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Author Topic: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?  (Read 309682 times)

Offline cheryl j

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1525 on: 01/01/2014 00:05:56 »
I have one more link. What New Years Eve would be complete without inviting the evil neuroscientists themselves to the party? One of the authors is Patricia Churchland, the Wicked Witch of Materialism (You're all just atoms and molecules. And you're little dog, too!)

I searched this mainly because, while reading Stapp's article, it occurred to me that microtubules are part of the cytoskeleton of all kinds of cells, not just neurons. They are abundant in cilia and flagella and the centrioles that divide chromosomes in cell division. Are there superimposed kidney states as well as brain states? Calcium channels are wide spread in physiology, for example in the sarcoplasmic reticulum of muscle cells during muscle contraction, in the pacemaker cells of heart muscle, etc. So I wanted to see what  biologists other than Hameroff thought of the microtubule thing.

Another question that bothered me: I also don’t see how all of this works in a big wet sloppy biological system.
I don’t know what constitutes a “detector” in quantum mechanics. The slits in the double slit experiment and the detector collapse the wave function. But what happens if the particle “bumps” into anything on its journey? Does the wave function collapse? How are the quantum events isolated from anything else in the brain that might register some effect? Doesn’t any interaction with the macroscopic environment cause decoherence? (This was actually one of the weaknesses mentioned by Stapp himself, but not really well answered.)

The double slit experiment deals with particles. But I have a hard time conceiving of quantum brain states, or the choice process, as not somehow engaging large numbers of particles and cellular structures spread out across the brain, if the information stored in the brain is in anyway important to that choice. I don't know how consciousness "recognizes" the information that correlates to the brain state it wants to select, if that makes any sense. 

The first part of the article deals with the part Penrose's argument involving Gödel Incompleteness Result and non algorithmic thought processes, which was of less interest to me, (but might be relevant to AI and things that Cooper is interested in) The second half has more to do with microtubules and brain physiology.

http://mind.ucsd.edu/papers/penrose/penrosehtml/penrose-text.html

Happy New Year.
« Last Edit: 01/01/2014 00:14:23 by cheryl j »
 

Offline dlorde

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1526 on: 01/01/2014 00:19:28 »
... Matthew Donald of Cambridge... says “My theory is dualistic in the sense that there are physical laws and there are observers, but there are no mental computations without observable physical structure. My theory is epiphenomenalistic in the sense that a mind does not direct a pattern of observed physical events, rather it has to make sense of such a pattern as it unfolds. Ultimately, however, my theory should probably be considered as idealistic because, in its final form, the central structures in the theory are mental structures. Physics just supplies the probabilities by which those mental structures change. Mental structures give meaning to their realities by understanding themselves in terms of observable physical structures and observed physical events.”
Good stuff, Cheryl!
Yes; I particularly like how he's expressed statement I bolded, and to paraphrase what he says, what makes this idea resonate is that the mind is itself a pattern of physical events that in turn maps the observed pattern (as described in Damasio's 'Self Comes To Mind').

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Although his theory is in some respects even more abstract than Stapp’s, I find it a bit easier to swallow because he seems to avoid Stapp’s problematic conscious agency (or at least a completely independent, acausal one) Stapp's conscious agency is according to Donald basically another form of the homunculus, of which he is quite critical.
Yes again - this is the homunculus of Dennett's 'Cartesian Theatre' that I was critical of earlier, which raises the question why the brain needs to be complex enough do all this thinking to get to the point of a quantum superposition of options for action (but not quite complex enough to make the selection), if there's a separate conscious agency that has the ability to select a preferred option (somehow) - to do which must involve all the work the brain has already done, and more...

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Donald raises another issue regarding the conservation of energy, which seems to be important and I would appreciate it if anyone else could comment on it.
Conservation of energy in controlling the quantum zeno effect is the least of the problems - where does the energy come from to maintain this independent conscious agency in the first place? It would also take energy to compute the preferred option before applying energy to 'stack the deck' in favour of that option. Nor is there the remotest hint of a mechanism for any of this subversion of quantum decoherence.

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Donald says: ”... Stapp states that his theory 'makes consciousness causally effective, yet it is fully compatible with all known laws of physics, including the law of conservation of energy.' Stapp does not justify this statement. In general, energy is not conserved in individual quantum jumps. Average total energy may be conserved if the projections involved commute with the global Hamiltonian. Leaving aside the commutation question, however, this would require that 'causal effectiveness' produces the same averages as conventional quantum probabilities. In Stapp (1995),Stapp admits that, 'No attempt is made here to show that the quantum statistical laws will hold for the aspects of the brain’s internal dynamics controlled by conscious thoughts'."

I could easily be mistaken in my understanding of the statement above. But Stapp’s whole theory seems to rest on the idea of consciousness using the Zeno effect to stack the quantum mechanical deck, so to speak, to not simply collapse the wave, but to do it in a way that produces one result over another. If this violates the conservation of energy, doesn’t the theory fall apart?
Absolutely it does, I don't think your understanding is mistaken. But the mere existence of an independent immaterial conscious agency capable of computing a preferred result violates the conservation of energy - how does it receive its information? how does it process it? with what? how does it effect that physical quantum  zeno stacking? Stapp is carefully concealing the magical homunculus behind a theatrical curtain of quantum flim-flam and hoping we don't notice. Someone needs to tell him, "Conscious agency is what you're trying to explain Stapp, you can't use it as part of your explanation!!"

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The final article by Victor Stenger is shorter, and is a criticism of quantum consciousness in general, and also looks at the history of attempts to reinstate a holistic, aether-like conception of universe in which consciousness, mankind in particular, reigns supreme. He adheres tightly to the Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum mechanics, and says flat out “Nothing in quantum mechanics requires human involvement.”

http://www-physics.lbl.gov/~stapp/Cambridge.pdf

http://www.bss.phy.cam.ac.uk/~mjd1014/stapp.pdf

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/victor-stenger/the-myth-of-quantum-consc_b_788798.html

Thanks for those links, Cheryl - something to nurse my hangover by!

Happy New Year!
« Last Edit: 01/01/2014 00:47:42 by dlorde »
 

Offline dlorde

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1527 on: 01/01/2014 01:05:51 »
I searched this mainly because, while reading Stapp's article, it occurred to me that microtubules are part of the cytoskeleton of all kinds of cells, not just neurons. They are abundant in cilia and flagella and the centrioles that divide chromosomes in cell division. Are there superimposed kidney states as well as brain states? Calcium channels are wide spread in physiology, for example in the sarcoplasmic reticulum of muscle cells during muscle contraction, in the pacemaker cells of heart muscle, etc. So I wanted to see what  biologists other than Hameroff thought of the microtubule thing.
The Penrose & Hameroff's microtubule quantum thing has been comprehensively trashed by Max Tegmark, among others.

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Another question that bothered me: I also don’t see how all of this works in a big wet sloppy biological system.
I don’t know what constitutes a “detector” in quantum mechanics. The slits in the double slit experiment and the detector collapse the wave function. But what happens if the particle “bumps” into anything on its journey? Does the wave function collapse?
You're right to be concerned, and yes - on any interaction, the wave function collapses, the superposition decoheres. In QM, an observer or detector is any interacting particle.

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How are the quantum events isolated from anything else in the brain that might register some effect?
Magic?

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Doesn’t any interaction with the macroscopic environment cause decoherence? (This was actually one of the weaknesses mentioned by Stapp himself, but not really well answered.)
Yup.

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... I have a hard time conceiving of quantum brain states, or the choice process, as not somehow engaging large numbers of particles and cellular structures spread out across the brain, if the information stored in the brain is in anyway important to that choice. I don't know how consciousness "recognizes" the information that correlates to the brain state it wants to select, if that makes any sense.
Yep, that's the immaterial 'homunculus' at work - it presumably can analyse the complex superposition resulting from all that brain processing, recognise and understand its implications, and magically interfere with the timing of decoherence via the quantum zeno effect, all in a few femtoseconds, to produce the desired outcome... [rather than the brain itself just acting on the strongest pattern of activation resulting from its own computations, which makes more sense to me].

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http://mind.ucsd.edu/papers/penrose/penrosehtml/penrose-text.html
The Churchland & Grush seem to cover the bases; it's Quantum Woo (loved this: "Nothing we have said in this paper demonstrates the falsity of the quantum-consciousness connection. Our view is just that it is no better supported than any one of a gazillion caterpillar-with-hookah hypotheses.")

