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

Post by Wyman » Fri Mar 03, 2017 2:20 am

raw_thought wrote:Yes, I know what you believe. Now, show me how the following syllogism is invalid or based on false assumptions.
1. it is possible to visualize a triangle. ( I think that is beyond dispute).
2. Either the triangle is physical or it is not.
3. It is obviously not physical as there is nothing physical that is in a triangular shape in the brain that is created by visualizing a triangle. Any scientist will tell you that you do not cause your neurons to fire in a triangular shape ( or that you create a subatomic particle that is triangular ) when you visualize a triangle.
4. therefore, the visualized triangle cannot be physical.
What do you disagree with 1, 2 or 3? Or do you believe that 4 does not follow from 1,2 and 3?
When you are arguing that qualia are not physical, you cannot put 'It is obviously not physical' as a step in your 'syllogism.'

How would anyone know what configuration subatomic particles take in the brain? Also, 'any scientist will tell you' is not an argument. So #3 is completely wrong on all counts.

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

Post by Wyman » Fri Mar 03, 2017 3:00 am

raw_thought wrote:"I believe that consciousness (and qualia) are subject to physical explanation."
Wyman
My question is more specific then that. My question is, " when one visualizes a triangle is a physical triangle created in the brain"?
My triangle argument is a more precise version of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowledge_argument
I used a triangle because it is more mathematical then what color feels like. Cognitive Phenomenology!!!
BTW Hobbes and Wyman, I admire both of you. But philosophy is war! LOL! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtckVng_1a0
We went through this once before on a similar thread. You (and Chalmers) assume that qualia are not physical and that there is an explanatory gap. Then, you conclude - surprise! - that qualia are not physical and there is an explanatory gap (as evidenced by your #3 above). Chalmers is explicit, though, and admits up front that his claim is based on intuition and 'you either think there is a problem or you do not.' It is in the first chapter of his book 'The Conscious Mind' (I think that is the title). His audience are people who already think that qualia are immaterial and mysterious. Again, he is up front about it, but you seem to think that you have proven something.

Think of a camera obscura - where light shines through a pinhole and maps an image on a backdrop. Suppose the image mapped is your triangle. Do you think there is a triangle in the pinhole? Probably not. Do you think this is mysterious? Probably not. Is the pattern of photons striking the backdrop a triangle? Is it physical? Or is it not a triangle until the photons bounce off the backdrop, hit an observer's eyes, and is converted into a triangular quale? Whatever pattern that travels through the pinhole is preserved to some degree as it hits the backdrop and is preserved further when the photons strike the retina - and the pattern is preserved in the physical processes in the brain. You are in the position of a aboriginal who is shown a mirror for the first time and tries to grab at the image, or Peter Pan trying to sew his shadow to his feet. These things have physical explanations, we're just not there yet scientifically. For all we know, the human brain is the most complex thing in the universe, so it is really not that surprising that cannot yet understand it.

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

Post by raw_thought » Fri Mar 03, 2017 3:32 am

Do you believe that when you visualize a triangle you create a physical triangle in your brain? Yes or no?

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

Post by Greta » Fri Mar 03, 2017 5:36 am

raw_thought wrote:Do you believe that when you visualize a triangle you create a physical triangle in your brain? Yes or no?
No.

As mentioned earlier there is the expression of a triangle informationally in the brain (just as a PC can contain an unexpressed triangle that's not rendered on a screen) but that's just one step closer and, as you replied to me before earlier, the explanatory gap remains.

There is definitely an image of whatever in our minds when we visualise or dream. Those images stem from neuronal state changes, ie. information. The information that defines the initial state of any given entity effectively acts like "the DNA of matter", so a protostar's internal and external initial conditions ultimately defines the limits as to what the fully formed star will become.

By the same token, there is nothing visually within our DNA that describes us, and there is probably nothing visually in our brains that is triangular when we visualise a triangle. My guess is that if reality is dual, or if it appears to be dual due to perceptual biases, then information will either be the other component or at least a major aspect of it.

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

Post by Impenitent » Fri Mar 03, 2017 10:12 am

regardless of position in space (physical or mental) it isn't a triangle until it is interpreted as such...

-Imp

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

Post by Wyman » Fri Mar 03, 2017 2:03 pm

raw_thought wrote:Do you believe that when you visualize a triangle you create a physical triangle in your brain? Yes or no?
I already answered that.

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

Post by Londoner » Sat Mar 04, 2017 10:27 am

raw_thought wrote: 1. it is possible to visualize a triangle. ( I think that is beyond dispute).
I don't think I would agree. I don't think you can put 'visualize' and 'triangle' together in that way. To say 'triangle' is to describe no particular thing, but rather a set of criteria. If I visualized one particular shape then I would no longer be thinking about triangles. That particular thing would just be itself, to describe it as 'a triangle' it has to be seen as one amongst a range of other shapes that do, or don't, resemble it.

I think this applies to any example we might come up with. If we are to be aware of a thought, then we must be aware of something more than that thought, we have to place it in a context that is extra to that thought. Similarly, I cannot just 'visualize', I have to visualize a something, so before I create the particular vision I already know what it is! I do not first have the vision, then think; 'Oh look! It's a triangle!'.

In other words, I don't think we can ever anchor our words/thoughts to experiences/visualizations in a straightforward way.

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

Post by Greta » Sat Mar 04, 2017 11:30 am

Londoner wrote:In other words, I don't think we can ever anchor our words/thoughts to experiences/visualizations in a straightforward way.
I'm leaning more towards RT's approach. To quote Sam Harris:
Our waking and dreaming brains are engaged in substantially the same activity; it is just that while dreaming, our brains are far less constrained by sensory information or by the fact-checkers who appear to live somewhere in our frontal lobes.
These images in our minds would seem to have some level of substantiality that requires explanation, given that those images can potentially translate into the physical, eg. an artist visualising a work before creating it.

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

Post by Londoner » Sat Mar 04, 2017 12:37 pm

Greta wrote: These images in our minds would seem to have some level of substantiality that requires explanation, given that those images can potentially translate into the physical, eg. an artist visualising a work before creating it.
I think you have to somehow translate the image into the object, the work, before you create it. For example, if I was painting a picture I have to have imposed a mental frame round the image in my head, say where the edges are. Then I have to fix on a single point of view. Then I have to decide the title of the picture so to speak, meaning that I have to settle on just one aspect of an otherwise shifting mental image. Mental images can remain indeterminate in places, but the physical work has to choose to be something specific. And, of course, my mind has to keep juggling between the method I am using to create an effect (mixing the paint etc.) with the image on the canvas and also with the image in my mind, the actual work containing elements from all parts of this process. And in the end, doesn't a finished work attain a sort of independence? It is certainly never quite what was envisaged when I started!

I wonder if it is a mistake to try and sort out the things inside our heads into categories; this is an image, that is a sign, this is a concept...they all seem too slippery to fix in that way.

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

Post by Wyman » Sat Mar 04, 2017 12:54 pm

Similarly, I cannot just 'visualize', I have to visualize a something, so before I create the particular vision I already know what it is! I do not first have the vision, then think; 'Oh look! It's a triangle!'.
Exactly. That is the way I see it. But most do not see it that way. Perceptions and imaginings are redundant - they are the body's interpretations of things that we have for the most part already interpreted - at best they are immediate and coincidental (at the same time as) to awareness. Raw Thought and most philosophers see experience as the object of thought - this stems in large part from a mistaken picture of experience from Locke and Hume, the so-called 'British Empiricists' who have been roundly refuted over and over, but are nonetheless still very influential.

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

Post by Greta » Sat Mar 04, 2017 9:39 pm

Londoner wrote:
Greta wrote: These images in our minds would seem to have some level of substantiality that requires explanation, given that those images can potentially translate into the physical, eg. an artist visualising a work before creating it.
I think you have to somehow translate the image into the object, the work, before you create it. For example, if I was painting a picture I have to have imposed a mental frame round the image in my head, say where the edges are. Then I have to fix on a single point of view. Then I have to decide the title of the picture so to speak, meaning that I have to settle on just one aspect of an otherwise shifting mental image. Mental images can remain indeterminate in places, but the physical work has to choose to be something specific. And, of course, my mind has to keep juggling between the method I am using to create an effect (mixing the paint etc.) with the image on the canvas and also with the image in my mind, the actual work containing elements from all parts of this process. And in the end, doesn't a finished work attain a sort of independence? It is certainly never quite what was envisaged when I started!

I wonder if it is a mistake to try and sort out the things inside our heads into categories; this is an image, that is a sign, this is a concept...they all seem too slippery to fix in that way.
Yes, artwork is often not as first envisioned. While an image is in the mind, as you allude, the mental image is fuzzy and unrealised. Once the ideas are brought into the physical, they become much more clear, and that's when artists will notice the various tweaks needed to make the world more satisfying and in a sense loses some control over the creation, if they allow it. The equivalent happens when recording music.

Taking another angle, mental images are real in the sense that they occur in time.

Generally, logic suggests that reality is unified, yet we experience it as dual - the physical and mental domains. This suggests to me that, if "reality is one", then we are unaware of the link between the domains, which seems analogous to physicists unable to bridge QM and GR. I wonder if these problems occur due to category errors?

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

Post by raw_thought » Sun Mar 05, 2017 6:20 am

Impenitent wrote:regardless of position in space (physical or mental) it isn't a triangle until it is interpreted as such...

-Imp
If one has no word for pain, does that mean that one cannot experience pain?

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

Post by raw_thought » Sun Mar 05, 2017 6:30 am

It is interesting listening to scientifically minded posters advocate a Platonic version of reality. They contradict their core beliefs by advocating that first forms exist and only then can we be aware of them. In other words , we DO NOT first empirically experience ( qualia ) a form ( triangle, or whatever) and then arbitrarily put it into a category. The scientifically minded posters at this site , do not believe ( if they are consistent in their beliefs) that triangles exist before we have a concept of what a triangle is!!!

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

Post by Londoner » Sun Mar 05, 2017 10:57 am

raw_thought wrote:It is interesting listening to scientifically minded posters advocate a Platonic version of reality. They contradict their core beliefs by advocating that first forms exist and only then can we be aware of them. In other words , we DO NOT first empirically experience ( qualia ) a form ( triangle, or whatever) and then arbitrarily put it into a category. The scientifically minded posters at this site , do not believe ( if they are consistent in their beliefs) that triangles exist before we have a concept of what a triangle is!!!
If we follow Kant then we think that in order to make sense of empirical experience we have to have the notion of extension. But if we are to think of the world in terms of shapes, then we have to ignore that notion. Instead of thinking of the things I see as existing relative to me, such that my perception of them will change when I move, I have to imagine the world is on a flat plane, like a painting. Only then can I separate one bit of that world out and mark a single line that separates it from the other things in the picture, i.e. its outline.

Then, thinking only about these outlines, I have to simplify the parts and the wholes of these outlines. That bit is nearly a straight line, that is a sort of curve, that is a rough circle. Then using only these simplifications in my mind I can use rules to construct outlines of purely mental objects, like triangles. At that stage, the shape no longer corresponds in any respect to an empirical experience; a triangle is not identified as a triangle because it resembles a Christmas tree.

I think it is the same with numbers. We first have to simplify experience to exclude everything except quantity, then create a new world that consists purely of the abstraction: quantity. At that point, numbers have lost all connection to things. The number '2' is not attached to any object; 2+2 doesn't equal 4 because there are four apples in my fruit bowl.

So I do not think triangles already exist in some Platonic sense and that we become aware of them, nor do I think we ever experience triangles. I think abstractions are just that, things we create in the mind-mill, for our purposes.

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

Post by Wyman » Sun Mar 05, 2017 2:47 pm

raw_thought wrote:It is interesting listening to scientifically minded posters advocate a Platonic version of reality. They contradict their core beliefs by advocating that first forms exist and only then can we be aware of them. In other words , we DO NOT first empirically experience ( qualia ) a form ( triangle, or whatever) and then arbitrarily put it into a category. The scientifically minded posters at this site , do not believe ( if they are consistent in their beliefs) that triangles exist before we have a concept of what a triangle is!!!


That's a fair point (see, I don't disagree with everything you say) if you are referring to me. I did, for one, emphasize scientific method. And perhaps I showed my true colors, as Plato was my favorite as an undergrad and I wrote my thesis on one of his works. Also, I study(ied) mathematics and the question of realism vs. idealism (if those are the correct isms, it's been awhile) always lurks under the surface - i.e. 'do we discover mathematical truths or invent them?' I will point out though (this could be an interesting topic of conversation on its own) that being 'scientific' is not the same as being an Empiricist - I specifically criticized Locke and Hume and their heavy influence on contemporary philosophy.

Having said all that, though... These questions come up over and over and are open questions, no more for the 'scientifically minded' than the dualists, or whatever you would like to call yourself. I freely admit they are open questions and would not shy away from them in some dogmatic attempt to defend a particular point of view. I don't see grappling with a solution to such questions as 'contradict[ing my] core beliefs.' Paradoxes are by nature contradictory and attempting to find solutions to them is - well, you know - very difficult.

The problem is: do we need to have the concept of a triangle before we can imagine one? This is different from the question whether we must have concepts of things prior to perceiving. Imagining is different than perceiving, right? One is voluntary and the other comes, as Nietzsche pointed out in the context of criticizing Kant, 'whether we want it to or not.' You would admit that we need to have perceived a triangle and learned what one is before we can bring it before our imaginations, don't you? And that this is a very different situation from perceiving a triangle?

The more difficult question is whether we need to have learned what a triangle is before we can experience one. This is where the paradox comes in - perhaps best put here as the problem of induction. We certainly must experience many things prior to gaining the ability to discern what a triangle is. But prior to learning what a triangle is, I take the position that we do not experience a triangle - only in hindsight (after learning the concept) is it a triangle we experience. And this is not just wordplay - I think the experiences are different in one case than in the other.

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