Page 1 of 10 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 30 of 282

Thread: Consciousness being non-material

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    1,318

    Consciousness being non-material

    I do not understand why so many people choose to believe that consciousness is some fundamental part of realty rather than being an emergent
    property of the brain. I know we do not know how the brain produces our rich inner experience but i would argue that is because it is a subjective
    phenomenon. I would argue that the brain is way more powerful than any computer we have built up to now. The computational processing power and
    the trillions of connections is vastly complex and intricate. Because of this vastly intricate processing, consciousness arises.

    There is an obvious correlation between brain, nervous system and mind.

    I feel a lot of people do not take into account how complex the networking in the brain is.

    It seems more and more people are stating that consciousness is some fundamental field or property of nature.

    Even highly academic people are suggesting the brain does not produce consciousness. Some say the brain is only a receiver of it.

    If i said to a non materialist that they have no evidence for consciousness being fundamental then they would argue i have no
    evidence for consciousness emerging from brain processes.

    Why are so many people arguing against consciousness being materialistic these days ?

    It seems a lot of people would rather believe that consciousness is some fundamental
    property rather than being an emergent property of the brain even without any evidence. Why is this ?

    They argue that awareness/consciousness came before anything else. I donít even know how they would come to that conclusion !
    Far away is close at hand in images of elsewhere...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    1,840
    Quote Originally Posted by kevin1981 View Post
    I do not understand why so many people choose to believe that consciousness is some fundamental part of realty rather than being an emergent
    property of the brain.
    Someone who keeps up with contemporary ideas about consciousness might know which people you are talking about, but it would be helpful to me if you could provide some links to articles that make that claim. (In particular, I don't understand why an "emergent property" is not a fundamental property of reality. Is the wetness of water a fundamental property of reality or not? )

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    17,620
    Among consciousness researchers and philosophers of mind, the non-materialist view is actually in the extreme minority, just like "conscious collapse of the wavefunction" is a minority view among physicists. But sometimes you can wander into a part of the bookshop where it seems like it's a mainstream, standard view.

    But given that we have no proper definition of "mind", and therefore no way of connecting "mind" to physical phenomena, it would be odd if there weren't people who argued for a non-materialist stance. And indeed it's important to have people like David Chalmers around, arguing for consciousness as a fundamental property of the Universe, because it makes everyone think more carefully about their unexamined assumptions.

    Grant Hutchison

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Norfolk UK and some of me is in Northern France
    Posts
    8,547
    I leave reality out of it. The brain evolved as a predictive machine, I believe that, and it is still predictive. Consciousness is emergent and pulls together models running in the brain to focus on the now, to model and predict the actions of others and to help plan for a better future for the individual. It is a side effect that being conscious makes us wonder about how things happen and we have imagination, a product of modelling others, that runs riot faced with mysteries. It is easy to imagine external consciousness, that is a side effect of theory of mind. Easy to anthroporphise spirits into trees and mountains and animals. The evidence remains solid that humans have advanced consciousness and some higher animals have a lower level but discernible. Evolution gave us the big brain strategy and it proved wildly successful. We even imagine making machines superior to us.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    1,318
    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    I leave reality out of it. The brain evolved as a predictive machine, I believe that, and it is still predictive. Consciousness is emergent and pulls together models running in the brain to focus on the now, to model and predict the actions of others and to help plan for a better future for the individual. It is a side effect that being conscious makes us wonder about how things happen and we have imagination, a product of modelling others, that runs riot faced with mysteries. It is easy to imagine external consciousness, that is a side effect of theory of mind. Easy to anthroporphise spirits into trees and mountains and animals. The evidence remains solid that humans have advanced consciousness and some higher animals have a lower level but discernible. Evolution gave us the big brain strategy and it proved wildly successful. We even imagine making machines superior to us.
    Yes, this is pretty much how i feel about the situation.
    Far away is close at hand in images of elsewhere...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    3,417
    Quote Originally Posted by tashirosgt View Post
    In particular, I don't understand why an "emergent property" is not a fundamental property of reality. Is the wetness of water a fundamental property of reality or not?
    The hallmark of an emergent property is that it could not be predicted through any amount of examination of the initial state and starting components. The only way to predict is to create a simulation and let it run.

