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Switch to Forum Live View Naturalism and its discontents
4 years ago  ::  May 22, 2013 - 10:11AM #1
Stumbler
Posts: 347
In another thread, Nino invited me to clarify some points that I have touched on in various threads. These points are about naturalism, and why I have, after many years (I'll be 60 in a few months) rejected it. So I'm starting another thread for this purpose. I'll be on the road for a few weeks, so I won't have as much time to devote to it, but I'll get started now anyway.

If anyone is interested in outside reading on this, I strongly recommend Thomas Nagel's Mind and Cosmos, published last year. Nagel, an atheist, is one of the most distinguished living American philosophers. He has been savagely criticized for this book. Some have claimed that he's losing his faculties--the same treatment Antony Flew got when we went from being a public atheist to a "mere theist." This reaction tells you that Nagel has hit a nerve, if nothing else. He's not the first to make the points that he makes in the book, but his stature in the field of philosophy takes it to another level.

Incidentally, Nagel's atheism is a matter of personal preference; he makes no attempt to conceal that. Concerning God, he wrote, "I don't want the universe to be like that."

So, getting back to naturalism, I'll start with the claim with which Carl Sagan opened his television mini-series: "The cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be." That's naturalism in bumper-sticker format.

The Greek word cosmos refers to an ordered whole. In this context, the ordered whole is what we sometimes call the "natural order," or just nature.

The thing that makes nature ordered is the fact that it is (largely) law-governed. Laws of nature are descriptions of regularities or uniformities in the observable world. To say that natural processes are law-governed isn't to say that falling objects (or whatever) "obey" laws in the sense that you and I obey, say, traffic laws. It's to say that the behavior of falling objects can be described by means of mathematical expressions.

So another way to express naturalism is to say that everything that happens is subject to natural law, without exception. The natural order is a causally closed system because there is nothing external to it.

It is the business of science to discover the laws of nature and to show how they explain things that we observe.

Naturalism, the claim that the natural order is all there is, is not itself a scientific theory. It is a metaphysical theory. The fact that many scientists are naturalists does not make naturalism a scientific theory.

In contrast to naturalism, there is supernaturalism, according to which the natural order is not all there is. There is reality that is somehow above or beyond the natural order, but capable of interacting with it. If supernaturalism is true, the natural order is not a causally closed system. There isn't just one flavor of supernaturalism. There are personal and impersonal variants, although I've come to the view that a personal supernaturalism is more likely to be true.

I should add that there are different flavors of naturalism too. Different naturalisms have different ontologies.

Why is anybody a naturalist? There are a lot of reasons, but I suppose one powerful reason is the success of science. That is, by looking for natural causes and explanations, science has come a long way in a short time. It's reasonable, on the face of it, to suppose that the success of science points to the truth of naturalism.

Why is anybody a supernaturalist? Again, there are plenty of reasons, but a good place to start is the failure of naturalism to make sense of certain things. The list of things resistant to naturalism includes: the existence of the natural order itself; consciousness; Intentionality. Some add morality to the list; maybe we'll get to that later.

Intentionality is philosophical jargon for "aboutness". Some mental states, such as beliefs and desires, are somehow about things. They have "content", in a special sense of the word. It is deeply obscure how any configuration of physical entities can be about anything. Nevertheless, aboutness exists.

Consciousness is, roughly, the first-person character of experience. It is what makes mental states mental. Daniel Dennett writes, "This suggests that each of us knows exactly one mind from the inside, and no two of us know the same mind from the inside.  No other kind of thing is known about in that way." (Dennett, Kinds of Minds, 3)

That is, consciousness differs from everything in the natural order in that it is known "from the inside." Of course, "inside" is a spatial metaphor, not a literal description of location. To the supernaturalist, the fact that anything at all has this property is a problem for naturalism, because there's nothing in naturalism that explains this.

That's all I have time for right now.
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4 years ago  ::  May 22, 2013 - 8:40PM #2
Nino0814
Posts: 1,795

I hope you enjoyed your vacation!


I may not be following your description of consciousness. Doesn't physical pain have the quality of being "known" or "experienced" from the inside, or any other sensation for that matter? If consciousness does not have a natural explanation, or involves processes beyond nature, how do we understand its evolution? Does the incipient consciousness in the earlier life forms (that evolved into conscious species) also lack a natural explanation? When and how do you see the "leap" occurring in the evolution of consciousness?


