Leibniz's mill and the "Hard problem of consciousness"

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

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Atla
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Re: Leibniz's mill and the "Hard problem of consciousness"

Post by Atla » Mon Dec 25, 2017 12:02 am

You keep making the argument that dualism is needed because: experiencing something from the inside and viewing it from the outside as a representation of material structure isn't the same.

That's the same as saying that when we look at a tree, we should automatically feel what it's like to be that tree. But that's not the case, so there is a fundamental problem here.

Do you see how nonsensical this argument is to me?

Londoner
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Re: Leibniz's mill and the "Hard problem of consciousness"

Post by Londoner » Mon Dec 25, 2017 11:21 am

Atla wrote:
Sun Dec 24, 2017 11:29 pm

As far as I know Chalmers is a not too bright dualist, he doesn't understand the full extent of the hard problem.
Of course in actuality, the hard problem has nothing to do with sensory organs. And I never said that rocks have 'rich inner life', on the contrary, it probably mostly would be like "static noise" compared to a human's experience, would you stop quoting things I didn't write?
If you read more attentively you would see I attributed the quote to Chalmers, the formulator of the 'hard problem', the one you say that you were writing about.
Of course I'm not on the same page as anyone else, I'm a nondualist. That's like 1 in 1000 in the West or less. Nondualism is the correct view, which is why Western philosophy has been running in nonsensical circles for hundreds of years.
Almost no one ever understands my position so I'm used to that actually.
So one possibility is that 99.9% of us are all like Chalmers, 'not too bright'. But there is another possibility.
I don't know what you are talking about, there was zero hint in your example about actual dualism. All I see is you made up some material-mental categories and trying to misinterpret everything that way. Do you cherrypick which word is "mental" and which is "material" or how does that work? Do things change magically when they enter the head? Or what? You are trapped in dualistic circular reasoning.

Me: I do not understand what you mean by 'conscious in a soft problem sense'.

As opposed to the hard problem sense. Conscious, consciousness has many different definitions, uses depending on context, at least 3-4, don't tell me you use one?
The 'soft problem(s)' is not a definition of consciousness! (Nor is the 'hard problem'). Google 'hard problem of consciousness' (it will also explain what the 'soft problems' are meant to be.) These phrases do not mean what you think they do. No wonder we have difficulty communicating!

And I am doubtful if you really understand what 'dualism' is:
You keep making the argument that dualism is needed because: experiencing something from the inside and viewing it from the outside as a representation of material structure isn't the same.

That's the same as saying that when we look at a tree, we should automatically feel what it's like to be that tree. But that's not the case, so there is a fundamental problem here.
I do not understand why you can never get this!

When we look at a tree, we see the tree whether we want to or not. It is always there, there are a set of regular sensory characteristics that go with it. This suggests that something about the tree is independent of our will, that the tree does not exist only as our idea, it exists in its own right, that there is an external world, a 'material' world. That hypothesis has served us very well, it is the basis of science. By positing the existence of a non-conscious, regular, material world, we are able to predict future experiences.

But nor is our consciousness entirely regulated and outside our will. We can imagine the tree as other than it is, we can conceptualise it, universalize it and so on. We can also be mistaken about trees etc. But as Descartes put it, even if we close our eyes and deny all our sensations of trees and everything else in the external world, we are still aware of ourselves, thinking. And our presence to ourselves is a real to us as the presence of that tree.

So, the dual nature of our consciousness experiences gives rise to the idea that there is both an external world and an internal world, the physical and the mental. (And this also applies to our own bodies; my brain is an object to me, like the tree. But my thoughts are not an object to me, they are me.) And the problem is then of how these two realms are related. That is 'dualism'.

So, you see, it is not about an ability to 'feel what it's like to be that tree'. I am perhaps simplifying too much, but even so I worry you will miss the point! I am not trying to sell you something, I'm simply trying to explain what the term 'dualism' is understood to refer to.

You may have a wonderful original view of consciousness, but unless you use terms like 'dualism', 'soft problems', 'hard problem' etc. in the same way as everyone else you will never be able to communicate it. You say you are not on the same page as everyone else. I think you should work back through the book until you are; what do we all agree on? Then try to move forward, through methodical argument.

Atla
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Re: Leibniz's mill and the "Hard problem of consciousness"

Post by Atla » Mon Dec 25, 2017 12:15 pm

Londoner wrote:
Mon Dec 25, 2017 11:21 am
I do not understand why you can never get this!

