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Switch to Forum Live View Human Cognition: Can Materialism explain it?
5 years ago  ::  Mar 16, 2010 - 7:58PM #61
Faustus5
Posts: 2,022

Mar 16, 2010 -- 6:24PM, newchurchguy wrote:


Kandel offers some very well considered opinion himself in Chapter 28 on the subject of consciousness in his book - but - he is plain spoken that science is not able to reduce it to brain processes.




If he's using the word "reduce" in its technically precise sense in philosophy of science, then I believe, along with Dennett and others, that he is correct.  However, that is rarely what people mean when they use the "R" word, so chances are he' just incorrect.


As for the claim that no one has the foggiest idea how the brain forms the mind, it is difficult to tell what he means by this without further detail.  (And I should also mention that the author of the article you cited is notoriously biased in favor of the claim that science is coming up against all sorts of permanent barriers, so naturally he isn't giving us the other side.)


Kandel would of course know about the global workspace model, but--and here is my confident guess--he has probably been so confused by the ramblings of bad philosophers on consciousness that he thinks consciousness is something further still.  It's only been in the last couple of decades that neuroscientists have been comfortable even bringing the subject up, and at 81 the guy is most certainly of the old school which tends to have this problem.

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5 years ago  ::  Mar 17, 2010 - 4:46AM #62
Blü
Posts: 24,934

ncg


Meaning being like matter, energy and Shannon bits and bytes solves the problem.


You were (and are) unable to attribute an objective meaning to your own 'hot stove' example.  I'm surprised that you can't grasp the significance of that failure.  As we've said all along, meaning - like all concepts - exists only in brains.  'Matter', 'energy', 'Shannon bits', 'information' - they're all generalized abstractions about things in reality, but no generalized abstraction is of itself a thing in external reality.

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5 years ago  ::  Mar 22, 2010 - 4:32PM #63
newchurchguy
Posts: 3,633

Mar 17, 2010 -- 4:46AM, Blü wrote:


ncg


Meaning being like matter, energy and Shannon bits and bytes solves the problem.


You were (and are) unable to attribute an objective meaning to your own 'hot stove' example.  I'm surprised that you can't grasp the significance of that failure.  As we've said all along, meaning - like all concepts - exists only in brains.  'Matter', 'energy', 'Shannon bits', 'information' - they're all generalized abstractions about things in reality, but no generalized abstraction is of itself a thing in external reality.




Blu,


The things you say.  The stove has objective meaning for single cell organisms and plants, without brains.  The heat will destroy their lives.   Do you ever watch the NatGeo channel - "What would happen to the world without humans?"


The lack of human "brains" changes little of the natural processes.  Everything goes on with the same meaning - without human brains - or even any living brains.


You continue to make the same false claim - with no sensible rebuttal - only firm repetitive outcries.  You say that matter, energy and information in systems that makes them complex - are abstractions.


Of course - that how we capture the data and meaning and make it our own.


But you ignore the data we capture and the meaning we understand - HAVE TO BE THERE IN OBJECTIVE REALITY FOR US TO GRASP THEM!


We have a number two symbol (actually many) - because naked two as binary pairs occur naturally in all environments.  You can not get it that symbols and their targets are epistemological vs ontological categories.


You are in your own empistemological universe and sware that your brain made it from scratch!!! 


....Rather than the scientific model of information processing - according to Turing criteria for a computer.



A Turing machine that is able to simulate any other Turing machine is called a Universal Turing machine (UTM, or simply a universal machine). A more mathematically-oriented definition with a similar "universal" nature was introduced by Alonzo Church, whose work on lambda calculus intertwined with Turing's in a formal theory of computation known as the Church–Turing thesis. The thesis states that Turing machines indeed capture the informal notion of effective method in logic and mathematics, and provide a precise definition of an algorithm or 'mechanical procedure'.


Studying their abstract properties yields many insights into computer science and complexity theory.



For you - computation is like a machine that makes its own energy - rather than having a contextual understanding from computational rules that require the 2nd law to rule as a overreaching principle.  The abstract properties are as objective as the mechanical properties of the rotating solar system.

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5 years ago  ::  Mar 22, 2010 - 5:48PM #64
Blü
Posts: 24,934

ncg


we capture the data and meaning and make it our own.


