The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?  (Read 309246 times)

Offline DonQuichotte

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1763
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1575 on: 04/01/2014 17:38:35 »
Nerve Terminals
and the Need to Use Quantum Theory:




Many neuroscientists who study the relationship of consciousness to
brain processes want to believe that classical physics will provide an
adequate rational foundation for that task. But classical physics has
bottom-up causation, and the direct rational basis for the claim that
classical physics is applicable to the full workings of the brain rests on
the basic presumption that it is applicable at the microscopic level.
However, empirical evidence about what is actually happening at the
trillions of synapses on the billions of neurons in a conscious brain
is virtually nonexistent, and, according to the uncertainty principle,
empirical evidence is in principle unable to justify the claim that deterministic
behavior actually holds in the brain at the microscopic
(ionic) scale. Thus the claim that classical determinism holds in living
brains is empirically indefensible: sufficient evidence neither does, nor
can in principle, exist.
Whether the classical approximation is applicable to macroscopic
brain dynamics can, therefore, only be determined by examining the
details of the physical situation within the framework of the more general
quantum theory, to see, from a rational perspective, to what extent
use of the classical approximation can be theoretically justified. The
technical questions are: How important quantitatively are the effects
of the uncertainty principle at the microscopic (ionic) level; and if they
are important at the microscopic level, then why can this microscopic
indeterminacy never propagate up to the macro-level?
Classical physical theory is adequate, in principle, precisely to the
extent that the smear of potentialities generated at the microscopic
level by the uncertainty principle leads via the purely physically described
aspects of quantum dynamics to a macroscopic brain state
that is essentially one single classically describable state, rather than
a cloud of such states representing a set of alternative possible conscious
experiences. In this latter case the quantum mechanical state of
the brain needs to be reduced, somehow, to the state corresponding to
the experienced phenomenal reality.
To answer the physics question of the extent of the micro-level
uncertainties we turn first to an examination of the quantum dynamics
of nerve terminals.
4.1 Nerve Terminals
Nerve terminals lie at the junctions between two neurons, and mediate
the functional connection between them. Neuroscientists have developed,
on the basis of empirical data, fairly detailed classical models
of how these important parts of the brain work. According to the
classical picture, each ‘firing’ of a neuron sends an electrical signal,
called an action potential, along its output fiber. When this signal
reaches the nerve terminal it opens up tiny channels in the terminal
membrane, through which calcium ions flow into the interior of the
terminal. Within the terminal are vesicles, which are small storage areas
containing chemicals called neurotransmitters. The calcium ions
migrate by diffusion from their entry channels to special sites, where
they trigger the release of the contents of a vesicle into a gap between
the terminal and a neighboring neuron. The released chemicals influence
the tendency of the neighboring neuron to fire. Thus the nerve
terminals, as connecting links between neurons, are basic elements in
brain dynamics.
The channels through which the calcium ions enter the nerve terminal
are called ion channels. At their narrowest points they are only
about a nanometer in width, hence not much larger than the calcium
ions themselves. This extreme smallness of the opening in the
ion channels has profound quantum mechanical import. The consequence
of this narrowness is essentially the same as the consequence of
the squeezing of the state of the simple harmonic oscillator, or of the
narrowness of the slits in the double-slit experiments. The narrowness
of the channel restricts the lateral spatial dimension. Consequently,
the uncertainty in lateral velocity is forced by the quantum uncertainty
principle to become non-zero, and to be in fact about 1% of the
longitudinal velocity of the ion. This causes the quantum probability
cloud associated with the calcium ion to fan out over an increasing
area as it moves away from the tiny channel to the target region where
the ion will be absorbed as a whole on some small triggering site, or
will not be absorbed at all on that site. The transit distance is estimated
to be about 50 nanometers (Fogelson & Zucker 1985; Schweizer,
Betz, & Augustine 1995), but the total distance traveled is increased
many-fold by the diffusion mechanism. Thus the probability cloud becomes
spread out over a region that is much larger than the size of the
