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Consciousness

Consciousness
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Consciousness
(11-08-2019, 06:52 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:
(11-08-2019, 09:31 AM)NorthernBen Wrote: Have you ever tried to hit one with a hammer?

Avoidance reflexes and instincts do not prove consciousness.  
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primitive_reflexes
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/ar...8808000020
You'll have to do better than that.


Define "consciousness". 
Quote:Awareness.

Rejected. A jellyfish exhibits avoidance and awareness. It has never said to be "conscious".
https://jeb.biologists.org/content/210/20/3616.short

Quote:The library.

So you're guessing and really don't know.

Quote:Yeah, but I've watched mice avoiding danger, dogs dreaming about themselves and squirrels problem solving.

All presumptuous projection.

I have tried to give my thoughts that's all, I'm not pretending to be an expert on the subject. To me consciousness is just awareness. I don't know what else to tell you.
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Consciousness
(11-08-2019, 07:40 PM)NorthernBen Wrote: I have tried to give my thoughts that's all, I'm not pretending to be an expert on the subject. To me consciousness is just awareness. I don't know what else to tell you.

"Awareness" is a perfectly valid synonym for "consciousness," even among certain specialists.

So don't mind Bucky.  He can't seem to say much of anything without condescending somehow.  He probably knows all sorts of things we don't, so it's really too bad.

I did enjoy looking at his link on animal consciousness, and will have to read more of it later.
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This is a correction to one of my assertions above:

According to neurobiologist Christof Koch in his book The Feeling of Life Itself:

"Up to 70 percent [of] deep sleep awakenings yield simple perceptual dream experiences."

However, in the same chapter he also wrote the following:

"Consciousness can be safely, rapidly, and reversibly turned off and on again for minutes or hours on end with a variety of [anesthesia] agents."

Also:

"Pathological states of consciousness include coma and the vegetative state following gross trauma, a stroke, overdosing on drugs and/or alcohol, and so on. Here, consciousness has fled, yet parts of the victim's brain are still operating to support some housekeeping operations."

He goes on to support these ideas by discussing the minimally required neural correlates of consciousness.
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Consciousness
(11-08-2019, 07:19 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote: While it may be totally NEW to you and the total amateurs in this thread, there are OBJECTIVE TESTS which point to animal consciousness.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_consciousness

Here are a few of the main points from the interesting article you linked:

Quote: In humans, consciousness has been defined as: sentience, awareness, subjectivity, qualia, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of self, and the executive control system of the mind. Despite the difficulty in definition, many philosophers believe there is a broadly shared underlying intuition about what consciousness is.

In 2012, a group of neuroscientists signed the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness, which "unequivocally" asserted that "humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neural substrates."

In his essay Are We Automata? [William James stated] an evolutionary argument for mind-brain interaction implying that if the preservation and development of consciousness in the biological evolution is a result of natural selection, it is plausible that consciousness has not only been influenced by neural processes, but has had a survival value itself; and it could only have had this if it had been efficacious.

The sense in which animals (or human infants) can be said to have consciousness or a self-concept has been hotly debated; it is often referred to as the debate over animal minds. The best known research technique in this area is the mirror test devised by Gordon G. Gallup, in which the skin of an animal (or human infant) is marked, while it is asleep or sedated, with a mark that cannot be seen directly but is visible in a mirror. The animal is then allowed to see its reflection in a mirror; if the animal spontaneously directs grooming behaviour towards the mark, that is taken as an indication that it is aware of itself. Over the past 30 years, many studies have found evidence that animals recognise themselves in mirrors. Self-awareness by this criterion has been reported for: apes (chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans and gorillas), other land mammals (elephants), cetaceans (bottlenose dolphin), and birds (magpies). Killer whales and false killer whales may be able to recognize themselves in mirrors. Pigeons can pass the mirror test after training in the prerequisite behaviors. A study in 2015 showed that the "sniff test of self-recognition (STSR)" provides evidence of self-awareness in dogs.

Further arguments revolve around the ability of animals to feel pain or suffering. Suffering implies consciousness. If animals can be shown to suffer in a way similar or identical to humans, many of the arguments against human suffering could then, presumably, be extended to animals. Others have argued that pain can be demonstrated by adverse reactions to negative stimuli that are non-purposeful or even maladaptive. One such reaction is transmarginal inhibition, a phenomenon observed in humans and some animals akin to mental breakdown.

