "consciousness" beyond anthropomorphized limitations. Which is not to say that consciousness is all the same, but only that human consciousness adds quantitatively to what other living organisms have, not only in its speed of adaptation and learning but in this collection of the many different abilities which you speak of -- all contributing to the experience of consciousness as you say.
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Re: Inner Reality Unveiled

Postby DragonFly on April 27th, 2018, 10:52 pm 

Onward, through the known maps, to the bridge across the mysterious valley of several explanatory gaps, to the known phenomenal transform… from another book that indicates consciousness' ancient origins:

The four neuroontologically subjective features of consciousness (NSFC)

Therefore, the most problematic characteristics of sensory or primary consciousness from the philosophical perspective are its first-person experiential aspects. But upon close analysis, we find that rather than there being a single “explanatory gap,” there are in fact multiple gaps between subjective experience and the brain. To delineate these gaps as systematically as possible, we identified four neuroontologically subjective features of consciousness (NSFCs).

The NSFCs have in common the following features: they are (1) ontologically subjective and (2) there is an explanatory gap between the way each is experienced by the brain versus the way each is observed or understood from the third person perspective. The phenomenon of qualia is the most frequently considered of the NSFCs, but we recognize three more: referral, mental unity, and mental causation (table 1.1). It is these features of consciousness that are the most resistant to scientific explanation. In attacking the problem of consciousness, this book will have to explain the neurobiology and evolution of these neuroontologically subjective features.

Table 1.1  The neuroontologically subjective features of consciousness (NSFC).*
Referral
Mental unity
Qualia
Mental causation
*Adapted from table 1 in Feinberg and Mallatt (2016a).

Referral

This feature is the “referral” or “projection” of neural states. No conscious experience refers to the brain itself. That is, no experience is perceived as the firing of the “neurons (nerve cells) inside the brain that generate it, nor is one subjectively aware of these firings at all. Instead, the experience is referred to something out in the world or else to someplace on or within the body. Such referral characterizes exteroceptive experiences of the world that are projected outward into the world as “mental images,” and also interoceptive and affective experiences of the body that are experienced partly or fully as internal bodily states.

First, consider exteroceptive sensory experiences, which are created by processing stimuli from the external environment. For the special senses of seeing, hearing, tasting, and smelling, Charles Sherrington called their referral projicience,13 which means the projected externalization of sensation away from the body. One does not “feel” a visual stimulus in the eye or an auditory stimulus in the ear, nor does one experience the stimulus as arising in the brain. Instead, these sensations are experienced as if projected out to the source of the stimuli, as if in the outside world that is being viewed or heard.

Some interoceptive feelings, like pain or the stretch of a full stomach, are referred or externalized away from the neurons in the brain to to some other place in or on the body. Positive or negative affective states (feelings) are also referred away from the brain but not into the external world, as occurs with information picked up by the distance receptors. Affects are therefore experienced entirely within the self (being happy or unhappy, for example), but not as if within the brain. In other words, when I am sad, I do not feel like my brain’s neural circuits are sad.

Mental unity

Though the nervous system objectively consists of billions of different neurons, consciousness is subjectively experienced as a unified field, the central stage of our consciousness. This is called the “grain argument,” meaning that while the brain objectively appears like grains of sand, consciousness is subjectively experienced like the whole beach.15 A classic example of the puzzle of subjective mental unity is “cyclopean perception” (figure 1.2): How is it that we experience a unified visual world that appears to emanate from a single visual point of view but is based on separate information coming from two eyes? Thus, objective characterization says the brain matter is divisible into parts and extended, while consciousness is normally unified into one central experience.16 How can we resolve the contradiction and bridge the gap?


Figure 1.2 The concept of mental unity, as shown by the phenomenon of cyclopean perception (cyclopean = as if with one eye). What we consciously see is unified as if from one central eye, although it actually comes from the information of our two separate eyes.

Qualia

As explained above, qualia are the subjectively experienced felt qualities of sensory consciousness, such as a perceived color, sound, or smell, or a negative affect. Many investigators consider qualia to be the central puzzle of consciousness. Francis Crick and Christof Koch state:

The most difficult aspect of consciousness is the so-called “hard problem” of qualia—the redness of red, the painfulness of pain, and so on. No one has produced any plausible explanation as to how the experience of the redness of red could arise from the actions of the brain. It appears fruitless to approach this problem head-on.
In essence, neurons as objectively characterized are not “red,” “painful,” or “stinky,” but the subjective states associated with these neurons are. This is, to most philosophers and neuroscientists, the most perplexing gap between subjective experience and the brain.

