Greylorn Ell wrote: ↑Thu Jul 26, 2018 6:02 pm
The brain is a superbly engineered machine, and as such it makes use of all available methods to deal with what an information expert might call "bandwidth limitations." Similar techniques (numerical analysis) are used by computer programmers to solve math problems that otherwise would be intractable. The mathematical term is interpolation, just a big word for "connecting the dots, mathematically." Without it we could not watch movies or TV, all involving apparently moving images, a sequence of frames that do not move at all.
But upon watching a movie composed of frames, you've seen the movie, the events represented by the frame sequence. You recall the action, combined within your brain with language to tie events together in the context of motivations. Your memories of a compelling movie can be stronger than real life experiences, yet all come to you via the same interpolating brain. All are "real."
The interesting question to me is the nature of the actual entity, if such a thing exists, that receives and sometimes ponders the information collected by the brain, irrespective of its source.
If such an entity exists, it should be capable of receiving direct information that is not processed by the brain. Surely such information would have a unique level of clarity and intensity, leading perhaps to the brain's secondary interpretation as a "mystical" experience.
I like that: "interpolation".
There's a range of views about the "entity". Many, like Dennett, say it simply doesn't exist. Some say it's the only thing that exists. Some think it exists in other dimensions and "pokes through" into our dimensions like plants pushing out from their roots. (A notion I love but is of course most speculative).
At this stage I tentatively think that the entity - our sense of being, qualia - is our metabolic system. I digest/breathe/circulate therefore I am!) The irony is that a Dan Dennett interview gave me the idea because he describes consciousness as a process like digestion. It makes sense, just that one system has a stronger emphasis on processing energy and the other on information. In short, an emphasis on internality and environment respectively. So it may be the case that consciousness is not overrated by humans, rather we underrate the import of digestive processes.
If you wish to understand the nature of your inner being the logical place to look is within, with x-ray machines and MRIs less painful and messy than surgical investigations ...
Greylorn Ell wrote:
Greta wrote:It would be interesting to know how some of the amazing near death experiences would have played out if the people weren't resuscitated. It's easiest to imagine the imperceptible fadeout of sleep but - then again - it's death, not sleep so who knows?
I always liked that famous JBS Haldane quote: "I have no doubt that in reality the future will be vastly more surprising than anything I can imagine. Now my own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose".
I'd not come across the Haldane quote, so thank you. Brilliant! I am certain that he is correct.
Dead people have tried to convey their death experiences via seances and channeled books. Most of these are fake, just metaphysical bulllshit. Those few who limit their comments to actual experiences have felt trustworthy. Also, upon being competently regressed to a previous life experience, some will recall details of their demise. Some deaths come welcomed and peaceful; others tortuous. Kind of what one might logically expect.
I picked up the quote from this fascinating TED Talk book reading from Richard Dawkins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1APOxsp1VFw
Dr Ian Stevenson researched possible cases of reincarnation in west Asia for decades and, unlike many in such fields, retained strong rigour throughout: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/be ... st-cynics/
A scary thought, having to just keep coming back and going through ... all that again, and again. No wonder some Indians retreat into caves trying to find a life hack to escape The Wheel. "NO!! NOT THE TEENS AGAIN! PLEASE MERCYYYyyyyyyy
Greylorn Ell wrote:
Greta wrote:My guess is that IIT is on the right track, that there would be thresholds of feedback complexity that bring about emergent phenomena. ... humans are the universe finding out about itself (or something like that).
That's a poetic interpretation, and about as helpful to understanding the universe and human consciousness as is a fine poem like Poe's "The Raven." There seems to me to be a time for beauty, and another for logic. An observer who fails to see the beauty in our universe is a nitwit or maybe just a house cat. That cannot be said for those who fail to see its logic-- only for those who fail to seek it.
The poetic interpretation fails to address the beginnings of the universe. For example, if one believes (like Siddartha Gautama) that consciousness arises as an epiphenomenon resulting from brain activity-- what is the brain's origin? Or the universe necessary to support its existence?
It may be that the same processes keep on occurring on different scales and in different domains.
Both the universe and life start out simply and grow into something more impressive.
Brains grew from nerve nets, which could be thought of as a brain spread diffusely around the body without a strong central coordinating functionality. Again, evolution provides clues here. The simplest animal is the sea sponge, which is the only animal without a nervous system. There are experiments where sea sponges have been put through a blender (poor bastards) but they simply reform themselves because, in truth, sponges span that gap between colonial super-organisms and true organisms. So a nervous system is in essence the iron control of an organism's constituent cells, the removal of all autonomy for the larger entity.
Now consider the hyper-coordinated "microbes" within us - our eukaryotic cells. It's interesting that simple free living bacteria are considered to be discrete living things - no matter how obligated they may be to host organisms - while our eukaryotic cells are often thought of as lesser, "mere biological machines".
However, eukaryotic cells are vastly more complex and capable than mere bacteria and archaea. Denying our individual cells as the same status as life forms is almost akin to saying that humans are less "alive" than less organised and controlled animals
It looks like perhaps an interesting intrinsic bias in play here, though I can't put my finger on it yet. All suggestion appreciated.
Greylorn Ell wrote:
Greta wrote:It's all very odd. Awareness seems to come on gradually, bit by bit certain capacities arise. Basically, each of us individually follows the path of human evolution - from microbe to adult human - and our consciousness gradually dawns, starting with basic senses [etc]
Yours is an insightful presentation of the processes involved in coming into consciousness. I'll guess that they come from the personal experiences of someone who loves and cares and perhaps too often trusts. I hope that some of your insights have been written down and published, and that you'll at least PM the info needed to find them. If you've not published your thoughts in some form, please consider getting off your ass and doing so!
The brutality of the process should (but apparently does not) tell those who believe in a "soul" or other entity that sustains consciousness post-death that we are being prepared to participate within an equally brutal space of existence.
Thanks very much! That's why I'm on these forums - interesting chats with intelligent and curious people, not fighting with one-note obsessives
I recently did get off my bum and am currently writing philosophical and futurist sci fi short stories. I'm not great with characterisation or plotting so the dream is to come up with a concept like Philip K. Dick managed with "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep at Night?" that will become the germ of a (HUGE
) movie that brings the words to life.
If you or anyone has any ideas how to get finished stories to the right people, I am all ears!
Greylorn Ell wrote:
This fine conversation offers the space for a preliminary consideration of human purpose.
- Suppose that there actually is an entity capable of achieving consciousness that is physically integrated with the human brain, yet not a biological entity.
- It cannot be the "soul" of religious lore, because souls are non-physical spirit thingies and by definition cannot be integrated with a physical mechanism. (I call it "beon.")
- Suppose that beon has not been created by some higher, more capable being, and therefore is a natural component of the universe-- perhaps the pre-universe-- with no deliberate origin.
- Suppose that although beon has the potential to achieve consciousness, it cannot do so without help.
- Could the purpose of the brain-beon connection be so simple as to guide beon into a level of consciousness that it would otherwise not achieve?
I can think of one naturalistic way that something like God can exist. If life persist for long enough, it will become increasing godlike to our perception. The Stelliferous Era of the universe is posited to last about a trillion years. From there numerous old and quieted red dwarf stars will continue to glow on in a relatively quiet universe with few hazardous flying boulders and radiation emissions.
That means that the universe is perhaps about a hundredth of the way into its development. If the universe was human, it might be taking its first shaky steps ... or make its first shaky attempts to move around in space
So, imagine life that passed through each Great Filter - over hundreds of billions of years. Perhaps as each existential challenge is met the peak life forms (or post-life forms) eventually transcends physical threats, maybe tapping into the quantum foam itself?
Still, even this is a limited way of thinking about it because who says this is the first universe? It might be the billionth - or trillionth - so, if emergent "post life" can survive all physical dangers, then the accumulation of each new "Ultimate Being" could create something thoroughly godlike.
If such an entity (or entities) exist then it may be that each emergence of nature is expressing the nature of the entities, pushing itself through into matter. That might be your beon?
Then again, this might be the first universe