Cognitive bias in animals is a pattern of deviation in judgment, whereby inferences about other animals and situations may be drawn in an illogical fashion. Individuals create their own "subjective social reality" from their perception of the input. It refers to the question "Is the glass half empty or half full?", used as an indicator of optimism or pessimism. Cognitive biases have been shown in a wide range of species including rats, dogs, rhesus macaques, sheep, chicks, starlings and honeybees.

The neural correlates of consciousness constitute the minimal set of neuronal events and mechanisms sufficient for a specific conscious percept. Neuroscientists use empirical approaches to discover neural correlates of subjective phenomena. The set should be minimal because, if the brain is sufficient to give rise to any given conscious experience, the question is which of its components is necessary to produce it. Visual sense and representation was reviewed in 1998 by Francis Crick and Christof Koch. They concluded sensory neuroscience can be used as a bottom-up approach to studying consciousness, and suggested experiments to test various hypotheses in this research stream

Mirror neurons are neurons that fire both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another. Thus, the neuron "mirrors" the behavior of the other, as though the observer were itself acting. Such neurons have been directly observed in primate and other species including birds

Consciousness is likely an evolved adaptation since it meets George Williams' criteria of species universality, complexity, and functionality, and it is a trait that apparently increases fitness.
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(11-08-2019, 07:40 PM)NorthernBen Wrote: I have tried to give my thoughts that's all, I'm not pretending to be an expert on the subject. To me consciousness is just awareness. I don't know what else to tell you.

I think the problem comes down to ... awareness of what?

You don't need consciousness to have awareness of your environment but you do to have awareness of yourself in an environment. And it's difficult to determine whether an animal or organism is the former or the latter. There are a few clues though. Does the agent recognise its reflection or does it think that it is seeing another organism? Is the agent able to predict another's actions and respond appropriately? Can the agent change it's mind about something it really wants after re-evaluating its immediate environment?
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(11-08-2019, 09:31 PM)Alan V Wrote: According to neurobiologist Christof Koch in his book The Feeling of Life Itself:

I'm a huge fan of Christof Koch. He basically wrote the bible of computational neuroscience as far as I'm concerned.
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Quote:From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consciousness

Disorders of consciousness

Medical conditions that inhibit consciousness are considered disorders of consciousness. This category generally includes minimally conscious state and persistent vegetative state, but sometimes also includes the less severe locked-in syndrome and more severe chronic coma. Differential diagnosis of these disorders is an active area of biomedical research. Finally, brain death results in an irreversible disruption of consciousness. While other conditions may cause a moderate deterioration (e.g., dementia and delirium) or transient interruption (e.g., grand mal and petit mal seizures) of consciousness, they are not included in this category.

Locked-in syndrome: The patient has awareness, sleep-wake cycles, and meaningful behavior (viz., eye-movement), but is isolated due to quadriplegia and pseudobulbar palsy.

Minimally conscious state: The patient has intermittent periods of awareness and wakefulness and displays some meaningful behavior.

Persistent vegetative state: The patient has sleep-wake cycles, but lacks awareness and only displays reflexive and non-purposeful behavior.

Chronic coma: The patient lacks awareness and sleep-wake cycles and only displays reflexive behavior.

Brain death: The patient lacks awareness, sleep-wake cycles, and brain-mediated reflexive behavior.
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Consciousness
(11-10-2019, 09:44 PM)Mathilda Wrote: I think the problem comes down to ... awareness of what?

Anything.  According to Christof Koch, consciousness is experience.
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Consciousness
(11-10-2019, 09:44 PM)Mathilda Wrote: I think the problem comes down to ... awareness of what?

You don't need consciousness to have awareness of your environment but you do to have awareness of yourself in an environment.

Like a dog that suffers from separation anxiety? Can an animal with no awareness of self suffer from anxiety?
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Consciousness
This is my summary of some of the main points from The Feeling of Life Itself: Why Consciousness Is Widespread but Can’t Be Computed by neurobiologist Christof Koch, MIT Press 2019.

Koch defines consciousness as experience, any experience. Experience is our inner life of “seeing, hearing, smelling, loving, hating, suffering, remembering, thinking, planning, imagining, dreaming regretting, wanting, hoping, dreading.” He goes on to say, “Consciousness belongs to the natural realm. Just like mass and change, it has causal powers.” So unlike philosophers like Daniel Dennett, he does not dismiss consciousness as an illusion. He writes, “I assume that experiences are the only aspects of reality I am directly acquainted with,” and adds, “Any theory of consciousness will have to reflect this intrinsic reality.”