Thanks for introducing this topic!


Nino

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4 years ago  ::  May 23, 2013 - 10:31AM #3
Stumbler
Posts: 347

May 22, 2013 -- 8:40PM, Nino0814 wrote:


I hope you enjoyed your vacation!


I may not be following your description of consciousness. Doesn't physical pain have the quality of being "known" or "experienced" from the inside, or any other sensation for that matter? If consciousness does not have a natural explanation, or involves processes beyond nature, how do we understand its evolution? Does the incipient consciousness in the earlier life forms (that evolved into conscious species) also lack a natural explanation? When and how do you see the "leap" occurring in the evolution of consciousness?


Thanks for introducing this topic!


Nino




Yes, episodes of pain are conscious episodes. Conscious episodes differ from one another in what is sometimes called their "phenomenal character". A pain is different from a tickle, and a visual sensation of red is different from a visual sensation of blue, and so on. The phenomenal character of conscious episodes are also called qualia (singular: quale). So you could say that qualia exist only when experienced.


It's important not to confuse conscious episodes with simple detection. A camera detects red or blue light, but it doesn't have any visual experience or qualia. At least, very few people would attribute conscious states to a Sony Sure-Shot.


So, how do we understand the evolution of consciousness, and when did it arise?


Starting with the evolution of consciousness, we actually don't have any good account of it. Natural selection can only explain things that make an adaptive difference. Consciousness doesn't. If I put my hand in the fire, what matters is that I quickly pull it out of the fire before I'm seriously hurt. That means that I need to (a) detect the heat, and (b) react to it. Just as the camera doesn't have to experience blue to be able to photograph it, I don't have to experience heat in order to detect it; and reacting to it is purely behavioral. The quale of heat adds nothing to the process.


Evolution only "cares" about what I do, not what it's like from the inside for me to do it. I could be just as successful in evolutionary terms if I were a "zombie", to use another philosophical term of art, i.e., a behavioral duplicate of myself with no conscious states at all (an organic robot, if you will). Therefore, evolution can't explain why I'm more than a zombie.


What is "incipient consciousness"? As far as I can tell, a being either has conscious episodes or it doesn't; it's a bivalent concept. One being may have a greater range of kinds of conscious episodes than another. A congenitally blind person has no visual experiences at all (except maybe in a NDE!), so such a person has a somewhat narrower range of conscious episodes than a sighted person. But any being that has any conscious episodes at all is a conscious being. I don't know what would count as incipient consciousness.


There is no agreement about where consciousness begins in the phylogenetic ladder. There's a very good reason for that. There is no theory that explains how neural tissue, or any other kind of material, can produce consciousness in the first place. This is because consciousness has properties, such as being intrinsically first-person, that organized groupings of matter don't have. There is nothing about neurons or any other material entities that would tell you that if you put them together in a certain way, you'll get realities (qualia) that can only be apprehended by a single subject in the entire universe. Nothing else in the physical universe is like that.


For the record, Dennett has argued that consciousness is no different from life. There used to be a theory, vitalism, according to which living things differed from non-living things in virtue of having an extra component, a "life force." Nobody talks about the life force anymore because we can explain life in purely materialistic terms. Dennett is right about life, but wrong about the analogy with consciousness.


The difference is that the concept of life can be analyzed into component functional concepts. To be alive is to function in certain ways: homeostasis, assimilation, metabolism, reproduction, etc. Each of these functions can be further analyzed into more basic functions. Then, in the 20th century, we started to know enough about cellular machinery to be able to say how these functions are implemented, and that completed the explanation.


In contrast, any analysis of consciousness leads immediately to the first-person property already mentioned, and the related issue of qualia. Not only is there nothing known about material things that can explain that, it doesn't even seem plausible that there's anything we could discover about them that would close the gap (called the "explanatory gap").


We might discover new physical properties of physical things, but what makes a property "physical" in the first place? At least part of the answer is that it is publicly observable in space-time. But that is precisely what qualia and conscious states are not.


There are various theories of consciousness and its evolution that have been put forward, but invariably they quietly ignore the core issue of being intrinsically first-person and instead focus on this or that cognitive aspect of mind. Such theories are interesting but they don't touch the core problem.