And only then - not before - do the data acquire meaning, the meaning the perceiver gives them.  That's why your hot stove has no meaning when there's no one around, although it's still emitting relevant EM waves.



naked two as binary pairs


I can't believe you're still saying that, since you've utterly failed throughout our conversations to show the existence of a naked 'two' outside of a brain.  In fact you're run away rather than admit you can't.  Nor can you do so now.



The abstract properties are as objective as the mechanical properties of the rotating solar system.


All the descriptions of physics, including the workings of the solar system, are interpretations, always tentative, never absolute.  Geocentrism's an example.

And abstractions don't exist outside of brains, of course.

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5 years ago  ::  Mar 23, 2010 - 6:58PM #65
Faustus5
Posts: 2,022

I don't really care much for New Scientist magazine, but here is an interesting article on the latest support the global neuronal workspace theory (discussed in my first post here) is getting:


www.newscientist.com/article/mg20527520....

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5 years ago  ::  Mar 23, 2010 - 7:46PM #66
Blü
Posts: 24,934

Faustus


Thanks for that - very helpful.

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4 years ago  ::  Mar 27, 2010 - 5:03PM #67
Don't_Be_Captious
Posts: 1,035

I just happened to come across this thread several days ago, and wasn't familiar with the preceding discussion since I haven't lurked on the AD boards for a long time. 


I must say I was pretty surprised to find JCarlinbn endorsing the view s/he does, since as I recall JCBN had seemed to me to be quite an atheist skeptic materialist a long time ago under the ancien regime (BNet 1.0).  As I recall, a member I had considerable distaste for, Charles Fiterman, had died, and JCBN made a point of posting a eulogy-type thread in his memory. (I didn't dislike CF because he was atheist, but rather because I had come to see him as quite an a-hole, to be frank.)  In any case, CF certainly would have endorsed Dennett's Global Neuronal Workspace model as a very, very credible theory.


I haven't seen this cited anywhere around here by Faustus or anyone else, so I'll mention the Alan Alda Scientific American Frontiers (I think) episode in which he discusses the science of consciousness, ending with a very profound visit to some brain-research facility in which the researchers use MRI or MRI-like machines to "view" people's conscious thinking.  They demonstrate pretty conclusively that neuronal activity in conscious waking thought & feeling gives off a certain signature*, one that is utterly unique to each individual person, and probably for each moment of time within each person.  Indeed, the "signature" of conscious thought looks very much like a flickering flame of a fire -- and that is, after all, what makes most sense about consciousness, that, metaphorically, it's a phenomenon that "exists" in just such-and-such a way, very temporarily & fleetingly, and only in a very short period of time, just like a fire's flame, always & only during the present moment of time of "here & now."


(Which, to go back to something blu & I have discussed before, is yet another empirical reason why I'd much rather go in for Existentialism & Phenomenology, than for any Block Universe theory, philosophically anyway.)


 


 


*It may well be that what I'm referring to here is the same thing referred to in the article Faustus gave in his link above.


From that article www.newscientist.com/article/mg20527520.... :


As in the previous experiments, brain activity during both conscious and unconscious perception was similar for the first 300 ms, followed by increased and coordinated activity in distant parts of the brain whenever something was perceived consciously. Crucially, although the electrodes had been placed in areas relevant to the treatment of epilepsy - and not specifically areas proposed to be important in conscious perception - 68 per cent of the electrodes still recorded a significant response to the conscious stimulus. This suggests that the global workspace may in fact occupy a significant chunk of the cortex.


It was the most compelling evidence yet for the "signature of consciousness" predicted by the global workspace theory. Baars was elated. "I'm thrilled by these results," he said at the time. "It is the first really solid, direct evidence for the notion of conscious global access, or global broadcasting." More detailed experiments have supported these results by looking at the activity of single neurons (see "Consciousness, one neuron at a time").


...researchers...are now attempting to ask more nuanced questions thrown up by the global workspace theory. An important question from a clinical perspective, for example, is how the signatures of consciousness might differ between people with brain damage and the healthy population...


...Certain regions of the brain's global workspace, dubbed the default mode network (DMN), are active even when we are resting and not concentrating on any particular task. If the global workspace really is essential for conscious perception, Laureys's team predicted that the activity of the DMN should be greatest in healthy volunteers and in people with locked-in-syndrome, who are conscious but can only move their eyes, and much less active in minimally conscious patients. Those in a vegetative state or in a coma should have even less activity in the DMN.


The researchers found just that when they scanned the brains of 14 people with brain damage and 14 healthy volunteers using fMRI. In a paper published in December 2009, they showed that the activity of the DMN dropped exponentially starting with healthy volunteers right down to those in a vegetative state (Brain, vol 133, p 161). "The difference between minimally conscious and vegetative state is not easy to make on the bedside and four times out of 10 we may get it wrong," he says. "So this could be of diagnostic value."


...Then there are the philosophical questions to consider. Philosophers like David Chalmers at the Australian National University in Canberra, tend to divide the study of consciousness into the so-called hard and easy problems. The easy problem looks at correlations between brain activity and different states of consciousness - something the global workspace theory is beginning to crack. The hard problem, meanwhile, probes the deeper question of how these patterns of electrical activity could ever give rise to the many subjective facets of our internal life that we experience as conscious human beings.


Indeed, philosophers like Chalmers remain unconvinced that we are even close to approaching a solution to the hard problem. Dehaene [one of the researchers], however, predicts that it will all fall into place once we have a comprehensive global workspace theory to work with. "Once the easy problem is solved, there will be no hard problem," he says.



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4 years ago  ::  Mar 27, 2010 - 7:17PM #68
Jcarlinbn
Posts: 7,053

Mar 27, 2010 -- 5:03PM, Don't_Be_Captious wrote:

I must say I was pretty surprised to find JCarlinbn endorsing the view s/he does, since as I recall JCBN had seemed to me to be quite an atheist skeptic materialist a long time ago under the ancien regime (BNet 1.0).  As I recall, a member I had considerable distaste for, Charles Fiterman, had died, and JCBN made a point of posting a eulogy-type thread in his memory. 


Just to correct the record, no offense taken,  J'Carlin took on the skeptics/materialists even then,  See  Paranormal Experiments in Naturalism and Sylvia Brown.  As for the Fiterman thread that was the work of jcarlinbn.  The distinction still applies.   

Jcarlinbn, community moderator
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4 years ago  ::  Mar 29, 2010 - 7:14AM #69
Don't_Be_Captious
Posts: 1,035

Either you're talking about yourself in 3rd person, like a WWF wrestler, or some other strange dialectical twist has occurred whose history I have no idea of nor care to learn; either way, it's all a bit too exotic for my taste.


But the fact that you (or jcarlinbn, whatever the case may be) both liked CF and go in for paranormal hogwash is definitely 2 strikes in my book.  Sorry but true.

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4 years ago  ::  Mar 29, 2010 - 6:12PM #70
Jcarlinbn
Posts: 7,053

Mar 29, 2010 -- 7:14AM, Don't_Be_Captious wrote:

But the fact that you (or jcarlinbn, whatever the case may be) both liked CF and go in for paranormal hogwash is definitely 2 strikes in my book.  Sorry but true. 


The third person was necessary to distinguish the member J'Carlin from the host jcarlinbn who originally had to share a username due to beliefnet's technical limitations at the time.  So for the purpose of this discussion you can ignore the host and the host's actions as host.  jcbn


However, I have no interest in denying that I liked CF in both of his persona.  His comparison of Wile E. Coyote and God as Gaius is still a classic on the old boards. True he was brutal to theists and his "God is a small statue" could get tiresome, as could some of his other common themes that were overworked, but whether you liked him or not he made people think outside of their little boxes which is always painful.  I am pleased you didn't like him.  


As for the paranormal hogwash, if you can prove to any competent scientist that emotional communication between two humans or for that matter between a human and herm dog, with no sensual connection is impossible, I would be very interested and amazed.  Not a theory of how something or another might account for the communication, but proof that there is no way one mind can affect another without the usual sensual communication channels.


As a starter you can explain how a string quartet attacks simultaneously even with their eyes closed.  Or how a trapeze flyer gets her catcher's hands and her own at the right place at the right time. Keep in mind that the flyer's tuck opening is blind with respect to the catcher.  Or how a husband knows that his wife doesn't have a headache.  


Oh, yes.  I am also pleased that you don't like me.  


 


 

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