Because the first-person aspect of consciousness makes it challenging to study, the author applies abductive reasoning to the issues involved, which “extrapolates backwards to infer the hypothesis that give the most plausible explanation of all known facts.” Abductive reasoning is how we conclude other people and animals are conscious too. “I am confident in abducing experiences in fellow mammals for three reasons,” because they display similar behaviors, because they are closely related evolutionarily as is reflected by their genetics, and because they conserve the architecture of the nervous system. Close to 900 structures are shared between human and mouse brains for instance.

The author quickly tackles the problem of defining the difference between conscious and nonconscious actions of the mind. “The existence of the nonconscious throws the question of the physical basis of consciousness into stark relief.” He concludes that “The first-person perspective can be validated by third-person measures.” In other words, by objectively measuring what is happening in people’s brains and comparing them to verbal reports of conscious experiences, we can come to understand what brain activities are associated with either conscious or nonconscious processing. “As science’s understanding of consciousness grows, the frontier between the known and the unknown is constantly being pushed back.”

The author proposes that based on this scientific study of when consciousness is involved in processing information, scientists could create a machine to measure consciousness. “A true phi-meter should reflect the waxing and waning of experience during wakefulness and sleep, how consciousness increases in children and teenagers until it reaches its zenith in mature adults with a highly developed sense of self ... before it begins its inevitable decline with age.” He adds, “Such a device would generalize across species.”

The author describes how consciousness can be separated from language, thought, intelligence, and even attention, which can be nonconscious, even though these all add certain features to conscious experience. “These operations ... can be distinguished from raw experiences.” He worked with Francis Crick to define the minimum neural correlates of consciousness (NCC), and concluded that humans can be conscious without an operational spinal cord, cerebellum, or even prefrontal cortex. “Large regions of prefrontal cortex can be surgically removed without apparent ill effect on conscious experience,” though that results in “a reduced ability to introspect, to regulate emotions, to spontaneously initiate behaviors,” and so on. “Electrical brain stimulation elicits conscious experiences in the back of the cortex,” so the underlying neural correlates of consciousness are primarily in the occipital, parietal, and temporal lobes. The author calls these the “posterior hot zone.”

According to the author, explaining how the mental arises from the physical demands a fundamental theory of consciousness. So he turns to Giulio Tononi’s Integrated Information Theory (IIT). “IIT starts with these five phenomenological properties, adopting them as axioms:” 1) experiences intrinsically exist for their own purposes, 2) they are structured, 3) they are specific and provide information, 4) they are unified, and 5) they are definite. In other words, they exist for those who experience them and have specific properties, which include conveying some information and excluding other information. The author states, “I argue in this book, any system that obeys these five axioms is conscious.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrated...ion_theory

Koch calls the next chapter “the heart of the book.” “According to Integrated Information Theory (IIT), consciousness is determined by the causal properties of any physical system acting upon itself.” In parallel with the axioms of IIT, 1) “for a system to exist for itself, it must have causal powers over itself,” 2) “this structure must be reflected in the mechanisms that compose the system specifying the experience,” 3) the system must create differences that must make a difference, 4) “the system can’t be reduced to independent, noninteracting components without losing something essential,” and 5) “the Whole is the most irreducible part of any system, the one that makes the most difference to itself.” To interpret this, the author says, “Any experience is identical to the maximally irreducible cause-effect structure associated with the system in that state,” “the experience is identical to this structure – not to its physical substrate,” and “the Whole is the neural correlate of consciousness.”

Although “zombie agents” or unconscious habits rule much of our lives, the author states that “consciousness is needed to acquire and reinforce these skills.” “We only develop expertise for a narrow range of capabilities, depending on our idiosyncratic interests and needs.” Consciousness is also needed for solving “new problems on the fly, without having encountered them previously” – which accounts for the intensity of consciousness in new situations. “How could evolution have favored such a tight and consistent link between neural activity and consciousness if the feeling part of this partnership had no consequences for the survival of the organism?”

The author then goes on to apply the above insights to why he thinks “consciousness-as-computationalism” or “mind-as-software” or “brain-as-computer” analogies fail. People have applied similar metaphors before, with waterworks, clockworks, and switchboards, using the most advanced technologies of their times to try to understand the complexity of the brain, which is far beyond even modern computers and the internet. “Conceptually, intelligence is about doing while experience is about being, such as being angry or in a state of pure consciousness.”

Referring back to the principles of IIT, the author states, “A purely feed-forward network is not integrated. It has no intrinsic causal powers and does not exist for itself, as it is reducible to its individual processing units.” “The intuition that sustained feedback, also called recurrent or reentry processing, is necessary to experience anything is widespread among neuroscientists.” According to the author, “The feedforward circuit is extremely unlikely to have evolved naturally” because 1) it is too complex for its metabolic cost, and 2) it is not robust to damage. “Consciousness is not a clever algorithm. Its beating heart is causal power upon itself, not computation. And here’s the rub: causal power, the ability to influence oneself or others, cannot be simulated. Not now, nor in the future. It has to be built into the physics of the system.” So “it is not by dint of a soul-like substance that brains can experience, but by their causal power upon themselves.” “IIT spells doom for the hope that we can transcend brain death by uploading our minds to the cloud.”

It was from these conclusions that the author choose his title The Feeling of Life Itself. “A completely different line of argument takes the principles of integrated information theory to their logical conclusion. Some level of experience can be found in all organisms, including perhaps in Paramecium and other single cell life forms.” “The theory precisely answers the question of who can have an experience: ... anything that has intrinsic causal powers is a Whole. That this Whole feels, its experience, is given by its maximally irreducible cause-effect structure. How much it exists is given by its integrated information.”

My comment: The author is likely over-extrapolating in this last bit. Any organisms without a nervous system would seem to violate IIT criteria 4, that such a system is unified. It seems to me that it’s entirely possible for living organisms to mimic conscious behaviors with chemical reactions and instincts, at least up to a certain point of complexity. So I don't think he has applied his own standards consistently in his conclusions. More than just life is required for consciousness IMO.
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(11-21-2019, 10:06 AM)Alan V Wrote: This is my summary of some of the main points from The Feeling of Life Itself: Why Consciousness Is Widespread but Can’t Be Computed by neurobiologist Christof Koch, MIT Press 2019.

Thanks for this. I will have to ruminate on it, and perhaps pursue the book. I don't lean his way, but he seems to have a non-wooish approach to suggesting that a sufficiently powerful / complex and properly designed computation system could never be self-aware. That means I can take his thinking on-board without holding my nose -- always a rare pleasure in this realm.
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This is my short summary of points from Consciousness: A Very Short Introduction by Susan Blackmore, published by Oxford University Press in 2005.

Philosophers have struggled with the mind-body problem for over two thousand years. Throughout history, most people have adopted some variety of dualism; they have considered the mind and the body to be two different substances. “The trouble with this is obvious. How do the two interact?” Because of the observations and discoveries of modern psychology, biology, and neuroscience, most scientists and philosophers now reject dualism in favor of monism.

Yet materialists must still confront the problem of consciousness. “How can a physical brain, made purely of material substances and nothing else, give rise to conscious experiences of ineffable qualia?” This is referred to as the “hard problem” of consciousness. “Either you must actually solve the hard problem and explain how subjectivity arises from the material world, or alternatively, if you claim that consciousness is identical to those physical processes or is an illusion or even that it does not exist at all, you must explain why it appears so strongly to exist.”

“We know that the brain is intimately involved in consciousness because changes in the brain cause changes in consciousness.... What remains a mystery is why we should be conscious at all.” It appears that 1) consciousness has specific contents at any given time, 2) consciousness has continuity from one time to the next, and 3) a self experiences such contents over time. All three observations imply a Cartesian theater or a stream of conscious experiences, which seems dualistic. A science of consciousness must explain these features given the parallel-processing, non-centralized brain. “The important point here is that most of what goes on in the human brain seems to be outside of consciousness and even inaccessible to consciousness.”

There are several possible solutions to this division between conscious and nonconscious brain activities: 1) the dualistic soul, 2) a special place in the brain where consciousness happens, 3) special “consciousness neurons,” and 4) special ways of connecting neurons which produce consciousness. All of these solutions “face severe difficulties.” For instance, some hippocampus-damaged people suffer from anterograde amnesia, or the inability to lay down new memories. This undercuts the soul theory, since “our sense of a continuous conscious self is somehow manufactured by a fully functioning brain.” A parallel-processing, non-centralized brain also undercuts the idea of a special place where consciousness happens, as in Bernard Baars’ global workspace theory for instance.

“Higher-order thought” (HOT) theories “suggest that sensations and thoughts are conscious only if the person also has a higher-order thought to the effect that they are conscious of them.” “They also deal easily with some of the odd timing effects because HOTs take time to build up, but they deny consciousness to other animals that cannot have HOTs, and cannot account for such states as deep meditation in which people claim to be very conscious without any thoughts at all.” These additional observations undercut the idea of special “consciousness neurons.”

