The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?  (Read 309767 times)

Offline DonQuichotte

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1763
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1550 on: 02/01/2014 20:05:57 »


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????

Reality , including you and i , is both material physical and non-material non-physical mental at the same time .
You're not just your physical material biological brain and body , but also a consciousness that's irreducible to the physical or to the material : your own consciousness is more fundamental than your physical brain or body can ever be : see that quote of that physicist here above on the subject .
 

Offline DonQuichotte

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1763
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1551 on: 02/01/2014 20:10:46 »
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"


DETERMINISM AND THE ROLE OF THE OBSERVER:



Quantum mechanics replaces the deterministic universe described by classical physics with a
probabilistic universe. This is the idea that the behavior and various properties of subatomic systems
and particles cannot be predicted precisely, that only a range of probable values can be specified. If
you roll a series of marbles at a hill at less than a certain critical velocity, all the marbles will roll
back down, and if you roll the marbles at more than the critical velocity, all the marbles will make it
over the hill. In our classical macroscopic world, either they all get over or they all fall back. Things
are not so simple at the quantum level.*16
For instance, if subatomic particles such as electrons are fired at a potential barrier at a given
velocity, it may not be possible to say with certainty whether an individual electron will pass through
the barrier. Fire the electrons at a low enough velocity and most will be reflected, although a minority
will pass through; at a high enough velocity most will pass through; and at some intermediate velocity
about half will pass through and half will be reflected. But for any individual electron (out of a group
of apparently identical electrons), all we can specify is the probability that the electron will pass
through.
Another example of quantum randomness is radioactive decay. Say we have radioactive uranium
isotope A that decays into isotope B with a half-life of one hour. One hour later, half of the uranium
atoms will have decayed into isotope B. By all the known methods of physics, all of the uranium
isotope A atoms appeared to be identical, yet one hour later, half have decayed and half are
unchanged. The half-life of isotope A is highly predictable in a statistical sense, yet the precise time at
which any individual atom decays is completely unpredictable.
Probability enters here for a different reason than it does in the tossing of a coin, the throw of dice,
or a horse race: in these cases probability enters because of our lack of precise knowledge of the
original state of the system. But in quantum theory, even if we have complete knowledge of the
original state, the outcome would still be uncertain and only expressible as a probability.
(Philosophers refer to these two sources of uncertainty as subjective and objective probability.
Quantum mechanics suggests that in some situations probability has an objective status.)
Another surprising proposition was that subatomic particles do not have definite properties for
certain attributes, such as position, momentum, or direction of spin, until they are measured. It is not
simply that these properties are unknown until they are observed, instead, they do not exist in any
definite state until they are measured.
This conclusion is based, in part, on the famous “two-slit” experiment, in which electrons are fired
one at a time at a barrier with two slits. Measuring devices on a screen behind the barrier indicate the
electrons seem to behave as waves, going through both slits simultaneously, with patterns of
interference typical of wave phenomena: wave crests arriving simultaneously at the same place in
time will reinforce each other, but waves and troughs arriving simultaneously at the same place will
cancel each other (interference patterns result when two wave fronts meet, for instance, after dropping
two stones into a pond). These waves are only thought of as probability waves, or wave functions, as
they do not carry any energy, and so cannot be directly detected. Only individual electrons are
detected by the measuring device on the screen behind the barrier, but the distribution of numerous
electrons shows the interference patterns typical of waves. It is as though each unobserved electron
exists as a wave until it arrives at the screen to be detected, at which time its actual location (the place
at which the particle is actually observed on the screen) can only be predicted statistically according
to the interference pattern of its wave function.
If, however, a measuring device is placed at the slits, then each electron is observed to pass through
only one slit and no interference pattern in the distribution of electrons is observed. In other words,
electrons behave as waves when not observed, but as particles in a definite location when observed!*17
All quantum entities—electrons, protons, photons, and so on—display this wave-particle duality,
behaving as wave or particle depending on whether they are directly observed.
A variation of this experiment by physicists Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner3 makes this bizarre
point even more clearly. If a wave corresponding to a single atom encounters a semitransparent
reflecting surface (such as a thin film), it can be split into two equal parts, much as a light wave both
going through and reflecting from a windowpane. The two parts of the wave can then be trapped in
two boxes, as shown in figure 4.1.
Figure 4.1. The wave function at three successive times: t1, t2, and t3.
Since the wave was split equally, if you repeated this process many times, then each time you
looked into the boxes you would find a whole atom in box A about half the time and in box B about
half the time. But according to quantum theory, before you looked the atom was not in any particular
box. The position of the atom is thus an observer-created reality. Its position will also be the same for
all subsequent observers, so it is a reality that depends on an initial observation only.
You may be tempted to think that the atom really was in one box or the other before you looked, but
it can be demonstrated that before observation the atom as a wave was in a “superposition state,” a
state in which it was simultaneously in both box A and box B. Take a pair of boxes that have not been
looked into and cut narrow slits at one end, allowing the waves to simultaneously leak out and
impinge on a photographic film. At points where wave crests from box A and box B arrive together,
they reinforce each other to give a maximum amplitude of the wave function at that point—a
maximum of “waviness.” At some points higher or lower, crests from box A arrive simultaneously
with troughs from box B. The two waves are of opposite signs at these positions and therefore cancel
to give zero amplitude for the wave function at these points.
Since the amplitude of an atom’s wave function at a particular place determines the probability for
the atom to be found there when observed, the atom emerging from the box-pair is more likely to
appear on the film at places where the amplitude of the wave function is large, but can never appear
where it is zero. If we repeat this process with a large number of box-pairs and the same film, many
atoms land to cause darkening of the film near positions of wave function amplitude maximums, but
none appear at wave function minimums. The distribution of darker and lighter areas on the film
forms the interference pattern.
Figure 4.2. The box-pair experiment: (a) waves emanating from slits in the two boxes travel distances da and db and impinge
on a film at F; (b) the resulting pattern formed on the film from many box pairs.
The distribution of electrons on the film will show the interference patterns typical of two waves,
which overlap to cancel each other at some places. To form the interference pattern, the wave function
of each atom had to leak out of both boxes since each and every atom avoids appearing in regions of
the film where the waves from the two boxes cancel. Each and every atom therefore had to obey a
geometrical rule that depends on the relative position of both boxes. So, the argument goes, the atom
had to equally be in both boxes, as an extended wave. If instead of doing this interference experiment
you looked into the pair of boxes, you would have found a whole atom in a particular box, as a
particle. Before you looked, it was in both boxes; after you looked, it was only in one.
Rosenblum and Kuttner sum up the puzzle:
Quantum mechanics is the most battle-tested theory in science. Not a single violation of its
predictions has ever been demonstrated, no matter how preposterous the predictions might seem.
However, anyone concerned with what the theory means faces a philosophical enigma: the socalled
measurement problem, or the problem of observation … before you look we could have
proven—with an interference experiment—that each atom was a wave equally in both boxes.
After you look it was in a single box. It was thus your observation that created the reality of each
atom’s existence in a particular box. Before your observation only probability existed. But it was
not the probability that an actual object existed in a particular place (as in the classical shell
game)—it was just the probability of a future observation of such an object, which does not
include the assumption that the object existed there prior to its observation. This hard-to-accept
observer-created reality is the measurement problem in quantum mechanics.4
Up until the moment of measurement, certain properties of quantum phenomena, such as location,
momentum, and direction of spin, simply exist as a collection of probabilities, known as the wave
function, or state vector. The wave function can be thought of as the probability distribution of all
possible states, such as, for instance, the probability distribution of all possible locations for an
electron.*18
But this is not the probability that the electron is actually at certain locations, instead, it is the
probability that the electron will be found at certain locations. The electron does not have a definite
location until it is observed. Upon measurement, this collection of all possible locations “collapses” to
a single value—the location of the particle that is actually observed.
Physicist Nick Herbert expresses it this way:
The quantum physicist treats the atom as a wave of oscillating possibilities as long as it is not
observed. But whenever it is looked at, the atom stops vibrating and objectifies one of its many
possibilities. Whenever someone chooses to look at it, the atom ceases its fuzzy dance and seems
to “freeze” into a tiny object with definite attributes, only to dissolve once more into a quivering
pool of possibilities as soon as the observer withdraws his attention from it. The apparent
observer-induced change in an atom’s mode of existence is called the collapse of the wave
function.
 

Offline DonQuichotte

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1763
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1552 on: 02/01/2014 20:11:55 »

Measurements thus play a more positive role in quantum mechanics than in classical physics,
because here they are not merely observations of something already present but actually help produce
it. According to one interpretation of quantum mechanics popular among many theorists, it is the
existence of consciousness that introduces intrinsic probability into the quantum world.
This interpretation owes its origin to mathematician John von Neumann, one of the most important
intellectual figures of the twentieth century. In addition to his contributions to pure mathematics, von
Neumann also invented game theory, which models economic and social behavior as rational games,
and made fundamental contributions to the development of the early computers. In the 1930s, von
Neumann turned his restless mind to the task of expressing the newly developed theories of quantum
mechanics in rigorous mathematical form, and the result was his classic book The Mathematical
Foundations of Quantum Mechanics. In it he tackled the measurement problem head on and rejected
the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum theory, which was becoming the orthodox position among
physicists. Although it is somewhat vague, the central tenets of the Copenhagen interpretation seem to
be (1) that all we have access to are the results of observations, and so it is simply pointless to ask
questions about the quantum reality behind those observations, and (2) that although observation is
necessary for establishing the reality of quantum phenomena, no form of consciousness, human or
otherwise, is necessary for making an observation. Rather, an observer is anything that makes a record
of an event, and so it is at the level of macroscopic measuring instruments (such as Geiger counters)
that the actual values of quantum phenomena are randomly set from a range of statistical possibilities.
Von Neumann objected to the Copenhagen interpretation practice of dividing the world in two
parts: indefinite quantum entities on the one side, and measuring instruments that obey the laws of
classical mechanics on the other. He considered a measuring apparatus, a Geiger counter for example,
in a room isolated from the rest of the world but in contact with a quantum system, such as an atom
simultaneously in two boxes. The Geiger counter is set to fire if the atom is found in one box, but to
remain unfired if it is found in the other. This Geiger counter is a physical instrument, hence subject
to the rules of quantum mechanics. Therefore, it should be expected to enter into a superposition state
along with the atom, a state in which it is simultaneously fired and unfired.
Should the Geiger counter be in contact with a device that records whether the counter has fired,
then logically, it too should enter a superposition state that records both situations as existing
simultaneously. Should an observer walk into the room and examine the recording device, this logic
can be continued up the “von Neumann chain” from the recording device, to photons, to the eyes and
brain of the observer, which are also physical instruments that we have no reason to suppose are
exempt from the rules of quantum mechanics. The only peculiar link in the von Neumann chain is the
process by which electrical signals in the brain of the observer become a conscious experience.
Von Neumann argued that the entire physical world is quantum mechanical, so the process that
collapses the wave functions into actual facts cannot be a physical process; instead, the intervention of
something from outside of physics is required. Something nonphysical, not subject to the laws of
quantum mechanics, must account for the collapse of the wave function: the only nonphysical entity in
the observation process that von Neumann could think of was the consciousness of the observer. He
reluctantly concluded that this outside entity had to be consciousness and that prior to observation,
even measuring instruments interacting with a quantum system must exist in an indefinite state.
Von Neumann extended the Copenhagen interpretation by requiring the measurement process to
take place in a mind. He was reluctantly driven to this conclusion by his relentless logic: the only
process in the von Neumann chain that is not merely the motion of molecules is the consciousness of
the observer. His arguments were developed more completely by his illustrious followers, most
notably Fritz London, Edmond Bauer, and Eugene Wigner. Wigner, who went on to win the Nobel
Prize in physics, wrote, “When the province of physical theory was extended to encompass
microscopic phenomena, through the creation of quantum mechanics, the concept of consciousness
came to the fore again; it was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully
consistent way without reference to the consciousness.”6
The box-pair experiment also bears on the role of consciousness and free will. After all, you can
choose to look in one of the boxes or to do an interference experiment, and you will get different
“realities,” one being particle-like, the other wavelike. But your choice of which experiment to do is
not determined, even statistically, by anything in the physical theory. Nothing in quantum mechanics
says you must choose one experiment rather than the other. If you deny that consciousness collapses
the wave function, then this means atoms prior to observation existed as either particle or wave.
Somehow you chose to only look in those boxes that contained particle atoms and you chose to only
do an interference experiment with wave-form atoms. This would also deny free will, because then
your illusion of choice is determined by a conspiracy of the physical universe with the state of your
brain and your perceived choice. This replaces the deterministic universe with one that is
deterministic and conspiratorial.
This is how von Neumann, Wigner, and others brought mind back into nature and made a strong
case against the causal closure of the physical. As we will see, the case gets even stronger.
At this point, it should be stressed that this is only one interpretation of the facts of quantum
mechanics: in addition to the Copenhagen interpretation, there are several other speculations about
what is really happening when quantum possibilities settle down into one actuality. Most attempt to
rescue the determinism and observer independence of classical physics.
For instance, the hidden variable theory holds that the indeterminacy of quantum physics is an
illusion due to our ignorance: if we knew more about the system in question—that is, if we knew the
value of some “hidden variables”—then the indeterminacy would vanish. However, there are several
reasons why the general community of quantum physicists never held the hidden-variable theory in
high regard.
One reason, according to quantum physicist Euan Squires, is that the hidden variable theory is
“extremely complicated and messy. We know the answers from quantum theory and then we construct
a hidden-variable, deterministic theory specifically to give these answers. The resulting theory
appears contrived and unnatural.” Squires points out that the hidden variable theory never gained
widespread acceptance because “the elegance, simplicity and economy of quantum theory contrasted
sharply with the contrived nature of a hidden-variable theory which gave no new predictions in return
for its increased complexity; the whole hidden-variable enterprise was easily dismissed as arising
from a desire, in the minds of those too conservative to accept change, to return to the determinism of
classical physics.”7 Another reason the general community of quantum physicists consider the hidden
variable theory highly implausible is that it explains away indeterminacy by postulating the existence
of an ad hoc quantum force that, unlike any of the other four forces in nature, behaves in a manner
completely unaffected by distance.
The many worlds hypothesis is perhaps the strangest of all. It is the only one that denies the
existence of nonlocality, but it does so by postulating that all possible values of a measured property
exist simultaneously in coexisting universes. When a measurement is made, we are told, the universe
we are in splits into multiple universes, with one of the possible results in each of them. For instance,
if a measurement may yield two possible results, then at the instant of measurement the entire
universe splits in two, with each possible result realized in each universe. If a measurement may yield
a continuum of possible states—such as the position of an electron—then the instant such a
measurement occurs, it is proposed that the universe splits into an infinite number of universes! Since
it is further assumed that these parallel universes cannot interact with each other, this hypothesis is
completely untestable. Entities are being multiplied with incredible profusion. William of Occam
must be spinning in his grave.
In the opinion of many physicists, the last two interpretations are simply desperate, last-ditch
attempts to rescue the classical assumptions of determinism and observer independence that have been
abandoned by quantum mechanics. For instance, one interpretation salvages determinism from
classical physics by postulating hidden variables and the other by speculating that everything that can
happen does in fact happen in an infinite number of constantly splitting parallel universes, regardless
of the way things may appear to any particular version of our constantly splitting selves.
At any rate, these four interpretations are all consistent with the observed facts. They are attempts
to describe what reality is really like between observations, to account for the seemingly bizarre
behavior of matter predicted so accurately by the theory of quantum physics. They are not usually
considered to be scientific theories about the nature of reality, but rather metaphysical theories, as
within quantum mechanics there does not currently seem to be any obvious experiment that one could
perform in order to choose between them.*19
Physicist J. C. Polkinghorne sums up the metaphysical confusion many quantum theorists feel when
he writes:
It is a curious tale. All over the world measurements are continually being made on quantum
mechanical systems. The theory triumphantly predicts, within its probabilistic limits, what their
outcomes will be. It is all a great success. Yet we do not understand what is going on. Does the
fixity on a particular occasion set in as a purely mental act of knowledge? At a transition from
small to large physical systems? At the interface of matter and mind that we call consciousness?
In one of the many subsequent worlds into which the universe has divided itself?9 *20
Perhaps one interpretation is simpler or more logically consistent, or perhaps one of the
interpretations is more aesthetically pleasing than the others. These considerations may provide
philosophical reasons for preferring one over the others, but such reasons can hardly be considered
decisive. However, a fascinating set of experiments performed by physicist Helmut Schmidt and
others appears to show that conscious intent can affect the behavior of otherwise purely random
quantum phenomena. Could an experiment be designed to test the von Neumann interpretation?
Consciousness is central to the von Neumann interpretation of quantum mechanics. According to
this interpretation, some properties of quantum phenomena do not exist in any definite state except
through the intervention of a conscious mind, at which point the wave function of possibilities
collapses into a single state. The usual form of this interpretation allows the observer to collapse the
wave function to a unique outcome but not to have any effect on what outcome actually occurs: the
actual outcome is assumed to be randomly chosen by nature from the range of values provided by the
wave function. But the experiments of German physicist Helmut Schmidt and other physicists indicate
that the consciousness of the observer may not only collapse the wave function to a single outcome
but may also help specify what outcome occurs by shifting the odds in a desired direction.

Chris carter
 

Offline Ethos_

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1278
  • Thanked: 14 times
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1553 on: 02/01/2014 20:15:32 »

So, how can't they not have effects on the observed ?

"how can't they not" ......double negative Don. Your English leaves us a bit confused Sir Don. Was just wondering if English is your native language? Considering your constant use of copy and pasted excerpts from others, it does cause one wonder??
 

Offline DonQuichotte

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1763
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1554 on: 02/01/2014 20:19:50 »
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
 

Offline DonQuichotte

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1763
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1555 on: 02/01/2014 20:23:44 »

So, how can't they not have effects on the observed ?

"how can't they not" ......double negative Don. Your English leaves us a bit confused Sir Don. Was just wondering if English is your native language? Considering your constant use of copy and pasted excerpts from others, it does cause one wonder??

Nevermind : i do type  quickly , so, "how can they not" haha
Try to read those excerpts , Ethos : they are highly interesting  and fascinating : they can explain many things better than i can do ,since i am no expert of QM, not even remotely close thus , not at the present moment at least .... .
Enjoy
« Last Edit: 02/01/2014 20:26:21 by DonQuichotte »
 

Offline cheryl j

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1460
  • Thanked: 1 times
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1556 on: 02/01/2014 20:25:31 »


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????

"The other side of the same coin" is a vague analogy that allows one to say simultaneously that A is the same as B, and A is different from B. 

It's vague enough, that one can just as easily apply it to the material position is that "the mental" is just other side of the same coin of physical brain processes described in different vocabulary, or how these  processes are experienced subjectively on the macro level (like Searle's view) I'm surprised that Don likes that "different sides of the same coin" analogy, because it dualism doesn't  seem to accept that the mental and the physical might be different ways of looking at or describing the very same phenomena.
 

Offline DonQuichotte

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1763
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1557 on: 02/01/2014 20:31:00 »


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????

"The other side of the same coin" is a vague analogy that allows one to say simultaneously that A is the same as B, and A is different from B. 

It's vague enough, that one can just as easily apply it to the material position is that "the mental" is just other side of the same coin of physical brain processes described in different vocabulary, or how these  processes are experienced subjectively on the macro level (like Searle's view) I'm surprised that Don likes that "different sides of the same coin" analogy, because it dualism doesn't  seem to accept that the mental and the physical might be different ways of looking at or describing the very same phenomena.



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????

Reality , including you and i , is both material physical and non-material non-physical mental at the same time .
You're not just your physical material biological brain and body , but also a consciousness that's irreducible to the physical or to the material : your own consciousness is more fundamental than your physical brain or body can ever be : see that quote of that physicist here above on the subject .

In short :

We are made of 2 totally different substances : matter and the mental ,the latter that's irreducible to the physical or to the material = dualism .

 

Offline Ethos_

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1278
  • Thanked: 14 times
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1558 on: 02/01/2014 21:29:44 »
I'm surprised that Don likes that "different sides of the same coin" analogy, because it dualism doesn't  seem to accept that the mental and the physical might be different ways of looking at or describing the very same phenomena.
Quite right Cheryl.......I was shocked he would accept the physical side as equally important.

One thought about reality.

I know that there are those that insist that reality is relative to the individual's interpretation. I believe however in an absolute reality, one that transcends all opinions and or personal illusions. This is the reason I continue to defend the scientific method.

For us to define reality, we must define the word real. And that can't be done with vain speculation and countless what if's. I personally think the word if allows way to much room for mysticism, I want to know why things we observe exist and how to explain them. So far, Don has been suggesting largely what if's and very few why's and absolutely no explanations for how.
 

Offline cheryl j

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1460
  • Thanked: 1 times
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1559 on: 02/01/2014 21:33:14 »
Here's some reading for you, Don.

 "Is Consciousness Universal?

Panpsychism, the ancient doctrine that consciousness is universal, offers some lessons in how to think about subjective experience today"
By Christof Koch

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=is-consciousness-universal&page=3

Although, I should warn you, he is not using panpsychism in the groovy, Deepak Chopra sense of the word. Here are some passages from the link above.

Panpsychism is the belief that everything is “enminded.” All of it. Whether it is a brain, a tree, a rock or an electron. Everything that is physical also possesses an interior mental aspect. One is objective—accessible to everybody—and the other phenomenal—accessible only to the subject. That is the sense of the quotation by British-born Buddhist scholar Alan Watts with which I began this essay.
I will defend a narrowed, more nuanced view: namely that any complex system, as defined below, has the basic attributes of mind and has a minimal amount of consciousness in the sense that it feels like something to be that system. If the system falls apart, consciousness ceases to be; it doesn't feel like anything to be a broken system. And the more complex the system, the larger the repertoire of conscious states it can experience.”


His theory of consciousness has to do with integrated information.


"These ideas can be precisely expressed in the language of mathematics using notions from information theory such as entropy. Given a particular brain, with its neurons in a particular state—these neurons are firing while those ones are quiet—one can precisely compute the extent to which this network is integrated. From this calculation, the theory derives a single number, &PHgr; (pronounced “fi”) [see “A Theory of Consciousness,” Consciousness Redux; Scientific American Mind, July/August 2009]. Measured in bits, &PHgr; denotes the size of the conscious repertoire associated with the network of causally interacting parts being in one particular state. Think of &PHgr; as the synergy of the system. The more integrated the system is, the more synergy it has and the more conscious it is. If individual brain regions are too isolated from one another or are interconnected at random, &PHgr; will be low. If the organism has many neurons and is richly endowed with synaptic connections, &PHgr; will be high. Basically, &PHgr; captures the quantity of consciousness. The quality of any one experience—the way in which red feels different from blue and a color is perceived differently from a tone—is conveyed by the informational geometry associated with &PHgr;. The theory assigns to any one brain state a shape, a crystal, in a fantastically high-dimensional qualia space. This crystal is the system viewed from within. It is the voice in the head, the light inside the skull. It is everything you will ever know of the world. It is your only reality. It is the quiddity of experience. The dream of the lotus eater, the mindfulness of the meditating monk and the agony of the cancer patient all feel the way they do because of the shape of the distinct crystals in a space of a trillion dimensions—truly a beatific vision. The water of integrated information is turned into the wine of experience.

Integrated information makes very specific predictions about which brain circuits are involved in consciousness and which ones are peripheral players (even though they might contain many more neurons, their anatomical wiring differs). The theory has most recently been used to build a consciousness meter to assess, in a quantitative manner, the extent to which anesthetized subjects or severely brain-injured patients, such as Terri Schiavo, who died in Florida in 2005, are truly not conscious or do have some conscious experiences but are unable to signal their pain and discomfort to their loved ones [see “A Consciousness Meter,” Consciousness Redux; Scientific American Mind, March/April 2013].

IIT addresses the problem of aggregates by postulating that only “local maxima” of integrated information exist (over elements and spatial and temporal scales): my consciousness, your consciousness, but nothing in between. That is, every person living in the U.S. is, self by self, conscious, but there is no superordinate consciousness of the U.S. population as a whole."

Unlike classical panpsychism, not all physical objects have a &PHgr; that is different from zero. Only integrated systems do. A bunch of disconnected neurons in a dish, a heap of sand, a galaxy of stars or a black hole—none of them are integrated. They have no consciousness. They do not have mental properties.

Last, IIT does not discriminate between squishy brains inside skulls and silicon circuits encased in titanium. Provided that the causal relations among the circuit elements, transistors and other logic gates give rise to integrated information, the system will feel like something


To be honest, I see nothing less reasonable in the above than Stapp's proposal. But I suspect it would not appeal to someone looking for a bridge to a mystical realm or hoping to incorporate their religious views into science.
 

Offline Ethos_

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1278
  • Thanked: 14 times
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1560 on: 02/01/2014 21:45:31 »


To be honest, I see nothing less reasonable in the above than Stapp's proposal. But I suspect it would not appeal to someone looking for a bridge to a mystical realm or hoping to incorporate their religious views into science.
Quite appropriate for this time, place, and personalities I must say!

 

Offline alancalverd

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4729
  • Thanked: 155 times
  • life is too short to drink instant coffee
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1561 on: 02/01/2014 23:43:51 »
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................................

I gave up reading most of Don Q's repetitive drivel several pages ago, but I was hoping that someone might have found just one reasonably selfconsistent, or at least published, definition of consciousness that might provide some kind of anchor for this otherwise pointless discussion. 
 

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1441
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1562 on: 02/01/2014 23:59:38 »
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 ?
How so? are you unaware how vision works?

Did you forget what a measuring device or observer actually is in QM?
 

Offline cheryl j

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1460
  • Thanked: 1 times
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1563 on: 03/01/2014 00:16:16 »
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 :


Well, I'm glad you asked that. It brings up another question Donald had:

"Stapp has not explained how he supposes such changes are
limited. Why should they be restricted to changes within a brain? If mental forces can effectively decide the trajectories of atoms or molecules inside a brain, why can they not decide the trajectories of electrons in a laboratory or of prey in the ocean? What determined the point in evolutionary history when brains are supposed to have started to be able to make choices?"


In other words, if my conscious agency can choose which brain state I will experience, why cannot I choose yours as well? Why can I not use the Zeno effect to change the outcome of anything in the macro world that might be have some non-deterministic, quantum element? There would certainly be a huge evolutionary pay off if I could.

 And speaking of evolution, which animals get to have a conscious agency and why?
 

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1441
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1564 on: 03/01/2014 00:16:25 »
To be honest, I see nothing less reasonable in the above than Stapp's proposal. But I suspect it would not appeal to someone looking for a bridge to a mystical realm or hoping to incorporate their religious views into science.
The integrated information hypothesis is a good start  - consciousness clearly involves the integration of information, and but it's debatable precisely what information must be integrated, and how. Unless you're careful, it can end up being a circular argument - the information required by consciousness must be integrated in a way that results in consciousness... but the information theory approach using connectedness & synergy looks promising and does at least give some crude quantifiability.
« Last Edit: 03/01/2014 00:18:17 by dlorde »
 

Offline cheryl j

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1460
  • Thanked: 1 times
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1565 on: 03/01/2014 01:41:18 »
To be honest, I see nothing less reasonable in the above than Stapp's proposal. But I suspect it would not appeal to someone looking for a bridge to a mystical realm or hoping to incorporate their religious views into science.
The integrated information hypothesis is a good start  - consciousness clearly involves the integration of information, and but it's debatable precisely what information must be integrated, and how. Unless you're careful, it can end up being a circular argument - the information required by consciousness must be integrated in a way that results in consciousness... but the information theory approach using connectedness & synergy looks promising and does at least give some crude quantifiability.

There's probably a lot of problems with the theory. But I don't see how it is any more vague or abstract than a physicist saying (as in Don's James Jeans quote) that information, and not physical matter or energy, is the true basis of everything in the universe, and hence explains consciousness.
 

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1441
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1566 on: 03/01/2014 10:43:30 »
The integrated information hypothesis is a good start  - consciousness clearly involves the integration of information, and but it's debatable precisely what information must be integrated, and how. Unless you're careful, it can end up being a circular argument - the information required by consciousness must be integrated in a way that results in consciousness... but the information theory approach using connectedness & synergy looks promising and does at least give some crude quantifiability.
There's probably a lot of problems with the theory. But I don't see how it is any more vague or abstract than a physicist saying (as in Don's James Jeans quote) that information, and not physical matter or energy, is the true basis of everything in the universe, and hence explains consciousness.
I think Integrated Information is a lot less vague and abstract than that pan-informationalism, and it seems to have far greater explanatory and predictive power - it's one of very few high level models that is testable because it's quantifiable. They've applied it to a variety of information handling & processing systems (biological and non-biological), and it appears to correspond well with our native assessment of consciousness in those systems, which suggests it has captured something useful about consciousness. The devil is in the detail, of course.
 

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1441
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1567 on: 03/01/2014 11:23:55 »
More evidence consistent with consciousness as a brain process and inconsistent with the immaterial hypothesis:   two patients who were having conscious-&-aware brain surgery for epilepsy both reported strong sensations of foreboding and determination to overcome adversity when the same part of the brain (anterior midcingulate cortex) was stimulated. When the stimulation stopped, the sensations stopped. See Brain Stimulation Gives Will To Persevere.
 

Offline Ethos_

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1278
  • Thanked: 14 times
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1568 on: 03/01/2014 14:03:12 »


There's probably a lot of problems with the theory. But I don't see how it is any more vague or abstract than a physicist saying (as in Don's James Jeans quote) that information, and not physical matter or energy, is the true basis of everything in the universe, and hence explains consciousness.
Here is one instance where I can partially agree with Don, but that agreement only refers to the administration of information. Where he comes up short is, he fails to recognize that like anything else, information has to be stored somewhere. The storage of information is processed in the brain and the application of that information is applied there as well.

Mysticism only complicates the natural process we call mental activity.
 

Offline alancalverd

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4729
  • Thanked: 155 times
  • life is too short to drink instant coffee
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1569 on: 04/01/2014 15:09:50 »
Why can I not use the Zeno effect to change the outcome of anything in the macro world that might be have some non-deterministic, quantum element? There would certainly be a huge evolutionary pay off if I could.

Because all the work that purports to show a connection between observation and behaviour actually involves "active" observation, where the "observer" interferes with the system being observed.

You can't passively observe events in real time - even the simplest quantum transition that emits a photon, has to occur a few nanoseconds before you observe it because the photon has to travel to the detector. Thus a true Zeno effect requires the system to "know" that you are waiting for it to do something, without you having "told" it in any way.

Therefore either the entire universe is predestined down to the last photon, or there is no Zeno effect.   
 

Offline cheryl j

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1460
  • Thanked: 1 times
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1570 on: 04/01/2014 15:19:43 »
Thus a true Zeno effect requires the system to "know" that you are waiting for it to do something, without you having "told" it in any way.

Therefore either the entire universe is predestined down to the last photon, or there is no Zeno effect.   


Well. That's a bit troublesome, isn't it?
 

Offline DonQuichotte

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1763
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1571 on: 04/01/2014 17:11:43 »
Cheryl : See this : Highly interesting and fascinating : Concerning the consciousness -dependent observation , the original Copenhagen interpretation, How Planck's constant that paved the way to quantum theory replaced numbers by actions , and much more :
If the following does not succeed in convincing you of what i have been saying , then , nothingelse will :


"Human Knowledge
as the Foundation of Science" :



In the introduction to his book Quantum Theory and Reality the
philosopher of science Mario Bunge (1967, p. 4) said:
The physicist of the latest generation is operationalist all right,
but usually he does not know, and refuses to believe, that the
original Copenhagen interpretation – which he thinks he supports
– was squarely subjectivist, i.e., nonphysical.
Let there be no doubt about this point. The original form of quantum
theory is subjective, in the sense that it is forthrightly about relationships
among conscious human experiences, and it expressly recommends
to scientists that they resist the temptation to try to understand
the reality responsible for the correlations between our experiences
that the theory correctly describes. The following brief collection
of quotations by the founders gives a conspectus of the Copenhagen
philosophy:
The conception of objective reality of the elementary particles
has thus evaporated not into the cloud of some obscure new reality
concept but into the transparent clarity of a mathematics
that represents no longer the behavior of particles but rather
our knowledge of this behavior. (Heisenberg 1958a, p. 100)
[. . . ] the act of registration of the result in the mind of the
observer. The discontinuous change in the probability function
[. . . ] 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 of the
probability function. (Heisenberg 1958b, p. 55)
When the old adage “Natura non facit saltus” (Nature makes
no jumps) is used as a basis of a criticism of quantum theory,
we can reply that certainly our knowledge can change suddenly,
and that this fact justifies the use of the term ‘quantum jump’.
(Heisenberg 1958b, p. 54)
It was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics
in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness.
(Wigner 1961b, p. 169)
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 our experience.
(Bohr 1934, p. 18)
Strictly speaking, the mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics
merely offers rules of calculation for the deduction of
expectations about observations obtained under well-defined
classical concepts. (Bohr 1963, p. 60)
[. . . ] the appropriate physical interpretation of the symbolic
quantum mechanical formalism amounts only to prediction
of determinate or statistical character, pertaining to individual
phenomena appearing under conditions defined by classical
physics concepts. (Bohr 1958, p. 64)
The references to ‘classical (physics) concepts’ is explained by Bohr as
follows:
[. . . ] it is imperative to realize that in every account of physical
experience one must describe both experimental conditions and
observations by the same means of communication as the one
used in classical physics. Bohr (1958, p. 88)
[. . . ] we must recognize above all that, even when phenomena
transcend the scope of classical physical theories, the account
of the experimental arrangement and the recording of observations
must be given in plain language supplemented by technical
physical terminology. (Bohr 1958)
Bohr is saying that scientists do in fact use, and must use, the concepts
of classical physics in communicating to their colleagues the specifications
on how the experiment is to be set up, and what will constitute
a certain type of outcome. He in no way claims or admits that there
is an actual objective reality out there that conforms to the precepts
of classical physics.
« Last Edit: 04/01/2014 17:14:35 by DonQuichotte »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1763
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1572 on: 04/01/2014 17:13:03 »
In his book The Creation of Quantum Mechanics and the Bohr–
Pauli Dialogue, the historian John Hendry (1984) gives a detailed account
of the fierce struggles by such eminent thinkers as Hilbert, Jordan,
Weyl, von Neumann, Born, Einstein, Sommerfeld, Pauli, Heisenberg,
Schroedinger, Dirac, Bohr and others, to come up with a rational
way of comprehending the data from atomic experiments. Each man
had his own bias and intuitions, but in spite of intense effort no rational
comprehension was forthcoming. Finally, at the 1927 Solvay conference
a group including Bohr, Heisenberg, Pauli, Dirac, and Born come into
concordance on a solution that came to be called the Copenhagen interpretation,
due to the central role of Bohr and those working with
him at his institute in Denmark.
Hendry says: “Dirac, in discussion, insisted on the restriction of the
theory’s application to our knowledge of a system, and on its lack of
ontological content.” Hendry summarized the concordance by saying:
“On this interpretation it was agreed that, as Dirac explained, the wave
function represented our knowledge of the system, and the reduced
wave packets our more precise knowledge after measurement.”
These quotations make it clear that, in direct contrast to the ideas
of classical physical theory, orthodox Copenhagen quantum theory is
about ‘our knowledge’. We, and in particular our mental aspects, have
entered into the structure of basic physical theory.
This profound shift in physicists’ conception of the basic nature
of their endeavor, and of the meanings of their formulas, was not a
frivolous move: it was a last resort. The very idea that in order to comprehend
atomic phenomena one must abandon physical ontology, and
construe the mathematical formulas to be directly about the knowledge
of human observers, rather than about external reality itself, is
so seemingly preposterous that no group of eminent and renowned
scientists would ever embrace it except as an extreme last measure.
Consequently, it would be frivolous of us simply to ignore a conclusion
so hard won and profound, and of such apparent direct bearing on our
effort to understand the connection of our conscious thoughts to our
bodily actions.
Einstein never accepted the Copenhagen interpretation. He said:
What does not satisfy me, from the standpoint of principle, is
its attitude toward what seems to me to be the programmatic
aim of all physics: the complete description of any (individual)
real situation (as it supposedly exists irrespective of any act
of observation or substantiation). (Einstein 1951, p. 667; the
parenthetical word and phrase are part of Einstein’s statement.)
and
What I dislike in this kind of argumentation is the basic positivistic
attitude, which from my view is untenable, and which
seems to me to come to the same thing as Berkeley’s principle,
esse est percipi. [Transl: To be is to be perceived] (Einstein
1951, p. 669)
Einstein struggled until the end of his life to get the observer’s knowledge
back out of physics. He did not succeed! Rather he admitted (ibid.
p. 87) that:
It is my opinion that the contemporary quantum theory constitutes
an optimum formulation of the [statistical] connections.
He also referred (ibid, p. 81) to:
[. . . ] the most successful physical theory of our period, viz., the
statistical quantum theory which, about twenty-five years ago
took on a logically consistent form. This is the only theory at
present which permits a unitary grasp of experiences concerning
the quantum character of micro-mechanical events.
One can adopt the cavalier attitude that these profound difficulties
with the classical conception of nature are just some temporary retrograde
aberration in the forward march of science. One may imagine,
as some do, that a strange confusion has confounded our best minds
for seven decades, and that the weird conclusions of physicists can
be ignored because they do not fit a tradition that worked for two
centuries. Or one can try to claim that these problems concern only
atoms and molecules, but not the big things built out of them. In this
connection Einstein said (ibid, p. 674): “But the ‘macroscopic’ and
‘microscopic’ are so inter-related that it appears impracticable to give
up this program [of basing physics on the ‘real’] in the ‘microscopic’
domain alone.”
These quotations document the fact that Copenhagen quantum
theory brings human consciousness into physical theory in an essential
way. But how does this radical change in basic physics affect science’s
conception of the human person?
To answer this query I begin with a few remarks on the development
of quantum theory.
The original version of quantum theory, called the Copenhagen
quantum theory, or the Copenhagen interpretation, is forthrightly
pragmatic. It aims to show how the mathematical structure of the
theory can be employed to make useful, testable predictions about our
future possible experiences on the basis of our past experiences and
the forms of the actions that we choose to make. In this initial version
of the theory the brains and bodies of the experimenters, and
also their measuring devices, are described fundamentally in empirical
terms: in terms of our experiences/perceptions pertaining to these devices
and their manipulations by our physical bodies. The devices are
treated as extensions of our bodies. However, the boundary between
our empirically described selves and the physically described system
we are studying is somewhat arbitrary. The empirically described measuring
devices can become very tiny, and physically described systems
can become very large, This ambiguity was examined by von Neumann
(1932) who showed that we can consistently describe the entire physical
world, including the brains of the experimenters, as the physically described
world, with the actions instigated by an experimenter’s stream
of consciousness acting directly upon that experimenter’s brain. The
interaction between the psychologically and physically described aspects
in quantum theory thereby becomes the mind–brain interaction
of neuroscience and neuropsychology.
It is this von Neumann extension of Copenhagen quantum theory
that provides the foundation for a rationally coherent ontological interpretation
of quantum theory – for a putative description of what is
really happening. Heisenberg suggested an ontological description in
his 1958 book Physics and Philosophy and I shall adhere to that ontology,
formulated within von Neumann’s framework in which the brain,
as part of the physical world, is described in terms of the quantum
mathematics. This localizes the mind–matter problem at the interface
between the quantum mechanically described brain and the experientially
described stream of consciousness of the human agent/observer.
My aim in this book is to explain to non-physicist the interplay
between the psychologically and physically described components of
mind–brain dynamics, as it is understood within the orthodox (von
Neumann–Heisenberg) quantum framework.

« Last Edit: 04/01/2014 17:26:15 by DonQuichotte »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1763
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1573 on: 04/01/2014 17:28:14 »
Actions, Knowledge, and Information:
 The Anti-Newtonian Revolution:




From the time of Isaac Newton until about 1925 science relegated
consciousness to the role of passive viewer: our thoughts, ideas, and
feelings were treated as impotent bystanders to a march of events
wholly controlled by microscopically describable interactions between
mechanically behaving microscopic basic elements. The founders of
quantum mechanics made the revolutionary move of bringing conscious
human experiences into basic physical theory in a fundamental way.
After two hundred years of neglect, our thoughts were suddenly thrust
into the limelight. This was an astonishing reversal of precedent because
the enormous successes of the prior physics were due in large
measure to the policy of excluding all mention of idea-like qualities
from the formulation of the physical laws.
What sort of crisis could have forced the creators of quantum theory
to contemplate, and eventually embrace, this radical idea of injecting
our thoughts explicitly into the basic laws of physics?
The answer to this question begins with a discovery that occurred
at the end of the nineteenth century. In December of 1900 Max Planck
announced the discovery and measurement of the ‘quantum of action’.
Its measured value is called Planck’s constant. This constant specifies
one of three basic quantities that are built into the fundamental fabric
of the physical universe. The other two are the gravitational constant,
which fixes the strength of the force that pulls every bit of matter
in the solar system toward every other bit, and the speed of light,
which controls the response of every particle to this force, and to every
other force. The integration into physics of each of these three basic
quantities generated a monumental shift in our conception of nature.
Isaac Newton discovered the gravitational constant, which linked
our understandings of celestial and terrestrial dynamics. It connected
the motions of the planets and their moons to the trajectories of cannon
balls here on earth, and to the rising and falling of the tides. In
sofar as his laws are complete the entire physical universe is governed
by mathematical equations that link every bit of matter to every other
bit, and moreover fix the complete course of history for all times from
physical conditions prevailing in the primordial past.
Einstein recognized that the ‘speed of light’ is not just the rate
of propagation of some special kind of wave-like disturbance, namely
‘light’. It is rather a fundamental number that enters into the equations
of motion of every kind of material substance, and, among other things,
prevents any piece of matter from traveling faster than this universal
maximum value. Like Newton’s gravitational constant it is a number
that enters ubiquitously into the basic structure of Nature.
But important as the effects of these two quantities are, they are,
in terms of profundity, like child’s play compared to the consequences
of Planck’s discovery.
Planck’s ‘quantum of action’ revealed itself first in the study of
light, or, more generally, of electromagnetic radiation. The radiant energy
emerging from a tiny hole in a heated hollow container can be decomposed
into its various frequency components. Classical nineteenth
century physics gave a prediction about how that energy should be
distributed among the frequencies, but the empirical facts did not fit
that theory. Eventually, Planck discovered that the empirically correct
formula could be obtained by assuming essentially that the energy was
concentrated in finite packets, with the amount of energy in each such
unit being directly proportional to the frequency of the radiation that
was carrying it. The ratio of energy to frequency is called Planck’s
constant. Its value is extremely small on the scale of normal human
activity, but becomes significant when we come to the behavior of the
atomic particles and fields out of which our bodies, brains, and the
large physical objects around us are made.
Planck’s discovery shattered the classical laws that had been for two
centuries the foundation of the scientific world view. During the years
that followed many experiments were performed on systems whose
behaviors depend sensitively upon the properties of their atomic constituents.
It was repeatedly found that the classical principles did not
work: they gave well defined predictions that turned out to be flat-out
wrong, when confronted with the experimental evidence. The fundamental
laws of physics, which every physics student had been taught,
and upon which much of the industrial and technological world of that
era was based, were failing. More importantly, and surprisingly, they
were failing in ways that no mere tinkering could ever fix. Something
was fundamentally amiss. No one could say how these laws, which were
so important, and that had seemed so perfect, could be fixed. No one
could foresee whether a new theory could be constructed that would
explain these strange and unexpected results, and restore rational order
to our understanding of nature. But one thing was clear to those
working feverishly on the problem: Planck’s constant was somehow at
the center of it all.
3.2 The World of Actions
Werner Heisenberg was, from a technical point of view, the principal
founder of quantum theory. He discovered in 1925 the completely
amazing and wholly unprecedented solution to the puzzle: the quantities
that classical physical theory was based upon, and which were
thought to be numbers, must be treated not as numbers but as actions!
Ordinary numbers, such as 2 and 3, have the property that the
product of any two of them does not depend on the order of the factors:
2 times 3 is the same as 3 times 2. But Heisenberg discovered
that one could get the correct answers out of the old classical laws if
one decreed that certain numbers that occur in classical physics as the
magnitudes of certain physical properties of a material system are not
ordinary numbers. Rather, they must be treated as actions having the
property that the order in which they act matters!
This ‘solution’ may sound absurd or insane. But mathematicians
had already discovered that logically consistent generalizations of ordinary
mathematics exist in which numbers are replaced by ‘actions’
having the property that the order in which they are applied matters.
The ordinary numbers that we use for everyday purposes like buying a
loaf of bread or paying taxes are just a very special case from among a
broad set of rationally coherent mathematical possibilities. In this simplest
case, A times B happens to be the same as B times A. But there
is no logical reason why Nature should not exploit one of the more
general cases: there is no compelling reason why our physical theories
must be based exclusively on ordinary numbers rather than on actions.
The theory based on Heisenberg’s discovery exploits the more general
logical possibility. It is called quantum mechanics, or quantum theory.
The difference between quantum mechanics and classical mechanics
is specified by Planck’s constant, which is a tiny number on the
scale of human actions. Thus this tweaking of laws of physics might
seem to be a bit of mathematical minutia that could scarcely have
any great bearing on the fundamental nature of the universe, or of
our role within it. But replacing numbers by actions upsets the whole
apple cart. It produced a seismic shift in our ideas about both the
nature of reality, and the nature of our relationship to the reality that
envelops and sustains us. The aspects of nature represented by the
theory are converted from elements of being to elements of doing. The
effect of this change is profound: it replaces the world of material substances
by a world populated by actions, and by potentialities for the
occurrence of the various possible observed feedbacks from these actions.
Thus this switch from ‘being’ to ‘action’ allows – and according
to orthodox quantum theory demands – a draconian shift in the very
subject matter of physical theory, from an imagined universe consisting
of causally self-sufficient mindless matter, to a universe populated by
allowed possible physical actions and possible experienced feedbacks
from such actions. A purported theory of matter alone is converted
into a theory of the relationship between matter and mind.
What is this momentous change introduced by Heisenberg?
In classical physics the center point of each physical object has, at
each instant of time, a well defined location, which can be specified
by giving its three coordinates (x, y, z) relative to some coordinate
system. For example, the location of (the center point of) a spider
dangling in a room can be specified by letting z be its distance from
the floor, and letting x and y be its distances from two intersecting
walls. Similarly, the velocity of that dangling spider, as she drops to
the floor, blown by a gust of wind, can be specified by giving the rates
of change of these three coordinates (x, y, z). If each of these three
rates of change, which together specify the velocity, are multiplied by
the weight (= mass) of the spider, then one gets three numbers, say
(p, q, r), that define the momentum of the spider. In classical physics
one uses the set of three numbers denoted by (x, y, z) to represent the
position of the center point of an object, and the set of three numbers
labeled by (p, q, r) to represent the momentum of that object. These
six numbers are just ordinary numbers that obey the commutative
property of multiplication that we all, hopefully, learned in third grade:
x ∗ p equals p ∗ x, where ∗ means multiply.
 

Offline DonQuichotte

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1763
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1574 on: 04/01/2014 17:29:05 »

The six-dimensional space of all possible values (x, y, z; p, q, r) is
called phase space: it is the space of all possible instantaneous ‘states’
of the particle.
Heisenberg’s analysis showed that in order to make the formulas of
classical physics work in general, x ∗ p must be different from p ∗ x. He
found that the difference between these two products must be Planck’s
constant. (Actually, the difference is Planck’s constant divided by 2π
and multiplied by the imaginary unit i, which is a number such that
i times i is minus one.) Thus modern quantum theory was born by
recognizing, or declaring, that the symbols used in classical physical
theory to represent ordinary numbers actually represent actions such
that their ordering in a sequence of actions matters. The procedure of
creating the mathematical structure of quantum mechanics from that
of classical physics, by replacing numbers by corresponding actions, is
called ‘quantization’.
The idea of replacing the numbers that specify where a particle is,
and how fast it is moving, by mathematical quantities that violate the
simple laws of arithmetic may strike you – if this is the first you’ve
heard about it – as a giant step in the wrong direction. You might
mutter that scientists should try to make things simpler, rather than
abandoning one of the things we really know for sure, namely that
the order in which one multiplies factors does not matter. But against
that intuition one must recognize that this change works beautifully in
practice: all of the tested predictions of quantum mechanics are borne
out, and these include predictions that are correct to the incredible
accuracy of one part in a hundred million. There must be something
very, very right about this replacement of numbers by actions.
In classical physical theory each elementary particle is asserted to
have at each instant of time a definite location, defined by a set of three
numbers (x, y, z), and definite momentum, defined by a set of three
numbers (p, q, r). In quantum theory one generally considers systems
of many particles, but insofar as one can consider one particle alone
the state of that particle at any instant of time would be represented
by a cloud of pairs of numbers, with one pair of numbers (called a
complex number) assigned to each point in three-dimensional (position)
space. Someone might choose to perform a phenomenologically
(i.e., experimentally/experientially) described probing action on this
‘particle’. In quantum mechanics each such possible probing action
turns out to have an associated set of distinct experientially distinguishable
possible outcomes. The cloud of numbers taken as a whole
determines the probability for the appearance of each of the alternative
possible outcomes of that chosen probing action. The theory thus
gives specified rules for computing the probabilities for each of the distinct
alternative possible empirically described feedbacks from each of
the alternative possible experimental probing actions that the human
experimenter might chose to perform, but no rules that specify which
probing action he or she will choose.
In classical physical theory when one descends from the macroscopic
world of visible objects to the microscopic world of their elemen
tary constituents one arrives at a world containing the ‘solid, massy,
hard, impenetrable moveable particles’ that Newton spoke of. But in
quantum theory one arrives instead at clouds, or quantum smears, of
numbers that taken as a whole have empirical meaning in terms of
probabilities of alternative possible experiences.
Briefly stated, the orthodox formulation of quantum theory (see
Appendix D) asserts that, in order to connect adequately the mathematically
described state of a physical system to human experience,
there must be an abrupt intervention in the otherwise smoothly evolving
mathematically described state of that system.
According to the orthodox formulation, these interventions are
probing actions instigated by human agents who are able to ‘freely’
choose which one, from among various alternative possible probing actions,
they will perform. The physically describable effect of the chosen
probing action is to separate (partition) the prior physical state of the
system being probed in some particular way into a set of component
parts. Each physically described part corresponds to one perceivable
outcome from the set of distinct alternative possible perceivable outcomes
of that particular probing action.
If such a probing action is performed, then one of its allowed perceivable
feedbacks will appear in the stream of consciousness of the
observer, and the mathematically described state of the probed system
will then jump abruptly from the form it had prior to the intervention
to the partitioned portion of that state that corresponds to
the observed feedback. This means that, according to orthodox contemporary
physical theory, the ‘free’ choices of probing actions made
by agents enter importantly into the course of the ensuing psychologically
and physically described events. Here the word ‘free’ means,
however, merely that the choice is not determined by the (currently)
known laws of physics; not that the choice has no cause at all in the
full psychophysical structure of reality. Presumably the choice has some
cause or reason – it is unreasonable that it should simply pop out of
nothing at all – but the existing theory gives no reason to believe that
this cause must be determined exclusively by the physically described
aspects of the psychophysically described nature alone.
If one sets Planck’s constant equal to zero in the quantum mechanical
equations then one recovers (the fundamentally incorrect) classical
mechanics. Thus classical physics is an approximation to quantum
physics. It is the approximation in which Planck’s constant, wherever
it appears, is replaced by zero. In this approximation the quantum
smearing does not occur – each cloud is reduced to a point – and one
recovers classical physics, along with the physical determinism (the
causal closure of the physical) entailed by classical physics.
In the classical approximation there is no need for, and indeed no
room for , any effect of any probing action. The uncertainty – arising
from the non-zero size of the quantum cloud – that in the unapproximated
theory needs to be resolved by the intervention of some
particular probing action is already reduced to zero by the replacement
of Planck’s constant by zero. Thus all effects upon the physically/
mathematically described aspects of nature’s process that are
instigated by the actions ‘freely’ chosen by agents are eliminated by
the classical approximation. Consequently, any attempt to understand
or explain within the framework of classical physics the physical effects
of consciousness is irrational, because the classical approximation
eliminates the effect one is trying to study.
3.3 Intentional Actions and Experienced Feedbacks
The concept of intentional actions by agents is of central importance.
Each such action is intended to produce an experiential feedback. For
example, a scientist might act to place a Geiger counter near a radioactive
source, with the intention to see the counter either ‘fire’, or
‘not fire’, during a certain time interval. The experienced response,
‘Yes’ or ‘No’, to the query ‘Does the counter fire?’ specifies one bit
of information. The basic move in quantum theory is to shift, fundamentally,
from the airy plane of high-level abstractions, such as the
unseen precise trajectories of invisible elementary material particles,
to the nitty-gritty realities of consciously chosen intentional actions
and their experienced feedbacks, and to the theoretical specification
of the mathematical procedures that allow us successfully to predict
relationships among these empirical realities.
Probing actions of this kind are performed not only by scientists.
Every healthy and alert infant is engaged in making willful efforts that
produce experiential feedbacks, and he or she soon begins to form expectations
about what sorts of feedbacks are likely to follow from some
particular kind of felt effort. Thus both empirical science and normal
human life are based on paired realities of this action–response kind,
and our physical and psychological theories are both basically attempts
to understand these linked realities within a rational conceptual framework.
A purposeful action by a human agent has two aspects. One aspect
is his conscious intention, which is described in psychological
terms. The other aspect is the linked physical action, which is described
in physical terms; i.e., in terms of mathematical entities assigned to
spacetime points. For successful living the physically described action
should be a functional counterpart of the conscious intention: after sufficient
empirical honing by effective learning processes the physically
described aspect of the felt intentional act should have a tendency to
produce the intended experiential feedback.
John von Neumann, in his seminal book, Mathematical Foundations
of Quantum Mechanics, calls by the name ‘process 1’ the basic
probing action that partitions a potential continuum of physically described
possibilities into a (countable) set of empirically recognizable
alternative possibilities. I shall retain that terminology. Von Neumann
calls the orderly mechanically controlled evolution that occurs between
interventions by name ‘process 2’. This process is the one controlled by
the Schroedinger equation. The numbering, 1 and 2, emphasizes the
important fact that the conceptual framework of orthodox quantum
theory requires first an acquisition of knowledge, and second, a mathematically
described propagation of a representation of this acquired
knowledge to some later time at which a further inquiry is made.
There are two other associated processes that need to be recognized.
The first of these is the process that selects the outcome, ‘Yes’ or ‘No’,
of the probing action. Dirac calls this intervention a “choice on the
part of nature”, and it is subject, according to quantum theory, to
statistical rules specified by the theory. I call by the name ‘process 3’
this statistically specified choice of the outcome of the action selected
by the prior process 1 probing action
Finally, in connection with each process 1 action, there is, presumably,
some process that is not described by contemporary quantum
theory, but that determines what the so-called ‘free choice’ of the experimenter
will actually be. This choice seems to us to arise, at least in
part, from conscious reasons and valuations, and it is certainly strongly
influenced by the state of the brain of the experimenter. I have previously
called this selection process by the name ‘process 4’, but will use
here the more apt name ‘process zero’, because this process must precede
von Neumann’s process 1. It is the absence from orthodox quantum
theory of any description on the workings of process zero that
constitutes the causal gap in contemporary orthodox physical theory.
It is this ‘latitude’ offered by the quantum formalism, in connection
with the “freedom of experimentation” (Bohr 1958, p. 73), that blocks
the causal closure of the physical, and thereby releases human actions
from the immediate bondage of the physically described aspects of
reality.
3.4 Cloudlike Forms
The quantum state of a single elementary particle can be visualized,
roughly, as a continuous cloud of (complex) numbers, one assigned to
every point in three-dimensional space. This cloud of numbers evolves
in time and, taken as a whole, it determines, at each instant, for each
allowed process 1 action, an associated set of alternative possible experiential
outcomes or feedbacks, and the ‘probability of finding (i.e.,
experiencing)’ that particular outcome.
Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle specifies that if one squeezes this
spatial cloud – the spatial region in which the numbers are nonzero –
into a sufficiently small region, it will violently explode outward when
the constricting force is removed.
3.5 Simple Harmonic Oscillators
One of the most important and illuminating examples of this cloudlike
feature of the quantum state is the one corresponding to a pendulum,
or more precisely, to what is called a simple harmonic oscillator. Such
a system is one in which there is a restoring force that tends to push
the center point of the object to a single ‘base point’, and in which the
strength of this restoring force is directly proportional to the distance
of the center point of the object from this base point.
According to classical physics any such system has a state of lowest
possible energy. In this state the center point of the object lies motionless
at the base point. In quantum theory this system again has a
state of lowest possible energy. But this state is not localized at the
base point. It is a cloudlike spatial structure that is spread out over a
region that extends to infinity. However, the probability distribution
represented by this cloudlike form has the shape of a bell: it is largest
at the base point, and falls off in a prescribed manner as the distance
of the center point from the base point increases.
If one were to put this state of lowest energy into a container, then
squeeze it into a more narrow space, and then let it loose, the cloudlike
form would explode outward, but then settle into an oscillating motion.
Thus the cloudlike spatial structure behaves rather like a swarm
of bees, such that the more they are squeezed in space the faster they
move relative to their neighbors, and the faster the squeezed cloud
will explode outward if the squeezing constraint is released. This ‘explosive’
property of narrowly confined states plays a key role in quantum
brain dynamics, as we shall soon see. This explosive property is a
consequence of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, which entails that a
severe confinement of the cloud in ordinary (coordinate) space entails
a large spread in a corresponding cloud in momentum (hence velocity)
space.
3.6 The Double-Slit Experiment
There is a crucial difference between the behavior of the quantum
cloudlike form and the somewhat analogous probability distribution
of classical statistical mechanics. This difference is exhibited by the
famous double-slit experiment. If one shoots an electron, a calcium
ion, or any other quantum counterpart of a tiny classical object, at
a narrow slit then if the object passes through the slit the associated
cloudlike form will fan out over a wide angle, due essentially to the
reaction to squeezing mentioned above. But if one opens two closely
neighboring narrow slits, then what passes through the slits is described
by a probability distribution that is not just the sum of the
two separate fanlike structures that would be present if each slit were
opened separately. Instead, at some points the probability value will be
nearly twice the sum of the values associated with the two individual
slits, and in other places the probability value drops nearly to zero,
even though both individual fanlike structures give a large probability
value at that place. This non-additivity – or interference – property
of the quantum cloudlike structure makes that structure very different
from a probability distribution of classical physics, because in the
classical case the probabilities arising from the two individual slits will
simply add.
This non-additivity property, which holds for a quantum particle
such as an electron or a calcium ion, persists even when the particles
come one at a time! According to classical ideas each tiny individual
object must pass through either one slit or the other, so the probability
distribution must be just the sum of the contributions from the two
separate slits. But this is not what happens empirically. Quantum
mechanics deals consistently with this non-additivity property, and
with all the other non-classical properties of these cloudlike structures.
The non-additivity property is not at all mysterious or strange if one
accepts the basic idea that reality is not made out of any material
substance, but rather out of ‘events’ (actions) and ‘potentialities’ for
these events to occur. Potentialities are not material realities, and there
is no logical requirement that they be simply additive. According to
the mathematically consistent rules of quantum theory, the quantum
potentialities are not simply additive: they have a wave-like nature,
and can interfere like waves.
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1574 on: 04/01/2014 17:29:05 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums