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Author Topic: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?  (Read 307153 times)

Offline cheryl j

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1075 on: 03/12/2013 07:41:34 »
Some thoughts on Chalmers.

I don’t have Chalmer’s book, but he is often described  as  a property dualist, (or as he prefers “a naturalistic dualist.”) He is a property dualist, and not a substance dualist, because while he holds that there is only one type of substance -physical matter (sorry, Don),  there are properties of objects which cannot (in principle) be explained in physical terms and therefore  the mental is not ontologically reducible to physical. To be honest, I have a hard time seeing how this differs tremendously from emergent properties or non-reductive physicalism, but the difference is sometimes explained like this : “Chalmer’s property dualism boils down to the idea that consciousness naturally supervenes, but does not logically supervene on the physical.” And to illustrate what that actually means, he employs the famous philosophical zombie argument.  Because philosophical zombies are logically possible, consciousness cannot logically supervene on the physical. If consciousness does not logically supervene on the physical, then one cannot reduce facts about consciousness to physical facts; therefore, one cannot explain the occurrence of consciousness just by appeal to the physical facts.

I must confess I hate logical arguments based simply on the conceivability of something, because the devil is always in the details. Just because something is not logically contradictory (like an married bachelor) and is conceivable (like a flying toaster, inverted qualia) does not mean it is not contradictory or impossible on some other level (like water that freezes at 200 degrees)

Someone like David Cooper might argue that philosophical zombies are not just conceivable but probable,  in the future with AI. Dennett says they already exist, and we’re it. Or maybe he just says that once in a while to piss off philosophers. I think his actual view of consciousness is better reflected in his statement “The time has come to put the burden of proof squarely on those who persist in using the term,” that is, he’s not going to worry about it until somebody comes up with a  definition of consciousness that isn’t hopelessly confused.

Ramachandron might actually pose a bigger threat to the philosophical zombie argument than Dennett.  Ramachandran’s  research suggests that a philosophical zombie would not be like us in every way except for the absence of conscious experience,  because a neurological equivalent of a philosophical zombie cannot function the same as us.Even when the parts of the brain responsible for receiving stimuli, processing basic information about it, and executing actions, is intact, consciousness appears to be required for flexibility of choice.  A Ramachandran example is blind sight in which patients can make completely accurate “guesses” about the identity of objects they claim they cannot see,  even tell which direction objects are moving, but strangely, cannot use this information to make choices.  In other words, there may be no such thing as a zombie who could be like us in every other respect besides consciousness. One can't say Ramachandron's findings conclusively prove this, but if it were the case, it would put Chalmers in a bad position.






 “
« Last Edit: 03/12/2013 08:20:43 by cheryl j »
 

Offline dlorde

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1076 on: 03/12/2013 11:18:43 »
I must confess I hate logical arguments based simply on the conceivability of something, because the devil is always in the details. Just because something is not logically contradictory (like an married bachelor) and is conceivable (like a flying toaster, inverted qualia) does not mean it is not contradictory or impossible on some other level (like water that freezes at 200 degrees)
I agree. All fictional and imaginary things are conceivable, but I don't see how that necessarily has any bearing on reality.

Quote
Someone like David Cooper might argue that philosophical zombies are not just conceivable but probable,  in the future with AI. Dennett says they already exist, and we’re it. Or maybe he just says that once in a while to piss off philosophers. I think his actual view of consciousness is better reflected in his statement “The time has come to put the burden of proof squarely on those who persist in using the term,” that is, he’s not going to worry about it until somebody comes up with a  definition of consciousness that isn’t hopelessly confused.
I sympathise with Dennett - a reasonable definition is lacking, but there clearly is something we call consciousness, and we know what it feels like (although there's evidence that it misattributes its agency, and possibly a good deal more).

Quote
Ramachandron might actually pose a bigger threat to the philosophical zombie argument than Dennett.  Ramachandran’s  research suggests that a philosophical zombie would not be like us in every way except for the absence of conscious experience...  In other words, there may be no such thing as a zombie who could be like us in every other respect besides consciousness. One can't say Ramachandron's findings conclusively prove this, but if it were the case, it would put Chalmers in a bad position.
Yes; a philosophical zombie may be conceivable, but it seems to me that a creature that is behaviourally indistinguishable from a known conscious creature must itself be conscious because that level of behavioural complexity requires consciousness - or to put it another way, consciousness comes with the level of complexity required to support those behaviours. Also, the energetics of evolutionary development suggests that consciousness is unlikely to be an 'optional extra' that has no significant advantage, yet consumes energy resource.

The alternative is to take Dennett's reversed approach and ask the question if there is no discernable difference between two creatures, and one definitely is not conscious (i.e. p zombie), we can have no grounds to say the other is conscious (also Ockham's Razor). And if a p zombie is possible, then why shouldn't this argument apply to all other humans? and since you are not, fundamentally, different from them, it should apply to you too. Thus you are such a p zombie, and so your feeling of consciousness must be an illusion...

Of course, this is unsatisfactory because it doesn't account for subjective experience, and calling it an illusion isn't particularly helpful, as we must still ask how this 'illusion' arises. It becomes more a semantic argument over labels than a philosophical one. I suspect Dennett is using this argument as a provocative demonstration of where the philosophical zombie idea leads without a robust definition of consciousness.
« Last Edit: 03/12/2013 11:20:27 by dlorde »
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1077 on: 03/12/2013 16:09:47 »
what constructive contribution has philosophy made to our lives?

None, ever. Vide supra et infra.

Applied philosophy has, however, been the cause of many ills, from individual insanity to major wars.
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1078 on: 03/12/2013 16:13:27 »
Cheryl

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there are properties of objects which cannot (in principle) be explained in physical terms

Why can't I think of any examples? There are plenty of things I can't explain in practice, but I have no reason to believe that they can't be explained at all by anyone ever.
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1079 on: 03/12/2013 17:02:10 »
Don Quixote: The chivalrous but UNREALISTIC hero from the novel by Cervantes. Very serious similarities here by name and personality Mr. Don.

Indeed : what a miracle that we do seem to agree with each other this time, for a change .
We are all some or other forms of Cervantes' Don Quixote ,from time to time , that's 1 of the reasons why i did choose this nick ,and i did talk about just that on many occasions as well .

Materialism is , ironically enough , a very tragic -hilarious form of Don Quixotism , on  imaginary crusades or on materialist "holy wars " campaigns against imaginary enemies : religions and God , by reducing everything to just matter , including consciousness thus,and then, afterwards by pretending to refute  religions and God ,materialism  had reduced to matter haha : how convenient and handy  .

Materialism that has thus been fighting against material windmills ,materialism has been taking for religions or God .

When materialism takes its own false materialist conception of nature for granted as the "scientific world view " , it's pretty logical to assume that materialism has "beaten " religions and God : a Don Quixotian materialist delusion thus ,like no other ..
« Last Edit: 03/12/2013 17:09:46 by DonQuichotte »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1080 on: 03/12/2013 17:24:27 »
Poor Chalmers can also not realise the fact that no naturalist theory of consciousness, either the reductive or the non-reductive one , can account for consciousness , the poor lad .
He's just moving the hard problem of consciousness to another realm

How are you not doing the same? How are you not simply moving the hard problem of consciousness to another realm by invoking the immaterial?

Good question  indeed , for a change : i must give you credit for just that ,sweet Cheryl of ours : good thinking,no kidding,i am serious   :

Well,since the materialist "all is matter , including the mind " conception of nature is false ,mainly because materialism cannot account for consciousness ,  then , logically , not -all is matter ,including consciousness thus = consciousness is not material physical or biological = simple logic .

Nor does immaterialism account for consciousness. In addition, it has not explained any phenomena. Thus consciousness is not immaterial. Simple logic.



What is immaterialism ? what is that ? you must have been referring to ...idealism, i guess = all is mind = also false,as the materialist "all is matter " conception of nature is also false  .

When i say that not "all is matter " = that means : matter is not the only reality ,the immaterial side of reality is the other part of reality = the other side of the same coin : reality has both material and immaterial sides : since the materialist  "all is matter , including the mind " mainstream 'scientific world view " is false,simply because materialism cannot account for consciousness  , then , not-all is matter ,including consciousness which is immaterial .
Materialism is false , simply because materialism cannot account for consciousness , not because materialism cannot explain consciousness , but simply because physics and chemistry alone cannot "generate " consciousness , the latter that cannot rise from matter .
That religious dualism cannot explain consciousness either , that does not make the fact go away that consciousness is ...immaterial .
Religious dualism that sees reality thus as having material and immaterial sides : the body , for example, is material physical biological, and consciousness is ...immaterial .

P.S.: The so-called non-reductionist naturalism ,either that  that was proposed by  either  Chalmers ,Nagel, or others , as an alternative to the false reductionist naturalist materialism, can also not account for consciousness , in the sense that  nature cannot "generate " consciousness or life ....

All forms of naturalism thus , either the reductionist materialist one, or the non-reductionist  naturalist ones , are thus false .


« Last Edit: 03/12/2013 17:35:27 by DonQuichotte »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1081 on: 03/12/2013 17:45:14 »
what constructive contribution has philosophy made to our lives?

None, ever. Vide supra et infra.

Applied philosophy has, however, been the cause of many ills, from individual insanity to major wars.

How do you think the scientific method ,or science itself came to exist then ?
The scientific method that's an epistemological theory,a form of human knowledge , a human activity  .
Without philosophy or epistemology ,there would have been no scientific method or science .
Without the philosophy of science ,we would be trying to find our ways in the dark regarding the nature of science ,its epistemology and the latter's evolution, as Karl Popper and others have shown .

In fact , we do need the philosophy of science now more than ever before ,since the current "scientific world view " is false ,  in order to understand the nature of human knowledge and its evolution : science is just a form of human knowledge , a human evolutionary activity that should be put under the "microscope " of the philosophy of science , without which evolutionary science would be lost,or would at best ...stagnate as to become a dogma : proof ? : the current false dogmatic unscientific unfalsifiable "scientific world view ". .
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1082 on: 03/12/2013 17:51:39 »
I must confess I hate logical arguments based simply on the conceivability of something, because the devil is always in the details. Just because something is not logically contradictory (like an married bachelor) and is conceivable (like a flying toaster, inverted qualia) does not mean it is not contradictory or impossible on some other level (like water that freezes at 200 degrees)
I agree. All fictional and imaginary things are conceivable, but I don't see how that necessarily has any bearing on reality.