calcium ion itself, or of the trigger site. This spreading of the ion wave
packet means that the ion may or may not be absorbed on the small
triggering site.
Many different calcium ions contribute to the release of neurotransmitter
from a vesicle. The estimated probability that a vesicle on a
cerebral neuron will be released, per incident input action potential
pulse, is far less than 100% (maybe only 50%). The very large quantum
uncertainty at the individual calcium level ensures that this large
empirical uncertainty of release entails that the quantum state of the
nerve terminal will become a quantum mixture of states where the
neurotransmitter is released, or, alternatively, is not released. This
quantum splitting occurs at every one of the trillions of nerve terminals
in the brain. This quantum splitting at each of the nerve terminals
propagates, via the quantum mechanical process 2, first to neuronal
behavior, and then to the behavior of the whole brain, so that, according
to quantum theory, the state of the brain can become a cloudlike
quantum mixture of many different classically describable brain states.
In complex situations where the outcome at the classical level depends
on noisy elements the corresponding quantum brain will evolve into a
quantum mixture of the corresponding states.
The process 2 evolution of the brain is highly nonlinear, in the
(classical) sense that small events can trigger much larger events, and
that there are very important feedback loops. Some neurons can be
on the verge of firing, so that small variations in the firing times of
other neurons can influence whether or not this firing occurs. In a system
with such a sensitive dependence on unstable elements, and on
massive feedbacks, it is not reasonable to suppose, and not possible to
demonstrate, that the process 2 dynamical evolution will lead generally
to a single (nearly) classically describable quantum state. There
might perhaps be particular special situations during which the massively
parallel processing all conspires to cause the brain dynamics to
become essentially deterministic and perhaps even nearly classically
describable. But there is no likelihood that during periods of mental
groping and uncertainty there cannot be bifurcation points in which
one part of the quantum cloud of potentialities that represents the
brain goes one way and the remainder goes another, leading to a quantum
mixture of very different classically describable potentialities. The
validity of the classical approximation certainly cannot be proved under
these conditions, and, in view of the extreme nonlinearity of the
neural dynamics, any claim that the large effects of the uncertainly
principle at the synaptic level can never lead to quantum mixtures of
macroscopically different states cannot be rationally justified.
What, then, is the effect of the replacement of a single, unique, classically
described brain of classical physics by a quantum brain state
composed of a mixture of several alternative possible classically describable
brain states, each corresponding to a different possible experience?
A principal function of the brain is to receive clues from the environment,
then to form an appropriate plan of action, and finally to
direct the activities of the brain and body specified by the selected
plan of action. The exact details of the chosen plan will, for a classical
model, obviously depend upon the exact values of many noisy and uncontrolled
variables. In cases close to a bifurcation point the dynamical
effects of noise might, at the classical level, tip the balance between
two very different responses to the given clues: e.g., tip the balance
between the ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ response to some shadowy form, but in
the quantum case one must allow and expect both possibilities at the
macroscopic level a smear of classically alternative possibilities. The
automatic mechanical process 2 evolution generates this smearing, and
is in principle unable to resolve or remove it.
According to orthodox (von Neumann) quantum theory, achievement
of a satisfactory reduction of the smeared out brain state to a
brain state coordinated with the subject’s streams of conscious experiences
is achieved through the entry of a process 1 intervention, which
selects from the smear of potentialities generated by the mechanical
process 2 evolution a particular way of separating the physical state
into a collection of components, each corresponding to some definite
experience. The form of such an intervention is not determined by the
quantum analog (process 2) of the physically deterministic continuous
dynamical process of classical physics: some other kind of input is
needed.
The choice involved in such an intervention seems to us to be influenced
by consciously felt evaluations, and there is no rational reason
why these conscious realities, which certainly are realities, cannot have
the sort of effect that they seem to have.
 