Quote
Happy New Year.
Likewise ;)
« Last Edit: 01/01/2014 01:17:30 by dlorde »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1528 on: 02/01/2014 16:22:10 »
2 A Quantum Theory of Consciousness:



2.1 Introduction:

Classical physics has no natural place for consciousness. According to the
classical precepts, the sole ingredients of the physical universe are particles
and local fields, and every physical system is completely described by specifying
the dispositions in space and time of these two kinds of localizable
parts. Furthermore, the dispositions of these parts at early times determine,
through certain “laws of motion”, their dispositions at all times. The system
is logically complete in the sense that it does not logically require, for its
description of nature, any things beyond the dispositions of the particles and
local fields.
The two cited features of classical physics, namely its local-reductionistic
and deterministic aspects, do not entail that there can be no conglomerates
that act cohesively as unified wholes. Nor do they entail that such conglomerates
cannot control in large measure the motions of their own parts. But
these two features of classical physics do entail that, to the extent that classical
physics is valid, the motions of material things can be controlled only by
things that are themselves deterministically controlled, and, moreover, dynamically
equivalent to the forces of classical physics. In particular, because
subjective conscious experience is not logically entailed by the concepts of
classical physics, any control over brain activity exercised by a conscious
experience is, to the extent that classical physics is valid, dynamically equivalent
to the control exercised by the classical forces. This equivalence renders
conscious experience superfluous, in the sense that the evolution of the
physical universe would be exactly the same whether subjective conscious
experience exists or not.
The condition “to the extent that classical physics is valid” is critical.
It is not satisfied in nature. Classical physics is unable to explain the basic
properties of materials, even in inorganic, nonliving, unconscious systems.
Yet the operation of the brain depends critically upon the subtle properties of
the tissues that make it up. Hence there is no scientific basis for supposing

that classical physical theory could provide an adequate conceptual foundation
for understanding the dynamics of the mind–brain system. On the other
hand, there are ample philosophical reasons to reject the notion that classical
physical theory is adequate for this task. Without going here into these
reasons I merely cite the complete failure of the three-century-old effort to
reconcile the properties of mind with the concepts of classical physics.
Scientists other than quantum physicists often fail to comprehend the
enormity of the conceptual change wrought by quantum theory in our basic
conception of the nature of matter. For example, it has been claimed, in
connection with the mind–brain problem, that the switch to the quantum
ideas is “incremental”. That is hardly the case. The shift is from a local, reductionistic,
deterministic conception of nature in which consciousness has
no logical place, and can do nothing but passively watch a preprogrammed
course of events, to a nonlocal, nonreductionistic, nondeterministic, conception
of nature in which there is a perfectly natural place for consciousness,
a place that allows each conscious event, conditioned, but not bound, by
any known law of nature, to grasp a possible large-scale metastable pattern
of neuronal activity in the brain, and convert its status from “possible” to
“actual”.
Two revisions in physics lead to the possibility of this profound change
in the role of subjective conscious experience in mind–brain dynamics.
The first is the opening up, by Heisenberg’s indeterminacy principle, of at
least the logical possibility that some entity not strictly controlled by the
mechanical laws of physics could exercise supervenient downward control
over the course of physical events. The second is the introduction into
physics of physical events that are appropriate counterparts to conscious
events, in the critical sense that each such physical event can actualize,
as a whole, a complex large-scale metastable pattern of physical activity
generated within a complex physical system by the action of the mechanical
laws.

Henry P.Stapp
« Last Edit: 02/01/2014 16:30:56 by DonQuichotte »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1529 on: 02/01/2014 16:27:33 »
Folks :

You really gotta try to stop looking at reality,including especially the mind-brain issue ,  via the false determinist mechanical materialist  key hole version of reality through the approximately valid and fundamentally incorrect ....classical physics .
Not to mention that you gotta stop viewing quantum theory from an exclusively materialist perspective ...quantum mechanics that have been dualist in relation to their non-classical conception of nature ...and hence , QM have been superceding materialism ....

Good luck .
« Last Edit: 02/01/2014 16:30:01 by DonQuichotte »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1530 on: 02/01/2014 16:37:42 »
Neuroscientists must also cease dealing with the mind -brain hard problem exclusively through the determinist mechanical approximately valid and fundamentally incorrect classical physics' point of view ,as if there has been no such a "thing " such as quantum theory ...
The latter that might be THE key to trying to approach the fundamental causal effects of consciousness on matter , and hence on body and brain ...
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1531 on: 02/01/2014 16:47:28 »
Roger Penrose’s Theory
and Quantum Decoherence:



Increased interest in quantum mechanical theories of mind has been
kindled by two recent books by Roger Penrose. These books, The Emperor’s
New Mind, and Shadows of the Mind, along with a paper by
Hameroff and Penrose (1996), propose a quantum theory of consciousness
that, like the present one, is based on von Neumann’s formulation
of quantum theory. But the Penrose–Hameroff theory brings in some
controversial ideas that are not used in the more direct application of
orthodox quantum mechanics described in this book.
An essential difference between the present proposal and that of
Penrose and Hameroff is that their theory depends on the assumption
that a property called ‘quantum coherence’ extends over a large
portion of the brain, whereas the theory described here does not.
This property is a technical matter that I do not want to enter into
right here, beyond remarking that most quantum physicists deem it
highly unlikely that the quantum coherence required by the Penrose–
Hameroff theory could be sustained in a warm, wet, living brain. Quantitative
estimates that appear to back up this negative opinion have
been made by Tegmark (2000). A rebuttal has been offered by Hagen,
Hameroff, and Tuszynski (2002), but the needed level of coherence still
looks very difficult to achieve.
The expected (by most physicists) lack of long-range quantum coherence
in a living brain is, in fact, a great asset to the von Neumann
approach described in this book. This lack of coherence (decoherence)
means that the quantum brain can be conceived to be, to a very good
approximation, simply a collection of classically conceived alternative
possible states of the brain. The point here is that the interaction
with the environment effectively washes out all observable effects of
the possible-in-principle interferences between parts of the brain that
are spatially separated by an appreciable distance: the only quantum
effects that survive decoherence are those associated with very close
neighbors. Thus the quantum state of the brain is effectively, to a
very good approximation, simply a collection of alternative possible
classically described brains. They all exist together as ‘parallel’ parts
of a potentiality for future additions to a stream of consciousness.
The residual quantum effects arise from the fact that these quasiclassical
‘parallel’ brain states are allowed to interact with their very
close neighbors. Still, these surviving linkages to close neighbors make
the quantum model significantly different in principle from a purely
classical model: no classical possibility can interact with an alternative
classical possibility, no matter how close together they are.
The only macroscopic quantum effect that appears to survive the
decoherence effects is the quantum Zeno effect. This permits neuroscientists
unfamiliar with quantum theory to have a very accurate,
simple, intuitive idea of the quantum state of a brain. It can be imagined
to be an evolving set of nearly classical brains with, however, the
following four non-classical properties:
1. Each almost-classical possibility is slightly smeared out in space
relative to a strictly classical idealization, and it fans out in accordance
with the uncertainty principle.
2. At each occurrence of a conscious thought, the set of possibilities
is reduced to the subset compatible with the occurring increment
of knowledge.
3. Microscopic chemical interactions are treated quantum mechanically.
4. In the presence of effortful intent, the quantum Zeno effect acts
to keep the associated template for action in place for longer than
classical mechanics would allow.
A second principal difference between the Penrose–Hameroff theory
and the one being described here is that the former depends on the
complex question of the nature of quantum gravity, which is currently
not under good theoretical control, whereas the present approach is
based only on the fundamental principles of orthodox quantum theory,
which, thanks to the efforts of John von Neumann, are under good
control. Penrose’s proposal strongly links consciousness to the gravitational
interactions of parts of the brain with other parts of the same
brain, whereas the theory being advanced here supposes gravitational
interactions between parts of the same brain to be negligible.
The third difference is that Penrose’s approach involves a very much
disputed argument that claims to deduce from (1) the fact that mathematicians
construct proofs that they believe to be valid, and from (2)
some deep mathematical results due to Kurt G¨odel, the conclusion that
brain processes must involve a non-algorithmic (not discretely describ

able) process. According to the present approach, contemporary orthodox
quantum theory already requires the physically described process
2 aspects of brain processes to be influenced by process 1 interventions
coming from streams of consciousness. The theory leaves open the important
question of how these interventions, which are treated pragmatically
simply as experimenter-selected choices of boundary conditions,
come to be what they turn out to be: this is the causal gap!
These interventions are not required by present understanding to be
governed by algorithmic processes.