“Neurobiologists Gerald Edelman and Giulio Tononi propose that consciousness emerges when large neuronal groups form a dynamic core in the brain, with connections looping back and forth between the thalamus and cortex. Pharmacologist Susan Greenfield suggests that consciousness is not an all-or-nothing phenomenon but increases with the size of neural assemblies, or large groups of interconnected neurons that work together. This may be so, but these theories do not explain why any neural network, however large or appropriately organized, should give rise to subjective experiences in the first place.” So special ways of connecting neurons do not explain how consciousness arises.

Philosopher Daniel Dennett maintains that the apparent Cartesian theater doesn’t exist, that it’s an illusion. “But doesn’t this do away with the very phenomenon we are trying to explain? Some people think it does and accuse Dennett of ‘explaining away’ consciousness.” But perhaps we are deeply deluded about our own minds. The author spends most of the rest of the book supporting Dennett’s perspectives.

“An illusion is not something that does not exist but something that is not the way it seems.” If consciousness is not what it seems, it “means that our natural ideas about the way consciousness seems must be wrong and we should throw them out.” The author discusses subliminal processing, change blindness, inattentional blindness, how the brain approximates visual imagery, and so on. She concludes that “vision is a grand illusion.”

The author also dismisses the self as an illusion. “Who – or what – am I? Answers such as ‘I am my body’ or ‘I am my brain’ are unsatisfactory because I don’t feel like a body or a brain.” Ego theorists think there is a self which has conscious experiences, but bundle theorists think there are only bundles of sensations. The author sides with the latter. “Bundle theory is extraordinarily difficult to understand or to accept. It means completely throwing out any idea that you are an entity who has consciousness and free will, or who lives the life of this particular body.” The author discusses split-brain cases in this context, people who have separate consciousnesses residing in one body once their corpus callosum has been cut to control their epilepsy. She also discusses various altered states of consciousness: hypnosis, dissociative identity disorder, and schizophrenia (and later in the book: sleep, dreaming, lucid dreaming, sleep paralysis, drug states, “out-of-body experiences,” near-death experiences, and meditation). According to Dennett, “there is no inner self but only multiple parallel processes that give rise to a benign user illusion – a useful fiction.”

Finally, the author dismisses conscious (free) will as an illusion. “If consciousness is conceived of as a force that makes free will possible, then it amounts to magic – an impossible intervention in an otherwise causally closed world. But if consciousness is not such a force, then our feelings of having conscious control must be an illusion.” She refers back to Libet, who himself concluded that “although we do not have free will, we do have ‘free won’t’,” which means that “although we cannot consciously control our dispositions or impulses, we can consciously prevent them from being acted out.” The author points out that “we can do something and wrongly think someone else is responsible” and wrongly think we did something which we didn’t. “Feelings of will can sometimes be wrong.” Just as we attribute intentionality to objects which don’t deserve it, we can think we perceive intentionality in ourselves when it is illusory. “As far as evolution is concerned, it does not matter that the centre of will is a fiction, as long as it is a useful fiction.” She also discusses Wegner’s experiments and extrapolations in this context. “He concludes that believing our conscious thoughts cause our actions is a delusion. Whether you agree or not, these demonstrations of the mistakes we make show one thing for sure – that the feeling of willing something is no evidence either for or against free will.”

The author addresses panpsychism, plants, and animals. “On the one hand, consciousness could be an all-or-nothing phenomenon, with some creatures having it and others not.” “On the other hand, consciousness might be a continuous variable, with some having more than others. Any viable theory of consciousness ought to specify which creatures are conscious, in what way, and why.” She discusses various experiments which tested animal consciousness.

“You might argue that since we are conscious, consciousness itself must have had an evolutionary function.” It could be an adaptation, since “maladaptive characteristics are soon weeded out by selection.” “Either consciousness is itself an adaptation, or it necessarily comes along with, or is an aspect of, other adaptations.” The author asserts that it’s difficult to demonstrate how subjective experiences provide any selective advantages. “Perhaps a majority of materialist scientists think” consciousness “is not separable from intelligence, perception, thinking, self-concept, language, or any other evolved abilities.” “When all these abilities are explained, we shall finally understand consciousness.”

The author concludes the book by asserting that certain ideas should be thrown out: 1) that experiences can’t happen without an experiencer, 2) that there is a stream of consciousness or a Cartesian theater, and 3) that consciousness really exists. “In this new way of thinking about consciousness most of the old problems disappear.”