Offline DonQuichotte

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1763
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1576 on: 04/01/2014 17:40:48 »
Templates for Action:


The feature of a brain state that tends to produce some specified experiential
feedback can reasonably be expected to be a highly organized
large-scale pattern of brain activity that, to be effective, must endure
for a period of perhaps tens or hundreds of milliseconds. It must endure
for an extended period in order to be able to bring into being
the coordinated sequence of neuron firings needed to produce the intended
feedback. Thus the neural (or brain) correlate of an intentional
act should be something like a collection of the vibratory modes of a
drumhead in which many particles move in a coordinated way for an
extended period of time.
In quantum theory the enduring states are vibratory states. They
are like the lowest-energy state of the simple harmonic oscillator discussed
above, which tends to endure for a long time, or like the states
obtained from such lowest-energy states by spatial displacements and
shifts in velocity. Such states tend to endure as organized oscillating
states, rather than quickly dissolving into chaotic disorder.
I call by the name ‘template for action’ a macroscopic brain state
that will, if held in place for an extended period, tend to produce some
particular action. Trial and error learning, extended over the evolutionary
development of the species and over the life of the individual agent,
should have the effect of bringing into the agent’s repertoire of intentional
process 1 actions the ‘Yes–No’ partitions such that the ‘Yes’
response will, if held in place for an extended period, tend to generate
an associated recognizable feedback corresponding to the successful
achievement of the intent. Successful living demands the generation
through effort-based learning of templates for action.
My earlier discussion of the quantum indeterminacies that enter
brain dynamics in association with the entry of calcium ions into the
nerve terminals was given in order to justify the claim that the brain
must be treated as a quantum system. However, the fact that quantum
indeterminacies enter brain dynamics at the microscopic/ionic
level does not mean that the process 1 interventions that are needed
to link the evolving state of a person’s brain to his or her conscious
experiences must act microscopically. According to von Neumann’s
formulas, each process 1 intervention is specified by a set of nonlocal
projection operators. This means that the effect of a process 1 action
on a person’s brain is generally macroscopic. Thus the quantum indeterminacies
that enter brain dynamics at the microscopic/ionic level
propagate via the Schroedinger equation (process 2) up to the macroscopic
level where they produce a smear of potentialities that needs to
be reduced to a form compatible with the occurrence of a conscious
thought, if that thought is to enter a stream of consciousness. This dynamics
expresses the core idea of the quantum theory of observation,
which is that the reduction events are associated with increments in
knowledge, and correspondingly reduce the physical state to the part
of itself that is compatible with the knowledge entering a stream consciousness.
On the other hand, the only freedom provided by the quantum
rules is the freedom to select the next process 1 action, and the instant
at which it is applied. Thus a person’s ‘free choice’ of what he or she
intends to do can certainly enter the brain dynamics at the macroscopic
level , but only as a process 1 action. This is where the ‘latitude’ offered
by the quantum formalism, and associated with the ‘free choice’ of the
experimenter emphasized by Bohr, enters the dynamics. This process
1 action can in fact be one whose ‘Yes’ alternative selects the set of
brain states such that the template for the intended action is active.
But this ‘free choice’ merely sets the stage for the entry of the statistical
choice between the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ alternatives whose relative statistical
weights are specified by the quantum rules.

Source : "Mindful Universe and Quantum Mechanics " By Henry P.Stapp
 

Offline DonQuichotte

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1763
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1577 on: 04/01/2014 17:48:57 »
Folks :
Try to read the above , even though they are lengthy excerpts : it's worth it though :
You are still looking at the universe through the fundamentally incorrect classical physics , and hence you have been believing in the false causally closed universe classical assumption  , not to mention the fact that most non-physicists scientists ,especially neuroscientists and biologists such as our dlorde   here , have been thinking and behaving as if QM do not exist .
The Copenhagen interpretation itself is in fact subjective , in the sense that it is observer or consciousness-dependent , which also means that we only get  our own expected interpretations of the objective reality out there , through our own a -priori held beliefs : we also design experiments as to fit what we expect to find ...
Quantum theory thus depends largely on the intrinsic interventions of our minds ...
 

Offline DonQuichotte

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1763
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1578 on: 04/01/2014 17:58:28 »
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?

Try to read the above , dlorde : highly interesting fascinating stuff really : you can't argue with that , that might change your classical views :
Biology neurobiology and modern physics have been moving in totally different directions : the formers have been becoming more and more mechanical materialist , while QM have been dualist :  the QM's quest at the level of the fundamental components of matter has been discovering  the mind -body interaction at the quantum level,paradoxically enough  .
See in those above displayed excerpts how Von Neumann ,for example , could not explain the problem of measurements in QM but through the factual  intervention of somet non-physical process outside of the laws of physics : the mind ,and much more .
 

Offline cheryl j

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1460
  • Thanked: 1 times
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1579 on: 04/01/2014 18:01:31 »

 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 dividing line in process one might be arbitrary, but I don't see how it is meaningless or not arguable. In fact, this is what I don't get - von Neumann incorporated consciousness into his model, and therefore it's no longer a big issue,  but then Stapp seems to turn around and exempt the conscious agency from all physical laws, in a sense taking it back out of the whole system, but at the same time using Von Neumann's position as proof that consciousness matters.

