Status of theories

Is the mind the same as the body? What is consciousness? Can machines have it?

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Graeme M
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Status of theories

Post by Graeme M » Sat Aug 01, 2015 10:55 pm

Having just become seriously inquisitive about consciousness and mind, I've been reading what I can find on the web and also chased up a couple of books that seem to tackle where my interests lie. I haven't really found any forums that seem to grapple directly with what seems to be matters of neuroscience or cognitive science but philosophy forums come close.

The books I am reading are "Consciousness Explained" by Daniel Dennett and "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" by Julian Jaynes and I hope to move onto "I am a Strange Loop" by Douglas Hofstadter. I've read some of Dennett's stuff on the web and at his website, similarly with Jaynes.

What I haven't uncovered as yet (there's a lot to read!) is how those theories have stood the test of time.

Dennett proposed the Multiple Drafts model in 1990 or so, while Jaynes proposed language as consciousness in the 70s. Jaynes has since passed on, while Dennett has moderated his argument into the "Fame in the Brain" idea. Yet how much influence have each had, and is there a generally agreed sense that they are "on" to something, or are they just another piece of the puzzle?

Ginkgo
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Re: Status of theories

Post by Ginkgo » Sat Aug 01, 2015 11:17 pm

Graeme M wrote:Having just become seriously inquisitive about consciousness and mind, I've been reading what I can find on the web and also chased up a couple of books that seem to tackle where my interests lie. I haven't really found any forums that seem to grapple directly with what seems to be matters of neuroscience or cognitive science but philosophy forums come close.

The books I am reading are "Consciousness Explained" by Daniel Dennett and "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" by Julian Jaynes and I hope to move onto "I am a Strange Loop" by Douglas Hofstadter. I've read some of Dennett's stuff on the web and at his website, similarly with Jaynes.

What I haven't uncovered as yet (there's a lot to read!) is how those theories have stood the test of time.

Dennett proposed the Multiple Drafts model in 1990 or so, while Jaynes proposed language as consciousness in the 70s. Jaynes has since passed on, while Dennett has moderated his argument into the "Fame in the Brain" idea. Yet how much influence have each had, and is there a generally agreed sense that they are "on" to something, or are they just another piece of the puzzle?
\

The problem with Dennett's reductionist explanation is that ends up as eliminative materialism. Consciousness is explained as a well founded illusion.

The latest thinking can be explored in embodied cognitive theories.

Graeme M
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Re: Status of theories

Post by Graeme M » Sat Aug 01, 2015 11:23 pm

Any recommendations for more recent books (or readings) that might be a good follow up?

I've found a few good websites to dig through (Stanford U's online encyclopedia) and a big chunk of writing and papers at the Australian National University.

By the way, anyone got any views on Jaynes' theory?

Ginkgo
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Re: Status of theories

Post by Ginkgo » Sat Aug 01, 2015 11:27 pm

Graeme M wrote:Any recommendations for more recent books (or readings) that might be a good follow up?

I've found a few good websites to dig through (Stanford U's online encyclopedia) and a big chunk of writing and papers at the Australian National University.

By the way, anyone got any views on Jaynes' theory?
"The Conscious Brain" by Jesse Prinz

Obvious Leo
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Re: Status of theories

Post by Obvious Leo » Sun Aug 02, 2015 12:12 am

Graeme M wrote:Any recommendations for more recent books (or readings) that might be a good follow up?
Anything by Antonio Damasio. In my opinion this bloke is easily the most insightful theorist in cognitive neuroscience.

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RG1
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Re: Status of theories

Post by RG1 » Tue Aug 11, 2015 6:36 pm

Graeme M wrote: Having just become seriously inquisitive about consciousness and mind, I've been reading what I can find on the web and also chased up a couple of books that seem to tackle where my interests lie. I haven't really found any forums that seem to grapple directly with what seems to be matters of neuroscience or cognitive science but philosophy forums come close.

The books I am reading are "Consciousness Explained" by Daniel Dennett and "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" by Julian Jaynes and I hope to move onto "I am a Strange Loop" by Douglas Hofstadter. I've read some of Dennett's stuff on the web and at his website, similarly with Jaynes.

What I haven't uncovered as yet (there's a lot to read!) is how those theories have stood the test of time.

Dennett proposed the Multiple Drafts model in 1990 or so, while Jaynes proposed language as consciousness in the 70s. Jaynes has since passed on, while Dennett has moderated his argument into the "Fame in the Brain" idea. Yet how much influence have each had, and is there a generally agreed sense that they are "on" to something, or are they just another piece of the puzzle?
Graeme M wrote:Any recommendations for more recent books (or readings) that might be a good follow up?

I've found a few good websites to dig through (Stanford U's online encyclopedia) and a big chunk of writing and papers at the Australian National University.
Graeme, why do you prefer all this “hearsay”?? Why don’t you just go directly to the source (to the show) itself? Why do you have to have others tell you what is happening in your own (mind’s) theatre?

Sheesh, you’ve got a front row seat! Go look, poke around, and see for yourself. Don’t run off to the library in search of books to be told what is happening at 'your' show.

Graeme M
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Re: Status of theories

Post by Graeme M » Tue Aug 11, 2015 9:31 pm

RG1, I have indeed been investigating my own show very thoroughly and made some remarkable observations, things that I simply wouldn't have expected. And yes, I've developed my own idea of what's going on. I'm interested though about what ideas have been developed over time by notable thinkers and also what science is learning about the physical functioning of the brain and how that relates to 'consciousness'. All very interesting!

Obvious Leo
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Re: Status of theories

Post by Obvious Leo » Tue Aug 11, 2015 9:53 pm

Graeme. You may be interested in tracking the narrative which the AI (artificial intelligence) theorists are constructing. My sister-in-law is one of the world's leading authorities in this field and I regard her very highly as a resource in the understanding of neural network computation. In my opinion it is vital to have a basic grounding in the mechanics of embodied cognition before moving on to the more esoteric philosophical implications. In my view both Dennett and Chalmers lack this basic understanding of the physical science which underpins human consciousness.

Graeme M
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Re: Status of theories

Post by Graeme M » Tue Aug 11, 2015 11:52 pm

Leo, I can't comment on Dennett's understanding of the science today as his book Consciousness Explained is now fairly old. I do hope to get to Prinz's The Conscious Brain and Hofstadters I am a Strange Loop at some stage too. I'm currently reading some very interesting papers about modern findings in regards to the Libet experiments, most intriguing stuff.

Speaking of AI and where that's going, I gather enactivism is a pretty hot topic in both cognitive science and AI. An interesting notion but at this stage I've only brushed across it and don't have a clear sense of just what's being proposed. So much to read, so little time. I need to retire!

http://www.acadiau.ca/~dreid/enactivism ... smDef.html

Out of curiosity, what of the science do you think Dennett (and Chalmers) are missing?

Obvious Leo
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Re: Status of theories

Post by Obvious Leo » Wed Aug 12, 2015 12:18 am

Graeme M wrote:Out of curiosity, what of the science do you think Dennett (and Chalmers) are missing?
Cognitive neuroscience is possibly the hottest field of scientific research at the moment because of the availability of exciting new technologies such as fMRI and entirely new theoretical frameworks developed from the information sciences, such as non-linear computation theory. Many of the philosophers of mind have fallen behind the play by failing to appreciate that in the modern modelling of consciousness in terms of a neural network we can regard the mind as the emergent outcome of a dynamic PROCESS. Dynamic processes cannot be understood in the out-dated language of Newtonian reductionism which the traditional theorists continue to adopt. Consciousness is not a Newtonian system and needs a new language of explanation.

I reckon you'll get a clearer picture from Hofstadter and I'd also recommend Humberto Maturana, Francisco Varela and Antonio Damasio. These guys are systems theorists and therefore process philosophers who can think the world in a non-Newtonian language. Trust me. I've been reading your thoughts as expressed in your words and I'm fairly certain that this is what you're looking for.

Scott Mayers
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Re: Status of theories

Post by Scott Mayers » Wed Aug 12, 2015 4:21 am

Graeme M wrote:Having just become seriously inquisitive about consciousness and mind, I've been reading what I can find on the web and also chased up a couple of books that seem to tackle where my interests lie. I haven't really found any forums that seem to grapple directly with what seems to be matters of neuroscience or cognitive science but philosophy forums come close.

The books I am reading are "Consciousness Explained" by Daniel Dennett and "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" by Julian Jaynes and I hope to move onto "I am a Strange Loop" by Douglas Hofstadter. I've read some of Dennett's stuff on the web and at his website, similarly with Jaynes.

What I haven't uncovered as yet (there's a lot to read!) is how those theories have stood the test of time.

Dennett proposed the Multiple Drafts model in 1990 or so, while Jaynes proposed language as consciousness in the 70s. Jaynes has since passed on, while Dennett has moderated his argument into the "Fame in the Brain" idea. Yet how much influence have each had, and is there a generally agreed sense that they are "on" to something, or are they just another piece of the puzzle?
I think that you're already on the right course. I liked Dennett's book but add to it other ideas with more closure. I too do not think that there is any mystery to consciousness. Have you ever looked up the Gaea Hypothesis? To me, consciousness is a logical construct based similarly on what this hypothesis suggests. I could expand on this if you're interested. I've discussed this lots before beginning here, for example: Collective Consciouness. For a preview video, see The Global Brain. The author of this takes this video presumes some spiritualist views that I don't agree to. However, as an entertaining intro to the subject, I think it hints at the nature of consciousness as I understand it.

Scott Mayers
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Re: Status of theories

Post by Scott Mayers » Wed Aug 12, 2015 4:34 am

James Lovelock is the actual biologist who proposed the idea. See Gaia Hypothesis - James Lovelock

Obvious Leo
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Re: Status of theories

Post by Obvious Leo » Wed Aug 12, 2015 4:58 am

Lynn Margulis is very much a co-author of the Gaia hypothesis with Lovelock and it is her work on symbiosis which ties Lovelock's ideas into the more modern notions of consciousness as an autopoietic information process. Once again all of these ideas link very closely to the Santiago school of embodied cognition developed by Maturana and Varela.

Scott. You may not recognise the connection but all of these points are relevant to our conversation elsewhere about the models of physics and their relationship to reality. Our consciousness is that which constructs our cognitive map of the world but the true nature of the relationship between this map and the "thing as it is" remains our own to define. We see our world in terms of objects moving in space but this is not the real world. The real world is a world of events occurring in time and the world of objects moving in space is nothing more than a fleeting holographic representation of our own past. I abhor much of the philosophy of Plato but I still regard his allegory of The Cave as a masterpiece of philosophical metaphor which goes very close to foreshadowing Kant's later notions of the Noumenon.

Scott Mayers
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Re: Status of theories

Post by Scott Mayers » Wed Aug 12, 2015 5:37 am

Obvious Leo wrote:Lynn Margulis is very much a co-author of the Gaia hypothesis with Lovelock and it is her work on symbiosis which ties Lovelock's ideas into the more modern notions of consciousness as an autopoietic information process. Once again all of these ideas link very closely to the Santiago school of embodied cognition developed by Maturana and Varela.

Scott. You may not recognise the connection but all of these points are relevant to our conversation elsewhere about the models of physics and their relationship to reality. Our consciousness is that which constructs our cognitive map of the world but the true nature of the relationship between this map and the "thing as it is" remains our own to define. We see our world in terms of objects moving in space but this is not the real world. The real world is a world of events occurring in time and the world of objects moving in space is nothing more than a fleeting holographic representation of our own past. I abhor much of the philosophy of Plato but I still regard his allegory of The Cave as a masterpiece of philosophical metaphor which goes very close to foreshadowing Kant's later notions of the Noumenon.
Yes, I recognize the connection. Between you and I though, I already understand where you are coming from given your assumptions. I don't find them completely consistent but understand you for the most part.

On this topic, although I don't remember all of the specific terminology dealing with consciousness by others I've read, I relate the Gaia Hypothesis to represent how the Earth itself is perceived as being 'alive'. To me the description of our collective activities as individuals can't recognize the whole as being 'aware' in any rational sense. Yet, this hypothesis suggests a type of awareness (conscious-like) by its behavior. This made me think of how consciousness actually represents a logical construct whereby the more things that share a closer logical meaning yet are distinctly separate things in individual spaces represent a common 'feel'. That is, since we can 'feel' more than one thing at a time in a brain that is non-localized, this sensation of consciousness itself PROVES that a type of multiple superpostioning exists (as to QM).

I'm already anticipating you recognizing that this can (and does) lead to some to presume a spiritual teleology. But I don't extend any meaning to a reality that begins in nothing itself. Just remember that much of what we may appear to disagree on here is mostly about our particular language background only.

Obvious Leo
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Re: Status of theories

Post by Obvious Leo » Wed Aug 12, 2015 6:09 am

Scott Mayers wrote: Yet, this hypothesis suggests a type of awareness (conscious-like) by its behavior.
No it doesn't, Scott, that's just your own Newtonian reductionist slant on things. It is perfectly logical to model our planetary biosphere as being alive without having to attribute the notion of purposeful behaviour to it, as the creationists insist on doing. The central point about applying the Gaia hypothesis to evolutionary theory is that we need to regard the entire biosphere as evolving holistically instead of merely considering the status of individual species evolving within it. In my philosophy I extend this model to the entire universe. The entire universe is evolving from the simple to the complex but it does so without any sort of a blueprint whatsoever because this is simply what non-linear dynamic systems do.
Scott Mayers wrote: Just remember that much of what we may appear to disagree on here is mostly about our particular language background only.
I'm well aware of it. You make no distinction between linear and non-linear determinism and I regard the importance of this distinction as the single most important question in both philosophy and science. Reality conforms to EITHER one OR the other but it cannot conform to both.

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