My comments:

I can’t agree with the author’s conclusions, even if they represent a certain portion of expert opinion. The author stated that she does not feel like a body with a brain, but I do. It could very well be that the real illusion is that we are not our bodies, which is easier to believe than that our conscious experiences are all delusional. If the body is indeed the self, it inhabits a “Cartesian theater” called the real world. It experiences shifting conscious states and different contents of consciousness. Those are observations and science is built on observations. The apparent unity of conscious experiences doesn’t arise from parallel-processing modules in the brain but because they correspond with external realities, and those realities are unified. So the self-concept in the brain can be incorrect or even disappear without the real self disappearing.

As for the adaptive functions of consciousness, I only need to point to lepers who experience nerve damage which results “in a lack of ability to feel pain, which can lead to the loss of parts of a person's extremities from repeated injuries or infection due to unnoticed wounds,” per Wikipedia ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leprosy ).

In other words, even if we assume evolution could have created creatures which responded in accordance with their self-interest without subjective experiences, it obviously did not do so in a huge number of cases. So there are probably good reasons it didn’t. Deprive animals of subjective experiences, and they will just lie there no matter what you do to them. Therefore, consciousness is an obviously useful evolutionary adaptation for surviving and thriving.
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Consciousness
I'd have to agree with her conclusions, and was going to point out that a prior opinion of yours depended upon 1 and 2, which is very problematic. How do you know if/that you're depriving an animal of a subjective experience?

Anyway, thank you for your summary.
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(11-30-2019, 01:49 AM)Dānu Wrote: I'd have to agree with her conclusions, and was going to point out that a prior opinion of yours depended upon 1 and 2, which is very problematic.  How do you know if/that you're depriving an animal of a subjective experience?

I slept on it and came back and read your question again, but still didn't understand it.  Could you restate it?  For instance, which 1 and 2 are you referring to exactly?

Meanwhile, I will add a few more comments.

As perhaps should be expected from a book which shrugs off conscious experiences, the word "consciousness" is never clearly defined by Blackmore.  She seems to define consciousness in terms of qualia because that's the hard problem, but consciousness is not limited to qualia.  For instance, she wrote:

"[American philosopher Ned] Block compares phenomenal consciousness, which is what it is like to be in a certain state, with access consciousness, which refers to availability for use in thinking, or guiding action and speech.  Phenomenal consciousness (or phenomenality, or subjectivity) ... is the core of the problem of consciousness."

She also seems to want to exclude attention as a part of consciousness, in whole or part:

"Even though great progress has been made in understanding attention, there is no generally agreed theory that relates it to consciousness.  While some theorists equate consciousness and attention, others claim they are completely different phenomena.  Some claim that there can be no consciousness without attention, and others disagree."

This becomes especially clear when you consider that the author used automatic driving as an example of a complex but nonconscious behavior.  Yet this can be seen as untrue when you ask yourself whether the driver could drive wearing a blindfold.

I prefer Christof Koch's definition that consciousness is experience.  You don't even have to add "subjective" or "phenomenal," since both words are really redundant.  So while it is true that attention may not require the kind of qualia at the heart of the hard problem, the fact is that it remains a kind of attenuated experience.  You don't have to be self-conscious or to remember what you experienced to experience something, and in fact any introspective observation will show that we actually discard 99% of everything our senses take in almost immediately, because we look for the specific information relevant to our purposes.

So from my point of view, consciousness has all sorts of degrees, and changes constantly even in waking.  This is why animals easily can be seen as conscious, even if they lack the complexity of human awareness which depends on more complex structures in our brains.  I am a functionalist to the extent that I think new structures add more complex contents to conscious experiences.  Language for instance is a big part of human conscious experiences.  However, I think that more basic awareness started hundreds of millions of years ago evolutionarily, since life itself created subjects which responded to experiences, at least beyond merely chemical and reflexive reactions.
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(11-30-2019, 10:07 AM)Alan V Wrote:
(11-30-2019, 01:49 AM)Dānu Wrote: I'd have to agree with her conclusions, and was going to point out that a prior opinion of yours depended upon 1 and 2, which is very problematic.  How do you know if/that you're depriving an animal of a subjective experience?

I slept on it and came back and read your question again, but still didn't understand it.  Could you restate it?  For instance, which 1 and 2 are you referring to exactly?

I was referring to her conclusions which you numbered as 1, 2, and 3. Anyway, I've chosen not to participate in the in-depth discussion of points here, so just carry on.

My question was noting that you are positing that a change in state of the animals' consciousness correlated with a change of state in their behavior. How did you determine that there was a change in state of consciousness and what that change of state was?
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(11-30-2019, 11:53 AM)Dānu Wrote: I was referring to her conclusions which you numbered as 1, 2, and 3. Anyway, I've chosen not to participate in the in-depth discussion of points here, so just carry on.