Quote
Someone like David Cooper might argue that philosophical zombies are not just conceivable but probable,  in the future with AI. Dennett says they already exist, and we’re it. Or maybe he just says that once in a while to piss off philosophers. I think his actual view of consciousness is better reflected in his statement “The time has come to put the burden of proof squarely on those who persist in using the term,” that is, he’s not going to worry about it until somebody comes up with a  definition of consciousness that isn’t hopelessly confused.
I sympathise with Dennett - a reasonable definition is lacking, but there clearly is something we call consciousness, and we know what it feels like (although there's evidence that it misattributes its agency, and possibly a good deal more).

Quote
Ramachandron might actually pose a bigger threat to the philosophical zombie argument than Dennett.  Ramachandran’s  research suggests that a philosophical zombie would not be like us in every way except for the absence of conscious experience...  In other words, there may be no such thing as a zombie who could be like us in every other respect besides consciousness. One can't say Ramachandron's findings conclusively prove this, but if it were the case, it would put Chalmers in a bad position.
Yes; a philosophical zombie may be conceivable, but it seems to me that a creature that is behaviourally indistinguishable from a known conscious creature must itself be conscious because that level of behavioural complexity requires consciousness - or to put it another way, consciousness comes with the level of complexity required to support those behaviours. Also, the energetics of evolutionary development suggests that consciousness is unlikely to be an 'optional extra' that has no significant advantage, yet consumes energy resource.

The alternative is to take Dennett's reversed approach and ask the question if there is no discernable difference between two creatures, and one definitely is not conscious (i.e. p zombie), we can have no grounds to say the other is conscious (also Ockham's Razor). And if a p zombie is possible, then why shouldn't this argument apply to all other humans? and since you are not, fundamentally, different from them, it should apply to you too. Thus you are such a p zombie, and so your feeling of consciousness must be an illusion...

Of course, this is unsatisfactory because it doesn't account for subjective experience, and calling it an illusion isn't particularly helpful, as we must still ask how this 'illusion' arises. It becomes more a semantic argument over labels than a philosophical one. I suspect Dennett is using this argument as a provocative demonstration of where the philosophical zombie idea leads without a robust definition of consciousness.

See Chalmers ' response to that silly  Dennett zombie 'argument " .

My own take on that is , as folows :

If we might be all  just zombies ,like that lunatic Dennett  says , and hence consciousness is just an illusion , then , are  our subjective conscious experiences just illusions created by our minds = our minds creating the illusion of our minds haha = a tautology at best .
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1083 on: 03/12/2013 18:05:45 »




I argue that reductive explanation of consciousness is impossible, and I even argue for a form of dualism.
 But this is just part of the scientific process.
Certain sorts of explanation turn out not to work, so we need to embrace other sorts of explanation instead.
 Everything I say here is compatible with the results of contemporary science; our picture of the natural world is broadened, not overturned.
 And this broadening allows the possibility of a naturalistic theory of consciousness that might have been impossible without it.
It seems to me that to ignore the problems of consciousness would be antiscientific; it is in the scientific spirit to face up to them directly.
To those who
suspect that science requires materialism, I ask that you wait and see
.

I should note that the conclusions of this work are conclusions, in the strongest sense.

Temperamentally, I am
strongly inclined toward materialist reductive explanation, and I have no strong spiritual or religious inclinations.
For a number of years, I hoped for a materialist theory; when I gave up on this hope, it was quite reluctantly.
 It eventually seemed plain to me that these conclusions were forced on anyone who wants to take consciousness seriously.
 Materialism is a beautiful and compelling view of the world, but to account for consciousness, we have to go beyond the resources it provides.


Source : "The conscious mind " by David J.Chalmers , Introduction .

Again, this is an introduction, which describes what he is about to discuss. Without the argument itself, I'm not sure what your point is in reposting it, other than to say "Hey, look! Someone who once thought materialist mechanisms explained consciousness now thinks otherwise." But your post doesn't include the reasoning behind this change of view, or the view that has replaced it. And no, I do not expect you to post the entire book, but I would expect some attempt on your part to understand his reasons if you are going to use them as evidence for your own position. (I am pleased that you have chosen someone who is not a total crackpot though.)

I did already respond to that .
Chalmers ' arguments are a bit similar to those of Nagel i already posted here .
They were just moving the problem to another area :
All forms of naturalism are , once again, false , either the reductionist materialist or the non-reductionist ones , simply because nature cannot "generate " life or consciousness , otherwise , let any materialist or any naturalist non-reductionist for that matter tell us about the origins and nature of consciousness = they cannot , they would just resort to metaphysical non-sense within the frameworks of their own respective naturalist conceptions of nature ,as Chalmers and Nagel had done .

The other forms of non-reductionism , either the idealist (all is mind ) or the religious dualist ones  (reality is matter and mind ) cannot come up either with any serious faslifiable theory of consciousness .

I think that consciousness will remain beyond science,basta  .
The latter is just my belief assumption= unscientific , but  not necessarily false .

Reductionists' and non-reductionists'+ the idealists ' attempts to explain or rather account for consciousness are just belief assumptions as well = unscientific + false .

In short :

Consciousness ' approaches are all just a matter of ...world views or beliefs: beyond science's realm and jurisdiction  .
« Last Edit: 03/12/2013 18:15:46 by DonQuichotte »
 

Offline Ethos_

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1084 on: 03/12/2013 18:11:04 »
Don Quixote: The chivalrous but UNREALISTIC hero from the novel by Cervantes. Very serious similarities here by name and personality Mr. Don.

Indeed : what a miracle that we do seem to agree with each other this time, for a change .
We are all some or other forms of Cervantes' Don Quixote ,from time to time , that's 1 of the reasons why i did choose this nick ,and i did talk about just that on many occasions as well .


No miracle Don., just detailed observation. You should also notice I capitalized the word; UNREALISTIC as how many of us view your stance on these subjects. Nevertheless, it would be good to give credit where credit is due and offer you recognition where persistence is the virtue. Please accept this as a token of reconciliation but remember that most of the members here are interested in science and not philosophy. Believe it or not, I understand where you are coming from. But the problem remains; The bases upon which your "Theory" is built lacks support from identifiable, empirically tested, repeatable evidence. And without such, the "Theory" can not be considered good science. In fact, it should not be called a theory at all. And may even lack sufficient grounds to be considered a correct Hypothesis. And the grief you're putting yourself and others thru is for this very reason. 

And to make my position very clear, and submit something that will certainly surprise you and many others here. I am a man of faith but without going into particulars, that very faith agrees with some of what you contend. However, and I repeat; However, students of the sciences require tangible evidence as I've stated in the prior paragraph. Without these physical attributes, it can not and will not be called good science. Remember, the reason we call it the science of
physics, it's dealing with things we can see, touch, hear, taste, smell and measure. Without these measurements, it's only faith.
« Last Edit: 03/12/2013 18:37:38 by Ethos_ »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1085 on: 03/12/2013 18:52:57 »
Don Quixote: The chivalrous but UNREALISTIC hero from the novel by Cervantes. Very serious similarities here by name and personality Mr. Don.

Indeed : what a miracle that we do seem to agree with each other this time, for a change .
We are all some or other forms of Cervantes' Don Quixote ,from time to time , that's 1 of the reasons why i did choose this nick ,and i did talk about just that on many occasions as well .


No miracle Don., just detailed observation

A "miracle " was just an ironic metaphor though .

Quote
You should also notice I capitalized the word; UNREALISTIC as how many of us view your stance on these subjects
.


Is it unrealistic to state the simple obvious and undeniable fact that the materialist 'all is matter  ,including the mind " mainstream "scientific world view " is false? ,and hence the mind is not in the brain ,or the mind is not the product of the physical brain's activity ? = consciousness is non-material, non-physical or non-biological .

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Nevertheless, it would be good to give credit where credit is due and offer you recognition where persistence is the virtue.

Thanks , that's just a relative feature of my character to puruse matters untill the end , no matter what , no big deal .

Quote
Please accept this as a token of reconciliation

Accepted , thanks indeed : but , don't worry about it : i know that some facts will always be resisted by hostile people ,so : no problem .

Ideas or rather new facts  are first ridiculed, violently opposed , and then , they get taken as self-evident , afterwards= a normal process of human nature  .


Quote
but remember that most of the members here are interested in science and not philosophy.


Then, please stop confusing materialism with science ,science does not require materialism, science does not have to be materialistic ,  try to stop confusing science with the current false materialist mainstream 'scientific world view ", and hence  "the mind is in the brain, memory is stored in the brain ... " are  no scientific or empirical facts , just  extensions of the false materialist conception of nature = most of what you have been taking for granted as science for so long now, without question, has been no science , just materialist false belief assumptions ,since science has been materialistic , since the 19th centuty at least = science must be liberated from materialism as a false outdated superseded world view ideology in science  .


Quote
Believe it or not, I understand where you are coming from. But the problem remains; The bases upon which your "Theory" is built lacks support from identifiable, empirically tested, repeatable evidence. And without such, the "Theory" can not be considered good science. In fact, it should not be called a theory at all. And may even lack sufficient grounds to be considered a correct Hypothesis. And the grief you're putting yourself and others thru is for this very reason.

What specific theories are you talking about ?
Is " all is matter , including the mind " false materialist conception of nature a faslifiable scientific theory then ?
Are  its following extension faslifiable either ? :

"The mind is in the brain , memory is stored in the brain , life or nature are mechanical, ..." Obviously ...not .

Quote
And to make my position very clear, and submit something that will certainly surprise you and many others here. I am a man of faith and without going into particulars, that very faith agrees with some of what you contend.


Then, how can you take the false materialist "all is matter, including the mind " conception of nature for granted , without question , as the "scientific world view " then ? a false materialist conception of nature that , per definition, per -se and a-priori excludes any notion or existence of the immaterial ,including the immaterial nature of consciousness , including any non-materialist faith or religion = try to solve that paradox for yourself then : you cannot have it both ways ,by being both a man of faith , as you put it at least , and a believer in the false materialist "all is matter , including the mind " mainstream 'scientific world view " = they are incompatible with each other , exclude each other .