Henry P.Stapp
« Last Edit: 02/01/2014 17:00:41 by DonQuichotte »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1532 on: 02/01/2014 17:02:11 »
1 Science, Consciousness and Human Values:

1 Science, Consciousness and Human Values:
A tremendous burgeoning of interest in the problem of consciousness
is now in progress. The grip of the behaviorists who sought to banish
consciousness from science has finally been broken. This shift was
ratified, for example, by the appearance several years ago of a special
issue of Scientific American entitled The Hidden Mind (August 2002).
The lead article, written by Antonio Damasio, begins with the assertion:
“At the start of the new millennium, it is apparent that one
question towers above all others in the life sciences: How does the set
of processes we call mind emerge from the activity of the organ we
call brain?” He notes that some thinkers “believe the question to be
unanswerable in principle”, while: “For others, the relentless and exponential
increase in knowledge may give rise to the vertiginous feeling
that no problem can resist the assault of science if only the science
is right and the techniques are powerful enough” (my emphasis). He
notes that: “The naysayers argue that exhaustive compilation of all
these data (of neuroscience) adds up to correlates of mental states but
to nothing resembling an actual mental state” (his emphasis). He adds
that: “In fact, the explanation of the physics related to biological events
is still incomplete” and states that “the finest level of description of
mind [. . . ] might require explanation at the quantum level.” Damasio
makes his own position clear: “I contend that the biological processes
now presumed to correspond to mind in fact are mind processes and
will be seen to be so when understood in sufficient detail.”
Damasio at least hints at the idea that “biological process [. . . ]
understood in sufficient detail” is a quantum understanding.
The possibility that quantum physics might be relevant to the connection
between conscious process and brain process was raised also
by Dave Chalmers, in his contribution ‘The Puzzle of Conscious Experience’
to The Hidden Mind. However, Chalmers effectively tied that
possibility to the proposal put forth by Roger Penrose (1989, 1994)
and, faulting that particular approach, rejected the general idea.
The deficiency of Penrose’s approach identified by Chalmers is that
it fails to bring in consciousness. It is about certain brain processes
that may be related to consciousness, but “the theory is silent about
how these processes might give rise to conscious experience. Indeed,
the same problem arises with any theory of consciousness based only
on physical processing.”
Penrose’s treatment does indeed focus on physical processing. But
quantum theory itself is intrinsically psychophysical: as designed by
its founders, and as used in actual scientific practice, it is ultimately
a theory about the structure of our experience that is erected upon a
radical mathematical generalization of the laws of classical physics.
Chalmers goes on to expound upon the ‘explanatory gap’ between,
on the one hand, theoretical understanding of the behavioral and functional
aspects of brain processes and, on the other hand, an explanation
of how and why the performance of those functions should be accompanied
by conscious experience. Such a gap arises in the classical
approximation, but not in orthodox quantum theory, which is fundamentally
a causal weaving together of the structure of our streams of
conscious experiences, described in psychological terms, with a theoretical
representation of the physical world described in mathematical
language.
The conflating of Nature herself with the impoverished mechanical
conception of it invented by scientists during the seventeenth century
has derailed the philosophies of science and of mind for more than three
centuries, by effectively eliminating the causal link between the psychological
and physical aspects of nature that contemporary physics
restores.
But the now-falsified classical conception of the world still exerts a
blinding effect. For example, Daniel Dennett (1994, p. 237) says that
his own thinking rests on the idea that “a brain was always going
to do what it was caused to do by current, local, mechanical circumstances”.
But by making that judgment he tied his thinking to the
physical half of Cartesian dualism, or its child, classical physics, and
thus was forced in his book Consciousness Explained (Dennett 1991)
to leave consciousness out, as he himself admits, and tries to justify, at
the end of the book. By effectively restricting himself to the classical
approximation, which squeezes the effects of consciousness out of the
more accurate consciousness-dependent quantum dynamics, Dennett
cuts himself off from any possibility of validly explaining the physical
efficacy of our conscious efforts.
Francis Crick and Christof Koch begin their essay in The Hidden
Mind entitled ‘The Problem of Consciousness’ with the assertion: “The
overwhelming question in neurobiology today is the relationship between
the mind and the brain.” But after a brief survey of the difficulties
in getting an answer they conclude that: “Radically new concepts
may indeed be needed – recall the modifications in scientific thinking
forced on us by quantum mechanics. The only sensible approach is to
press the experimental attack until we are confronted with dilemmas
that call for new ways of thinking.”
However, the two cases compared by Crick and Koch are extremely
dissimilar. The switch to quantum theory was forced upon us by the
fact that we had a very simple system – consisting of a single hydrogen
atom interacting with the electromagnetic field – that was so simple
that it could be exactly solved by the methods of classical physics,
but the calculated answer did not agree with the empirical results.
There was initially no conceptual problem. It was rather that precise
computations were possible, but gave wrong answers. Here the problem
is reversed: precise calculations of the dynamical brain processes
associated with conscious experiences are not yet possible, and hence
have not revealed any mismatch between theory and experiment. The
problem is, rather, a conceptual one: the concepts of classical physics
that many neurobiologists are committed to using are logically inadequate
because, unlike the concepts of quantum physics, they effectively
exclude our conscious thoughts.
Dave Chalmers emphasizes this conceptual difficulty, and concludes
that experimental work by neurobiologists is not by itself sufficient to
resolve ‘The Puzzle of Conscious Experience’. Better concepts are also
needed. He suggests that the stuff of the universe might be information,
but then, oddly, rejects the replacement of classical physical theory,
which is based on material substance, by quantum theory, which is
built on an informational structure that causally links experienced
increments of knowledge to physically described processes.
During the nineteenth century, before the precepts of classical
physics had been shown to be false at the fundamental level, scientists
and philosophers had good reasons to believe that the physical
aspects of reality were causally closed: that the mathematically described
physical aspects of nature were completely determined, by the
laws of Nature, in terms of earlier properties of the same kind. However,
even then this led to a certain unreasonableness noted by William
James (1890, p. 138): consciousness seems to be “an organ, superadded
to the other organs which maintain the animal in its struggle for existence; and the presumption of course is that it helps him in some
way in this struggle, just as they do. But it cannot help him without
being in some way efficacious and influencing the course of his bodily
history.” James went on to examine the circumstances under which
consciousness appears, and ended up saying: “The conclusion that it
is useful is, after all this, quite justifiable. But if it is useful it must be
so through its causal efficaciousness, and the automaton-theory must
succumb to common-sense” (James 1890, p. 144).
That was James’s conclusion even at a time when deterministic
classical physical theory seemed secure and unchallengeable, and the
notion that we human beings are mechanical automata was the rationally
inescapable consequence of a triumphant physics. James’s analysis
was vindicated, however, by the ascendancy of quantum mechanics
during the first half of the twentieth century. The aim of this book is
to describe the development of this revised conceptualization of the
connection between our minds and our brains, and the consequent revision
of the role of human consciousness in the unfolding of reality.
This revision in our understanding of ourselves and our place in nature
infuses the subject with a significance that extends far beyond the
narrowly construed boundaries of science. These changes penetrate to
the heart of important sociological and philosophical issues.
Science has improved our lives in many ways. It has lightened the
load of tedious tasks and expanded our physical powers, thereby contributing
to a great flowering of human creativity. On the other hand,
it has given us also the capacity to ravage the environment on an unprecedented
scale and to obliterate our species altogether. Yet along
with this fatal power it has provided a further offering which, though
subtle in character and still hardly felt in the minds of men, may ultimately
be its most valuable contribution to human civilization, and
the key to human survival.
Science is not only the enterprise of harnessing nature to serve the
practical needs of humankind. It is also part of man’s unending search
for knowledge about the universe and his place within it. This quest
is motivated not solely by idle curiosity. Each of us, when trying to
establish values upon which to base conduct, is inevitably led to the
question of one’s place in the greater whole. The linkage of this philosophical
inquiry to the practical question of personal values is no mere
intellectual abstraction. Martyrs in every age are vivid reminders of the
fact that no influence upon human conduct, even the instinct for bodily
self-preservation, is stronger than beliefs about one’s relationship
to the rest of the universe and to the power that shapes it. Such beliefs
form the foundation of a person’s self-image, and hence, ultimately, of
personal values.
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1533 on: 02/01/2014 17:03:12 »
It is often claimed that science stands mute on questions of values:
that science can help us to achieve what we value once our priorities
are fixed, but can play no role in fixing these weightings. That claim is
certainly incorrect. Science plays a key role in these matters. For what
we value depends on what we believe, and what we believe is strongly
influenced by science.
A striking example of this influence is the impact of science upon the
system of values promulgated by the church during the Middle Ages.
That structure rested on a credo about the nature of the universe,
its creator, and man’s connection to that creator. Science, by casting
doubt upon that belief, undermined the system of values erected upon
it. Moreover, it put forth a credo of its own. In that ‘scientific’ vision
we human beings were converted from sparks of divine creative power,
endowed with free will, to mechanical automata – to cogs in a giant
machine that grinds inexorably along a preordained path in the grip
of a blind causal process.
This material picture of human beings erodes not only the religious
roots of moral values but the entire notion of personal responsibility.
Each of us is asserted to be a mechanical extension of what existed
prior to his or her birth. Over that earlier situation one has no control.
Hence for what emerges, preordained, from that prior state one can
bear no responsibility.
This conception of man undermines the foundation of rational
moral philosophy, and science is doubly culpable: It not only erodes
the foundations of earlier value systems, but also acts to strip man of
any vision of himself and his place in the universe that could be the
rational basis for an elevated set of values.
During the twentieth century this morally corrosive mechanical conception
of nature was found to be profoundly incorrect. It failed not
just in its fine details, but at its fundamental core. A vastly different
conceptual framework was erected by the atomic physicists Werner
Heisenberg, Niels Bohr,Wolfgang Pauli and their colleagues. Those scientists
were forced to a wholesale revision of the entire subject matter
of physical theory by the peculiar character of the new mathematical
rules, which were invariably validated by reliable empirical data.
The earlier ‘classical’ physics had emerged from the study of the
observed motions of the planets and large terrestrial objects, and the
entire physical universe was, correspondingly, conceived to be made,
essentially, out of miniaturized versions of these large visible objects.