    Cities would have been virtually impossible to predict by the mere examination of stellar chemistry.
    The current state of our world wide web (such as social networking) would have been impossible to predict from the mere examination of connected computers.
    etc.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    13,620
    I think that one difficulty is that you don't see papers on this published in journals like Science or Nature or Neuron. And basically that's because it's hard to do solid research there; we don't really have tools to probe it, and so it becomes speculative, and hence gets discussed as philosophy rather than neuroscientists.
    As above, so below

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    13,620
    But, as others have pointed out, when I've talked about it with neuroscientists, they invariably say they agree it must be an emergent property of the brain, but we don't really and perhaps cannot understand it.
    As above, so below

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    1,318
    Quote Originally Posted by tashirosgt View Post
    Someone who keeps up with contemporary ideas about consciousness might know which people you are talking about, but it would be helpful to me if you could provide some links to articles that make that claim. (In particular, I don't understand why an "emergent property" is not a fundamental property of reality. Is the wetness of water a fundamental property of reality or not? )
    Well, i think we need to be careful that we do not talk about the nature of reality too much in light of the other thread that is going on. But i will explain what i mean.

    A non-materialist would say that consciousness could be a fundamental property of reality like the electron field for example. Maybe there is some sort of fundamental consciousness field. Our brains do not produce consciousness but rather they receive it.

    I would say wetness is an emergent property from more fundamental constituents. The quarks and electrons that make up the atoms and water molecules.

    I feel that consciousness is not fundamental, i feel that it emerges from sense data received from the nervous system and highly complex, intricate brain processes.


    Well in general, i find a lot of lay people on the internet believe that consciousness is something more than brain processes. Like the Facebook group i am in. There are some quite intelligent people
    in the group, but there prefer to believe in a non material perspective. Lots of people do.

    There is a quantum physicist called John Hagelin who believes that consciousness is a fundamental field.

    http://www.scienceandnonduality.com/...unified-field/

    There is a physicist called Tom Campbell who thinks that we live in a type of virtual reality where consciousness is fundamental, he feels that consciousness processes information into
    what we perceive.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_RwcGzGurc

    Philosopher David Chalmers of course, who likes the idea that consciousness is fundamental.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhRhtFFhNzQ
    Far away is close at hand in images of elsewhere...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    1,318
    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Among consciousness researchers and philosophers of mind, the non-materialist view is actually in the extreme minority, just like "conscious collapse of the wavefunction" is a minority view among physicists. But sometimes you can wander into a part of the bookshop where it seems like it's a mainstream, standard view.
    I feel that this has happened to me, though i was and i am aware of it. I belong to a Facebook page called "Origins of Consciousness". The vast majority tend to believe in some sort of
    panpsychism or that consciousness is the fundamental substance of reality.

    I do not understand why there are so many few materialists about ! I do argue for the materialist approach because it makes sense to me. I think i have been spending too long on
    this group because it feels like no is ready to accept my arguments and there all would rather believe in some sort of consciousness is magical woo, even though they have no evidence for it !
    Far away is close at hand in images of elsewhere...

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Depew, NY
    Posts
    11,799
    Personally, I am sort of convinced by the highest levels of woo-i-ness. The brain is a big error correcting machine and the output is what the structure does with all that entropy or information. Brains are impacted by the environment, even before interesting stuff happens, like "blue" or "happy". Interact and collect entropy/information. If you have structure that can collect and correlate enough entropy/information, you get a mind. Rocks suck at observation and thinking, but the possibility remains.

    Proving it seems rather trivia. Does the energy in equal the energy out? Of course not. Statistically, how much of that is waste? There should still be a discrepancy. If there's a large enough discrepancy, you have some sort of retention structure working. If that retention structure is sophisticated enough, you get a mind. If it takes action based on the environment, then you might have consciousness. By this method I guess ants and computers are minds. I am not so sure, but maybe.

    I can point out that I am often wrong about how things really work, so don't place too much faith in this idea.
    Solfe

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Norfolk UK and some of me is in Northern France
    Posts
    8,547
    You can use the transmitter, receiver analogy, in which the brain is the receiver. This does not fit with ideas of evolution unless even a very simple receiver gets some ideas. Of course there is no evidence of a transmitter but you can choose to believe in one anyway. Various degrees of isolation do not stop us being conscious, but then maybe we have not found the field. For now I prefer emergent idea then Ideas themselves spread by communication between conscious people. Consciousness probably starts with the early interoceptive model which has been shown to be predictive.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    17,620
    Quote Originally Posted by kevin1981 View Post
    I feel that this has happened to me, though i was and i am aware of it. I belong to a Facebook page called "Origins of Consciousness". The vast majority tend to believe in some sort of
    panpsychism or that consciousness is the fundamental substance of reality.
    There you go. A self-selecting and self-sustaining group.
    The idea that consciousness is non-physical is a comfort to many people, because it can be taken to imply a) the possibility of life after death and b) that we might have some significant role to play in the larger Universe. There's a sort of secular spirituality going on. And if it can be dressed up in quantum mechanics, so it looks like science, then all the better.
    So you'll find a lot more books for the general reader written on that theme than you'll find championing dull old biology.