Quote
However, and I repeat; However, students of the sciences require tangible evidence as I've stated in the prior paragraph. Without these physical attributes, it can not and will not be called good science. Remember, the reason we call it the science of
physics, it's dealing with things we can see, touch, hear, taste, smell and measure. Without these measurements, it's only faith.

Science does not require materialism ,as science does not have to be materialistic , in the above mentioned sense = the false materialist meta-paradigm in all sciences must be rejected ,and replaced by a relatively valid one .
 

Offline Ethos_

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1086 on: 03/12/2013 19:07:40 »

Science does not require materialism ,as science does not have to be materialistic , in the above mentioned sense = the false materialist meta-paradigm in all sciences must be rejected ,and replaced by a relatively valid one .
OK Don., tell us how you measure the non-materialistic? Unless we can establish limits and measures, we've accomplished nothing.
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1087 on: 03/12/2013 19:34:38 »

Science does not require materialism ,as science does not have to be materialistic , in the above mentioned sense = the false materialist meta-paradigm in all sciences must be rejected ,and replaced by a relatively valid one .
OK Don., tell us how you measure the non-materialistic? Unless we can establish limits and measures, we've accomplished nothing.

You mean the non-material , i think .
Science does not have to be materialistic , in the sense that science must stop assuming that "all is matter ,including the mind ",by rejecting its false materialist conception of nature ,or false materialist meta-paradigm in science ,that has been taken for granted as the "scientific world view " .
See Sheldrake's , Chalmer's, Thomas Nagel's and others' works on the subject , relatively speaking .
« Last Edit: 03/12/2013 19:37:55 by DonQuichotte »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1088 on: 03/12/2013 19:50:41 »
Ethos :
See the following foreword by Rupert Sheldrake to "Science and psychic phenomena , the fall of the house of skeptics ", By Chris Carter : That pretty summarizes the deep malaise at the very heart of science today :
Note that i am not interested in any so-called psychic phenomena for that matter , just in the fact that the materialist mainstream "scientific world view " is false , and hence  the mind is not in the brain, memory is not stored in the brain ...:


This is an important book. It deals with one of the most significant and enduring fault lines in science
and philosophy. For well over a century, there have been strongly divided opinions about the existence
of psychic phenomena, such as telepathy. The passions aroused by this argument are quite out of
proportion to the phenomena under dispute. They stem from deeply held worldviews and belief
systems. They also raise fundamental questions about the nature of science itself. This debate, and the
present state of parapsychology, are brilliantly summarized in this book. Chris Carter puts his
argument in a well-documented historical context, without which the present controversies make no
sense.
The kind of skepticism Carter is writing about is not the normal healthy kind on which all science
depends, but rather it arises from a belief that the existence of psychic phenomena is impossible; they
contradict the established principles of science, and if they were to exist they would overthrow science
as we know it, causing chaos and confusion. Therefore, anyone who produces positive evidence
supporting their existence is guilty of error, wishful thinking, self-delusion, or fraud. This belief
makes the very investigation of psychic phenomena taboo and treats those who investigate them as
charlatans or heretics.
Although some committed skeptics behave as if they are engaged in a holy war, in this debate there
is no clear correlation with religious belief or lack of it. Among those who investigate psi phenomena
are atheists, agnostics, and followers of religious paths. But the ranks of committed skeptics also
include religious believers, agnostics, and atheists.
As Carter shows so convincingly in this book, the question of the reality of psi phenomena is not
primarily about evidence but about the interpretation of evidence; it is about frameworks of
understanding, or what Thomas Kuhn, the historian of science, called paradigms. I am sure Carter is
right.
I have myself spent many years investigating unexplained phenomena, such as telepathy in animals
and in people. At first, I naively believed that this was just a matter of doing properly controlled
experiments and collecting evidence. I soon found that for committed skeptics this is not the issue.
Some dismiss all the evidence out of hand, convinced in advance that it must be flawed or defective.
Those who do look at the evidence have the intention of finding as many flaws as they can, but even if
they can’t find them they brush aside the evidence anyway, assuming that fatal errors will come to
light later on.
The most common tactic of committed skeptics is to try to prevent the evidence from being
discussed in public at all. For example, in September 2006, I presented a paper on telephone telepathy
at the Annual Festival of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. Our controlled
experiment had shown that people could, before answering the phone, correctly identify who was
calling (from a choice of four people) over 40 percent of the time, when a success rate of 25 percent
would be expected by chance alone. The following day, in The Times and other leading newspapers,
several prominent British skeptics denounced the British Association for “lending credibility to
maverick theories on the paranormal” by allowing this talk to take place at all. One of them, Professor
Peter Atkins, a chemist at Oxford University, was quoted as saying, “There is no reason to suppose
that telepathy is anything more than a charlatan’s fantasy.”1 Later the same day, he and I took part in a
debate on BBC Radio. He dismissed all the evidence I presented as “playing with statistics.” I then
asked him if he had actually looked at the evidence, and he replied, “No, but I would be very
suspicious of it.”
As Carter shows, conflicts about frameworks of understanding are inherent within science itself.
Since its beginnings in the sixteenth century, science grew through a series of rebellions against
established worldviews. The Copernican revolution in astronomy was the first. The mechanistic
revolution of the seventeenth century—with its dismissal of souls in nature, as previously taught in all
the medieval universities—was another great rebellion. But what started as rebel movements in turn
became the orthodoxies, propagated by scholars and taught in universities. Subsequent revolutions,
including the theory of evolution in the nineteenth century and the relativity and quantum revolutions
in physics of the twentieth century, again broke away from an older orthodoxy to become a new
orthodoxy.
There is a similar tension within the Christian religion, which provided the cultural background to
the growth of Western science. Christianity itself began as a rebellion. Jesus rejected many of the
standard tenets of the Jewish religion into which he was born. His life was one of rebellion against the
established religious authorities, the scribes and Pharisees, the chief priests and the elders. But the
religion established in his name in its turn became orthodox, rejecting and persecuting heresies, only
to be disturbed by further rebellions, most notably the Protestant Reformation. In the debate that
Carter documents, the skeptics are the upholders of the established mechanistic order, and they help
maintain a taboo against “the paranormal.” These skeptics come in various forms, and it would
probably not be too difficult to find parallels to the chief priests and elders, concerned with political
power and influence, and to the scribes and Pharisees, the zealous upholders of righteousness.
This struggle has a strong emotional charge in the context of Western religious and intellectual
history. But now, in the twenty-first century, there are many scientists of non-Western origin,
including those from India, China, Africa, and the Middle East—especially the Arab countries.
Western history is not their history, nor are the strong emotions aroused by psi phenomena ones with
which they can easily identify. In most parts of the world, even including Western industrial societies,
most people take for granted the existence of telepathy and other psychic phenomena and are surprised
to discover that some people deny their existence so vehemently.
From my own experience talking to scientists and giving seminars in scientific institutions,
dogmatic skeptics are a minority within the scientific community. Most scientists are curious and
open-minded, if only because they themselves or people they know well have had experiences that
suggest the reality of psi phenomena. Nevertheless, almost all scientists are aware of the taboo, and
the open-minded tend to keep their interests private, fearing scorn or ridicule if they discuss them
openly with their colleagues.
I believe that for the majority of the scientific community, in spite of the appearances created by
vociferous skeptics, what counts more than polemics is evidence. In the end, the question of whether
or not psi phenomena occur, and how they might be explained, depends on evidence and on research.
No one knows how this debate will end or how long it will take for parapsychological investigations
to become more widely known and accepted. No one knows how big a change they will make to
science itself, or how far they will expand its framework. But the conditions are good, and an
intensifying debate about the nature of consciousness makes the evidence from parapsychology more
relevant than ever before.
This is one of the longest-running debates in the history of science, but changes could soon come
faster than most people think possible. Science and Psychic Phenomena is an invaluable guide to what
is going on. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to be part of a scientific revolution in the
making.
RUPERT SHELDRAKE, PH.D., is a former research fellow of the Royal Society and former director of
studies in biochemistry and cell biology at Clare College, Cambridge University. He is the author of
more than 80 technical papers and articles appearing in peer-reviewed scientific journals and 10
books, including The Presence of the Past, The Rebirth of Nature, and Seven Experiments that Could
Change the World.
 

Offline Ethos_

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1089 on: 03/12/2013 19:51:36 »

Science does not require materialism ,as science does not have to be materialistic , in the above mentioned sense = the false materialist meta-paradigm in all sciences must be rejected ,and replaced by a relatively valid one .
OK Don., tell us how you measure the non-materialistic? Unless we can establish limits and measures, we've accomplished nothing.

You mean the non-material , i think .
Science does not have to be materialistic , in the sense that science must stop assuming that "all is matter ,including the mind ",by rejecting its false materialist conception of nature ,or false materialist meta-paradigm in science ,that has been taken for granted as the "scientific world view " .
See Sheldrake's , Chalmer's, Thomas Nagel's and others' works on the subject , relatively speaking .
Don., you keep skating around the issue. Without measurement, you will establish no facts. And about your question; Why I have a faith and still believe in the scientific method? First and foremost, I never mix the two. What is science can be measured and what is faith can not. What I find in science belongs to science and the material world. What is faith remains beyond those limits. And this is the difficulty you've presented yourself with. By defending the indefensible, you're trying to mix science with faith. This position is doomed to fail Sir Don.
« Last Edit: 03/12/2013 19:55:27 by Ethos_ »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1090 on: 03/12/2013 20:03:03 »

THE CONSCIOUSNESS REVOLUTION



Since the early 1970s, the idea that consciousness exerts causal effects has gained wide support in the
cognitive sciences, especially in psychology, where it has become the majority position. This
movement has been referred to variously as the “consciousness revolution,” the “cognitive
revolution,” or the “mentalist revolution,” and it has led to the overthrow of behaviorism as the
dominant paradigm in psychology. Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner writes that “today the
theoretical claims of behaviorism are largely of historical interest. The cognitive revolution . . . has
carried the day.”37 And Sperry himself commented on the paradigm shift, writing that “the accepted
role of conscious experience in brain function and behavior changed from that of a noncausal,
epiphenomenal, parallel, or identical status (and something best ignored or excluded from scientific
explanation) to that of an ineliminable causal, or interactional role.”38 The appearance in neuroscience
of a plausible, logical explanation for the causal effects of consciousness has also influenced other
neuroscientists39 and has been accepted by some philosophers concerned with the ancient mind-brain
problem.40
It is curious how quantum physicists in the tradition of von Neumann, studying the most
fundamental level of reality, and cognitive scientists working at the other end of the spectrum of
science should come to almost identical conclusions regarding the causal role of consciousness.
Wigner, in his essay “Remarks on the Mind-Body Question,” first notes the effects that physical
properties have on mental sensations, and asks, “Does conversely, the consciousness influence the
physicochemical conditions?”
He notes that the traditional answer among biochemists has been “no”: the body influences the
mind but the mind does not influence the body. Wigner then presents two reasons why physicists
should not support this view. The first reason he gives is the causal role of the observer in quantum
mechanics, as discussed above. The other is more classical: “The second argument to support the
existence of an influence of the consciousness on the physical world is based on the observation that
we do not know of any phenomenon in which one subject is influenced by another without exerting an
influence thereupon.”41
Harold Morowitz, professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale, noted in his article
“Rediscovering the Mind” a strange phenomenon occurring in the dominant paradigms of
psychologists, biologists, and physicists. He notes that while biologists have been relentlessly moving
toward the hard-core materialism that characterized nineteenth-century physics, “at the same time,
physicists, faced with compelling experimental evidence, have been moving away from strictly
mechanical models of the universe to a view that sees the mind as playing an integral role in all
physical events. It is as if the two disciplines were on fast-moving trains, going in opposite directions
and not noticing what is happening across the tracks.”42 Biologists of a materialist bent, such as
Francis Crick, seek to explain mind and consciousness by activities of the central nervous system,
which can be reduced to a biological substructure. They then seek to understand biological phenomena
in terms of chemistry, biophysics, and, ultimately, in terms of quantum mechanics, which quantum
theorists in the von Neumann tradition believe must be formulated with mind as a primary component
of the system. As Morowitz writes, “We have thus, in separate steps, gone around an epistemological
circle—from the mind, back to the mind.”43
At the logical core of our most materialistic science we meet not dead matter but our own
lively selves.
NICK HERBERT
If Sperry’s work is to be criticized, then it should be on the grounds that it is incomplete because it
ignores the similar conclusions of the quantum physicists. Sperry based his conclusions regarding
consciousness on a rejection of classical reductionism; the physicists who follow von Neumann base
their conclusions regarding the causal role of consciousness on a rejection of the classical assumptions
of determinism and observer independence. The positions are similar but not exactly the same. The
main difference seems to be that Sperry’s position is still rooted in the materialist hypothesis that
mind ultimately depends upon matter for its existence, whereas the von Neumann interpretation of
reality leaves open the possibility that the mind is not an emergent but rather an elemental property—
that is, a basic constituent of the universe as elemental as energy and force fields. This is obviously a
more radical position, but in its favor we should note that it would resolve the paradox mentioned
earlier that is raised by the von Neumann interpretation: If consciousness depends on the physical
world, and the value of many quantum physical properties depend on consciousness, then how did the
physical world ever bring about consciousness in the first place?
These are fascinating and important issues, which will be discussed in more detail later. But, for
now, it is sufficient to note how the quantum theorists have come to almost the same conclusions as
Popper and Sperry, but by rejecting different aspects of classical metaphysics. Quantum physicist
Henry Stapp has described how, for centuries, philosophy has been hamstrung by its dependence upon
the metaphysical implications of classical physics:
Philosophers have tried for three centuries to understand the role of mind in the workings of a brain conceived to function
according to principles of classical physics. We now know that no such brain actually exists. . . . Hence it is hardly surprising
that those endeavors of philosophers have been beset by enormous difficulties, which have led to such positions as that of the
“eliminative materialists,” who hold that our conscious thoughts do not exist; or of the “epiphenomenalists,” who admit that
human experiences do exist but claim that they play absolutely no role in how we behave; or of the “identity theorists,” who
claim that each conscious feeling is exactly the same thing as a motion of the particles that nineteenth century science thought
brains and everything else in the universe to be made of. The difficulties in reconciling mental realities with prequantum
physics is dramatized by the fact that for many years the mere mention of “consciousness” was considered evidence of
backwardness and bad taste in most of academia, including, incredibly, even the philosophy of mind.44
So, what does all of this imply for the scientific acceptance of psi phenomena? In a nutshell, the
refutation of materialism removes the last barrier skeptics can raise about the scientific legitimacy of
psi. Psi phenomena, such as telepathy, are tightly bound up with notions such as “intent” and “values,”
and their operation seems to indicate a causal role for consciousness. If consciousness were a mere
epiphenomenon, how could it be that one mind influences another according to the desires, values, and
interests of both parties? Psi phenomena, if real, represent the operations of minds upon minds, and
minds upon matter. And as they do not appear to operate in a random manner, the desires and values
of these minds appear to play crucial causal roles. The new view of mind as causal, which has gained
widespread scientific acceptance since the early 1970s, is consistent with the theoretical possibility of
psi.w It can no longer be cogently argued that materialism is a pillar of the modern scientific view and
that parapsychology is in serious conflict with modern science because the acceptance of psi would
undermine materialism.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Susan Blackmore disagrees. In a recent essay, she notes that telepathy and
psychokinesis are commonly seen as evidence for the causal effect of consciousness, and she then
accuses parapsychologists of trying to prove the power of consciousness. She writes, “It is a desire for
this ‘power of consciousness’ that fuels much enthusiasm for the paranormal.”45 Then, in what seems
like a reversion to 1950s behaviorism, she adds:
As our understanding of conscious experience progresses, this desire to find “the power of consciousness” sets parapsychology
ever more against the rest of science (which of course is part of its appeal). The more we look into the workings of the brain the
less it looks like a machine run by a conscious self. . . . Indeed, the brain seems to be a machine that runs itself very well and
produces an illusion that there is someone in charge. This illusion is just what meditators and spiritual practitioners have been
saying for millennia; that our ordinary view of ourselves, as conscious, active agents experiencing a real world, is wrong—an
illusion. Now science seems to be coming to the same conclusion.
Parapsychology is going the other way. It is trying to prove that consciousness really does have power; that our minds really
can reach out and “do” things.
Well, if a belief in the “power of consciousness” sets parapsychology “ever more against the rest of
science,” then I suppose that neuroscientists Roger Sperry, Sir John Eccles, and D. M. MacKay; brain
surgeons Charles Sherrington and Wilder Penfield; philosopher of science Karl Popper; physicists
Eugene Wigner and Henry Stapp; and Charles Darwin are all set against the rest of science, not to
mention the majority of contemporary psychologists. It may be more plausible to say that her
dogmatic opposition to the power of consciousness sets Susan Blackmore ever more against the rest of
science.
Benjamin Libet, whose experimental work is sometimes offered as scientific evidence that free will
is an illusion, has expressed strong opposition to this interpretation.
The intuitive feelings about the phenomenon of free will form a fundamental basis for views of our human nature, and great
care should be taken not to believe allegedly scientific conclusions about them which actually depend upon hidden ad hoc
assumptions. A theory that simply interprets the phenomenon of free will as illusory and denies the validity of this phenomenal
fact is less attractive than a theory that accepts or accommodates the phenomenal fact.
In an issue so fundamentally important to our view of who we are, a claim for illusory nature should be based on fairly direct
evidence. Such evidence is not available; nor do determinists propose even a potential experimental design to test the theory.
My conclusion about free will, one genuinely free in the nondetermined sense, is then that its existence is at least as good, if
not a better, scientific option than is its denial by a determinist theory.46
In the same journal, Henry Stapp expresses the same opinion as Libet, writing that
epiphenomenalism is a mistake arising from outmoded classical physics:
There is no compulsion from the basic principles of physics that requires any rejection of the sensible idea that mental effort can
actually do what it seems to do. . . . It is therefore simply wrong to proclaim that the findings of science entail that our intuitions
about the nature of our thoughts are necessarily illusory or false. Rather, it is completely in line with contemporary science to
hold our thoughts to be causally efficacious.47 (emphasis added)
Rather than being in conflict with the rest of science, evidence of psi phenomena provides further
reason to think that materialism is fatally flawed. Indeed, it would seem that the acceptance of psi
would clinch the argument: in the absence of psi, epiphenomenalism may be a strained and threadbare
option, but it still remains a theoretical possibility. However, unlike ordinary communication,
perception, or action, psi phenomena seem to involve the direct action of mind-on-mind or between
mind and matter, bypassing the normal biological channels. For a dualist, this poses no problem: it has
been conjectured that when a person exercises psi, his mind is being influenced by or is influencing
objects or brains outside of his body in the same way his mind normally interacts with his own
brain.48x After all, each type of interaction is no more mysterious than the other, even though one is
commonplace and the other relatively rare. But as the arguments above have shown, and as Popper has
written, “radical physicalism can be regarded as refuted, quite independently of the paranormal.”49
Materialism may have been useful as a source of inspiration for classical science, but in hindsight it
can be viewed as an error of determinism, observer-independence, and reductionism.
WHY ARE WE CONSCIOUS?
With the emergence of consciousness something new and utterly different has entered the universe—
something with no mass or physical dimensions, yet possessing enormous power. And while mental
activity seems to exert causal influence, much of our mental activity is unconscious. Consciousness
seems to be employed when dealing with novel situations and when learning new skills. Learning to
drive a vehicle requires conscious attention to detail, but once we have mastered the skills required,
we can operate the vehicle unconsciously, on automatic pilot, all the while carrying on a detailed
conversation. But as soon as something out of the ordinary happens, such as an animal darting into our
path, conscious control returns to deal with the unexpected.
Renowned neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield thought that the relationship of mind to brain was that of
programmer to computer: The mind programs the brain to handle routine tasks, freeing itself to do
other things. From his work with epileptic patients, Penfield noted that an epileptic discharge may
confine itself to one functional area within the brain. If, for instance, the speech area of the cerebral
cortex were the only part affected, then the epileptic discharge would produce nothing more than
paralytic silence. If, however, the discharge occurred in the higher brain stem, which Penfield
identified as the “seat of consciousness,” then he described how the individual was converted into a
mindless automaton: “He may wander about, confused and aimless. Or he may continue to carry out
whatever purpose his mind was in the act of handing on to his automatic sensory-motor mechanism
when the highest brain-mechanism went out of action. Or he follows a stereotyped, habitual pattern of
behavior. In every case, however, the automaton can make few, if any, decisions for which there has
been no precedent.”50
Penfield provides several examples of patients who suffered attacks in the higher brain stem while
playing piano, walking home through busy streets, or driving a car. In these cases the individuals
continued on with what they were doing, although retained no memory of doing so. He describes what
happens when the “seat of consciousness” is temporarily incapacitated:
The human automaton, which replaces the man when the highest brain-mechanism is inactivated, is a thing without the capacity
to make completely new decisions. It is a thing without the capacity to form new memory records and a thing without that
indefinable attribute, a sense of humor. The automaton is incapable of thrilling to the beauty of a sunset or of experiencing
contentment, happiness, love, compassion. These, like all awareness, are functions of the mind. The automaton is a thing that
makes use of the reflexes and the skills, inborn and acquired, that are housed in the computer. At times it may have a plan that
will serve it in place of a purpose for a few minutes. This automatic coordinator that is ever active within each of us, seems to
be the most amazing of biological computers.51
Consciousness seems to resemble a searchlight beam that illuminates the parts of our mental
activity accessible to it, on demand, as determined by our drives and desires. But it remains a mystery
why conscious mental activity is required at all, even for dealing with novel situations. Perhaps the
reason has to do with emotion. It is possible to be conscious without emotion, but is it possible to feel
emotion without being conscious? Perhaps our animal ancestors that were motivated by primitive
emotion simply enjoyed a decisive advantage over their lesssentient competitors.
Consciousness, or at least aspects of it, may very well enhance an organism’s ability to survive and
propagate, but some conscious activity seems to have little if anything to do with biological survival,
even among our cousins in the animal kingdom. Birds have been known to tumble in the wind,
dolphins have been spotted body surfing, and wild eagles have been seen playing catch. It’s difficult to
explain these activities in terms of contributing to survival, as difficult as it is to explain the survival
value of listening to music, playing chess, or drinking wine.y
And it must be stressed how little we are actually saying when we describe consciousness as an
emergent property. We certainly have no idea how consciousness could possibly emerge from the
configurational properties of the brain. At any rate, saying consciousness emerges does not, to my
mind, necessarily imply that consciousness depends for its existence on a material brain—that is, did
not exist before the full development of brains, and cannot exist without material brains. It seems
coherent to speculate that consciousness may have emerged into the material world when conditions
finally allowed—that is, when primitive brains finally achieved the required level of complexity.
So the brain may be necessary for consciousness to emerge into and interface with the material
world. As mentioned, some writers, such as physicist Nick Herbert, would then describe consciousness
as an elemental property, rather than an emergent one. Herbert and other physicists in the von
Neumann tradition seriously entertain the idea that consciousness is a property of the universe as
elemental as energy and force fields, and that mind interacts with matter at the level of the emergence
into actuality of individual quantum events. As mentioned earlier, this would resolve the paradox of
existence that is raised by the von Neumann interpretation.
At any rate, it could be argued that the distinction between elemental and emergent is largely
semantic. When we say a rabbit emerges from a hole, are we implying that the rabbit depends on the
hole for its existence? Yet it must be admitted that when we describe a property as “emergent” we are
usually referring to its creation as a result of the special arrangement in space and time of its
constituent parts, and so perhaps a dependency is implied. Perhaps a respect for conventional usage
requires a dualist to describe consciousness as an elemental rather than an emergent property.
However, without presenting any empirical evidence to support the existence of pre-andpostmortem
consciousness, dualism is pure speculation. Nothing discussed so far has provided solid
support for dualism as opposed to mere mentalism. Support for dualism depends upon the evidence
for disembodied consciousness that will be discussed in the second book of this series.

Chris Carter
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1091 on: 03/12/2013 20:10:50 »

Science does not require materialism ,as science does not have to be materialistic , in the above mentioned sense = the false materialist meta-paradigm in all sciences must be rejected ,and replaced by a relatively valid one .
OK Don., tell us how you measure the non-materialistic? Unless we can establish limits and measures, we've accomplished nothing.

You mean the non-material , i think .
Science does not have to be materialistic , in the sense that science must stop assuming that "all is matter ,including the mind ",by rejecting its false materialist conception of nature ,or false materialist meta-paradigm in science ,that has been taken for granted as the "scientific world view " .
See Sheldrake's , Chalmer's, Thomas Nagel's and others' works on the subject , relatively speaking .
Don., you keep skating around the issue. Without measurement, you will establish no facts. And about your question; Why I have a faith and still believe in the scientific method? First and foremost, I never mix the two. What is science can be measured and what is faith can not. What I find in science belongs to science and the material world. What is faith remains beyond those limits. And this is the difficulty you've presented yourself with. By defending the indefensible, you're trying to mix science with faith. This position is doomed to fail Sir Don.

No, you did misunderstand what i was saying :
All i have been saying is that  the false materialist conception of nature has been taken for granted as the "scientific world view " .

Science has therefore been assuming , since the 19th century at least , that "all is matter ,including the mind " : see the following then :

http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=49378.0


"Why Materialism is False ? " :


Excerpts from   "The Science Delusion " or  "Science Set Free : 10 Paths To New Discovery " By Rupert Sheldrake : Introduction :



Introduction:
THE TEN DOGMAS OF MODERN SCIENCE:

The “scientific worldview” is immensely influential because the sciences have been so successful.
They touch all our lives through technologies and through modern medicine. Our intellectual world
has been transformed by an immense expansion of knowledge, down into the most microscopic
particles of matter and out into the vastness of space, with hundreds of billions of galaxies in an everexpanding
universe.
Yet in the second decade of the twenty-first century, when science and technology seem to be at the
peak of their power, when their influence has spread all over the world and when their triumph seems
indisputable, unexpected problems are disrupting the sciences from within. Most scientists take it for
granted that these problems will eventually be solved by more research along established lines, but
some, including myself, think they are symptoms of a deeper malaise.
In this book, I argue that science is being held back by centuries-old assumptions that have
hardened into dogmas. The sciences would be better off without them: freer, more interesting and
more fun.
The biggest scientific delusion of all is that science already knows the answers. The details still
need working out but, in principle, the fundamental questions are settled.
Contemporary science is based on the claim that all reality is material or physical. There is no
reality but material reality. Consciousness is a by-product of the physical activity of the brain. Matter
is unconscious. Evolution is purposeless. God exists only as an idea in human minds, and hence in
human heads.
These beliefs are powerful, not because most scientists think about them critically but because they
don’t. The facts of science are real enough; so are the techniques that scientists use, and the
technologies based on them. But the belief system that governs conventional scientific thinking is an
act of faith, grounded in a nineteenth-century ideology.
This book is pro-science. I want the sciences to be less dogmatic and more scientific. I believe that
the sciences will be regenerated when they are liberated from the dogmas that constrict them.


The scientific creed:
Here are the ten core beliefs that most scientists take for granted.
1. Everything is essentially mechanical. Dogs, for example, are complex mechanisms, rather
than living organisms with goals of their own. Even people are machines, “lumbering
robots,” in Richard Dawkins’s vivid phrase, with brains that are like genetically
programmed computers.
2. All matter is unconscious. It has no inner life or subjectivity or point of view. Even human
consciousness is an illusion produced by the material activities of brains.
3. The total amount of matter and energy is always the same (with the exception of the Big
Bang, when all the matter and energy of the universe suddenly appeared).
4. The laws of nature are fixed. They are the same today as they were at the beginning, and they
will stay the same forever.
5. Nature is purposeless, and evolution has no goal or direction.
6. All biological inheritance is material, carried in the genetic material, DNA, and in other
material structures.
7. Minds are inside heads and are nothing but the activities of brains. When you look at a tree,
the image of the tree you are seeing is not “out there,” where it seems to be, but inside your
brain.
8. Memories are stored as material traces in brains and are wiped out at death.
9. Unexplained phenomena such as telepathy are illusory.
10. Mechanistic medicine is the only kind that really works.
Together, these beliefs make up the philosophy or ideology of materialism, whose central assumption
is that everything is essentially material or physical, even minds. This belief system became dominant
within science in the late nineteenth century, and is now taken for granted. Many scientists are
unaware that materialism is an assumption: they simply think of it as science, or the scientific view of
reality, or the scientific worldview. They are not actually taught about it, or given a chance to discuss
it. They absorb it by a kind of intellectual osmosis.
In everyday usage, materialism refers to a way of life devoted entirely to material interests, a
preoccupation with wealth, possessions and luxury. These attitudes are no doubt encouraged by the
materialist philosophy, which denies the existence of any spiritual realities or non-material goals, but
in this book I am concerned with materialism’s scientific claims, rather than its effects on lifestyles.
In the spirit of radical skepticism, I turn each of these ten doctrines into a question. Entirely new
vistas open up when a widely accepted assumption is taken as the beginning of an inquiry, rather than
as an unquestionable truth. For example, the assumption that nature is machine-like or mechanical
becomes a question: “Is nature mechanical?” The assumption that matter is unconscious becomes “Is
matter unconscious?” And so on.
In the Prologue I look at the interactions of science, religion and power, and then in Chapters 1 to
10, I examine each of the ten dogmas. At the end of each chapter, I discuss what difference this topic
makes and how it affects the way we live our lives. I also pose several further questions, so that any
readers who want to discuss these subjects with friends or colleagues will have some useful starting
points. Each chapter is followed by a summary.