My question was noting that you are positing that a change in state of the animals' consciousness correlated with a change of state in their behavior.  How did you determine that there was a change in state of consciousness and what that change of state was?

My personal opinion is that experiences don't happen without a subject, an experiencer.  I also think a subject experiences a stream of consciousness, but don't think this requires dualism.  As Dr. Hobson said, "The mind is the subjective experience of having an objective brain."  He called that dual-aspect monism rather than a variety of dualism, because the mind is not a separate substance but a simulation or virtual reality.  There is no reason to reify the mind.

My posts #90, #105, and the last three paragraphs of #111 are all pertinent to animal consciousness.

Abductive reasoning is required to attribute consciousness to animals as well as to other humans.
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(11-30-2019, 11:53 AM)Dānu Wrote: My question was noting that you are positing that a change in state of the animals' consciousness correlated with a change of state in their behavior.  How did you determine that there was a change in state of consciousness and what that change of state was?

(11-30-2019, 01:43 PM)Alan V Wrote: My posts #90, #105, and the last three paragraphs of #111 are all pertinent to animal consciousness.

Yes, they are. None of them address my question.


(11-30-2019, 01:43 PM)Alan V Wrote: Abductive reasoning is required to attribute consciousness to animals as well as to other humans.

And?
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Consciousness
(11-30-2019, 02:03 PM)Dānu Wrote:
(11-30-2019, 11:53 AM)Dānu Wrote: My question was noting that you are positing that a change in state of the animals' consciousness correlated with a change of state in their behavior.  How did you determine that there was a change in state of consciousness and what that change of state was?

(11-30-2019, 01:43 PM)Alan V Wrote: My posts #90, #105, and the last three paragraphs of #111 are all pertinent to animal consciousness.

Yes, they are.  None of them address my question.

I guess I still don't understand your question then.  Where did I say "that a change in state of the animals' consciousness correlated with a change of state in their behavior"?  Perhaps I should go back and read what I previously wrote so I can understand what you meant.

I should also add that I consider this an informal discussion on a subject which is controversial even to the experts, so as a layman I'm unlikely to be able to convince anyone with different opinions than my own about anything.  I just find it interesting to go into the details of the various perspectives on the subject, am willing to offer my own thoughts as far as they go, and would be interested to hear your perspectives if you decide to share them.
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Consciousness
(11-30-2019, 03:36 PM)Alan V Wrote:
(11-30-2019, 02:03 PM)Dānu Wrote:
(11-30-2019, 11:53 AM)Dānu Wrote: My question was noting that you are positing that a change in state of the animals' consciousness correlated with a change of state in their behavior.  How did you determine that there was a change in state of consciousness and what that change of state was?

(11-30-2019, 01:43 PM)Alan V Wrote: My posts #90, #105, and the last three paragraphs of #111 are all pertinent to animal consciousness.

Yes, they are.  None of them address my question.

I guess I still don't understand your question then.  Where did I say "that a change in state of the animals' consciousness correlated with a change of state in their behavior"?  Perhaps I should go back and read what I previously wrote so I can understand what you meant.

I'll save you the trouble.

(11-30-2019, 01:05 AM)Alan V Wrote: Deprive animals of subjective experiences, and they will just lie there no matter what you do to them. Therefore, consciousness is an obviously useful evolutionary adaptation for surviving and thriving.
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Consciousness
(11-30-2019, 04:28 PM)Dānu Wrote:
(11-30-2019, 03:36 PM)Alan V Wrote: I guess I still don't understand your question then.  Where did I say "that a change in state of the animals' consciousness correlated with a change of state in their behavior"?  Perhaps I should go back and read what I previously wrote so I can understand what you meant.

I'll save you the trouble.

(11-30-2019, 01:05 AM)Alan V Wrote: Deprive animals of subjective experiences, and they will just lie there no matter what you do to them.  Therefore, consciousness is an obviously useful evolutionary adaptation for surviving and thriving.

Oh, that. It should have been obvious to me what you were referring to.   hobo

But I consider that an observation rather than an interpretation.  "Subjective experiences" is just another way of saying "consciousness."

So my question is: why don't you consider that an observation?
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Consciousness
Mucking up the equations for what constitutes consciousness is of course whether life is a prerequisite for it.  Human literature is stuffed with novels and stories and movies of inanimate yet fully self aware machines, often of even greater "consciousness" than human minds.  The ethical quandaries and entanglements presented promise to keep us (and "them") puzzling it out indefinitely.