    Grant Hutchison

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Nowhere (middle)
    Posts
    36,941
    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    There's a sort of secular spirituality going on.
    There's also a lot of plain old fashioned spirituality going on. Most people I know still believe as they were taught as children.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Nowhere (middle)
    Posts
    36,941
    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    The idea that consciousness is non-physical ...

    And if it can be dressed up in quantum mechanics, so it looks like science, then all the better.
    I just caught this.

    Quantum mechanics isn't physical? Then why is it a form of physics?
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Nowhere (middle)
    Posts
    36,941
    Quote Originally Posted by kevin1981 View Post
    They argue that awareness/consciousness came before anything else. I don’t even know how they would come to that conclusion !
    I really think that for most of them, that isn't a conclusion at all, it's a starting premise.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    17,620
    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison
    The idea that consciousness is non-physical ...

    And if it can be dressed up in quantum mechanics, so it looks like science, then all the better.
    I just caught this.

    Quantum mechanics isn't physical? Then why is it a form of physics?
    Quantum mechanics is physical. Dressing the non-physical up as science by drawing analogies with quantum mechanics is a New Age tradition that goes back to The Tao of Physics and The Dancing Wu Li Masters, via Quantum Healing and What The Bleep Do We Know?. It's called Quantum Mysticism, and it is actually just as old as quantum mechanics itself, although the meme only spread into popular culture in the 1970s.

    Grant Hutchison

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Depew, NY
    Posts
    11,799
    I loved Dancing Wu Li Masters. How I have grown.
    Solfe

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    1,318
    Yes, you may well be right. It seems they think because we know very little on how the brain produces our rich inner experience then that must mean there is something else going on.

    Even though they have no evidence for it. I participate in the group because i am trying to be open minded and i am trying to learn about other possibilities for consciousness.

    However, i have not learnt anything profound enough to shift my opinion from materialism.
    Far away is close at hand in images of elsewhere...

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    3,417
    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    There you go. A self-selecting and self-sustaining group.
    The idea that consciousness is non-physical is a comfort to many people, because it can be taken to imply a) the possibility of life after death and b) that we might have some significant role to play in the larger Universe. There's a sort of secular spirituality going on. And if it can be dressed up in quantum mechanics, so it looks like science, then all the better.
    So you'll find a lot more books for the general reader written on that theme than you'll find championing dull old biology.

    Grant Hutchison
    Well said.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Posts
    93
    Quote Originally Posted by kevin1981 View Post
    I do not understand why so many people choose to believe that consciousness is some fundamental part of realty rather than being an emergent
    property of the brain. I know we do not know how the brain produces our rich inner experience but i would argue that is because it is a subjective
    phenomenon. I would argue that the brain is way more powerful than any computer we have built up to now. The computational processing power and
    the trillions of connections is vastly complex and intricate. Because of this vastly intricate processing, consciousness arises.

    There is an obvious correlation between brain, nervous system and mind.

    I feel a lot of people do not take into account how complex the networking in the brain is.

    It seems more and more people are stating that consciousness is some fundamental field or property of nature.

    Even highly academic people are suggesting the brain does not produce consciousness. Some say the brain is only a receiver of it.

    If i said to a non materialist that they have no evidence for consciousness being fundamental then they would argue i have no
    evidence for consciousness emerging from brain processes.

    Why are so many people arguing against consciousness being materialistic these days ?

    It seems a lot of people would rather believe that consciousness is some fundamental
    property rather than being an emergent property of the brain even without any evidence. Why is this ?

    They argue that awareness/consciousness came before anything else. I donít even know how they would come to that conclusion !
    That's because that people think that the entire universe is actually conscious from quantum level to macroscopic levels-I wouldn't dare to say otherwise, because this is very unknown area.
    Last edited by Lobo; 2015-Dec-29 at 08:18 PM.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Posts
    93
    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    There you go. A self-selecting and self-sustaining group.
    The idea that consciousness is non-physical is a comfort to many people, because it can be taken to imply a) the possibility of life after death and b) that we might have some significant role to play in the larger Universe. There's a sort of secular spirituality going on. And if it can be dressed up in quantum mechanics, so it looks like science, then all the better.
    So you'll find a lot more books for the general reader written on that theme than you'll find championing dull old biology.

    Grant Hutchison
    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    Well said.
    But the problem is anything is possible because none can say for sure if there is a life after death or not (the chances are truly 50:50, really), is the universe conscious or not, these are all un-answerable questions.
    What is consciousness, is there a consciousness on quantum level that is the missing part of quantum level processes, none can know this for sure.
    Since we still know so little about everything, I wouldn't be surprised if there is a truth in consciusness creating the universe and all the forces in it.
    And what if consciousness is dimensionless like elementary particles than what?