Mental causation

The problem of mental causation, according to philosopher Jaegwon Kim, is explaining “how it is possible for the mental to exercise causal influences in the physical world”; or, according to Revonsuo, how is it that “the mind or mental phenomena have causal powers to change some purely material (e.g., biological or neural) process in the brain”? How can consciousness—an intangible, unobservable, and fully subjective entity—cause material neurons to direct behaviors that change the world? How can an immaterial process build the Great Wall of China or the Panama Canal?

In summary, the four NSFCs all fall into the gap between sensory consciousness as experienced and sensory consciousness as objectively observed. In this book, we will show how to demystify these gaps, but this requires bringing in the other two approaches (see figure 1.1), which take into account the unique neurobiology of the brain as well as the early evolution of consciousness.”

Excerpt From: Todd E. Feinberg. “The Ancient Origins of Consciousness.” iBooks. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-an ... 6953?mt=11
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Re: Inner Reality Unveiled

Postby mitchellmckain on April 28th, 2018, 2:21 am 

DragonFly » April 27th, 2018, 9:52 pm wrote:The most difficult aspect of consciousness is the so-called “hard problem” of qualia—the redness of red, the painfulness of pain, and so on. No one has produced any plausible explanation as to how the experience of the redness of red could arise from the actions of the brain. It appears fruitless to approach this problem head-on.
In essence, neurons as objectively characterized are not “red,” “painful,” or “stinky,” but the subjective states associated with these neurons are. This is, to most philosophers and neuroscientists, the most perplexing gap between subjective experience and the brain.

It sounds to me like you are touching on the connection between the neurological processing of the brain and the linguistic processing of the mind. And to waylay those eager to employ their canned worms, by the mind I am not referring to anything nonphysical or existing/acting apart from the brain (it is at most a difference like that between hardware and software of a computer). The mind is just a different organization of data in terms of linguistic components. The linguistic aspect, at least, is the only difference I can see between the direct sensory data and this talk of "redness," "painful," and "stinky." But perhaps I can elucidate this better by pointing out the significance of this transition. It is not really one of being more subjective. What the translation into the linguistic realm of the mind adds to the data is meaning in the context of the mental (linguistic) organization of our thoughts.

If you think that I am missing the point and you really mean just the subjective sensory impression. Then I would argue that you are mistaken because without the significance added to the data by the mind, your so called "redness" is nothing but a neurological impulse reporting spectral data with all the "color" taken out of it so to speak. Sure the brain can tell us that the frequency of the light from the rose is similar to the frequency of light from a woman's lips, but the abstraction identifying a quality of redness shared by the two sets of data is a function of the mind not the brain, i.e. derived from a linguistic organization of the data.

DragonFly » April 27th, 2018, 9:52 pm wrote:Mental causation

The problem of mental causation, according to philosopher Jaegwon Kim, is explaining “how it is possible for the mental to exercise causal influences in the physical world”; or, according to Revonsuo, how is it that “the mind or mental phenomena have causal powers to change some purely material (e.g., biological or neural) process in the brain”? How can consciousness—an intangible, unobservable, and fully subjective entity—cause material neurons to direct behaviors that change the world? How can an immaterial process build the Great Wall of China or the Panama Canal?

It is difficult for a physicalist to see the problem here. You might as well ask how the autonomous nervous system tells the heart to keep on beating or lungs to keep on pulling air... or how does software tell the hardware in a computer to write something to the hard disk? I don't see how does consciousness makes this any more difficult. The mind too is a part of the nervous system and the human brain appears to be "designed" so that it listens and responds to the output of these linguistic mental processes just as the computer is designed to respond to instructions in the software. (Though in the former case, we are using the word "designed" in the sense of the term "designoid" coined by Dawkins for something which is a product of evolution)

DragonFly » April 27th, 2018, 9:52 pm wrote:In summary, the four NSFCs all fall into the gap between sensory consciousness as experienced and sensory consciousness as objectively observed. In this book, we will show how to demystify these gaps, but this requires bringing in the other two approaches (see figure 1.1), which take into account the unique neurobiology of the brain as well as the early evolution of consciousness.”

But the fact that these transitions don't seem so mysterious to me does not mean I will ignore what scientists have discovered about it.
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Re: Inner Reality Unveiled

Postby hyksos on April 28th, 2018, 6:43 pm 

Excerpt From: Michael S. Gazzaniga. “The Consciousness Instinct.” iBooks. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-co ... 3607?mt=11

For a few minutes, I was enraptured reading the paragraphs of a forum user. Only to find out at the bottom line that I was actually reading excerpts of Gazzaniga.
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