Monday, July 21, 2014

Re: David Chalmers: How do you explain consciousness?

Hey Serge, 

Thanks for the link. I also appreciate your comments and though your and my 'translations' differ, I agree Chalmers' present trial theory of consciousness being fundamental is a bit premature and mis-guided. 

How I heard he couched it was he first accepts, whole hog, the objective and subjective categories as 100% valid (unquestioned, straight  from the Cartesian split) and then he proceeds to compound that erroneous assumption by concluding consciousness must be anomalous since it doesn't fit within the terms of previously assumed objective scientific fundamentals  of space, time, mass,charge...   

The alternative, and perhaps one that is too crazy for even Australian tenured philosophy of science professors to utter out loud is that the presently assumed scientific tenets are, themselves, not exactly fundamental.

In your storyline, you cast up the IIS - integrated information system as an alternative approach.  That is pretty handy and has many nice features and qualities. 

 In the storyline I am advocating I fold both of those around and write on the front of the tee-shirt: "Reality is nested structured~duality", which rather clearly is what just about anyone can observe if they look carefully inside space-time relativity, quantum gravity, and electro-magnetic fields, even if they first describe that complexity just as electric charges put in terms of the erroneously assumed space and time, etc.

Casting things in terms of information is a reasonable and popular approximation, but the actual unifying fundamental is the queer and gangly  new thing of structured~duality.  That's the one thing that supports all the stuff in both the physical and the mental realms. It's the new thing folks need to puzzle over and learn which sparks and sustains the paradigm transition.

Opting for this mild but necessary psychotic adaption allows participants to just witness and experience the on-going levels of nested structural coding -- experiencing the nested fields within nested fields -- the structural coding within the nested Higgs within electro-magnetic....   Of course structured attraction and repulsion and spin  feels like something!

Moreover, please notice, the choice of scientific model does not or should not impose or rule out people making or not making a subsequent particular religious/philosophical choice.  That is,  for instance consider Chalmers subsequent ad for panpsychism AFTER stating the assumption that consciousness is fundamental, or your parallel plug for pan-informationalism.  Those may be the ~religious beliefs of the particular advocates,  but the actual successful scientific model of consciousness that takes the prize supports all the various options. 

Thus, as in all instances of life, we just have and encounter the nested structural coding: pick a structure; pick a duality; work outward from there, albeit, perhaps with great fear and trembling...

Again, thanks for the link.  David did a pretty good job of surviving what must be an incredibly stressful public speaking experience.

That is, also, who are we, or in particular, me,  to criticize?

Best regards,
Ralph Frost

With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation. Isaiah 12:3

---In, wrote :
I would like to attract the jcs-online readers' attention to the recent David Chalmers' TED talk titled "How do you explain consciousness?". It can be found here

In the talk he says: "Some people say a science of consciousness is impossible. Science, by its nature, is objective. Consciousness, by its nature, is subjective. So there can never be a science of consciousness. For much of the 20th century, that view held sway. Psychologists studied behavior objectively, neuroscientists studied the brain objectively, and nobody even mentioned consciousness."
And to make progress in constructing the science of consciousness, Chalmers suggest considering two, as he says, "crazy" ideas. The first one is that consciousness is fundamental. He says: "The natural thing to do is to postulate consciousness itself as something fundamental, a fundamental building block of nature. This doesn't mean you suddenly can't do science with it. This opens up the way for you to do science with it. What we then need is to study the fundamental laws governing consciousness, the laws that connect consciousness to other fundamentals: space, time, mass, physical processes." 
The second crazy idea, according to Chalmers, is that "consciousness might be universal". He explains: "Every system might have some degree of consciousness. This view is sometimes called panpsychism: pan for all, psych for mind, every system is conscious, not just humans, dogs, mice, flies, but even Rob Knight's microbes, elementary particles. Even a photon has some degree of consciousness."
Now then, I would like to inform Chalmers (and others) that the version of the theory of consciousness does exist that considers information (or consciousness as a way of dealing with physical signals and transforming them into information) as a factor as fundamental as matter and energy. A theoretical base is constructed that makes it possible to talk about consciousness in its own terms, but not in terms of Physics or Mathematics. The idea of the integrated information system (or IIS for short) is formulated, and the law of IIS development steps out as a "fundamental law governing consciousness", and not only consciousness.
As to the second Chalmers' "crazy" idea, I must mention that my theory considers a doctrine of panpsychism as unscientific, and suggests a doctrine of pan-informationism instead of panpsychism.
So, instead of concluding that we still do not have a scientific theory of consciousness, I would like to advise Chalmers to become acquainted not only with Giulio Tononi's or Daniel Dennett's papers.
Serge Patlavskiy

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