The credibility crunch for the “scientific worldview”:
For more than two hundred years, materialists have promised that science will eventually explain
everything in terms of physics and chemistry. Science will prove that living organisms are complex
machines, minds are nothing but brain activity and nature is purposeless. Believers are sustained by
the faith that scientific discoveries will justify their beliefs. The philosopher of science Karl Popper
called this stance “promissory materialism” because it depends on issuing promissory notes for
discoveries not yet made.1 Despite all the achievements of science and technology, materialism is now
facing a credibility crunch that was unimaginable in the twentieth century.
In 1963, when I was studying biochemistry at Cambridge University, I was invited to a series of
private meetings with Francis Crick and Sydney Brenner in Brenner’s rooms in King’s College, along
with a few of my classmates. Crick and Brenner had recently helped to “crack” the genetic code. Both
were ardent materialists and Crick was also a militant atheist. They explained there were two major
unsolved problems in biology: development and consciousness. They had not been solved because the
people who worked on them were not molecular biologists—or very bright. Crick and Brenner were
going to find the answers within ten years, or maybe twenty. Brenner would take developmental
biology, and Crick consciousness. They invited us to join them.
Both tried their best. Brenner was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2002 for his work on the development
of a tiny worm, Caenorhabdytis elegans. Crick corrected the manuscript of his final paper on the brain
the day before he died in 2004. At his funeral, his son Michael said that what made him tick was not
the desire to be famous, wealthy or popular, but “to knock the final nail into the coffin of vitalism.”
(Vitalism is the theory that living organisms are truly alive, and not explicable in terms of physics and
chemistry alone.)
Crick and Brenner failed. The problems of development and consciousness remain unsolved. Many
details have been discovered, dozens of genomes have been sequenced, and brain scans are ever more
precise. But there is still no proof that life and minds can be explained by physics and chemistry alone
(see Chapters 1, 4 and 8).
The fundamental proposition of materialism is that matter is the only reality. Therefore
consciousness is nothing but brain activity. It is either like a shadow, an “epiphenomenon,” that does
nothing, or it is just another way of talking about brain activity. However, among contemporary
researchers in neuroscience and consciousness studies there is no consensus about the nature of minds.
Leading journals such as Behavioural and Brain Sciences and the Journal of Consciousness Studies
publish many articles that reveal deep problems with the materialist doctrine. The philosopher David
Chalmers has called the very existence of subjective experience the “hard problem.” It is hard because
it defies explanation in terms of mechanisms. Even if we understand how eyes and brains respond to
red light, the experience of redness is not accounted for.
In biology and psychology the credibility rating of materialism is falling. Can physics ride to the
rescue? Some materialists prefer to call themselves physicalists, to emphasize that their hopes depend
on modern physics, not nineteenth-century theories of matter. But physicalism’s own credibility rating
has been reduced by physics itself, for four reasons.
First, some physicists insist that quantum mechanics cannot be formulated without taking into
account the minds of observers. They argue that minds cannot be reduced to physics because physics
presupposes the minds of physicists.2
Second, the most ambitious unified theories of physical reality, string and M-theories, with ten and
eleven dimensions respectively, take science into completely new territory. Strangely, as Stephen
Hawking tells us in his book The Grand Design (2010), “No one seems to know what the ‘M’ stands
for, but it may be ‘master’, ‘miracle’ or ‘mystery.’ ” According to what Hawking calls “modeldependent
realism,” different theories may have to be applied in different situations. “Each theory
may have its own version of reality, but according to model-dependent realism, that is acceptable so
long as the theories agree in their predictions whenever they overlap, that is, whenever they can both
be applied.”3
String theories and M-theories are currently untestable so “model-dependent realism” can only be
judged by reference to other models, rather than by experiment. It also applies to countless other
universes, none of which has ever been observed. As Hawking points out,
M-theory has solutions that allow for different universes with different apparent laws, depending
on how the internal space is curled. M-theory has solutions that allow for many different internal
spaces, perhaps as many as 10500, which means it allows for 10500 different universes, each with
its own laws … The original hope of physics to produce a single theory explaining the apparent
laws of our universe as the unique possible consequence of a few simple assumptions may have
to be abandoned.4
Some physicists are deeply skeptical about this entire approach, as the theoretical physicist Lee
Smolin shows in his book The Trouble With Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science
and What Comes Next (2008).5 String theories, M-theories and “model-dependent realism” are a shaky
foundation for materialism or physicalism or any other belief system, as discussed in Chapter 1.
Third, since the beginning of the twenty-first century, it has become apparent that the known kinds
of matter and energy make up only about 4 percent of the universe. The rest consists of “dark matter”
and “dark energy.” The nature of 96 percent of physical reality is literally obscure (see Chapter 2).
Fourth, the Cosmological Anthropic Principle asserts that if the laws and constants of nature had
been slightly different at the moment of the Big Bang, biological life could never have emerged, and
hence we would not be here to think about it (see Chapter 3). So did a divine mind fine-tune the laws
and constants in the beginning? To avoid a creator God emerging in a new guise, most leading
cosmologists prefer to believe that our universe is one of a vast, and perhaps infinite, number of
parallel universes, all with different laws and constants, as M-theory also suggests. We just happen to
exist in the one that has the right conditions for us.6
This multiverse theory is the ultimate violation of Occam’s Razor, the philosophical principle that
“entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity,” or in other words, that we should make as few
assumptions as possible. It also has the major disadvantage of being untestable.7 And it does not even
succeed in getting rid of God. An infinite God could be the God of an infinite number of universes.8
Materialism provided a seemingly simple, straightforward worldview in the late nineteenth century,
but twenty-first-century science has left it behind. Its promises have not been fulfilled, and its
promissory notes have been devalued by hyperinflation.
I am convinced that the sciences are being held back by assumptions that have hardened into
dogmas, maintained by powerful taboos. These beliefs protect the citadel of established science, but
act as barriers against open-minded thinking.

 

Offline dlorde

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1092 on: 03/12/2013 20:15:32 »
... nature cannot "generate " life or consciousness...
So now life and consciousness are unnatural are they, Don?
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1093 on: 03/12/2013 20:19:00 »
Reductionism :