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4 years ago  ::  May 23, 2013 - 5:33PM #4
Nino0814
Posts: 1,795
If my understanding of biological evolution is correct, there is not a particular generation where the next generation is distinct as a species from the previous one, yet we know that slight modifications in each generation can under certain conditions bring about speciation.  I imagine that the same would be true of the evolution of consciousness.  It wasn't as if one modification "turned on" consciousness.  Therefore consciousness  must be based on subcomponents that were functioning in other ways, that later evolved into what we would identify as consciousness.

Pain is experientially a first person phenomenon yet isn't it also a "material" one?  The same is true of emotions such as love, fear, sexual desire?  I do not understand your view that their subjective experiential nature requires a supernatural cause.

My crude understanding is that we are a universe of various symbiotic systems that have adapted together for mutual survival and reproduction.  The collective system functions as a single system;  the communication between the systems within that universe creates (or what we experience as) consciousness.

I see our first person experiential nature to be advantageous in terms of our biological survival.  It allows these symbiotic systems to communicate and cooperate for their mutual survival.
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4 years ago  ::  May 24, 2013 - 10:26AM #5
Stumbler
Posts: 347

May 23, 2013 -- 5:33PM, Nino0814 wrote:

If my understanding of biological evolution is correct, there is not a particular generation where the next generation is distinct as a species from the previous one, yet we know that slight modifications in each generation can under certain conditions bring about speciation. I imagine that the same would be true of the evolution of consciousness. It wasn't as if one modification "turned on" consciousness. Therefore consciousness must be based on subcomponents that were functioning in other ways, that later evolved into what we would identify as consciousness.



You are conflating two utterly different things: speciation and the appearance of a property that is conceptually discontinuous from other properties.


In the case of speciation, we can at least compare two species, work out their points of similarity and difference, and imagine a pathway of slight modifications from one to the other. Related species have similarities in structure and function, etc.


In suggesting that something similar can explain the "evolution of consciousness" you are once again smuggling in something whose meaning is obscure: "incipient consciousness" is what you called it before. Once again I ask: What is it? How is consciousness to be conceived as a modification of properties that are devoid of consciousness? That's where the analogy with speciation fails.



Pain is experientially a first person phenomenon yet isn't it also a "material" one?



What makes you think that pain is a material or physical property? What's physical about it, apart from many of its causes? It's not disputed that conscious episodes have physical causes.



The same is true of emotions such as love, fear, sexual desire? I do not understand your view that their subjective experiential nature requires a supernatural cause.




My point so far is simply that there is no naturalistic explanation of conscious states, and nothing to hint that one is forthcoming. The subjective experiential nature of love, fear, desire and the like are unaccounted for by the resources of naturalism.


You can give an evolutionary explanation of why we should be inclined to avoid certain stimuli, but inclined to seek out others. That can all be done in behavioral terms. You can't give an evolutionary or neuroscientific or computation or any other explanation of why any of these should involve qualia noninferentially knowable to exactly one being in the universe.



My crude understanding is that we are a universe of various symbiotic systems that have adapted together for mutual survival and reproduction. The collective system functions as a single system; the communication between the systems within that universe creates (or what we experience as) consciousness. I see our first person experiential nature to be advantageous in terms of our biological survival. It allows these symbiotic systems to communicate and cooperate for their mutual survival.



Then answer two simple questions:


1. How do you get consciousness from a collection of non-conscious modules? What properties do any of these modules have that, when linked together, somehow add up to consciousness?


2. What advantage does consciousness confer that is over and above the behaviors that actually get us killed or laid?


My thermostat can detect the temperature in the room and react by turning the heat or AC on or off. Would it be a better thermostat if, in the process, it had a first-person experience of how warm the room is?


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4 years ago  ::  May 24, 2013 - 9:19PM #6
Nino0814
Posts: 1,795

I believe I understand your point.  We can explain the physical / material basis for the reactions of animals to stimuli, but that first reaction is not the same as the subjective expereince.


An unconscious person's body will react to stimulation, but he or she will not be aware of the reaction.


My eye may view a scene, but the eye's reaction to the physical stimuli of the scene is not a subjective experience. Consciousness is a second order reaction (it is that "something else" which is reacting to my body's reaction to a stimuli).


I believe we agree that we are a symbiotic sytem whose modules cooperate due to the survival and reproductive advantage their relationships give (primarily) to the modules and (secondarily) to the entire system.  The "system" is a secondary effect of these relationships, but that effect enables the survival and replication of the modules.


Now my crude attempt to explain:


If one module of our symbiotic system (unconsciously) react to stimuli, wouldn't other modules' reaction to the the first module's reaction be a second order reaction?  And from an entire "system" perspective, couldn't the entire system have a kind of collective second order reaction to the second order reactions of the modules (the system then has conscious awareness)?  


There should be little doubt that the survival and replication of the "system" is enhanced by this kind of communication among the modules.


An ant colony is a type of "open" symbiotic system.  An ant unconsciously searches for food, and chemically records his root to food sources.  The recording of that information and the retrieval of the information by other ants, allows the colony to know where to find food.  The colony has a memory.  The colony being an "open" system does not possess a second order reaction to its memory.  


Sentient beings are "closed" systems.  It would be biological advantageous for them to evolve a second order reaction to their memory.  Like an "open" symbiotic system, sentient beings record and retrieve information.  Unlike the ant colony, sentient beings have a module that enables a second order reaction to their memory.  That module is the source of the sentient beings self awareness.


The evolution of communication among sentient being through the use of symbols gives rise to abstract thought. 


What evolved into complex thinking may be an example of what Steven Jay Gould called an evolutionary biological "spandrel", I am not sure.  


One thing is clear, consciousness is not reducible to its subcomponents, as you clearly indicate, but it is clearly an effect produced by those subcomponents (modules), and therefore in (my crude understanding) consciousness is as natural as the systems that produce it.

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4 years ago  ::  May 25, 2013 - 4:38PM #7
Stumbler
Posts: 347

May 24, 2013 -- 9:19PM, Nino0814 wrote:


I believe I understand your point.  We can explain the physical / material basis for the reactions of animals to stimuli, but that first reaction is not the same as the subjective expereince.




Correct.



My eye may view a scene, but the eye's reaction to the physical stimuli of the scene is not a subjective experience. Consciousness is a second order reaction (it is that "something else" which is reacting to my body's reaction to a stimuli).




That's not how I use the term "second order". If a desire for a cigarette is a first-order desire, a desire not to have that desire is a second-order desire. That is, a second order desire is still a desire, still the same kind of thing as the first-order thing. A conscious visual experience is not the same kind of thing as the transduction of optical information, which is what the eye's reaction is.



I believe we agree that we are a symbiotic sytem whose modules cooperate due to the survival and reproductive advantage their relationships give (primarily) to the modules and (secondarily) to the entire system.  The "system" is a secondary effect of these relationships, but that effect enables the survival and replication of the modules.




I'll go along with that, although I'm well aware that the very idea of a "module", though popular, is a bit whimsical. What counts as a module anyway? Is memory a module, several modules, or something else? Does memory have "interests" that give it "advantages" and so on? Until someone shows a natural way of individuating modules, I'm happy to think of them as useful constructs.



Now my crude attempt to explain:


If one module of our symbiotic system (unconsciously) react to stimuli, wouldn't other modules' reaction to the the first module's reaction be a second order reaction?  And from an entire "system" perspective, couldn't the entire system have a kind of collective second order reaction to the second order reactions of the modules (the system then has conscious awareness)?  




That's a nice bit of sleight of hand. You just pulled subjectivity out of thin air. The key is the vagueness of the word "reaction." You're saying that parts of us react to stimuli, i.e., parts of us are impinged upon by stimuli and change as a result. Those changes, or reactions, cause other parts to change, which creates patterns of change, which you're calling higher order reactions. That's all well and good, but in order for this to be more than sleight of hand, you have to say what kind of reactions the first-order ones are, and how that specific kind of activity, when it causally interacts with other systems, gives rise to something fundamentally unlike any of the first-order reactions.


Note that all these first-order processes that you're talking about are publicly observable, "third-person" physical interactions. Light impinges on retina, action potentials are generated in neurons, and so on. But at some point in all this, something comes into being that is not publicly observable, even in principle. That's the thing that needs explaining, and merely talking about higher-order global reactions doesn't do it.


There are lots of multi-system global processes, such as immune system mobilization, that don't give rise to subjective states. So the fact that such things happen in the nervous system doesn't in itself explain anything.



There should be little doubt that the survival and replication of the "system" is enhanced by this kind of communication among the modules.




I certainly don't doubt it. But again, there are lots of system interactions that enhance survival without having anything to do with consciousness, so it's hard to see how this helps.



An ant colony is a type of "open" symbiotic system.  An ant unconsciously searches for food, and chemically records his root to food sources.  The recording of that information and the retrieval of the information by other ants, allows the colony to know where to find food.  The colony has a memory.  The colony being an "open" system does not possess a second order reaction to its memory.  


Sentient beings are "closed" systems.  It would be biological advantageous for them to evolve a second order reaction to their memory.  Like an "open" symbiotic system, sentient beings record and retrieve information.  Unlike the ant colony, sentient beings have a module that enables a second order reaction to their memory.  That module is the source of the sentient beings self awareness.




If the point is that nervous systems have advantages over ant colonies, in terms of their ability to store and retrieve information, I agree. What you haven't done, however, is say anything about what any of it has to do with sentience, which is just another term for the property of having conscious states.



The evolution of communication among sentient being through the use of symbols gives rise to abstract thought.




Does it? Inevitably? Probably? If you believe that there are billions and billions of sentient life forms that communicate--as I do--but only one species capable of abstract thought, isn't it a bit glib to say that communication among sentient beings "gives rise to abstract thought", as if it were a lawlike process?



What evolved into complex thinking may be an example of what Steven Jay Gould called an evolutionary biological "spandrel", I am not sure.  




The spandrel, or exaptation, is supposed to be an adaptively neutral side-effect of a trait that was selected for. In the case of complex thinking, it would look like this: Human beings had to survive the transition from being forest foragers to savanna hunters. In the process they evolved greater intelligence for finding tubers and hunting wild boars. As a side-effect, we can do calculus, symbolic logic, string quartets, and so on.


Please note that the spandrel theory is not an explanation. It's an excuse for not having an explanation. Evolutionary biologists can seldom or never show that some trait was a spandrel. They can merely posit that it might have been, thus removing the need to seek a direct adaptation theory.


I have no problem with this, but it's important to note, as many have, that offering such a "theory" as an explanation of abstract thought is wildly speculative.


Furthermore, it's not clear what abstract thought has to do with consciousness. You didn't make any connection between the two, so I'm wondering if you think consciousness is a prerequisite for abstract thought. We have, for example, computers that discover and prove new theorems. Is this, in your view, abstract thought? Does it involve sentience?



One thing is clear, consciousness is not reducible to its subcomponents, as you clearly indicate, but it is clearly an effect produced by those subcomponents (modules), and therefore in (my crude understanding) consciousness is as natural as the systems that produce it.




What makes it clear that consciousness is an effect produced by modules?


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4 years ago  ::  May 25, 2013 - 6:56PM #8
Nino0814
Posts: 1,795

I concede that we do not have an adequate model of how consciousness (subjective experience and a sense of self) arises from the neurocircuitry of the brain.


I imagine that these arise from multiple internal brain functions due to the fact that we have examples of countless neurological disorders that show us that our sense of self is brain based, and therefore it is reasonable to assume that consciousness arises from the brain.


I believe we will get closer to understanding how consciousness arises from these complex brain processes as we advance in our knowledge of neuroscience.  There are a lot of physiological questions that we can ask that research should ne able to help us with.  These are just a few of mine, and I am no neuroscientist so I am sure we have answers for them already:


Does the creation and retrieval of memory create our sense of an "internal world"?


What roles does it (an internal world of memory and an external world of incoming stimuli) have in the creation of consciousness?


What role does the use of symbols (and language) play in the development of the "internal world" and enable complex thought?   


What role does our sense of having a will (we select options based on memory and current options) have in creating consciousness?  


Neurological disorders may help us answer some of these questions.  Do people who lose their ability to create memory and to retrieve them lost their sense of self?


I assume that consciousness (qualia and our sense of self) is the result of many processes in the brain; especially the creation and retrieval of memory, and the sense of a will.


Do you have more reasons / evidence to believe that consciousness is supernatural than the evidence we can glean from various neurological disorders that points to the brain origin of consciousness?


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4 years ago  ::  Jun 11, 2013 - 9:39AM #9
Stumbler
Posts: 347

Back from vacation.


May 25, 2013 -- 6:56PM, Nino0814 wrote:


I concede that we do not have an adequate model of how consciousness (subjective experience and a sense of self) arises from the neurocircuitry of the brain.




We have no model at all, not just an inadequate one. Moreover, the problem of consciousness is not just a matter of a "sense of self". That's another exercise of sleight of hand. The term "sense of self" is vague and might refer to things such as your psychological continuity and awareness of who you are over time. These are important things, no doubt, but the problem of consciousness is deeper. Even a person with advanced dementia, whose sense of self is very much eroded, is still presumably a conscious being, not a zombie.


"Subjective experience," the first person phenomenal character of conscious states, can exist when the sense of self is impaired or absent.



I imagine that these arise from multiple internal brain functions due to the fact that we have examples of countless neurological disorders that show us that our sense of self is brain based, and therefore it is reasonable to assume that consciousness arises from the brain.




Assumptions are, of course, not evidence. The fact that brain states are, to a great extent, correlated with conscious states is not in doubt. It has been understood for a long time that correlation doesn't entail causation. You can, as you say, assume that the correlation is best explained by causation (if causation is what you mean by "arises from"), but without an actual causal story of how such a thing is even possible, it's no more reasonable an assumption than the assumption that consciousness depends on something outside the natural order.


In fact, the very absence of not only a "model" of how consciousness can arise from neural circuitry but also a conceptual framework from which such a model could be built casts a large shadow of doubt on the assumption. If there were only one such explanatory gap, we might shrug it off, but it isn't. The problem of Intentionality is just as bad.



I believe we will get closer to understanding how consciousness arises from these complex brain processes as we advance in our knowledge of neuroscience.  There are a lot of physiological questions that we can ask that research should ne able to help us with.  These are just a few of mine, and I am no neuroscientist so I am sure we have answers for them already:


Does the creation and retrieval of memory create our sense of an "internal world"?


What roles does it (an internal world of memory and an external world of incoming stimuli) have in the creation of consciousness?


What role does the use of symbols (and language) play in the development of the "internal world" and enable complex thought?   


What role does our sense of having a will (we select options based on memory and current options) have in creating consciousness?  


Neurological disorders may help us answer some of these questions.  Do people who lose their ability to create memory and to retrieve them lost their sense of self?


I assume that consciousness (qualia and our sense of self) is the result of many processes in the brain; especially the creation and retrieval of memory, and the sense of a will.


Do you have more reasons / evidence to believe that consciousness is supernatural than the evidence we can glean from various neurological disorders that points to the brain origin of consciousness?




Yes. As we've already discussed, there is the evidence of NDEs, in some of which there are conscious mental states not correlated with appropriate brain states.


One of the discoveries of modern cognitive science, which to some extent confirms the views of Freud, is that a great deal of what we call "mental" activity is, in fact, not conscious at all. This makes the existence of consciousness more obscure, not less so. The more we learn about how the heavy lifting is done unconsciously, the less clear it is what consciousness is even for, in purely functional terms.


Certainly, you may say that you are confident that all the difficulties will be worked out in the end and all will be subsumed under some scientific theory or theories. The trail of evidence takes us as far as an imperfect correlation of conscious states and brain states, but no farther. I take that as evidence that a full account of what's going on will take us beyond the natural order. You, in contrast, take the discovery of the correlations as evidence that an actual explanation is forthcoming.


Science, of course, recognizes the existence of "brute facts", i.e., things that just are a certain way, that aren't explained by further facts. The basic constants of physics are like this. Even if some of them are eventually shown to be derivable from others, in a "theory of everything," there is no reason to suppose that that theory will be devoid of brute facts. But it's noteworthy that the brute facts recognized by science are in the domain of physics.


Maybe it's just a brute fact that consciousness "arises from" neurocircuitry. If so, it would be a very odd duck of a brute fact, a case of "brute emergence." But brute emergence is widely held to be at odds with science, and for good reason. Emergent phenomena are supposed to be explained by lower-level phenomena; they're not supposed to be brute facts. The liquidity of water is an emergent property, but we can explain it in terms of lower-level properties: bonds, molecular structures, etc. If consciousness and Intentionality are brute facts then they are basic, and that means that physics is not the science of the most basic facts about the natural order.


People like Roger Penrose and Gregg Rosenberg see the problem of consciousness as pointing to an incompleteness in basic physical theory, rather than a puzzle to be solved at the much higher level of description of neuroscience. Penrose favors a dualistic ontology, similar to Karl Popper's, and that is itself a kind of supernatural stance, though not a recognizably theistic one. As for Rosenberg, I don't understand his position well enough to try to summarize it.

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4 years ago  ::  Jun 11, 2013 - 10:37PM #10
Nino0814
Posts: 1,795

Welcome back!  Thanks for the synopsis on the mystery of consciousness and the challenge of finding a reductionistic explanation to account for its emergence.

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