I would argue that recognition of self in a mirror is NOT the same recognition we have of awareness - we are aware that we are aware; a kitten aware that its image in the mirror is of itself may still not be aware of its own awareness.  This ultra-dimensionality of awareness we have, of being aware that we're aware, does appear to be unique, or at least very rare.

I think it leads to our making a deep and dangerous mistake:  regarding our identity not an an attribute of process but as a tangible thing, e.g. a soul.  As observers most of what we perceive is of our environment, which is not us; we only inhabit it.  It is other than us.  But we're also able to observe ourselves, and I think we confuse that capability with our ability to observe what isn't us and see ourselves as something apart from ourselves.

A friend of mind once exclaimed in exasperation, "But life doesn't feel like I'm just bottle of chemical reactions!"  He was totally unconscious of the fact that in order to say that, he'd need to know what being a bottle of chemical reactions WOULD feel like, AND that whatever that would feel like COULDN'T be what he was already feeling - a facet of knowledge permanently beyond our reach.  But even with certainty unattainable, Occam's Razor would indicate that what we feel IS EXACTLY what a particular bottle of chemical reactions would feel like - and that our identities are not things but attributes of a process.

In any case, not yet knowing what mechanisms give rise to consciousness has given me a new fear:  that we have already (or will eventually) create conscious entities that are in a permanent and unrelievable state of discomfort because their physical origin came not from evolution but direct creation, where the conscious aspect of the creation was unintentional and thus not accounted for.  I think biologically evolved conscious entities are generally comfortable for most of their existence because entities in permanent states of discomfort would tend to not as prolifically reproduce as comfortable ones.  But if some energized Motorola chip in a toaster designed to stay in contact with the Ethernet has by virtue of physical construct a state of awareness (not necessarily awareness of awareness), its existence could be a living hell with no hope of relief.  See Black Mirror episodes White Christmas and USS Callister on this concept put forth as "cookies".

Shudder.
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Consciousness
(12-02-2019, 08:56 PM)airportkid Wrote: A friend of mind once exclaimed in exasperation, "But life doesn't feel like I'm just bottle of chemical reactions!"  He was totally unconscious of the fact that in order to say that, he'd need to know what being a bottle of chemical reactions WOULD feel like, AND that whatever that would feel like COULDN'T be what he was already feeling - a facet of knowledge permanently beyond our reach.  But even with certainty unattainable, Occam's Razor would indicate that what we feel IS EXACTLY what a particular bottle of chemical reactions would feel like - and that our identities are not things but attributes of a process.

I would guess your friend doesn't feel like "just a bottle of chemical reactions" for the same reason I do: material causes are not the same things as reasons which motivate our behaviors.  There is an otological difference between the material world and the selected and processed virtual world in our brain which we respond to.  That is, after all, what is at the heart of the mind-body problem: figuring out how and why a material lifeform generates a simulation of reality, full of subjectivities, which it experiences as real.  In other words, it's not just the self-concept which is a simulation.

Until we know that, we can only speculate about whether a machine could be conscious too.  But as you say, if it could that would open a huge can of worms.
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Consciousness
(12-03-2019, 01:00 AM)Alan V Wrote: ... material causes are not the same things as reasons which motivate our behaviors.  There is an ontological difference between the material world and the selected and processed virtual world in our brain which we respond to ...

Therein is the heart of disagreement between myself and my friend, and apparently yourself:  the invocation of some immaterial aspect of existence that has no material component.  I cannot see any rational basis for invoking non-materiality.  To do so means the non-materialist can confidently point to some phenomenon as having no possibility of material explanation - and wherefore that degree of absolute knowledge?  I certainly have insufficient knowledge myself to deny immateriality, but that in no way justifies speculating what does constitute immateriality, or to invoke even the concept.  None of the many mysteries I personally still grapple with lead me to presume they cannot be material.

What types of your observations compel you to deny material explanation for them - recognizing that in order to do so you have to have fully catalogued the limits that materiality can never breach, now and into the infinite future?
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Consciousness
We are a collection of slowly accumulating chemical reactions, parasitic microbes, and bacteria who have become group-adaptive and mutually=beneficial and who have, through trial-and-error, achieved self-awareness at least to the point as we currently define it.

None of this requires any miracle, deity, or alien intervention. I don't know whether this happens rather inevitably, ocassioally, or rarely even in the most supportive of environmental conditions.

I think that there are only 2 possibilities. It happens only by the greatest of unlikely happenstance or it happens nearly everywhere that is possible. The only thing I am certain of is that it can't happen "only twice". We are either alone or among multitudes...
Theists disbelieve in all deities but one.  I just disbelieve in one less.
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