Called “solid, massy, hard, impenetrable moveable particles” by Newton
(1704), these tiny objects were conceived to act upon each other
by contact interactions, much like billiard balls, except for the mysterious
action at a distance called gravity. Newton himself rejected the
idea that gravity could really act at distance without any intervening
carrier. Nevertheless, provisional rules were found that were imagined
to control the behavior of these tiny entities, and thus also the objects
composed of them. These laws were independent of whether or
not anyone was observing the physical universe: they took no special
cognizance of any acts of observation performed by human beings, or
of any knowledge acquired from such observations, or of the conscious
thoughts of human beings. All such things were believed, during the
reign of classical physics, to be completely determined, insofar as they
had any physical consequences, by the physically described properties
and laws that acted wholly mechanically at the microscopic scale. But
the baffling features of new kinds of data acquired during the twentieth
century caused the physicists who were studying these phenomena,
and trying to ascertain the laws that governed them, to turn the whole
scientific enterprise upside down.
Perhaps I should say that they turned right side up what had been
upside down. For the word ‘science’ comes from the Latin word ‘scire’,
‘to know’, and what the founders of the new theory claimed, basically,
is that the proper subject matter of science is not what may or may not
be ‘out there’, unobserved and unknown to human beings. It is rather
what we human beings can know, and can do in order to know more.
Thus they formulated their new theory, called quantum mechanics,
or quantum theory, around the knowledge-acquiring actions of human
beings, and the knowledge we acquire by performing these actions,
rather than around a conjectured causally sufficient mechanical world.
The focus of the theory was shifted from one that basically ignored our
knowledge to one that is about our knowledge, and about the effects
of the actions that we take to acquire more knowledge upon what we
are able to know.
This modified conception differs from the old one in many fascinating
ways that continue to absorb the interest of physicists. However, it
is the revised understanding of the nature of human beings, and of the
causal role of human consciousness in the unfolding of reality, that is, I
believe, the most exciting thing about the new physics, and probably,
in the final analysis, also the most important contribution of science
to the well-being of our species.
The rational foundation for this revised conceptual structure emerged
from the intense intellectual struggles that took place during the
twenties, principally between Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, and
Wolfgang Pauli. Those struggles replaced the then-prevailing Newtonian
idea of matter as “solid, massy, hard, impenetrable, moveable
particles” with a new concept that allowed, and in fact required, an
entry into the causal structure of the physical effects of conscious decisions
made by human subjects. This radical change swept away the
meaningless billiard-ball universe, and replaced it with a universe in
which we human beings, by means of our value-based intentional efforts,
can make a difference first in our own behaviors, thence in the
social matrix in which we are imbedded, and eventually in the entire
physical reality that sustains our streams of conscious experiences.
The existing general descriptions of quantum theory emphasize puzzles
and paradoxes in a way that tend to make non-physicists leery of
using in any significant away the profound changes in our understanding
of both man and nature wrought by the quantum revolution. Yet
in the final analysis quantum mechanics is more understandable than
classical mechanics because it is more deeply in line with our common
sense ideas about our role in nature than the ‘automaton’ notion
promulgated by classical physics. It is the three hundred years of indoctrination
with mechanistic ideas that now makes puzzling a conception
of ourselves that is fully concordant with both normal human intuition
and the full range of empirical facts.
The founders of quantum mechanics presented this theory to their
colleagues as essentially a set of rules about how to make predictions
about the empirical feedbacks that we human observers will experience
if we take certain actions. Classical mechanics can, of course, be viewed
in exactly the same way, but the two theories differ profoundly in their
logical and mathematical structures, and consequently, and even more
profoundly, in what they purport to be fundamentally about.
In classical mechanics the state of any system, at some fixed time
t, is defined by giving the location and the velocity of every particle
in that system, and by giving also the analogous information about
the electromagnetic and gravitational fields. All observers and their
acts of observation are conceived to be simply parts or aspects of the
continuously evolving fully mechanically pre-determined physically described
universe. A person’s stream of consciousness is considered to
be some mysterious, but causally irrelevant or redundant, by-product
or counterpart of his or her classically conceived and described brain
activity.
But this classical idea that our conscious experiences are just some
idea-like counterparts of a continuously evolving brain state encounters
a certain difficulty. The classically conceived evolution of the brain
is continuous, and hence the number of different physical states that
occur during any temporal interval of continuous change is infinite.
Thus a natural mind–brain connection should give, it would seem, a
continuously changing state of consciousness, composed of parts in a
way analogous to the neural activity that it represents. But this surmise
seems at odds with the empirical evidence. According to William
James (1911):
[. . . ] a discrete composition is what actually obtains in our perceptual
experience. We either perceive nothing, or something
already there in a sensible amount. This fact is what is known
in psychology as the laws of the ‘threshold’. Either your experience
is of no content, of no change, or it is of a perceptible
amount of content or change. Your acquaintance with reality
grows literally by buds or drops of perception. Intellectually
and on reflection you can divide these into components, but as
immediately given they come totally or not at all.
A similar discreteness is the signature of quantum phenomena: the
quantum wave is spread out over a vast region covering many detectors,
but only one detector fires, the rest do not. The element of discreteness,
the ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ of the Geiger counter’s ‘click’ is an elemental feature
of quantum theory. Thus Bohr (1962, p. 60) speaks of: “The element
of wholeness, symbolized by the quantum of action and completely
foreign to classical physical principles.”
In psychology the identity and form of the percept that actually
enters into a stream of consciousness depends strongly on the intention
of the probing mind: a person tends to experience what he or she is
looking for, provided the potentiality for that experience is present.
The observer does not create what is not potentially there, but does
participate in the extraction from the mass of existing potentialities
individual items that have interest and meaning to the perceiving self.
Quantum theory exhibits, as we shall see, a similar feature. Thus
both psychology and physics, when examined in depth, reveal observerinfluenced
whole elements that seem “foreign to classical physical principles”.
Insofar as it has been tested, the new theory, quantum theory, accounts
for all the observed successes of the earlier physical theories,
and also for the immense accumulation of new data that the earlier
concepts cannot accommodate. But, according to the new conception,
the physically described world is built not out of bits of matter, as
matter was understood in the nineteenth century, but out of objective
tendencies – potentialities – for certain discrete, whole actual events
to occur. Each such event has both a psychologically described aspect,
which is essentially an increment in knowledge, and also a physically
described aspect, which is an action that abruptly changes the mathematically
described set of potentialities to one that is concordant with
the increase in knowledge. This coordination of the aspects of the theory
that are described in physical/mathematical terms with aspects
that are described in psychological terms is what makes the theory
practically useful. Some empirical predictions have been verified to
the incredible accuracy of one part in a hundred million.
The most radical change wrought by this switch to quantum mechanics
is the injection directly into the dynamics of certain choices
made by human beings about how they will act. Human actions enter,
of course, also in classical physics. But the two cases are fundamentally
different. In the classical case the way a person acts is fully determined
in principle by the physically described aspects of reality alone. But in
the quantum case there is an essential gap in physical causation. This
gap is generated by Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, which opens
up, at the level of human actions, a range of alternative possible behaviors
between which the physically described aspects of theory are in
principle unable to choose or decide. But this loss-in-principle of causal
definiteness, associated with a loss of knowable-in-principle physically
describable information, opens the way, logically, to an input into the
dynamics of another kind of possible causes, which are eminently knowable,
both in principle and in practice, namely our conscious choices
about how we will act. These interventions in the dynamics take the
form of specifications of new boundary conditions.
The specifications of boundary conditions is, of course, the traditional
job of the experimenters. But in classical physics the only
needed setting of boundary conditions is the one done by God at the
beginning of time. On the other hand, the conventional laws of quantum
mechanics have both a dynamical opening for, and a logical need
for, additional choices made later on. Thus contemporary orthodox
physics delegates some of the responsibilities formerly assigned to an
inscrutable God, acting in the distant past, to our present knowable
conscious actions.
Niels Bohr emphasized this freedom of action of the experimenters
in passages such as:
The freedom of experimentation, presupposed in classical physics,
is of course retained and corresponds to the free choice of
experimental arrangement for which the mathematical structure
of the quantum mechanical formalism offers the appropriate
latitude. (Bohr 1958, p. 73)
To my mind, there is no other alternative than to admit that,
in this field of experience, we are dealing with individual phenomena
and that our possibilities of handling the measuring
instruments allow us only to make a choice between the different
complementary types of phenomena that we want to study.
(Bohr 1958, p. 51)
In John von Neumann’s rigorous mathematical formulation of quantum
mechanics the effects of these free choices upon the physically
described world are specifically called ‘interventions’ (von Neumann
1955/1932, pp. 358, 418). These choices are ‘free’ in the sense that
they are not coerced, fixed, or determined by the physically described
aspects of the theory. Yet these choices, which are not fixed or determined
by any law of orthodox contemporary physics, and which seem
to us to depend partly upon ‘reasons’ based on felt values, definitely
have potent effects upon the physically described aspects of the theory.
These effects are specifically described by the theory.
Nothing like this effective action of mind upon physically described
things exists in classical physics. There is nothing in the principles of
classical physics that requires, or even hints at, the existence of such
things as thoughts, ideas, and feelings, and certainly no opening for
aspects of nature not determined by the physically describable aspects
of nature to ‘intervene’ and thereby influence the future physically
described structure. In fact, it is precisely the absence from classical
physics of any notion of experiential-type realities, or of any job for
them to do, or of any possibility for them to do anything not already
done locally by the mechanical elements, that has been the bane of
philosophy for three hundred years. Eliminating this scientifically unsupported
precept of the causal closure of the physical opens the way
to a new phase of science-based philosophy.
The preceding remarks give a brief overview of the theme of this
work. I shall begin my more detailed account of these twentieth century
developments in science by emphasizing, in the words of the founders
themselves, the central role played in the new theory by ‘our knowledge’.

Henry P.Stapp
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1534 on: 02/01/2014 17:06:39 »
You really gotta try to see things from a broader view, folks : see above , enjoy all that relevant and fascinating reading + see some of my short replies as well here above .
In some of the latest above displayed excerpts , Stapp discusses almost all those theories of consciousness out there , from that of Francis crick to Chalmers' through Dennett's  , and most of the rest .
Consciousness is relatively the one running the whole show , almost then .
I've got almost all scientific books concerning consciousness ,the most important and relevant ones at least , so.

And all those theories of consciousness out there are relatively still in their infantile stages that will be leading to some advanced truely dualist scientific theories of consciousness, soon enough , hoepfully .

So, don't behave and think as if you have already reached the final stage of all that : science is all about approximate conjectural temporary knowledge , not about the complete truth ,and even the so-called laws of physics are never complete ....are they ? , the same goes for scientific knowledge in general ...
« Last Edit: 02/01/2014 17:14:26 by DonQuichotte »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1535 on: 02/01/2014 17:17:36 »
Below are  three links to articles about quantum consciousness.

The first one is written by Stapp himself in The Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness.  I believe Don will enjoy this article, and it even includes  several digs at materialism. I don’t think Don has already posted this, but I was away for a while. What’s interesting about this article is that in the attempt, I think, to steal the thunder of any critics, Stapp also points out some weaknesses of his theory, but I don’t feel he does a very good job at refuting these possible criticisms. (In fact, when I first read the article, I mistakenly thought it was written by someone else defending Stapp, and wondered if the author left out some key ideas that Stapp himself would have included!)

The second article is by Matthew Donald of Cambridge. He begins by saying “For many years, Henry Stapp and I have been working separately and independently on mind-centered interpretations of quantum theory. In this review, I discuss his work and contrast it with my own. There is much that we agree on, both in the broad problems we have addressed and in some of the specific details of our analyses of neural physics, but ultimately we disagree fundamentally in our views on mind, matter, and quantum mechanics.”

So it provides a slightly different view on the topic. He says “My theory is dualistic in the sense that there are physical laws and there are observers, but there are no mental computations without observable physical structure. My theory is epiphenomenalistic in the sense that a mind does not direct a pattern of observed physical events, rather it has to make sense of such a pattern as it unfolds. Ultimately, however, my theory should probably be considered as idealistic because, in its final form, the central structures in the theory are mental structures. Physics just supplies the probabilities by which those mental structures change. Mental structures give meaning to their realities by understanding themselves in terms of observable physical structures and observed physical events.”

Although his theory is in some respects even more abstract than Stapp’s, I find it a bit easier to swallow because he seems to avoid Stapp’s problematic conscious agency (or at least a completely independent, acausal one) Stapp's conscious agency is according to Donald basically another form of the homunculus, of which he is quite critical.

Donald raises another issue regarding the conservation of energy, which seems to be important and I would appreciate it if anyone else could comment on it. At the end of page six, Donald says: ”In Stapp (1993 §1.10), Stapp states that his theory 'makes consciousness causally effective, yet it is fully compatible with all known laws of physics, including the law of conservation of energy.' Stapp does not justify this statement. In general, energy is not conserved in individual quantum jumps. Average total energy may be conserved if the projections involved commute with the global Hamiltonian. Leaving aside the commutation question, however, this would require that 'causal effectiveness' produces the same averages as conventional quantum probabilities. In Stapp (1995),Stapp admits that, 'No attempt is made here to show that the quantum statistical laws will hold for the aspects of the brain’s internal dynamics controlled by conscious thoughts'."

I could easily be mistaken in my understanding of the statement above. But Stapp’s whole theory seems to rest on the idea of consciousness using the Zeno effect to stack the quantum mechanical deck, so to speak, to not simply collapse the wave, but to do it in a way that produces one result over another. If this violates the conservation of energy, doesn’t the theory fall apart?

The first two are long articles, but if you have nothing to do New Years Day, they might be worth a look.

The final article by Victor Stenger is shorter, and is a criticism of quantum consciousness in general, and also looks at the history of attempts to reinstate a holistic, aether-like conception of universe in which consciousness, mankind in particular, reigns supreme. He adheres tightly to the Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum mechanics, and says flat out “Nothing in quantum mechanics requires human involvement.”


http://www-physics.lbl.gov/~stapp/Cambridge.pdf

http://www.bss.phy.cam.ac.uk/~mjd1014/stapp.pdf

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/victor-stenger/the-myth-of-quantum-consc_b_788798.html


(You really should try to read those extremely interesting books of Stapp "Quantum mechanics , mind and matter " and "Mindful universe ..." , thanks for those above displayed interesting links of yours by the way )
All the above depends on one's a -priori held world view belief ,so.
Concerning the conservation of energy "argument " : that's the same 'argument " raised by Dennett in page 61, i did post = from calssical physics' point of view= wrong  .

P.S.: It is an undeniable fact that consciousness does have causal effects on matter ,and hence on the physical brain and body : i do think that consciousness does affect matter at the quantum level (A top- down causation ) and that has effects (donwn-top causation ) on the brain and body .

I will provide you with some more relevant excerpts on the subject as well ,since i do not have time enough to dwell on these matters repeatedly, over and over again .
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1536 on: 02/01/2014 18:37:23 »

Concerning the conservation of energy "argument " : that's the same 'argument " raised by Dennett in page 61, i did post = from calssical physics' point of view= wrong  .


Physicist Matthew Donald's objection is not based on classical physics. He says, if I understand him correctly, that energy would only be conserved if  'causal effectiveness' produces the same averages as conventional quantum probabilities." But the whole point of the theory is changing those probabilities by an act of will.
Why is he wrong?
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1537 on: 02/01/2014 19:12:56 »

Concerning the conservation of energy "argument " : that's the same 'argument " raised by Dennett in page 61, i did post = from calssical physics' point of view= wrong  .


Physicist Matthew Donald's objection is not based on classical physics. He says, if I understand him correctly, that energy would only be conserved if  'causal effectiveness' produces the same averages as conventional quantum probabilities." But the whole point of the theory is changing those probabilities by an act of will.
Why is he wrong?

He's wrong : here below is why :
Dennett has raised that same conservation of energy 'argument" ,as follows :

THE OBJECTIONS OF DANIEL DENNETT:

Daniel Dennett’s book Consciousness Explained has a chapter titled “Why Dualism is Forlorn,” which
begins with the following words: “The idea of mind as distinct from the brain, composed not of
ordinary matter but of some other kind of stuff, is dualism, and it is deservedly in disrepute today… .
The prevailing wisdom, variously expressed and argued for is materialism: there is one sort of stuff,
namely matter—the physical stuff of physics, chemistry, and physiology—and the mind is somehow
nothing but a physical phenomenon. In short, the mind is the brain.”49
Dennett then asks, “What, then, is so wrong with dualism? Why is it in such disfavor?” His answer:
A fundamental principle of physics is that any change in the trajectory of a particle is an
acceleration requiring the expenditure of energy … this principle of conservation of energy … is
apparently violated by dualism. This confrontation between standard physics and dualism has
been endlessly discussed since Descartes’s own day, and is widely regarded as the inescapable
flaw in dualism.50
Shortly after this, he writes: “This fundamentally antiscientific stance of dualism is, to my mind, it
most disqualifying feature, and is the reason why in this book I adopt the apparently dogmatic rule
that dualism is to be avoided at all costs.”51
Commenting on the argument Dennett presents, Stapp writes,
The argument depends on identifying ‘standard physics’ with classical physics. The argument
collapses when one goes over to contemporary physics, in which trajectories of particles are
replaced by cloud-like structures, and in which conscious choices can influence physically
described activity without violating the conservation laws or any other laws of quantum
mechanics. Contemporary physical theory allows, and its orthodox von Neumann form entails, an
interactive dualism that is fully in accord with all the laws of physics.52 (emphasis in original)
Rosenblum and Kuttner also reject Dennett’s arguments:
Some theorists deny the possibility of duality by arguing that a signal from a non-material mind
could not carry energy and thus could not influence material brain cells. Because of this inability
of a mind to supply energy to influence the neurons of the brain, it is claimed that physics
demonstrates an inescapable flaw of dualism. However, no energy need be involved in
determining to which particular situation a wave function collapses. Thus the determination of
which of the physically possible conscious experiences becomes the actual experience is a
process that need not involve energy transfer. Quantum mechanics therefore allows an escape
from the supposed fatal flaw of dualism. It is a mistake to think that dualism can be ruled out on
the basis of physics.53
Finally, as Broad pointed out decades ago, at a time when quantum mechanics was still in its
infancy, even if all physical-to-physical causation involves transfer of energy, we have no reason to
think that such transfer would also be required in mental-to-physical or physical-to-mental
causation.54 This, of course, is completely consistent with the point made above by Rosenblum and
Kuttner.*33

CONCLUDING REMARKS:

Cognitive scientist Roger Sperry has proposed that consciousness is an emergent property of the brain.
A simple example of an emergent property is the fluidity of water, which is nothing like any property
of hydrogen and oxygen. Another example is the geometrical and optical properties of crystals,
properties that the molecules that compose them do not possess. Sperry proposes that consciousness
emerges from the configuration of the brain in the way that fluidity emerges from combining
hydrogen and oxygen.
This is different from the materialist production theory, according to which the brain produces
consciousness the way the liver produces bile. It is a temporal distinction: in the production theory,
brain states precede the conscious states they produce, but if conscious states are emergent properties
of brain states, then they occur simultaneously with them.
However, as philosopher of mind B. Alan Wallace notes,
A genuine emergent property of the cells of the brain is the brain’s semi-solid consistency, and
that is something that objective, physical science can well comprehend … but they do not
understand how the brain produces any state of consciousness. In other words, if mental
phenomena are in fact nothing more than emergent properties and functions of the brain, their
relation to the brain is fundamentally unlike every other emergent property and function found in
nature.55 (emphasis in original)
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 idea is seriously entertained by physicists such as Herbert, and in its
favor we should note that it would resolve the paradox that is raised by the von Neumann
interpretation: if consciousness depends on the physical world and if the value of many quantum
physical properties depends on consciousness, then how did the physical world ever bring about
consciousness in the first place? The solution to this puzzle is apparently what Jeans means when he
writes, “Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter; we ought rather
hail it as the governor of the realm of matter.”56 *34
Quantum mechanics can thereby be considered as supporting an interactive dualism similar to that
of Descartes. Cartesian dualism holds that there are two kinds of entirely separate substances: mind
and matter. This theory fell into disrepute among many philosophers because classical physics
provided no mechanism by which mind could influence material substance.
The classical idea of substance—self-sufficient, unchanging, with definite location, motion, and
extension in space—has been replaced by the idea that physical reality is not made out of any material
substance, but rather out of events and possibilities for those events to occur. These possibilities, or
potentials, for events to occur have a wavelike structure and can interfere with each other. They are
not substance-like, that is, static or persisting in time. Rather than being concerned with “substances”
in the classical sense of the term, modern interactive dualism conceives of two differently described
aspects of reality: the psychical and the physical.
Stapp sums up how a modern interactive dualism based on quantum mechanics simplifies the
conceptual relationship between the two aspects of reality.
This solution is in line with Descartes’ idea of two “substances,” that can interact in our brains,
provided “substance” means merely a carrier of “essences.” The essence of the inhabitants of res
cogitans is “felt experience.” They are thoughts, ideas, and feelings: the realities that hang
together to form our streams of conscious experiences. But the essence of the inhabitants of res
extensa is not at all that sort of persisting stuff that classical physicists imagined the physical
world to be made of … their essential nature is that of “potentialities for the psychophysical
events to occur.” Those events occur at the interface between the psychologically described and
physically described aspects of nature. The causal connections between “potentialities for
psychologically described events to occur” and the actual occurrence of such events are easier to
comprehend and describe than causal connections between the mental and physical features of
classical physics. For, both sides of the quantum duality are conceptually more like “ideas” than
like “rocks.”

Chris Carter
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1538 on: 02/01/2014 19:13:47 »
I might be convinced to read Stapp on the subject if someone can provide a one-line quote: what is Stapp's definition of consciousness? 
 

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1539 on: 02/01/2014 19:17:12 »
I might be convinced to read Stapp on the subject if someone can provide a one-line quote: what is Stapp's definition of consciousness?
Don't hold your breath alan, Doc. Don is quite incapable of meaningful and efficient one liners................................
 

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1540 on: 02/01/2014 19:18:24 »

"The shift is from a local, reductionistic, deterministic conception of nature in which consciousness has no logical place, and can do nothing but passively watch a preprogrammed course of events, to a nonlocal, nonreductionistic, nondeterministic, conception of nature in which there is a perfectly natural place for consciousness, a place that allows each conscious event, conditioned, but not bound, by any known law of nature, to grasp a possible large-scale metastable pattern of neuronal activity in the brain, and convert its status from “possible” to “actual”."
(underlining mine)

How that "grasping" takes place is the most interesting part, not just, as he later says "a technical matter that I do not want to enter into right here."

Penrose should at least get some points for trying, instead of just dismissing those pesky details.
« Last Edit: 02/01/2014 20:12:38 by cheryl j »
 

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1541 on: 02/01/2014 19:20:46 »
I might be convinced to read Stapp on the subject if someone can provide a one-line quote: what is Stapp's definition of consciousness?