I may be hopelessly confused, but at least I make some attempt to understand this stuff myself, instead of just letting my physicist beat up your physicist.
 

Offline DonQuichotte

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1763
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1580 on: 04/01/2014 18:07:54 »


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.

...stored   somewhere ? Why per se then ? : you cannot but think in a materialistic spacial way , i see : see the above displayed highly fascinating excerpts .
I do think now that the universe , including ourselves thus , is not made of any substance , but is rather 'made " of actions, deeds , possibilities , potentialities , events ..waiting to happen : we do choose from that probability distribution from all those wide ranges of potentialities : the collapse of the wave function through the mind does actualize our specific choice of the moment .

Our consciousness cannot thus but intervene in our own experiences and experiments , views of the world .
 

Offline DonQuichotte

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1763
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1581 on: 04/01/2014 18:19:01 »

 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 dividing line in process one might be arbitrary, but I don't see how it is meaningless or not arguable. In fact, this is what I don't get - von Neumann incorporated consciousness into his model, and therefore it's no longer a big issue,  but then Stapp seems to turn around and exempt the conscious agency from all physical laws, in a sense taking it back out of the whole system, but at the same time using Von Neumann's position as proof that consciousness matters.

I may be hopelessly confused, but at least I make some attempt to understand this stuff myself, instead of just letting my physicist beat up your physicist.

If you try to read the rest of that , you will notice that Von Neumann could not ,mathematically in his monumental book on the subject , explain the measurements problem in QM but through the intervention of a non-physical process outside of the laws of physics = he could not logically think of anythingelse in that regard but the consciousness of the observer , logically and mathematically .

But you, guys , are still confined to the superseded mechanical approximately valid , but fundamentally incorrect classical physics ,as if Q Theory has never existed , the latter that has been revolutionizing our own conception of matter  and nature of reality ...
See above how neuroscientists have been commited to the classical physics ' fundamentally false and superseded mechanical view of the world in relation to the mind -body hard problem ...as if quantum theory does not exist ,the latter that's THE key to dealing empirically with the mind -brain interaction ,beyond Newton's determinist mechanical false causally closed universe notion ,and beyond his false classical conception of what matter is and of what the physical reality is ....

P.S.: QM have been proving also the fact that the collapse of the wave function through the intervention of the mind does not require energy , unlike what materialists think , thanks to their own materialism that was built on the fundamentally incorrect classical physics .
The ineviatble inescapable intervention of the mind in our own experiences, experiments , views of the world explains perfectly how materialists can be guilty of confirmation and other biases , also by designing experiments , as to fit their own a -priori held beliefs through their minds , by choosing what they expect to find from all those potentialities , possibilities , events ...out there .
« Last Edit: 04/01/2014 18:26:20 by DonQuichotte »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1763
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1582 on: 04/01/2014 18:35:55 »
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.

See Von Neumann's  mathematical ,empirical and logical arguments concerning the intervention of the mind at the quantum level ,here above ,in those excerpts i did display : see also what Heseinberg,Einstein, Bohr , Pauli  ...used to think of that as well   .
The 'stuff "  of which the universe is made might be no physical or other substance , but actions , potentialities , events ...........: see QM on the subject ,concerning its non-classical or anti-classical  conception of matter ,and concerning the mind -brain interaction at that level ...
 

Offline DonQuichotte

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1763
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1583 on: 04/01/2014 18:54:00 »
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.

I viewed most consciousness theories out there (The materialist ones are of course superseded outdated false and counter-intuitive , absurd ,not to mention unscientific = materialist magic in science ...needless to  add  ) : none is more reasonable and coherent ,clear ...logical , historically correct ,scientifically correct ...than those  of Stapp and Walker  : i do recommend strongly that you try to read those 2 books of Stapp at least  on the subject : extremely interesting fascinating really : i can provide you with some free download links concerning those books of his , if you want to :

I have not been incorporating any religious views in science , i have been just providing you , guys , with non-materialist views , especially those regarding QM and the role of consciousness in it ,as Von Neumann , Einstein, Heseinberg , Pauli ,Bohr and many others thought of the role of consciousness in QM .so.