When we look at a tree, we see the tree whether we want to or not. It is always there, there are a set of regular sensory characteristics that go with it. This suggests that something about the tree is independent of our will, that the tree does not exist only as our idea, it exists in its own right, that there is an external world, a 'material' world. That hypothesis has served us very well, it is the basis of science. By positing the existence of a non-conscious, regular, material world, we are able to predict future experiences.
Wrong. The idea of an external reality independent of "us" was experimentally refuted in physics ~100 years ago, and in every such experiment since then. "We" are always part of the equation, we are one and the same with the whole.

But that says NOTHING about a mental and a material, you put a completely unnecessary dualism into it and then you get lost in dualistic circular reasoning.

I understand perfectly well what dualism means, which is why I keep telling you why it's wrong.

seeds
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Re: Leibniz's mill and the "Hard problem of consciousness"

Post by seeds » Mon Dec 25, 2017 4:51 pm

Londoner wrote:
Mon Dec 25, 2017 11:21 am
...the dual nature of our consciousness experiences gives rise to the idea that there is both an external world and an internal world, the physical and the mental. (And this also applies to our own bodies; my brain is an object to me, like the tree. But my thoughts are not an object to me, they are me.) And the problem is then of how these two realms are related. That is 'dualism'.
Precisely, Londoner.

However, I somewhat disagree with the idea of your thoughts not being “objects” to you.

An apple that you create before the eye of your mind is still an “object” (in the purest sense of the word), it simply does not exist (has no reality) outside and independent of the mental fabric of your personal mind and consciousness.
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seeds
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Re: Leibniz's mill and the "Hard problem of consciousness"

Post by seeds » Mon Dec 25, 2017 4:52 pm

Atla wrote:
Mon Dec 25, 2017 12:15 pm
The idea of an external reality independent of "us" was experimentally refuted in physics ~100 years ago, and in every such experiment since then. "We" are always part of the equation, we are one and the same with the whole.
Correct me if I am wrong, but I assume you are speaking of quantum theory.

In which case, when it comes to an external reality existing independent of us, the only thing that physics seems to refute is the idea that the propagating wavefunction could acquire the attribute of “position” in the absence of consciousness.

In other words, just because certain interpretations of quantum theory suggest that “reality” seems to require the presence of consciousness to “collapse the wavefunction” in order to explicate three-dimensional phenomena from the waves of information...

...it does not mean that the substance from which the waves are formed literally has no existence independent of us.

Now with me being an idealist, I am not suggesting that the fabric of reality exists independent of life, mind, and consciousness in the ultimate sense.

I am merely asserting that the existence of the substance that underpins the phenomenal features of this particular universe is not dependent upon our (or any other “corporeal” being’s) existence.

And lastly, if anyone doubts that reality is dualistic in nature, then all one has to do is observe the complete independence and sovereignty of the inner-workings of our own minds with respect to each other.

Our unique and individual minds are indeed “external” to each other and therefore are the ultimate representation of dualism.
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Atla
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Re: Leibniz's mill and the "Hard problem of consciousness"

Post by Atla » Mon Dec 25, 2017 5:55 pm

seeds wrote:
Mon Dec 25, 2017 4:52 pm
Correct me if I am wrong, but I assume you are speaking of quantum theory.

In which case, when it comes to an external reality existing independent of us, the only thing that physics seems to refute is the idea that the propagating wavefunction could acquire the attribute of “position” in the absence of consciousness.

In other words, just because certain interpretations of quantum theory suggest that “reality” seems to require the presence of consciousness to “collapse the wavefunction” in order to explicate three-dimensional phenomena from the waves of information...
Not consciousness, QM observer. No one knows for certain yet what a QM observer is and how it all works, but very few equate it with a "mental consciousness". The nature of the wavefunction is also debated, and whether collapse actually happens etc.
seeds wrote:
Mon Dec 25, 2017 4:52 pm
...it does not mean that the substance from which the waves are formed literally has no existence independent of us.
There is no other substance, that's just an unsupported assumption. And yes, there is no observer-independent reality in QM, that seems to be the case regardless of interpretation. "Observer" and "observed" are one and the same system in physics.
seeds wrote:
Mon Dec 25, 2017 4:52 pm
I am merely asserting that the existence of the substance that underpins the phenomenal features of this particular universe is not dependent upon our (or any other “corporeal” being’s) existence.
Can you give me just one proof that there are "substances" or "underpinnings"?
seeds wrote:
Mon Dec 25, 2017 4:52 pm
And lastly, if anyone doubts that reality is dualistic in nature, then all one has to do is observe the complete independence and sovereignty of the inner-workings of our own minds with respect to each other.

Our unique and individual minds are indeed “external” to each other and therefore are the ultimate representation of dualism.
There is no such thing as an independent or sovereign mind, it just seems that way. Yes, reality isn't homogeneous but that doesn't imply any dualism.

seeds
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Re: Leibniz's mill and the "Hard problem of consciousness"

Post by seeds » Mon Dec 25, 2017 10:20 pm

Atla wrote:
Mon Dec 25, 2017 5:55 pm
Not consciousness, QM observer. No one knows for certain yet what a QM observer is and how it all works, but very few equate it with a "mental consciousness". The nature of the wavefunction is also debated, and whether collapse actually happens etc.
To me, the words “observer” and “consciousness” are synonymous nouns (with both words representing attributes of something that is alive).

However, when it comes to the explication of phenomenal reality from the waves (fields) of quantum information, the word “observer” seems limited (semantically) to that which can be “seen,” and seems to ignore that which can be felt, heard, tasted, and smelled.

Therefore, the word “consciousness” seems a more fitting description of that which is capable of explicating (revealing) the multi-sensory features of reality encoded in the quantum waveforms.

Now before you mount an argument against what I just wrote, and before I address the rest of your post, please explain to us what it is you believe that physics did “100 years ago” that “refuted” the existence of an external reality?
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Atla
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Re: Leibniz's mill and the "Hard problem of consciousness"

Post by Atla » Mon Dec 25, 2017 10:57 pm

seeds wrote:
Mon Dec 25, 2017 10:20 pm
To me, the words “observer” and “consciousness” are synonymous nouns (with both words representing attributes of something that is alive).

However, when it comes to the explication of phenomenal reality from the waves (fields) of quantum information, the word “observer” seems limited (semantically) to that which can be “seen,” and seems to ignore that which can be felt, heard, tasted, and smelled.

Therefore, the word “consciousness” seems a more fitting description of that which is capable of explicating (revealing) the multi-sensory features of reality encoded in the quantum waveforms.

Now before you mount an argument against what I just wrote, and before I address the rest of your post, please explain to us what it is you believe that physics did “100 years ago” that “refuted” the existence of an external reality?
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There is no evidence that it matters whether a QM observer is alive or not. They use "observer" completely differently than philosophers for example, actually most of the time they mean a measuring device by it. (But then it gets tricky because eventually a human will have to observe that machine etc. etc.)

The idea of quantum information, the idea that quantum isn't part of phenomenal reality and the idea of explication, are all interpretations I disagree with. I think such views just pose more unanswered/unanswerable questions.

Physics didn't refute the existence of an external reality. It refuted the idea of an observer-independent reality, which idea was a basis of science before that. So you can't study anything without interfering with it, and even your "inner conscious choices" will have effects in the "outside physical world". For example if you decide to this experiment, then this electron will be a particle, but if you decide to do that experiment, then this same electron will be a wave. So you get "different physical results".

seeds
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Re: Leibniz's mill and the "Hard problem of consciousness"

Post by seeds » Tue Dec 26, 2017 10:28 pm

seeds wrote: ...if anyone doubts that reality is dualistic in nature, then all one has to do is observe the complete independence and sovereignty of the inner-workings of our own minds with respect to each other.

Our unique and individual minds are indeed “external” to each other and therefore are the ultimate representation of dualism.
Atla wrote:
Mon Dec 25, 2017 5:55 pm
There is no such thing as an independent or sovereign mind, it just seems that way.
I suggest that a person’s mind is a “closed dimension” of subjective reality that can be likened to an inaccessible “parallel universe” that consists of a singular and unique personal consciousness (an “I am-ness”) that metaphorically sits at the center of a galaxy of thoughts, memories, and dreams.

Now if you can demonstrate to me that your “I am-ness” can access the closed parallel universe that belongs to my “I am-ness” and then tell me the precise details of the dream I had last night...

...or better yet, directly grasp the fabric from which my mental holography is created and change a particular image of my mother’s face into an image of your mother’s face without any aid from me...

...then perhaps I might be more open to your claim of there being no such thing as an independent or sovereign mind.

(Continued in next post)
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seeds
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Re: Leibniz's mill and the "Hard problem of consciousness"

Post by seeds » Tue Dec 26, 2017 10:29 pm

_______

(Continued from prior post)
Atla wrote:
Mon Dec 25, 2017 10:57 pm
There is no evidence that it matters whether a QM observer is alive or not. They use "observer" completely differently than philosophers for example, actually most of the time they mean a measuring device by it. (But then it gets tricky because eventually a human will have to observe that machine etc. etc.)
It does indeed matter whether an observer is alive or not, and you yourself hinted at the reason why by acknowledging that a human will eventually have to observe the machine.

Otherwise (according to theory), the unobserved “machine” (the measuring device) would simply merge with that which it is measuring and spread-out into a wavefunction that incorporates them both in a superpositioned amalgam of information.

The point is that because all matter throughout the universe (including our bodies and brains) is allegedly composed of a nebulous (waving) substance that in and of itself doesn’t seem to possess a mechanism to prevent it from spreading-out into a state of superpositioned probabilities (as is implied in the “universal wavefunction”),...

...it is therefore suggested that its interplay with consciousness (or if you prefer, “observers”) is what transforms the superpositioned probabilities (“noumena”) into positionally-fixed actualities (“phenomena”).

In other words, consciousness (observation) is what actualizes and reveals the “particle” aspect of the particle/wave duality of physical matter.

And that is a process that I personally believe is more easily visualized in the metaphor of the laser hologram depicted below...

Image

...wherein the lasers loosely represent consciousness, while the patterns of information stored in the photographic plate represent the quantum.
Atla wrote:
Mon Dec 25, 2017 10:57 pm
Physics didn't refute the existence of an external reality. It refuted the idea of an observer-independent reality, which idea was a basis of science before that. So you can't study anything without interfering with it, and even your "inner conscious choices" will have effects in the "outside physical world". For example if you decide to this experiment, then this electron will be a particle, but if you decide to do that experiment, then this same electron will be a wave. So you get "different physical results".
Yes, I agree with you on that last part, Atla.

However, all that means is that the quantum is composed of an infinitely malleable substance that conforms to the dictates (the will and desires) of consciousness.

That’s why Heisenberg referred to it as being a sort of “raw potentia” that is not very real itself, but is capable of becoming something real depending upon how we choose to observe it.

And that is verified in precisely the way you suggested above, in that the “potentia” seems to adjust its constituents in order to display whatever it is we “wish to see” depending upon the shape and purpose of the measuring devices that we (as consciousness) create.

That’s part of the reason why the meme “consciousness creates reality” emerged from the implications of quantum theory.

And that's also part of the reason why I am constantly insisting that the quantum resembles “mental imaging energy,” in that it seems to be capable of being formed into absolutely anything “imaginable” (take the near infinite features of the universe, for example).

(Btw, welcome to the forum, Atla)
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thought addict
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Re: Leibniz's mill and the "Hard problem of consciousness"

Post by thought addict » Sat Dec 30, 2017 9:51 pm

Atla wrote:
Fri Dec 22, 2017 10:07 am
Here is my explanation with a major plot twist:

The "hard problem of consciousness" is based on the hundreds/thousands years old assumption that there are two things happening: phenomenal experience (I'll call it consciousness) and the physical reality.

I think there are 5 major philosophical stances here:

1. Only the physical exists, consciousness is just an illusion/hallucination.
2. The physical is fundamental, consciousness somehow "emerges" from it.
3. Both are equally fundamental, and are somehow "connected" to each other, or create the illusion of being connected etc.
4. Consciousness is fundamental, the physical somehow "emerges" from it.
5. Only consciousness exists, the physical is just an illusion/hallucination.

The "hard problem of consciousness" deals with several or all of these. Maybe it mostly shows the absurdity of the first two stances: first it requires consciousness, to be able to say that consciousness is an illusion/emergence. And so after that, most people tend to move towards the 3-5. stances.

But still, no one has any idea how these two relate to each other, how they work together. The "hard problem" tells us that we don't understand something very, very fundamental.

Most people subscribe to one of these 5 stances.

However.

All 5 stances are wrong. There is no "hard problem of consciousness" either. People are trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist and doesn't make sense, of course they can't do it.

Remember what we assumed in the beginning? There are two things happening: consciousness and the physical. But there are no two things (nondualism). It is so wildly crazy and culturally outrageous to entertain the possibility that consciousness and physical are one and the same, and we just see double, that almost no one ever even thinks of investigating this possibility.

It's true however. We just split reality into two categories and go crazy. So this of course means that consciousness (phenomenal experience) is universal, we are reality, the world itself. It is just an illusion that we are only this human. The individual brain/mind is mostly in the head, but fundamentally we are also everything else. This is something not very well understood in the West.
Atla, at the risk of restarting the argument you've just had with Londoner, please can you list some advantages of your stance over a dualist stance?

You seem to have an intense aversion to the term "dualist" and I don't really understand why. What do you find unappealing about dualism? So far all I think you have said against it is "We just split reality into two categories and go crazy" and you also associate it with circular reasoning, but I don't see where this loop in reasoning occurs? Please can you clarify this?

With regard to explaining how conscious experience occurs, I don't really see what your stance has to offer over dualism. It doesn't seem to offer any new explanation or solution to the problem, for me. What have I missed?

I will say that I more or less agree with your initial statement of the five stances and agree that 1 and 2 are unattractive, to me.

OuterLimits
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Re: Leibniz's mill and the "Hard problem of consciousness"

Post by OuterLimits » Sun Dec 31, 2017 6:07 am

Alexanderk wrote:
Thu Jan 12, 2017 11:08 pm
"Suppose that there be a machine,the structure of which produces thinking,feeling and perceiving; imagine this machine enlarged but preserving the same proportions, so that you could enter it as if it were a mill. This being supposed, you might visit its inside; but what would you observe there? Nothing but parts which push and move each other , and never anything that could explain perception."
Leibniz,Monadology, sect.17
Suppose that the machine produces all of the behaviors which lead an observer to be convinced that it produces thinking, feeling, perceiving. The real question is why does this observer believe that anything subjective is being generated?

Londoner
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Re: Leibniz's mill and the "Hard problem of consciousness"

Post by Londoner » Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:03 am

"Suppose that there be a machine,the structure of which produces thinking,feeling and perceiving; imagine this machine enlarged but preserving the same proportions, so that you could enter it as if it were a mill. This being supposed, you might visit its inside; but what would you observe there? Nothing but parts which push and move each other , and never anything that could explain perception."
Leibniz,Monadology, sect.17
Isn't this true of all mechanisms? If we visited an ordinary corn mill we would see a series of parts, that all acted with other parts, but we would find no particular part that 'explained the flour'.

Similarly we could look at the attributes of the flour, its whiteness, its softness, etc. and then ask 'but which of these is the flour?'

In this thread 'perception' seems to merge into 'consciousness', plus 'thinking, feeling and perceiving'. If we wanted to 'explain perception' then I would have thought the first thing would be to say what 'perception' describes. It seems odd to start searching for a 'cause' before we have identified the 'effect'.

Belinda
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Re: Leibniz's mill and the "Hard problem of consciousness"

Post by Belinda » Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:32 am

Atla wrote:
The idea of an external reality independent of "us" was experimentally refuted in physics ~100 years ago, and in every such experiment since then. "We" are always part of the equation, we are one and the same with the whole.
Then your ontological stance is that of a monist not a dualist.
You also seem to be an idealist(immaterialist) variety of monist. Are you?

If you are an idealist sort of monist, how do you escape from solipsism?

Atla
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Re: Leibniz's mill and the "Hard problem of consciousness"

Post by Atla » Tue Jan 02, 2018 11:25 am

seeds wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 10:28 pm
I suggest that a person’s mind is a “closed dimension” of subjective reality that can be likened to an inaccessible “parallel universe” that consists of a singular and unique personal consciousness (an “I am-ness”) that metaphorically sits at the center of a galaxy of thoughts, memories, and dreams.

Now if you can demonstrate to me that your “I am-ness” can access the closed parallel universe that belongs to my “I am-ness” and then tell me the precise details of the dream I had last night...

...or better yet, directly grasp the fabric from which my mental holography is created and change a particular image of my mother’s face into an image of your mother’s face without any aid from me...

...then perhaps I might be more open to your claim of there being no such thing as an independent or sovereign mind.
You have nothing to back up that suggestion. We could also make up anything else instead. But until there is no proof for any of that, my position remains the "natural" one. And as I said, reality isn't perfectly homogeneous so even though there are no separations, I can't tall directly what's going on in your head.

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