The mental is just the other side of reality ,your other side as well,  the mental that's irreducible to the physical : there is nothing supernatural or mystic about it = normal .

So, scientists have been trying lately to try to figure out how consciousness and brain do interact with each other somehow : QM might be able to shed some light on just that somehow ,via the mental causal effects on matter , and hence on body and brain , at the micro quantum level ,via a top-down form of causation ............

 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1542 on: 02/01/2014 19:24:54 »

"The shift is from a local, reductionistic, deterministic conception of nature in which consciousness has no logical place, and can do nothing but passively watch a preprogrammed course of events, to a nonlocal, nonreductionistic, nondeterministic, conception of nature in which there is a perfectly natural place for consciousness, a place that allows each conscious event, conditioned, but not bound, by any known law of nature, to grasp a possible large-scale metastable pattern of neuronal activity in the brain, and convert its status from “possible” to “actual”."

(underlining mine)

How that "grasping" takes place is the most interesting part, not just, as he later says "a technical matter that I do not want to enter into right here."

Penrose should at least get some points for trying, instead of just dismissing those pesky details.

Stapp tackled that issue later on in that book of his : i will try to find the relevant quotes on the subject in question .
Neuroscientists still view the mind-brain issue just through the mechanical determinist approximately valid and fundamentally incorrect classical physics ' point of view .
« Last Edit: 02/01/2014 19:32:53 by DonQuichotte »
 

Offline Ethos_

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1543 on: 02/01/2014 19:25:15 »


The mental is just the other side of reality ,your other side as well,
The other side of reality......................Just what exactly is that supposed to mean????
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1544 on: 02/01/2014 19:27:49 »
date=1388683056]



He's wrong : here below is why :


Chris Carter's explanation doesn't address or explain Donald's point specifically. All he says is that "it doesn't." That's not a "why"
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1545 on: 02/01/2014 19:36:26 »

10 Quantum Theory
and the Place of Mind in Nature:




Classical physics can be viewed as a triumph of the idea that mind should be
excluded from science, or at least from the physical sciences. Although the
founders of modern science, such as Descartes and Newton, were not so rash
as to proclaim that mind has nothing to do with the unfolding of nature, the
scientists of succeeding centuries, emboldened by the spectacular success
of the mechanical view of nature, were not so timid, and today we are
seeing even in psychology a strong movement towards “materialism”, i.e.,
toward the idea that “mind is brain”. But while psychology has been moving
toward the mechanical concepts of nineteenth-century physics, physics itself
has moved in just the opposite direction.
The mentalistic bias of contemporary physics is perhaps best summarized
in Heisenberg’s statement that
we are finally led to believe that the laws of nature that we formulate mathematically
in quantum theory deal no longer with the particles themselves
but with our knowledge of the elementary particles . . . The conception of
the objective reality of the particles has thus evaporated in a curious way,
not into a fog of some new, obscure, or not yet understood reality concept,
but into the transparent clarity of a mathematics that represents no longer
the behavior of the elementary particles but rather our knowledge of this
behaviour.1
This shift in the physicist’s conception of nature, or at least in his conception
of his theory about nature, away from the mechanical and toward
the experiential, is expressed also by Bohr’s statements:
In our description of nature the purpose is not to disclose the real essence of
phenomena but only to track down as far as possible relations between the
multifold aspects of experience.2
. . . the goal of science is to augment and order our experience . . .3
Bohr and Heisenberg each sought to deflate the idea that either he, or
quantum theory itself, was asserting that the character of nature herself was
essentially mental. Bohr emphasized that quantum theory was merely a tool
for making predictions about our experiences:
194 10 Quantum Theory and the Place of Mind in Nature
Strictly speaking, the mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics and
electrodynamics merely offers rules of calculation for the deduction of expectations
about observations obtained under well defined conditions specified
by classical physical concepts.4
Heisenberg went even further:
If we want to describe what happens in an atomic event we have to realize
that the word “happens”. . . applies to the physical not the psychical act
of observation, and we may say that the transition from the “possible” to
the “actual” takes place as soon as the interaction between the [atomic]
object and the measuring device, and thereby with the rest of the world, has
come into play; it is not connected with the act of registration of the result
in the mind of the observer. The discontinuous change in the probability
function, however, takes place with the act of registration, because it is the
discontinuous change in our knowledge in the instant of registration that has
its image in the discontinuous change in the probability function.5
The final sentence affirms Heisenberg’s position that the mathematical
probability function of quantum theory represents “our knowledge”. However,
the statements that precede it affirm his belief that there are also some
real “happenings” outside the minds of the human observers, and that these
external events have the character of transitions of the “possible” to the
“actual”.
To describe these external events themselves in mathematical form one
can introduce the idea of an objective wave function—awave function that is
like the one of Bohr and Heisenberg with respect to its mathematical properties
(i.e., evolution via the Schr¨odinger equation etc.), but that represents the
external world itself, and changes when the transitions from “possible” to
“actual” take place, rather than with the registration of a result in the mind
of the observer/scientist. This procedure would seem to be a reasonable
step toward providing a conceivable description of nature herself, since it
would allow the detailed and precise mathematical properties represented in
quantum theory to be understood directly as mathematical characteristics of
the world itself. This transformation can be termed the ontologicalization
of quantum theory: it converts that theory from a structure conceived to be
a mere tool for scientists—a tool to be used for very limited purposes—to a
putative description of nature herself.
If we follow this tack, and endeavor to construe the mathematical structure
represented by quantum theory as a feature of the world itself, then we
may ask: What is the nature of that world? What sort of world do we live
in?
The world represented by an ontogically interpreted quantum theory,
with the quantum jumps representing transitions from “possible” to “actual”,
would be a strange sort of beast. The evolving quantum state, al10
Quantum Theory and the Place of Mind in Nature 195
though controlled in part by mathematical laws that are direct analogs of
the laws that in classical physics govern the motion of “matter”, no longer
represents anything substantive. Instead, this evolving quantum state would
represent the “potentialities” and “probabilities” for actual events. Thus the
“primal stuff” represented by the evolving quantum state would be idealike
in character rather than matterlike, apart from its conformity to mathematical
rules. On the other hand, mathematics has seemed, at least since the
time of Plato, to be more a resident of a world of ideas, than a structure in
the world of matter. Hence even this mathematical aspect of nature can be
regarded as basically idealike. Indeed, quantum theory provides a detailed
and explicit example of how an idealike primal stuff can be controlled in
part by mathematical rules based in spacetime.
The actual events in quantum theory are likewise idealike: each such
happening is a choice that selects as the “actual”, in a way not controlled by
any known or purported mechanical law, one of the potentialities generated
by the quantum-mechanical law of evolution.
In view of these uniformly idealike characteristics of the quantumphysical
world, the proper answer to our question “What sort of world
do we live in?” would seem to be this: “We live in an idealike world, not a
matterlike world.” The material aspects are exhausted in certain mathematical
properties, and these mathematical features can be understood just as
well (and in fact better) as characteristics of an evolving idealike structure.
There is, in fact, in the quantum universe no natural place for matter. This
conclusion, curiously, is the exact reverse of the circumstance that in the
classical physical universe there was no natural place for mind.
These remarks may appear to be nothing but a word game. But I think
not. The change in our words indicates a change in our perception. By
changing our perception of the kind of world we live in we change our
perception of the possibilities. If some of the possibilities opened up by this
altered perception of the basic nature of the physical world can be actualized
within science then this change ofwords and perceptions will certainly count
for something.
One possibility immediately opened up by this change is the possibility
of integrating human consciousness into the physical sciences. This possibility
was effectively blocked off when physical science meant, in the final
analysis, classical physics. For there is an enormous conceptual gulf between
the classical physicist’s conceptualization of the physical world and
the psychologist’s conceptualization of the mentalworld. The essence of the
classical physicist’s conception of matter is its local-reductionistic nature:
the idea the physical world can be decomposed into elementary local quantities
that interact only with immediately adjacent neighbors. But conscious

thoughts appear to be complex wholes, not merely at the functional level
but also as directly experienced. Insofar as the experienced quality of a
conscious thought constitutes its essence it is not possible to conceptualize
a thought as a resident of the physical world, as that world was conceived of
in classical physics. To bring a human conscious thought into the physicist’s
conception of the physical world one needs, within that conception, something
having, in its essence, the integrity and complexity of that thought.
The world as it is conceived of in classical physics is essentially reductive
and therefore admits no essentially complex wholes.
This problem of unity is brought into clear focus by Daniel Dennett’s
book Consciousness Explained.6 The thesis of the book is that brain processes
proceed in “parallel pandemonium”, with each of the processing units
doing its own thing. The problem is then to bring the outputs of all these
processes together into the integrated forms that we seem to experience in
our stream of conscious thoughts. Dennett argues that this integration is, in
fact, not possible, and hence that our thoughts cannot be what they seem to
be.
This conclusion may indeed be what would emerge from a classical
conception of what is going on in a human brain. But quantum theory opens
completely new vistas. For the actual event in quantum theory can perfectly
well be the actualization, as a unit, of an entire high-level pattern of neural
firings. Such a pattern could have all of the complexity of a conscious
thought, and yet be, in essence, a single actualized structure. From a logical
point of view we have, therefore, the foundation of a rational way of linking
conscious thoughts into the physicist’s conception of nature.
It is, of course, one thing to have the logical basis of a rational way of
integrating conscious thoughts into the physical sciences and another thing to
have a consistent and coherent theory that really achieves this. There are the
problems of explaining the linkage of brain states to the functional efficacy
of the conscious thoughts and to the experiential qualities of conscious
thoughts. Yet neither of these problems seems to be in principle beyond the
bounds of rational explanation, within the quantum framework, which as
explained earlier provides an intricate tapestry of idealike qualities.
The line of thinking described above has led to a serious attempt to bring
human conscious experience into the quantum-mechanical description of
nature.7 This endeavor, though hardly complete, is, I believe, sufficiently
successful to warrant considerable optimism as regards the prospects of
ultimate success: a great deal of empirical information that had seemed
very puzzling from a classical point of view now falls neatly into place.
In view of these developments I believe that the verdict of history will
be that the Copenhagen interpretation was a half-way house: it was a right
face that was the first step of an about face.
The scientific community has, rightly, a considerable amount of inertia.
A complete turn around on the basic classical idea that mind should be
rigorously excluded from the theory of the workings of the material universe
was neither possible norwarranted during the 1920s and 1930s. Any attempt
to correlate the revolutionary findings in the domain of atomic physics to
the subtleties of the connection between mind and brain would have been
extravagantly premature in view of the then-prevailing rudimentary state of
our understanding of the workings of the brain. The appropriate course of
action was first to see how far the new quantum ideas would carry us in
domains that were under better empirical control.
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1546 on: 02/01/2014 19:39:13 »
During the past thirty years, however, the Copenhagen interpretation has
lost a good deal of its hold on the minds of physicists. The words of Murray
Gell-Mann give an indication of this shift:
Niels Bohr brain-washed a whole generation of physicists into believing
that the problem had been solved fifty years ago.8
The reasons for this change in attitude are many and diverse. One
important reason is the expansion of the scope of quantum theory. The
theory was originally designed to cover the domain of atomic physics, and
was therefore concerned with things that were far beyond the range of our
direct observation, and were thus approachable only indirectly with the aid
of sophisticated measuring devices. Now, however, a problem that looms
large in the minds of physicists is quantum gravity, which deals with quantum
effects at the creation of the universe, and in the evolution of black holes.
These phenomena are quite unlike the laboratory experiments in atomic
physics that physicists were focussing on during the beginning of the century.
The atomic-physics format of preparation-then-measurement fails to apply
to these new problems. On the other hand, the ontological approach is far
more demanding in terms of logical cohesion. The additional constraints
imposed by the demand for a coherent ontology can provide guidance in our
attempts to extend physical theory into the interesting new domains.
A second reason for the loosening of the grip of the Copenhagen interpretation
is the fallout from the 1964 paper of John Bell.9 The startling
character of Bell’s results caused physicists to take a careful look at the
whole Bohr–Einstein controversy, and this left many of them with an uneasy
sense that something important was perhaps being obscured by Bohr’s
subtle epistemological reasonings, which did not clearly do justice to the
arguments of Einstein pertaining to locality.

A third reason for the fading influence of the Copenhagen interpretation
is the construction by David Bohm of a thoroughly realistic model that
reproduces all of the predictions of quantum theory.10 This model laid to
rest an opinion that was in the background of Copenhagen thinking, namely
the idea that it was simply impossible to understand atomic phenomena in a
realistic way. Although most physicists did not accept the idea that Bohm’s
simple model describes the way things really work, they were nonetheless
quickly disabused of the impression that Bohr (or von Neumann) had showed
that all realistic approaches were necessarily doomed to fail.
A fourth reason lies in the philosophical climate of the times. During
the early part of the last century physicists were reeling from the impact of
the loss of the “ether” and “absolute time”. The whole idea that the universe
could be understood in a completely clear mechanical way had been
shattered. How could there be waves in a void: waves in a space devoid of
medium? How could one understand the unfolding of our thoughts if there
were no similar unfolding of nature herself; i.e., if the whole of spacetime
history already “exists”, as relativity theory seemed to require. The swallowing
of such mysteries seemed to condition physicists not to balk at the
even greater mysteries that quantum theory left unresolved. Furthermore,
the parallel behavioristic movement in psychology, which also focussed on
measurable quantities at the expense of any understanding of the unfolding
stream of conscious thoughts, seemed to place all of science on the same
operational track.
Now, however, the behaviorist approach to psychology seems to have
failed, for technical reasons. In psychology as in physics scientists are
finding that increasingly complex models are needed to account for the
complexity of the empirical data. But in the search for suitable complex
models some orientation is needed. The data alone is insufficient: one needs
some philosophy, and not merely an austere philosophy that recommends
exclusive focussing upon the empirical facts obtained in a single narrow
discipline. The insufficiency of the data in the various narrow disciplines,
taken separately, is forcing scientists to bring into their theorizing information
from an increasingly broad band of fields. Now in physics, for example,
the problem of the innermost structure of the atoms is intertwined with the
problem of the birth of the entire universe. Particle physics, astrophysics,
and cosmology have merged into one field, at least at the level of theory.
Bold conceptions of large scope are needed to tie all these things together.
The epistemological formulation of the Copenhagen interpretation seems,
in the face of this complex situation, insufficiently helpful. Einstein’s words
in this connection are worth recalling:

It is my opinion that the contemporary quantum theory by means of certain
definitely laid down basic concepts, which on the whole are taken over from
classical physics, constitutes an optimum formulation of [certain] connections.
I believe, however, that this theory offers no useful point of departure
for future development.
If what Einstein was judging to be insufficient was a science based upon
the separation of the world into an ineffable nonclassical reality, and a thenunexplained
classical character of our perceptions of that reality, then his
judgement probably accords with the contemporary developments in science.
But if, on the other hand, the nonclassical mathematical regularities
identified by quantum theory are accepted as characteristics of the world
itself, a world whose primal stuff is therefore essentially idealike, and if,
moreover, these mathematical properties account in a natural and understandable
way for the classical characteristic of our conscious perceptions,
as they seem to do, then we appear to have found in quantum theory the
foundation for a science that may be able to deal successfully in a mathematically
and logically coherent way with the full range of scientific thought,
from atomic physics, to biology, to cosmology, including also the area that
had been so mysterious within the framework of classical physics, namely
the connection between processes in human brains and the stream of human
conscious experience.

Henry Stapp
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1547 on: 02/01/2014 19:42:04 »
The Copenhagen interpretation haha
Come on, Niels Bohr ...even you could deliver some non-sense ,no wonder , being just a human , so ...
« Last Edit: 02/01/2014 19:43:38 by DonQuichotte »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1548 on: 02/01/2014 19:51:21 »
1 more thing , just concerning the collapse of the wave function : are  the observing or  measuring device + the observer human not made of atoms ,sub-atoms .....themselves ?
So, how can't they not have effects on the observed ?
In the case of the human observer scientist , how can his mind or consciousness not have causal effects on the observed as well ?
In short :
We do only get our own human interpretations of what's going on regarding the objective reality as a whole, including and especially at the quantum level ...
See the excerpts of Stapp on the subject above .
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1549 on: 02/01/2014 19:57:56 »
The stream of knowledge is heading toward a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look
more like a great thought than like a machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental
intruder into the realm of matter; we ought rather hail it as the governor of the realm of matter.
PHYSICIST JAMES JEANS
 

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1549 on: 02/01/2014 19:57:56 »

 

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