REDUCTIONISM:
Science generally—and, in particular, all of classical physics—is highly reductionist, in that it seeks
to explain objects and systems in terms of their parts. Scientists attempt to take entities apart and to
explain them in terms of smaller, simpler, localized entities. So, for instance, organisms are
understood as composed of tissues and organs, which are in turn understood as collections of cells,
cells are composed of molecules, which are composed of atoms composed of subatomic particles, and
so forth. This method of reduction is a powerful form of analysis, and it has led to many very
successful explanations. Molecular biology has proved to be an extraordinarily powerful approach to
understanding evolution, heredity, and other aspects of life. Quantum mechanics, the study of the
smallest scale of reality, has provided insights into the life and death of stars, and the origin of the
universe.
However, the successes of reductionist methods have sometimes led to claims that biology is really
nothing but applied cell biology, cell biology is really nothing but applied molecular biology, which in
turn is just chemistry, that chemistry is really just applied many-body physics, and that ultimately,
everything can be explained by the laws of quantum mechanics. So, for instance, in his book Of
Molecules and Men we have molecular biologist and über-reductionist Francis Crick writing, “The
ultimate aim of the modern movement in biology is to explain all biology in terms of physics and
chemistry.”
It was irritation with claims like this that led Phillip Anderson, a condensed-matter physicist, to
write the essay “More Is Different,” published in Science in 1972.21 Anderson, who went on to win the
Nobel Prize in 1977, acknowledged the many successes of reductionism but then argued that “the
main fallacy with this kind of thinking is that the reductionist hypothesis does not by any means imply
a ‘constructionist’ one: the ability to reduce everything to simple fundamental laws does not imply the
ability to start with those laws and reconstruct the universe.” Reality has a hierarchal structure,
Anderson contended, ordered in terms of increasing complexity. And at each level of complexity
entirely new properties unpredictably appear, so that “at each stage entirely new laws, concepts, and
generalizations are necessary, requiring inspiration and creativity to just as great a degree as in the
previous one.” Or, in other words, “Psychology is not just applied biology, nor is biology applied
chemistry.”
As we go up the hierarchy of the sciences, complexity increases, and new properties emerge at each
new level. And it is the existence of these “emergent”—that is, unpredictable, irreducible, and holistic
—properties that do not allow us to explain the social sciences in terms of psychology, psychology in
terms of biology, and everything ultimately in terms of quantum mechanics. A simple example of an
emergent property is the fluidity of water, which is nothing like any property of hydrogen and
oxygen.q As another example, crystals have all sorts of properties, both geometrical and optical, that
the molecules that compose them do not possess. New chemical properties can also emerge and
replace others: sodium violently explodes when it comes into contact with water, and chlorine is a
deadly poison, but when combined they form crystals of sodium chloride—table salt.
Indeed, it seems as though the entire history of the universe as we know it could be understood as
the emergence of new entities and properties, with increasing levels of complexity. Heavy atomic
nuclei emerged in the center of large stars, and later on organic molecules emerged on earth. When
organic molecules were combined in special ways, single-celled life emerged, with all the new
properties of molecular and cell biology. The combination of individual cells into multicellular
organisms also resulted in something new: the behavior of complex animals. When sufficient
complexity was attained, something utterly new and completely different entered the universe: the
emergence of conscious states. Conscious minds interacted with other minds, and in turn emerged the
products of human minds, such as culture, works of art, and, of course, the scientific studies of all the
preceding levels of reality, from quantum mechanics to chemistry to biology to psychology, and to the
social sciences that study the products of human culture itself. As the celebrated philosopher of
science Karl Popper often pointed out, the universe is creative.
Claims such as “psychology is just applied biology” or “organisms are nothing but collections of
cells” are given the pejorative label of reductionism because they are considered to be unwarranted
reductions. It is perfectly acceptable and often very useful to consider an organism as a collection of
cells in the same sense that a building can be considered a collection of materials: the properties of
any complex entity are determined largely (but not entirely) by the properties of its parts. The dispute
is with the assertion that these complex entities are nothing but their component parts.
The nothing but reductions ignore the new properties that emerge when components are combined
in special ways. Of course, a complex entity like a building can be reduced to rubble, but this
reduction destroys the space-time relationships of the building components. Emergent properties
result from the parts and from the spacing and timing of the parts with reference to one another, but
the laws of the components do not include these space-time factors. In other words, it is the
spatiotemporal relationships between the components that make the whole greater than the simple
sum of its parts.
And it is important to realize that the properties that emerge at new levels of complexity do not
replace the more fundamental properties of the more basic levels: they are additions, not replacements
or even amendments. This has an important implication for the hierarchy of sciences. For although a
less basic science—for example, chemistry in relation to physics, biology in relation to chemistry—is
still an independent science with its own principles, the less basic science should not usually make
claims that are incompatible with well-established claims of a science that is more basic relative to it.
Should claims be made that appear to be in conflict with the principles of a more basic science, they
must be abandoned, modified, shown to be in conformity with the claims of the more basic science or
—if there is sufficient evidence for the claims—considered as potential falsifications of the general
yet more basic principle.
Anyway, from what we have seen so far, it would appear that the charge that the claims of
parapsychology are incompatible with those of the more basic sciences is groundless, as they are not
incompatible with quantum mechanics, at this time the most basic science of all. Given the existence
of emergent properties, the operation of psi in our macroscopic world is consistent with but not
necessarily explained by quantum mechanical principles.
Quantum systems exhibit an unexpected degree of togetherness. Mere spatial separation
does not divide them from each other. It is a particularly surprising conclusion for so
reductionist a subject as physics. After all, elementary particle physics is always trying to
split things up into smaller and smaller constituents with a view to treating them
independently of each other. I do not think we have yet succeeded in taking in fully what
quantum mechanical nonlocality implies about the nature of the world.
J. C. POLKINGHORNE
UPWARD AND DOWNWARD CAUSATION
From a purely reductionist standpoint, all causation must flow strictly in an upward direction, from
the simpler to the more complex. For if we assume that psychology is nothing but applied biology,
biology nothing but applied chemistry, and chemistry nothing but applied physics, then the more
complex structures are nothing more than functions of their substructures, and so causation only flows
upward. In this traditional view, the cosmos is physically driven from below by the elemental forces
of chemistry and physics, and ultimately by quantum mechanics.
If however, with increasing complexity new phenomena emerge that are to some extent independent
of the smaller-scale processes that created them, then they may be able to exert top-down control over
their substructures. This is the concept of downward causation, which may be said to occur whenever
a higher structure operates upon its substructure. According to this view, due mostly to neuroscientist
Roger Sperry and biologist Donald Campbell, causation flows downward as well as upward. No one
disputes that causation flows upward; the question is whether things are determined exclusively from
below or whether downward causation is also operating.
The concept of downward causation may be illustrated within the structural hierarchy of nature. A
simple example is the downward control exerted by a molecule of water over its hydrogen and oxygen
atoms. The laws defining the behavior of the atoms, particularly their course through space and time,
become quite different after they are joined together in a molecule. Although the atomic properties are
preserved, the atoms are now obliged to follow a new course through space and time, determined by
the newly emerged properties of the water molecule. If the molecule is itself part of a single-celled
organism, such as a paramecium, then it in turn is obliged to follow a new course through space and
time, determined by the forces driving the cell. If the cell is part of a multicelled organism, such as a
cat, then the behavior of the cell is determined by its purpose in terms of cat physiology, and its fate is
determined by the behavior of the cat, as may be described in terms of feline zoology and psychology.
At all times, the simpler lower-level forces and laws are all operating: they have not been replaced but
superseded by the properties of the higher-level organizational structures.r
A reductionist may agree with this account but may then argue that the higher-level properties, as,
for instance, those of a water molecule, may be predicted from the atomic properties. But
predictability is not the issue here. Being able to predict the emergence of new properties does not
make those properties any less real, important, or powerful as causal determinants. Perhaps evolution
i s in principle entirely predictable, starting with subatomic particles and forces (although this is
extremely doubtful, given the pure randomness of many quantum phenomena), but this does not
change the argument that evolution does occur, that new properties do emerge, and that these new
properties in turn exert downward causal influence over their constituents, which are thereafter
governed by new scientific laws.
Extending this discussion of emergent properties and their causal influence up the hierarchy of
nature leads to the suggestion that minds may be able to have causal influence upon lower-level
structures and, ultimately, that human culture may be able to influence human minds. This brings us
to the final assumption of classical science, one that is of special relevance to the existence of psi
phenomena.

Chris Carter
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1094 on: 03/12/2013 20:20:38 »
Materialism :




MATERIALISM:
The final assumption of classical science considered here is materialism. Often known today as
physicalism, it asserts that everything in the universe can ultimately be explained entirely in terms of
the fundamental particles and forces of physics. The cruder forms of materialism simply deny the
existence of mental states, or hold that mental states are identical to brain states.s The more
sophisticated forms of materialism consider mental states and consciousness as mere epiphenomena
of brain activity—that is, as phenomena that accompany brain activity, are caused by brain activity,
but are of no real use and carry no explanatory power.
This metaphysical hypothesis is the most drastic of the proposed solutions to the so-called
mind/body problem—that is, what is the nature of the relationship between mind and body? After
thousands of years of debate, three top contenders for a solution remain:
Materialism—Mental events have no causal influence, they are simply by-products of physical
events in the brain. The mind is a mere epiphenomenon, dependent upon and controlled by a
physical brain, and therefore incapable of existing apart from a physical brain. All that matters is
matter.
Mentalism—Matter exerts causal influence on mind, but mind also exerts causal influence on
matter and has causal primacy. However, mind is an emergent property of physical brains, so the
existence of mind ultimately depends on matter.
Dualism—Not only do mind and matter exert causal influence on each other, but both are entirely
irreducible phenomena that can exist independent of each other.
The most ancient of these beliefs is dualism, found as it is in the old shamanistic religions around
the world. Although the first formal statement of dualism was by Descartes, one of the earliest written
references to dualist thinking may be found in Plato’s description of the last hours of Socrates, in
which Socrates ridicules the notion that purposeful behavior can be explained in physical terms. Plato
made a sharp distinction between mind and body, holding that the mind could exist both before and
after its residence in the body and could rule the body during that residence. An even earlier reference
to a form of dualism may be found in a lecture given by Hippocrates on epilepsia (epilepsy), in which
the brain is described as “the messenger to consciousness” and as “the interpreter for consciousness.”
Modern dualists can count among their ranks several distinguished modern philosophers and brain
scientists.t
Materialism in all its varieties also has an ancient history, going back at least as far as Democritus,
who back in the fifth century BC wrote that “nothing exists, but atoms and the void.” It had a powerful
and influential advocate in the nineteenth century in the form of Darwin’s close friend Thomas
Huxley, who proposed the thesis that animals and men are automata. Huxley did not deny the
existence of mental events, but he maintained that the relationship between mind and body was
strictly one-sided, with the mental having no effect on the physical. Huxley described mental events as
mere epiphenomena, or just useless by-products of brain activity. So men and animals for him were
just automata, even if conscious ones. This is still the position of many philosophers, biologists, and
neuroscientists.
Materialism was popular in psychology in the 1950s, as part of a movement known as
“behaviorism,” and the doctrine of behaviorism is still adhered to by some neuroscientists and
psychologists. But in the 1960s, the concept of mentalism began to spread in acceptance among
cognitive scientists, mostly due to the writings of neurobiologist Roger Sperry. Sperry, who won the
1981 Nobel Prize in medicine for his work on the functions of the two hemispheres of the brain,
rightly recognized that the profound mystery of consciousness makes a choice between the
alternatives difficult:
Once we have materialism squared off against mentalism in this way, I think we must all agree that neither is going to win the
match on the basis of direct, factual evidence. The facts do not simply go far enough. Those centermost processes of the brain
with which consciousness is presumably associated are simply not understood. They are so far beyond our comprehension at
present that no one I know of has been able even to imagine their nature.22
Apart from the dwindling number of pure materialists who still deny the existence of
consciousness, and the dwindling number of researchers in the field of artificial intelligence still
trying to raise money for the construction of “thinking machines,”u this position is reflected in the
writings of most serious scientists. Nobel laureate Eugene Wigner writes, “We have at present not
even the vaguest idea how to connect the physiochemical processes with the state of the mind.”23
Physicist Nick Herbert concurs:
Science’s biggest mystery is the nature of consciousness. It is not simply that we possess bad or imperfect theories of human
awareness; we simply have no such theories at all. About all we know about consciousness is that it has something to do with
the head, rather than the foot.24
Materialists sometimes claim to represent the scientific viewpoint. But materialism is in no sense a
more “scientific” hypothesis than the alternatives, as it does not draw stronger support from current
scientific thinking. Materialism is a legacy of classical physics, which actually had two ways of
dealing with the problem of consciousness and free will. The first, followed by Descartes and Newton,
was to place mind outside of the scope of physics and consider it the sole exception in an otherwise
deterministic, mechanistic universe. The other approach, followed by popularizers of Newton’s work,
such as Diderot and Voltaire, was to assume that the physics of the time was a complete description of
the world, and to argue that consciousness must then be epiphenomenal. But we now know that
classical physics is fundamentally incorrect, and so any worldview based upon it must be flawed.
Sperry writes:
To conclude that conscious, mental, or psychic, forces have no place in filling this gap in our explanatory picture is at least to
go well beyond the facts into the realm of intuition and speculation. The doctrine of materialism in behavioral science, which
tends to be identified with a rigorous scientific approach, is thus seen to rest, in fact, on an insupportable mental inference that
goes far beyond the objective evidence and hence is founded on the cardinal sin of science.25
Our common sense would certainly seem to suggest that mental events such as perceptions, beliefs,
emotions, intentions, and so forth all have causal effects. We normally speak and think as if our
thoughts, feelings, and values do determine our course of action. And, of course, our moral judgments
also presuppose that these things have a real impact on human behavior. But common sense
arguments, however seemingly compelling, are not sufficient by themselves to draw strong
conclusions, as on many occasions science has shown common sense to have been dead wrong.
What, then, is the argument in favor of the causal efficacy of mental events? It is simple and
straightforward. First, it contends that mind and consciousness are emergent properties of living
brains, and then it goes a critical step further and asserts that these emergent properties have causal
potency, just as they do elsewhere in the universe. In other words, it applies the concepts of emergent
properties and downward causation to mind and consciousness, and to everything they seem to affect.
It is important to stress that the lower-level forces and properties of atoms, molecules, and cells all
continue to operate, and all continue to exert upward (and in most cases downward) causal influence.
None of these causal forces have been canceled or replaced, but they have been superseded by the
properties of a higher organizational structure. According to this new view, mind and consciousness
exert just as much (or even more) causal effect on the lower-level structures than the lower-level
structures exert on them. Mental events interact with other mental events at their own level, according
to their own rules, and in the process exert downward control over the lower-level structures. Sperry’s
model puts mind back into the driver’s seat, and, accordingly, perceptions, thoughts, beliefs, emotion,
judgment, and so forth are recognized as having a real, not just an imaginary, impact on the world.
The ultimate paradox of materialism is that the one feature of the universe which alone gives
meaning to all the rest is the one feature which has to be declared redundant! Nothing can
account for its emergence; nothing follows from its existence.
JOHN BELOFF
Shortly after Sperry first proposed these ideas in the mid 1960s, the philosopher Karl Popper seems
to have come to an almost identical conclusion, although from a somewhat different perspective.
Popper points out that no Darwinist should accept the one-sided action of body on mind proposed by
the materialists. In his books On the Origin of Species and Natural Selection, Darwin discussed the
mental powers of animals and men, and argued that these are products of natural selection.
Now if that is so, then mental powers must assist organisms in their struggle for survival. And it
follows from this that mental powers must exert causal influence on the behavior of animals and
people. If conscious states exist, then, according to Darwinism, we should look for their uses. If they
are useful for living, then they must have real effects on the physical world.
As mentioned earlier, Darwin’s close friend Thomas Huxley was a thoroughgoing materialist.
While he did not deny the existence of mental events, he wrote that the relationship between mind and
body was strictly one-sided, with the mental having no effect on the physical. Since mental events for
Huxley were just useless by-products of brain activity, he thought people and animals were just
automata, with useless consciousness along for the ride.
Although Darwin liked and admired Huxley, he would have none of this. Supporting Huxley’s
opinion would have contradicted his life’s work, as Popper rightly points out:
The theory of natural selection constitutes a strong argument against Huxley’s theory of the one-sided action of body on mind
and for the mutual interaction of mind and body. Not only does the body act on the mind—for example, in perception, or in
sickness—but our thoughts, our expectations, and our feelings may lead to useful actions in the physical world. If Huxley had
been right, mind would be useless. But then it could not have evolved . . . by natural selection.26
So from a strictly Darwinian standpoint, the mental powers of animals and humans should be
expected to lead to useful actions and should therefore be a causal influence in nature. According to
this account, perceptions, emotions, judgments, and thoughts all have a real effect. And the more
highly developed the mental powers, the more causal impact they should be expected to have. We
should conclude from this that the mental powers of humans exert more causal potency than that of
any other living creatures on earth, as, arguably, we are the only creatures on earth with ideas and
ideals. Sperry writes:
In the brain model proposed here the causal potency of an idea, or an ideal, becomes just as real as that of a molecule, a cell, or
a nerve impulse. Ideas cause ideas and help evolve new ideas. They interact with each other and with other mental forces in the
same brain, in neighboring brains, and thanks to global communication, in far distant, foreign brains. And they also interact
with the external surroundings to produce in toto a burstwise advance in evolution that is far beyond anything to hit the
evolutionary scene yet.27
Mind-Body Interaction
Critics of mentalism and dualism often question how two fundamentally different properties, such as
mind and matter, could possibly interact. How can something nonspatial, with no mass, location, or
physical dimensions, possibly influence spatially bound matter? As K. R. Rao writes:
The main problem with such dualism is the problem of interaction. How does unextended mind interact with the extended
body? Any kind of causal interaction between them, which is presumed by most dualist theories, comes into conflict with the
physical theory that the universe is a closed system and that every physical event is linked with an antecedent physical event.
This assumption preempts any possibility that a mental act can cause a physical event.28
Of course, we know now that the universe is not a closed system and that the collapse of the wave
function—a physical event—is linked with an antecedent mental event. The objection Rao describes is
of course based on classical physics.
Furthermore, by asking “How does unextended mind interact with the extended body?” Rao is
making the implicit assumption that phenomena that exist as cause and effect must have something in
common in order to exist as cause and effect. So is this a logical necessity? Or is it rather an empirical
truth, a fact about nature? As David Hume pointed out long ago, anything in principle could be the
cause of anything else, and so only observation can establish what causes what. Parapsychologist John
Beloff considers the issue logically:
If an event A never occurred without being preceded by some other event B, we would surely want to say that the second event
was a necessary condition or cause of the first event, whether or not the two had anything else in common. As for such a
principle being an empirical truth, how could it be since there are here only two known independent substances, i.e. mind and
matter, as candidates on which to base a generalization? To argue that they cannot interact because they are independent is to
beg the question. . . . It says something about the desperation of those who want to dismiss radical dualism that such phony
arguments should repeatedly be invoked by highly reputable philosophers who should know better.29
Popper also rejects completely the idea that only like can act upon like, describing this as resting on
obsolete notions of physics. For an example of unlikes acting on one another we have interaction
between the four known and very different forces, and between forces and physical bodies. Popper
considers the issue empirically:
In the present state of physics we are faced, not with a plurality of substances, but with a plurality of different kinds of forces,
and thus with a pluralism of different interacting explanatory principles. Perhaps the clearest physical example against the thesis
that only like things can act upon each other is this: In modern physics, the action of bodies upon bodies is mediated by fields
—by gravitational and electrical fields. Thus like does not act upon like, but bodies act first upon fields, which they modify, and
then the modified field acts upon another body.30
It should be clear that the idea that only like can act upon like rests upon an obsolete, billiard-ball
notion of causation in physics.31


Chris Carter
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1095 on: 03/12/2013 20:23:44 »
... nature cannot "generate " life or consciousness...
So now life and consciousness are unnatural are they, Don?

Not unnatural, they just cannot be "generated " by nature , otherwise , let any materialist out there ,or any naturalist non-reductionist account for the nature of life or consciousness fully naturalistically .

In other words :
Let them explain to us how life or consciousness emerged in nature .
« Last Edit: 03/12/2013 20:25:30 by DonQuichotte »
 

Offline Ethos_

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1096 on: 03/12/2013 20:57:14 »
... nature cannot "generate " life or consciousness...
So now life and consciousness are unnatural are they, Don?

Not unnatural, they just cannot be "generated " by nature , otherwise , let any materialist out there ,or any naturalist non-reductionist account for the nature of life or consciousness fully naturalistically .

In other words :
Let them explain to us how life or consciousness emerged in nature .
Sir Don., why should I accept your challenge when you have ignored mine for so many posts. But, in an attempt at fairness, I have six words for you: ................................Limited Evolution, and or Natural Selection

Maybe you should answer your own question here my friend. How would you construct the means for the onset of life?

But first, you'll need to define life. What is life Don.?
Secondly, what makes consciousness different from other forms of mental activity?
Thirdly and lastly, What is Nature?
« Last Edit: 03/12/2013 20:58:50 by Ethos_ »
 

Offline Ethos_

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1097 on: 03/12/2013 21:08:33 »
... nature cannot "generate " life or consciousness...
So now life and consciousness are unnatural are they, Don?

Not unnatural, they just cannot be "generated " by nature , otherwise , let any materialist out there ,or any naturalist non-reductionist account for the nature of life or consciousness fully naturalistically .

In other words :
Let them explain to us how life or consciousness emerged in nature .
Sir Don., why should I accept your challenge when you have ignored mine for so many posts. But, in an attempt at fairness, I have six words for you: ................................Limited Evolution, and or Natural Selection

Maybe you should answer your own question here my friend. How would you construct the means for the onset of life?

But first, you'll need to define life. What is life Don.?
Secondly, what makes consciousness different from other forms of mental activity?
Thirdly and lastly, What is Nature?
We patiently wait........................................................
 

Offline Ethos_

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1098 on: 03/12/2013 21:15:37 »
... nature cannot "generate " life or consciousness...
So now life and consciousness are unnatural are they, Don?

Not unnatural, they just cannot be "generated " by nature , otherwise , let any materialist out there ,or any naturalist non-reductionist account for the nature of life or consciousness fully naturalistically .

In other words :
Let them explain to us how life or consciousness emerged in nature .
Sir Don., why should I accept your challenge when you have ignored mine for so many posts. But, in an attempt at fairness, I have six words for you: ................................Limited Evolution, and or Natural Selection

Maybe you should answer your own question here my friend. How would you construct the means for the onset of life?

But first, you'll need to define life. What is life Don.?
Secondly, what makes consciousness different from other forms of mental activity?
Thirdly and lastly, What is Nature?
We patiently wait........................................................
Times up Don......................Someone else take over here, I'm bored to death and have given up ever being able to squeez any answers out of Sir Don. This thread is an absolute waste of time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
« Last Edit: 03/12/2013 21:19:46 by Ethos_ »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1099 on: 03/12/2013 21:26:59 »
... nature cannot "generate " life or consciousness...
So now life and consciousness are unnatural are they, Don?

Not unnatural, they just cannot be "generated " by nature , otherwise , let any materialist out there ,or any naturalist non-reductionist account for the nature of life or consciousness fully naturalistically .

In other words :
Let them explain to us how life or consciousness emerged in nature .
Sir Don., why should I accept your challenge when you have ignored mine for so many posts. But, in an attempt at fairness, I have six words for you: ................................Limited Evolution, and or Natural Selection

Maybe you should answer your own question here my friend. How would you construct the means for the onset of life?

But first, you'll need to define life. What is life Don.?
Secondly, what makes consciousness different from other forms of mental activity?
Thirdly and lastly, What is Nature?
We patiently wait........................................................
Times up Don......................Someone else take over here, I'm bored to death and have given up ever being able to squeez any answers out of Sir Don. This thread is an absolute waste of time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Don't be lazy : read the above : the answer is  there,relatively speaking  .
It's up to you indeed , what are you afraid of then ?
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1099 on: 03/12/2013 21:26:59 »

 

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