    Also, you need to remember for every single creation of whatever is created you need some form of intelligence, even if it means the lowest level of intelligence, nothing can be created without intelligence, and intelligence cannot exist without knowledge and consciousness, because you need intelligence to create the unvierse with all those laws of physics, biology and chemistry-sure other people would call this God-I don't believe in God for totally other reasons, and never will I call this "universe/nature", since nature and the universe are the one which/who exist in the first place, but like I said the main patterns always repeat themselves, for everything that is created and done; you always need at least some form of intelligence and knowledge and consciousness.
    The same rules and the same always repeatable patterns are 100% valid for everything else, and that includes self-organizing systems because they are created and they organize themselves according to laws of physics, biology and chemistry.
    Last edited by Lobo; 2015-Dec-29 at 08:18 PM.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Nowhere (middle)
    Posts
    36,941
    Quote Originally Posted by Lobo View Post
    Also, you need to remember for every single creation of whatever is created you need some form of intelligence, even if it means the lowest level of intelligence, nothing can be created without intelligence, and intelligence cannot exist without knowledge and consciousness, because you need intelligence to create the unvierse with all those laws of physics, biology and chemistry-sure other people would call this God-I don't believe in God for totally other reasons, and never will I call this "universe/nature", since nature and the universe are the one which/who exist in the first place, but like I said the main patterns always repeat themselves, for everything that is created and done; you always need at least some form of intelligence and knowledge and consciousness.
    The same rules and the same always repeatable patterns are 100% valid for everything else, and that includes self-organizing systems because they are created and they organize themselves according to laws of physics, biology and chemistry.
    An unsupported assertion, at best. Why do you think this? What evidence is there for it? If you have no evidence, it's not science, it's faith.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    13,620
    There isn't any need for a creator. Everything we see created today takes place according to laws, and those laws may have always existed without having to be created.
    As above, so below

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    13,620
    And the chance of life after death is not 50 percent. You can speculate on something that you make up existing, and you don't know if it exists or not, but without evidence you have no way to make a statistical calculation.
    As above, so below

  26. #26
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    The beautiful north coast (Ohio)
    Posts
    49,025
    Full Stop!

    The entire discussion about religion, the creation of the Universe, life after death and god will stop NOW. It is off-topic for the thread and it is not an allowed area of discussion for CQ.

    Lobo - You need to be much more carefully with your posts. You keep going off-topic and into areas that are not allowed discussion topics on CQ. Next one, in this or any other thread, will get you suspended.
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

    All moderation in purple - The rules

  27. #27
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    9,120
    seem to me it might be difficult to discuss this topic without breaking the rules....

  28. #28
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    The beautiful north coast (Ohio)
    Posts
    49,025
    Quote Originally Posted by Frog march View Post
    seem to me it might be difficult to discuss this topic without breaking the rules....
    The first 15 or 20 posts did not seem to have any problems with our rules. But if our rules limit some areas of the discussion, so be it.

    Our rules also forbid debating moderation in thread and meta-discussions about the thread. Don't do that again.
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

    All moderation in purple - The rules

  29. #29
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Depew, NY
    Posts
    11,799
    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    You can use the transmitter, receiver analogy, in which the brain is the receiver. This does not fit with ideas of evolution unless even a very simple receiver gets some ideas. Of course there is no evidence of a transmitter but you can choose to believe in one anyway. Various degrees of isolation do not stop us being conscious, but then maybe we have not found the field. For now I prefer emergent idea then Ideas themselves spread by communication between conscious people. Consciousness probably starts with the early interoceptive model which has been shown to be predictive.
    I had never thought of it as a transmitter/receiver, but that image fits nicely. I would think that this idea would require that everything is a transmitter and receiver to conform to evolution. That is difficult because it requires even obviously not alive things to able to retain and pass on ideas. I am sure I could create some rather interesting examples, but I am not sure that is adequate to describe a mind, or worse describe how a mind comes to be.

    Obviously the environment records tons of data and it is readable... but I am not sure that I should be thinking that muddy footprints are transmitters or not. It is all very messy when it comes down to it.
    Solfe

  30. #30
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Nowhere (middle)
    Posts
    36,941
    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    I had never thought of it as a transmitter/receiver, but that image fits nicely. I would think that this idea would require that everything is a transmitter and receiver to conform to evolution. That is difficult because it requires even obviously not alive things to able to retain and pass on ideas. I am sure I could create some rather interesting examples, but I am not sure that is adequate to describe a mind, or worse describe how a mind comes to be.

    Obviously the environment records tons of data and it is readable... but I am not sure that I should be thinking that muddy footprints are transmitters or not. It is all very messy when it comes down to it.
    The transmitter/receiver analogy is used in some forms of spiritualism and pseudoscience to imply that the material brain is merely a connection device to the true source of consciousness, some ineffable entity or nonmaterial being.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •