Epiphenomenalism: more questions

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Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby Asparagus on February 3rd, 2018, 2:05 pm 

Braininvat posted this in another thread and it got me pondering.

Dave_C wrote:The most powerful reason for rejecting epiphenomenalism is the view that it is incompatible with knowledge of our own minds — and thus, incompatible with knowing that epiphenomenalism is true.

... (i) knowledge of one's mental events requires that these events cause one's knowledge, but (ii) epiphenomenalism denies physical effects of mental events. So, either we cannot know our own mental events, or our knowledge of them cannot be what is causing the plainly physical event of our saying something about our mental events. Thus, suppose S is an epiphenomenalist, and that S utters “I am in terrible pain.” S is committed to the view that the pain does not cause the utterance. But then, it seems, S would be making the same utterance whether or not a pain were occurring. If this is so, then S's testimonies about S's own pains are worthless — both to us and to S. They cannot be taken to represent any knowledge about pains on S's part (if S's epiphenomenalist view is true). In fact, on an epiphenomenalist view, all the arguments for epiphenomenalism and rebuttals to counterarguments we have reviewed might be given even if we were all zombies — i.e., even if we were all possessed of physical causes of our utterances and completely devoid of any mental life whatsoever.


Dave_C, does all epiphenomalism say that we can't have knowledge of our own minds? Or just certain versions?
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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby DragonFly on February 3rd, 2018, 3:26 pm 

Forget about supposed mental realms and they operating back upon the physical brain realm, along with the nebluous 'mind', 'I', 'consciousness', and such, as somehow nonphysical entities. It's the brain that does it all.

When the brain began using its parts, of higher and higher modules and levels, it could then actionize and decide by summing over these parts instead of just always saying 'yes'. This summing process culminates in a unity (which we give various other names to, like qualia), and it is no surprise that the brain totally understands this unity as its highest symbol and can retain and use it as a whole as part of the input basis from which to continue on coming up with more things.

As another question, does the brain do as it must? Of course. Consistency seldom hurts. It is our daily bread; without it we'd be toast. The brain is never free of itself. (The will is never free of itself.)
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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby Asparagus on February 3rd, 2018, 4:53 pm 

DragonFly » February 3rd, 2018, 3:26 pm wrote:Forget about supposed mental realms and they operating back upon the physical brain realm, along with the nebluous 'mind', 'I', 'consciousness', and such, as somehow nonphysical entities. It's the brain that does it all.

Is there some reasoning behind this? Or do you take it as axiomatic?
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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby Serpent on February 3rd, 2018, 5:17 pm 

Lobotomize patient.
Does brain still function in its capacity of running vital processes?
Yes.
Does mind still function?
Not so much.
Where did it go?

S is committed to the view that the pain does not cause the utterance. But then, it seems, S would be making the same utterance whether or not a pain were occurring.

But the pain isn't causing the utterance. The pain is simply felt and localized. If there is nobody else present, S does not articulate the feeling; S suffers in silence, or moans without words. What causes the utterance is a chain of thought that identifies pain, finds the appropriate words to label it and put the feeling in a sentence, then instruct the relevant body parts - teeth, tongue, lips, vocal cords, lungs - to articulate the words in the correct order. This is then added to a chain of long-ago situations, such as S acquiring language as an infant and becoming socialized as a child, to the degree where S has a reasonable expectation that communicating certain conditions - such as pain - to a fellow human who speaks the same language will elicit sympathy from that other human being, and start the long process of thought that will eventually result in some form of help.
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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby DragonFly on February 3rd, 2018, 7:08 pm 

Asparagus » February 3rd, 2018, 3:53 pm wrote:
DragonFly » February 3rd, 2018, 3:26 pm wrote:Forget about supposed mental realms and they operating back upon the physical brain realm, along with the nebluous 'mind', 'I', 'consciousness', and such, as somehow nonphysical entities. It's the brain that does it all.

Is there some reasoning behind this? Or do you take it as axiomatic?


Only the brain and its precess are seen; spirit/soul/mental realms are not apparent. The brain would know its own internally evolved language.
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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby Asparagus on February 3rd, 2018, 7:16 pm 

DragonFly wrote:

Only the brain and its precess are seen; spirit/soul/mental realms are not apparent.

But an electromagnetic field isn't seen. It's still there. Why do you think differently about mental events?
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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby DragonFly on February 3rd, 2018, 7:43 pm 

Asparagus » February 3rd, 2018, 6:16 pm wrote:
DragonFly wrote:

Only the brain and its precess are seen; spirit/soul/mental realms are not apparent.

But an electromagnetic field isn't seen. It's still there. Why do you think differently about mental events?


Our instruments supplement our senses; we see all kinds of fields—the whole spectrum even.
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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby Asparagus on February 3rd, 2018, 7:53 pm 

DragonFly » February 3rd, 2018, 7:43 pm wrote:
Asparagus » February 3rd, 2018, 6:16 pm wrote:
DragonFly wrote:

Only the brain and its precess are seen; spirit/soul/mental realms are not apparent.

But an electromagnetic field isn't seen. It's still there. Why do you think differently about mental events?


Our instruments supplement our senses; we see all kinds of fields—the whole spectrum even.

All such instruments work by showing the effects of electromagnetism.

Likewise, a math quiz shows the effects of mental events among the fifth graders.

What's the difference?
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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby DragonFly on February 3rd, 2018, 9:32 pm 

Asparagus » Sat Feb 03, 2018 3:53 pm wrote:
DragonFly » February 3rd, 2018, 7:43 pm wrote:
Our instruments supplement our senses; we see all kinds of fields—the whole spectrum even.

All such instruments work by showing the effects of electromagnetism.

Likewise, a math quiz shows the effects of mental events among the fifth graders.

What's the difference?


Instruments don't show a mental realm of mental events aside from the brain. The brain takes the quiz.
Last edited by zetreque on February 4th, 2018, 1:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby Asparagus on February 3rd, 2018, 9:52 pm 

DragonFly wrote:Instruments don't show a mental realm of mental events aside from the brain. The brain takes the quiz.

Instruments don't show electromagnetism. They show its effects.
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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby Serpent on February 3rd, 2018, 11:02 pm 

Asparagus » February 3rd, 2018, 8:52 pm wrote:Instruments don't show electromagnetism. They show its effects.

What shows a mind? Only its effects are seen:
Likewise, a math quiz shows the effects of mental events among the fifth graders.

But if the operator walks away, leaves the room, leaves the campus, instruments keep recording whatever events they're designed to measure. Send a mechanical rover to the moon or Mars, and instruments keep doing the same thing.
Take the fifth-graders out of the room, or put them to sleep, or just let a puppy loose among them, and see if the quiz keeps being answered.
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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby DragonFly on February 3rd, 2018, 11:04 pm 

Asparagus » February 3rd, 2018, 8:52 pm wrote:
DragonFly wrote:Instruments don't show a mental realm of mental events aside from the brain. The brain takes the quiz.

Instruments don't show electromagnetism. They show its effects.


"its", then, is electromagnetism.
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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby Asparagus on February 3rd, 2018, 11:24 pm 

DragonFly » February 3rd, 2018, 11:04 pm wrote:
Asparagus » February 3rd, 2018, 8:52 pm wrote:
DragonFly wrote:Instruments don't show a mental realm of mental events aside from the brain. The brain takes the quiz.

Instruments don't show electromagnetism. They show its effects.


"its", then, is electromagnetism.

Correct. Electromagnetism is inferred. You accept this, but not the inference of mind from math tests.

I conclude from this that your stance on mind is presumed.
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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby DragonFly on February 3rd, 2018, 11:42 pm 

Asparagus » February 3rd, 2018, 10:24 pm wrote:
DragonFly » February 3rd, 2018, 11:04 pm wrote:
Asparagus » February 3rd, 2018, 8:52 pm wrote:Correct. Electromagnetism is inferred. You accept this, but not the inference of mind from math tests.

I conclude from this that your stance on mind is presumed.


No, there is no emanating non-brain, separate mind/mental field seen/measured as we have with e/m fields.
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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby Asparagus on February 4th, 2018, 12:00 am 

@Dragonfly
I didn't say there was. I think you're an eliminative materialist, not an epiphenomenalist.
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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby DragonFly on February 4th, 2018, 2:18 am 

Since there is no direct realism, the brain's unified higher symbols as a second story are all that is ever experienced, and this ever takes place within the brain. There is never a time that the experience is not inside the brain. We don't literally see across a room that is "out there" but only see across the brain's model of the room.

Who or what is this "we" above and what views the view? I only use those words for convenience. We are the brain and the brain is us. I am the brain and the brain is me. This unified view inside the brain is viewed by none other than the brain. The brain (we/I) only ever view(s) the inside of itself—the unified summation across its parts and never the less or a partial.

To get an idea of the view of the first story machinery beneath—the neurons and the neurotransmitters, our brains can look at a picture.

So, the brain paints as phenomena form in an apparently useful way. (The 'painted' form is what's called 'phenomena'.)

What is there to show experiencing being anywhere else or by anything else than the inside of the head?

Can these unified views made by the brain and then presented to the brain itself be the inputs/causes of further actions/outputs? I don't see why not.

What need for dualism?
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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby Asparagus on February 4th, 2018, 11:21 am 

DragonFly

So again, you're setting out your view, you aren't justifying it. Which is fine. Everybody is like that when it comes to the fundamentals. Nobody has an infinite chain of justifications.

In the mid-20th Century, your view was pretty popular. It eventually was seen to collapse into meaninglessness. It doesn't allow for some of the prime ingredients of communication: ideation, agreement, hypothesis, prediction, modal logic, and so forth.

You end up with the picture of humans sort of just quacking at each other like ducks.
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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby Dave_C on February 4th, 2018, 12:02 pm 

Hi Asparagus. Thanks for the podium… not sure what you’re looking for so I’ll try and be brief.
Asparagus » February 3rd, 2018, 1:05 pm wrote:Dave_C, does all epiphenomalism say that we can't have knowledge of our own minds? Or just certain versions?


An epiphenomenon is defined as: “… a secondary phenomenon accompanying another and caused by it…”

When it’s said that qualia/phenomenal experiences/subjective experiences are epiphenomenal on the brain having them, it’s meant they have no ability to influence the brain. Epiphenomenalism means that regardless of whether or not the brain has experiences – all observable phenomena are caused purely by objectively observable, physical interactions (causal closure of the physical). That's a problem, and it's been widely debated, but first we need to understand what is meant.

Stephen Yablo (1992) “Mental Causation” has an interesting discussion on this. Sorry for the length:
Writing to Descartes in 1643, Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia requests an explanation of “how man’s soul, being only a thinking substance, can determine animal spirits so as to cause voluntary actions.” Agreeing that “the question which your Highness raises [is] one which can most reasonably be asked,” Descartes launches with his reply a grand tradition of dualist apologetics about mind-body causation that has disappointed ever since. Apologetics are in order because, as Descartes appreciates, his conception of mental and physical as metaphysically separate invites the question, “how, in that case, does the one manage to affect the other?”; and because having invited the question, he seems unable to answer it. Much as the Cartesian epistemology breeds skepticism, then, the metaphysics breeds epiphenomenalism: the theory that our mental lives exercise no causal influence whatever over the progress of physical events.

Yablo goes on to refine the concern about epiphenomenalism:
”How can mental phenomena affect what happens physically? Every physical outcome is causally assured already by preexisting physical circumstances; its mental antecedents are therefore left with nothing further to contribute.” This is the exclusion argument for epiphenomenalism. Here is the argument as it applies to mental events; for the version which applies to properties, replace ‘event x’ with ‘property X':
(1) If an event x is causally sufficient for an event y, then no event x* distinct from x is causally relevant to y (exclusion).
(2) For every physical event y, some physical event x is causally sufficient for y (physical determinism).
(3) For every physical event x and mental event x*, x is distinct from x* (dualism).
(4) So: for every physical event y, no mental event x* is causally relevant to y (epiphenomenalism).

http://www.mit.edu/~yablo/mc.pdf

There’s a large number of philosophers as well as physicists, neuroscientists and scientists of all types who’ve written on the topic. Like Yablo, they understand the problem, and like Yablo, they almost unanimously point out that epiphenomenalism is a logical problem, not a cold honest fact.

When it’s said, “we can’t have knowledge of our own minds”, the word “minds’ is understood to mean those subjective experiences - what we think and what we feel. Epiphenomenalism results in the conclusion that we can’t know that someone has subjective experiences and we can’t even know that WE are having an experience because those experiences are not the reason for our behavior, they are not the reason for what we say, etc…

Stop and consider that if one thing is epiphenomenal on another, then it doesn’t influence that other thing, so our mind doesn’t influence our behavior and it doesn’t influence what we say.

“we can’t have knowledge of our own minds.”

So when we say that we’re having an experience of pain or we saw the color red yesterday, those experiences (if epiphenomenalism is true) can’t have influenced the chain of events leading up to the pain behavior or the statement of seeing red. Epiphenomenalism means that there is no causal chain between subjective experience and objectively observable physical events.

Most people (ie: laymen, people who haven't studied the philosophy/logic) will then say, “well no, that’s not what I meant” by epiphenomenalism. But then they’re making up their own definition of epiphenomenalism which DOESN’T mean that subjective experiences can’t influence physical events. They want to have those mental events as the cause of our talking about them but not the cause of what we do which is an obvious logical contradiction. Note also that it is often impossible to get through to some people, especially if they’re not interested in reading and understanding what other experts have said regarding this. We need to read 10x more than we write (at least).

I think the really interesting topic is how people have tried to resolve this issue (not to say that it’s been resolved). Tried is the key word.
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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby DragonFly on February 4th, 2018, 4:03 pm 

Dave,

Agreed fully, plus the epi- part may just as well be accorded to be as a main phenomena. Duality fails, regardless.

Asparagus » February 4th, 2018, 10:21 am wrote:DragonFly

It doesn't allow for some of the prime ingredients of communication: ideation, agreement, hypothesis, prediction, modal logic, and so forth.


The brain does the above, too. Where else would it be happening?
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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby Asparagus on February 4th, 2018, 5:57 pm 

Dave_C wrote:
Stop and consider that if one thing is epiphenomenal on another, then it doesn’t influence that other thing, so our mind doesn’t influence our behavior and it doesn’t influence what we say.


Oh! So if I assert epiphenomenalism, I'm telling you that my own speech is unconscious behavior. That's wild. It would be dubious to even call my speech expressive since no one is expressing anything with it. No assertions are ever made because no one can make an assertion.

So what are the solutions to that?

Dave_C wrote:So when we say that we’re having an experience of pain or we saw the color red yesterday, those experiences (if epiphenomenalism is true) can’t have influenced the chain of events leading up to the pain behavior or the statement of seeing red. Epiphenomenalism means that there is no causal chain between subjective experience and objectively observable physical events.

Right. The words could sort of reflexively accompany the pain, maybe as an alternative to a scream, but a person couldn't meaningfully report their own experience under epiphenomenalism.
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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby Positor on February 4th, 2018, 9:27 pm 

Dave_C » February 4th, 2018, 4:02 pm wrote:When it’s said, “we can’t have knowledge of our own minds”, the word “minds’ is understood to mean those subjective experiences - what we think and what we feel. Epiphenomenalism results in the conclusion that we can’t know that someone has subjective experiences and we can’t even know that WE are having an experience because those experiences are not the reason for our behavior, they are not the reason for what we say, etc…

I disagree with the parts I have put in bold. I agree that epiphenomenalism would mean that we cannot know that other people have subjective experiences (and vice versa). But we know our own experiences directly; such knowledge is not dependent on any behavior (whether verbal or non-verbal).

"I am in pain but I don't know that" would seem nonsensical. But "I am in pain but you don't/can't know that" makes sense.

So when we say that we’re having an experience of pain or we saw the color red yesterday, those experiences (if epiphenomenalism is true) can’t have influenced the chain of events leading up to the pain behavior or the statement of seeing red. Epiphenomenalism means that there is no causal chain between subjective experience and objectively observable physical events.

Agreed.
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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby Dave_C on February 4th, 2018, 11:18 pm 

Hi Positor,
Positor » February 4th, 2018, 8:27 pm wrote:But we know our own experiences directly; such knowledge is not dependent on any behavior (whether verbal or non-verbal).

Depending on the interpretation, I think you have a very valid point. I'm imagining a voodoo spell that locks your mind away from your body so that you might have experiences, but with no ability to express them.

Asp. I'll have to get back to you.

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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby Positor on February 5th, 2018, 1:32 am 

DragonFly » February 3rd, 2018, 7:26 pm wrote:When the brain began using its parts, of higher and higher modules and levels, it could then actionize and decide by summing over these parts instead of just always saying 'yes'. This summing process culminates in a unity (which we give various other names to, like qualia), and it is no surprise that the brain totally understands this unity as its highest symbol and can retain and use it as a whole as part of the input basis from which to continue on coming up with more things.

Given the above, why is it that qualia are not publicly accessible? If a particular brain state corresponds to a particular quale (e.g. a pain, or the colour red), and it is possible in principle for an outsider to observe (i.e. visually experience) a person's detailed brain state, why is it not possible for the outsider to experience that person's corresponding quale itself? (Or is it possible, given sufficiently advanced technology?)

Also, what is your view about downward causation? Do higher-level (conscious) brain processes override lower-level (non-conscious) processes which operate in accordance with the laws of physics? Do the higher-level processes somehow impart energy to the lower-level ones, and if so, are they consistent with the conservation of energy? Is energy merely transferred (but how can we talk of a "transfer" if the higher processes involve the very same physical matter as the lower ones?) Or is new energy created (presumably not)?

If we could study some unfamiliar alien creature in sufficient detail (right down to the atomic or subatomic level), could we tell in principle whether it is conscious or not, by searching for any anomalous atomic/subatomic events that could only be explained by downward (conscious) causation?
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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby DragonFly on February 5th, 2018, 3:00 am 

Positor » February 5th, 2018, 12:32 am wrote:
DragonFly » February 3rd, 2018, 7:26 pm wrote:When the brain began using its parts, of higher and higher modules and levels, it could then actionize and decide by summing over these parts instead of just always saying 'yes'. This summing process culminates in a unity (which we give various other names to, like qualia), and it is no surprise that the brain totally understands this unity as its highest symbol and can retain and use it as a whole as part of the input basis from which to continue on coming up with more things.

Given the above, why is it that qualia are not publicly accessible? If a particular brain state corresponds to a particular quale (e.g. a pain, or the colour red), and it is possible in principle for an outsider to observe (i.e. visually experience) a person's detailed brain state, why is it not possible for the outsider to experience that person's corresponding quale itself? (Or is it possible, given sufficiently advanced technology?)


I think it will become possible when we can decode, interpret, and thereby read the brain's internal language.

Positor » February 5th, 2018, 12:32 am wrote:Also, what is your view about downward causation? Do higher-level (conscious) brain processes override lower-level (non-conscious) processes which operate in accordance with the laws of physics? Do the higher-level processes somehow impart energy to the lower-level ones, and if so, are they consistent with the conservation of energy? Is energy merely transferred (but how can we talk of a "transfer" if the higher processes involve the very same physical matter as the lower ones?) Or is new energy created (presumably not)?


I doubt downward causation in terms of it then and there doing so, but I'll go for future causation from the output later getting used as an input.

Positor » February 5th, 2018, 12:32 am wrote:If we could study some unfamiliar alien creature in sufficient detail (right down to the atomic or subatomic level), could we tell in principle whether it is conscious or not, by searching for any anomalous atomic/subatomic events that could only be explained by downward (conscious) causation?


I would think so.


I used to have the book below, but it disappeared from my iBooks library, but I have these excerpts:

Excerpt From: Werner Loewenstein. “Physics in Mind.” iBooks.

“Now, consider our brain. Its web of neurons is endlessly engaged in parallel processing and computing of sensory information. It’s computing on a massive scale. You need to look no further than what happens to the information coming from an ordinary object in the world outside. The bits get divided up at the level of our senses and funneled into discrete information channels, to be processed separately and simultaneously: the bits pertaining to shape go to one compartment; those of color, to another; those of texture, to yet another—and so on and on, the bits of smell, taste, and movement all going to their separate brain compartments and undergoing processing in parallel (chapter 14). This way, enormous numbers of bits of external information can be handled in an instant and the results be made available to conscious perception in an instant. And I don’t use enormous loosely here. These are truly astronomical amounts of information—even the number of bits bound up with a brief snapshot of visual perception, the number in a single activity matrix underlying a conscious state, is astronomical.”

“Although that assessment was intended for our brain, those astronomical quantities of information are by no means unique to Homo sapiens. It is just hubris to think they are. We tend to make too much of a few hundred thousand generations, which is all that separates us from the nearest ape, though we know well that we share most of its DNA. The little we don’t share, it is true, can make a big difference in behavior and cognition, but not necessarily in information-processing capacity—and certainly not in basic information-processing structure. Hardware is more difficult to change than software.

"Indeed, going down the zoological ladder, we find parallel sensory-information processing everywhere. The amounts of information a cat, a frog, a bird, or even a fly will handle in an instant are vast; the number of bits bound up in a sensory activity matrix may in some cases even be larger than in our brain. The dog obviously has one up on us in smell in this regard,* and just think what mother lodes the massive brain of a whale may bear!”


Werner Loewenstein. “Physics in Mind.”

“there are unfathomed deeps between digital information processing and consciousness, and no amount of knowledge about the processing itself could fill those.”

“So time as we feel it is something more than the disembodied mathematical entity it is in physics. Proust had it right. “An hour is not merely an hour,” he wrote in Remembrances of Things Past, “it is a vase full of scents and sounds and projects and climates.”

“Our conscious experiences represent but a smidgen of the information entering our brain sensorium. Of the vast amounts of information that come in and get processed, only a minuscule part winds up as conscious states. And of the information processing itself, we have no conscious experience—the myriads of processings that at any moment go on in the brain are not accessible to our consciousness.”

“So if those on Mount Olympus ever trouble themselves to look at our glorified thinking, they may dismiss it with a laugh as mostly regurgitation, a behindhand sort of sensory perception.”

(For Asparagus: kind of like ducks quacking.)


Werner Loewenstein, “Physics in Mind”

“Although from our lookout high up the zoological ladder we cannot see at what rung consciousness first appears, this much we do see: it is the culmination of Evolution’s information enterprise— phylogenetically and ontogenetically. Piece by piece, the evidence in the foregoing chapters stacked up that consciousness is the culmination of the action of highly evolved cortical neurons—the culmination of their information processing and computing.”

“I use the word culmination because it does not have the mechanistic undertones words like result or product have. All it implies is that information processing and consciousness are sequential events—and that is all we know. This is good to bear in mind at every turn, lest we are led down the primrose path that has tricked quite a few computer enthusiasts into thinking that the two events are identical or that the information processing itself explains the sequel. We live in a technological age of high expectations from computers—and justifiably so.”

“Where and how the short-term memory enters the machinery of consciousness is not known. But for the present discussion, let’s take a reductionist’s license. Assume that our sensory conscious experiences are made of brief unit conscious states, snapshots of the world outside, which are glued together by engrams of the short-term memory system. Then, as the engrams seamlessly link the unit conscious states together, we get a semblance of a streaming of consciousness with time.”

(I like his seamless stitching notion.)


Excerpt From: Werner Loewenstein. “Physics in Mind.” iBooks.

“Why Our Weltanschauung Is So Narrow: An Unexpected Lesson for Philosophy”

“The decoherence proposal has come a long way in the past few years and, in the hands of Zeh, Erich Joos, Wojciech Zurek, Murray Gell-Mann, Jim Hartle, and others, has grown into a comprehensive theory. It is a theory that leaves hardly anything untouched, and not just physics. Its reach goes well beyond, to what once was the domain of philosophers: epistemology, the theory of knowledge.

“This brings us back to our center of interest, the issue of whether the quantum wave gets entangled with consciousness. In that regard, the decoherence theory gives us a freedom of thought the founders of quantum theory never had. To many of them, such an entanglement seemed a Hobson’s choice (e.g., Wigner’s proposal). What else was one to make of the fact that the wave function evaporated whenever a human observer got in on the act? Somewhere between the microscopic and macroscopic the abracadabra had to happen, and the conscious brain seemed just the place for it. Well, as Aristotle famously said, “There’s many a slip ’twixt cup and lip.”

“Decoherence theory changed all that. What once seemed a dire necessity is no longer so. Quantum decoherence goes on at immense speeds in our earthly atmosphere, and wave function collapse ordinarily is over long before a human observer or measuring device intrudes.

“Or look at it the information way. The environment then suddenly metamorphoses from an innocuous particle hinterland into a voracious information sinkhole. And as it gobbles up those immense amounts of bits coming onto us from all points of the compass, it drastically curtails our view of the world outside—much more so than all our sensory systems combined. It is nature herself who acts as censor here and sees to it that we have but the narrowest perception of reality.

“No human observer is necessary for the wave-function collapse. In a sense it is the environment that performs the observations and measurements here—and it does so in almost no time at all—as it turns all the coexisting quantum states into one single macroscopic counterpart (see figure 17.2b).

“That is an epistemological twist philosophers hardly expected—and to tell the truth, neither did physicists. But it’s the former who are the professed mavens of epistemology and, historically, its custodians. Well, no longer. Epistemology has come of age and joined the ranks of science.”


“On the Possibility of Quantum Coherence in the Brain

But philosophy aside, to the student of consciousness, decoherence theory provides a welcome breath of fresh air. It cuts the ground from under the notion of an obligatory entanglement of the quantum world with our mind and at one stroke makes hypotheses about consciousness based on wave-function collapse less appealing, if not unnecessary.

"In any event, to those intent on quantum-mechanical hypotheses of consciousness, it offers sobering constraints, holding exuberance in rein. I was not exaggerating when I said that decoherence ordinarily takes almost no time. In our earthly atmosphere the timescales of decoherence ordinarily are unimaginably short—on the order of 10-13 seconds or less. And if they are that short where air molecules are the main decoherent agents, they will be still shorter in an environment like the brain, swarming with water molecules and inorganic ions; the calculated decoherence times here range from 10-13 to 10-20 seconds—a far cry from the physiological timescales of consciousness, 10-2 to 10-1 seconds.”
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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby RJG on February 5th, 2018, 2:54 pm 

Hey all, just ask yourself one simple question --

Is it possible to be conscious of something before you are conscious of it?

If the answer is (the obvious) NO, ...then BOOM! -- the mystery surrounding 'mental causation' has finally been solved!!!

Everyone can go home now, as we now know, and can celebrate the death of "conscious causation" (aka mental causation, free-will, conscious control, downward causation).

It is not logically possible to be conscious of something 'prior' to our consciousness of it. It is not logically possible for our consciousness to 'precede' and cause that which we are presently conscious of (including the consciousness of our own bodily actions). Consciousness cannot 'birth' itself!

Oh, and don't forget -- this (above) 'Logic' TRUMPS any and all other contradicting Scientific, Religious, and "Fairy Tale" beliefs.


May 'conscious causation' finally Rest-In-Peace, ...can we all get a loud Amen for that? ...um, ...anyone?


****
Without 'something' to be conscious of, there is 'nothing' to be conscious of. And if there is nothing to be conscious of, then there is no consciousness. (e.g. without something to see, → there is no seeing)
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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby BadgerJelly on February 6th, 2018, 1:55 am 

RJG -

So you deny the existence of logic then? Seems strange that you make "logical" claims and then say logic means nothing. I guess it is not very helpful for me to say "look in the mirror", because you see nothing, because you don't "see" and you are not "you".

Are you posting from depths of a mental institute or did you escape one and now reside in the middle of desert somewhere naked and sweating in a shack? (No insults here; I don't exist. It's "logic" because I said so.)
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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby RJG on February 6th, 2018, 9:38 am 

BadgerJelly wrote:So you deny the existence of logic then? Seems strange that you make "logical" claims and then say logic means nothing.

...here's the strawman.


BagderJelly wrote:I guess it is not very helpful for me to say "look in the mirror", because you see nothing, because you don't "see" and you are not "you".

Are you posting from depths of a mental institute or did you escape one and now reside in the middle of desert somewhere naked and sweating in a shack? (No insults here; I don't exist. It's "logic" because I said so.)

...and here's the attacks on this strawman.


Again Badger, if you want to attack something I've (supposedly) said, then you've got to use 'my' actual words and not your 'strawman's' words. (i.e. quote my 'actual' words that you disagree with!). Otherwise you are just making up stuff again.
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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby BadgerJelly on February 6th, 2018, 10:38 am 

But isn't it logically impossible for me to "make stuff up" according to you?

I am innocent because I have no control over anything, I am merely a passenger.

What is the worse nightmare to be realized 1) to accept that you can do nothing and nothing you think makes a difference to anything, or 2) to believe 1 so adamantly for so long that to rouse yourself from inaction would mean admitting we've idly stood by watching the world burn around you?

I've done 1 and 2, and I can tell you 1 is cold comfort and 2 is the painful thing a human can experience, and something - if they are to make life worth living - humans must painfully accept.

You're a repercussion of my insolence, and wanting to ignore my own failings.

Things happen. We don't fully understand them. We try to understand them. That is all. The choice you have (that you maybe wish you could deny) is that you can help build understanding or help get rid of understanding. If you choose the later you'll suffer, if you choose the former you'll still suffer. One holds hope the other holds naught but nihilism and the deconstruction of selfhood.
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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby zetreque on February 6th, 2018, 1:39 pm 

Moderator note: Please be mindful of personal attacks. They will take the conversation into the gutter.
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Re: Epiphenomenalism: more questions

Postby RJG on February 6th, 2018, 3:49 pm 

BadgerJelly wrote:But isn't it logically impossible for me to "make stuff up" according to you?

No. (...you do it all the time! :-) j/k). It is only logically impossible to "consciously" do it.


BadgerJelly wrote:I am innocent because I have no control over anything, I am merely a passenger.

Close. You are "innocent" because you do not have "conscious" control over anything you do. You can only consciously 'experience' your bodily actions/reactions, not consciously 'control' them. We can't do the impossible.


BadgerJelly wrote:What is the worse nightmare to be realized 1) to accept that you can do nothing and nothing you think makes a difference to anything, or 2) to believe 1 so adamantly for so long that to rouse yourself from inaction would mean admitting we've idly stood by watching the world burn around you?

I've done 1 and 2, and I can tell you 1 is cold comfort and 2 is the painful thing a human can experience, and something - if they are to make life worth living - humans must painfully accept.

I don't disagree, and can empathize, ...and I don't mean to sound harsh, but should we then let these nightmares (fears, pains, and discomforts) keep us from finding the 'real' truths? If we don't really want to find the 'real' truths, then maybe we should just stop searching for them?


BadgerJelly wrote:Things happen. We don't fully understand them. We try to understand them. That is all. The choice you have (that you maybe wish you could deny) is that you can help build understanding or help get rid of understanding. If you choose the later you'll suffer, if you choose the former you'll still suffer. One holds hope the other holds naught but nihilism and the deconstruction of selfhood.

I understand. But my opinion is "so be it!". If life (the reality we exist in) is truly this harsh and ugly, and creates lots of suffering, then "so be it" (i.e."eff-it!").

Ain't none of us getting out of here alive anyways -- so we might as well go down swingin', ...BUT with the 'real' knowledge of knowing what we are swingin' at!!!
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