I have been also saying that i do separate my own beliefs from science , beliefs which are ,per definition, unscientific = unfalsifiable ,as all beliefs are for that matter , including materialism thus .

It is   materialism in fact thus that should be ,and rightly so, accused of selling its own unscientific unfalsifiable beliefs as ...science , for so long now : QM have been breaking the spine of classical physics' materialism irreversibly thus ...

Instead of accusing me falsely , you should try to realise the fact that materialism as a belief = unfalsifiable = unscientific , has  been the one that has been not only pretending to be "scientific " by equating itself with science , but materialism has also been sold to the people as science ,so you are just projecting , dear materialist girl .
 

Offline DonQuichotte

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1763
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1584 on: 04/01/2014 19:02:37 »
dlorde , Ethos :

As some scientist or thinker said : " matter is not made of matter ",so to speak : see the revolutionary non-classical and anti-classical conception of matter and that of the physical reality which have been provided by ...QM :
We might be thus not made of any physical or other substance : the universe , including ourselves , might be just a "matter"  of probability distribution in the 'forms " of actions , potentialities , possibilities, events ....as some scientists modern physicists such as Stapp, Walker and others think the universe is .
Who knows ?
So, try to be up to date by realising the revolutionary character of QM in that and in other regards ,instead of sticking to your own absurd outdated false and superseded 19th century materialism that was built on the approximately valid and fundamentally incorrect classical physics ....
Good luck .
 

Offline DonQuichotte

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1763
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1585 on: 04/01/2014 19:18:12 »
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?

Von Neumann and others should have convinced you of the fact that consciousness or the mind are central in forming and shaping our own experiences , behavior, values , thoughts ,feelings , emotions ... expectations, interpretations of reality ...through our own a-priori held world views  ............as our own everyday lives do prove .
So, our own world views do shape our consciousness , and the latter does the rest  through the brain and body via physical actions ,including in science thus : all those views concerning the role or lack of it of consciousness are all a matter of their own respective world views and interpretations of reality .

Needless to say that consciousness has a central evolutionary efficient survival and other fundamental roles, evolution that cannot be exclusively biological  of course , otherwise it cannot account for consciousness itself , consciousness that's more fundamental than matter can ever be,logically ,and now empirically thanks to QM  : some materialists cannot but consider consciousness as just a useless by-product of evolution= an epiphenomena , paradoxically absurdly enough ,  according to their own absurd version of evolution that's just an extension of their own  false conception of nature , other materialists  just do equate consciousness  with brain activity,or just assume that consciousness is "produced " by brain activity , or that consciousness 'emerged " from just brain activity (QM do refute those absurd and unscientific materialist magical claims in science , needless to say )  ...thanks to their own a -priori held materialist absurd beliefs that have been shaping their own minds ,and hence their own experiments , experiences ,interpretations,behaviors  ...through their own expectations , confirmation and other biases :
QM do not only refute materialism , but they also explain why materialists scientists believe what they do, even in the very face of counter empirical logical and other evidence  ...

Love you , Stapp ...metaphorically relatively speaking.
« Last Edit: 04/01/2014 19:27:20 by DonQuichotte »
 

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 #1586 on: 04/01/2014 21:05:46 »
Try to read the above , dlorde : highly interesting fascinating stuff really : you can't argue with that , that might change your classical views
There's nothing new there. None of it addresses the criticisms of Stapp's consciousness hypothesis already posted here.

 

Offline DonQuichotte

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1763
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1587 on: 04/01/2014 21:36:23 »
Try to read the above , dlorde : highly interesting fascinating stuff really : you can't argue with that , that might change your classical views
There's nothing new there. None of it addresses the criticisms of Stapp's consciousness hypothesis already posted here.

Come on, be serious : have you read all those excerpts  already , i just posted  ? Impossible ,unless you do possess some sort of a sophisticated scanner  of some sort haha implanted  in your brain or rather mind .
Stapp talked about the history genesis and developement of mind-dependent quantum theory ,through  Von Neumann and beyond , and much more ...from the original Copenhagen interpretation , before after and beyond through Dennett's classical conservation of energy "argument " ....and much more ....

All that is addressed by Stapp's excerpts i just posted , and more .

Unless you would try to eliminate your false classical materialism from the 'equation ", you will not be able but to try to refute any non-materialist approaches on the subject,regardless of whether or not they might be correct  : Von Neumann had already explained why people such as yourself do stick to their own a-priori held beliefs that shape their minds and behavior ,ironically enough, in the very face of counter -evidence  .

P.S.: Biology, neurobiology microbiology  has been becoming more and more mechanical and materialist , unlike QM that have been moving in the opposite and totally different direction, no wonder thus that you , dlorde ,as a biologist ,  have been becoming more and more materialist mechanical, as if QM do not exist .
Way to go, scientist .
So, you need to grasp and incorporate QT into your materialist classical mechanical world view ,just to find out that they are ...incompatible , the former has been superseding and refuting the latter : congratulations and condolences .

I am already starting to weep for the death of materialism , simply because it has been reflecting the beauty of dualism , while i have never noticed or saw the supposed hypothetical beauty of Narcissus ( materialism or materialists  , in this case at least ) .
Bye, Narcissus .
« Last Edit: 04/01/2014 21:49:06 by DonQuichotte »
 

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 #1588 on: 04/01/2014 21:53:01 »
dlorde , Ethos :

As some scientist or thinker said : " matter is not made of matter ",so to speak : see the revolutionary non-classical and anti-classical conception of matter and that of the physical reality which have been provided by ...QM :
We might be thus not made of any physical or other substance : the universe , including ourselves , might be just a "matter"  of probability distribution in the 'forms " of actions , potentialities , possibilities, events ....as some scientists modern physicists such as Stapp, Walker and others think the universe is .
Who knows ?
So, try to be up to date by realising the revolutionary character of QM in that and in other regards ,instead of sticking to your own absurd outdated false and superseded 19th century materialism that was built on the approximately valid and fundamentally incorrect classical physics ....
Good luck .
Lol! keep attacking that straw man - but don't forget that what seems new and exciting to you now is not necessarily new to everyone else ::)
 

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 #1589 on: 04/01/2014 22:35:58 »
Come on, be serious : have you read all those excerpts  already , i just posted  ? Impossible ,unless you do possess some sort of a sophisticated scanner  of some sort haha implanted  in your brain or rather mind .
A sophisticated scanner - like eyes? they can be quite effective for reading, and fast enough if you don't read aloud  ::)

Quote
Stapp talked about the history genesis and developement of mind-dependent quantum theory ,through  Von Neumann and beyond , and much more ...from the original Copenhagen interpretation , before after and beyond through Dennett's classical conservation of energy "argument " ....and much more ....

All that is addressed by Stapp's excerpts i just posted , and more .
Not much wrong with Stapp's physics history, although he understandably focuses on the QM interpretation that suits his purpose.

Where does he address any of Dawson's criticisms?

Quote
P.S.: Biology, neurobiology microbiology  has been becoming more and more mechanical and materialist , unlike QM that have been moving in the opposite and totally different direction, no wonder thus that you , dlorde ,as a biologist ,  have been becoming more and more materialist mechanical, as if QM do not exist .
Way to go, scientist .
You couldn't have got that more wrong ('not even wrong' as they say). QM is at the heart of the biochemistry that underlies biology, with a great deal of recent work and many new discoveries, like the unexpected use of quantum effects in the optimization of electron transfer in photosynthesis, and quantum coherence in the magnetoreception of robins; some people are calling it 'Quantum Biology' (though it's not a popular monicker).
Quote
So, you need to grasp and incorporate QT into your materialist classical mechanical world view ,just to find out that they are ...incompatible , the former has been superseding and refuting the latter : congratulations and condolences .
Lol! - BTDTGTTS years ago. QM is nearly 100 years old - You just posted its history - it's been the standard formulation for atomic physics since the late 1920s; it's been widely accepted and taught as mainstream physics for many years - it may be new and exciting to you, but you haven't just rediscovered it [:o)]

I'm beginning to think the Dunning-Kruger Effect is involved here  ;)
« Last Edit: 04/01/2014 23:17:03 by dlorde »
 

Offline alancalverd

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4723
  • Thanked: 155 times
  • life is too short to drink instant coffee
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1590 on: 05/01/2014 01:21:06 »
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?

Something of an understatement. It completely buggers the entire Zeno concept because Heisenberg won't allow predestination.
 

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 #1591 on: 05/01/2014 12:36:34 »
However plausible, or otherwise, Stapp's QM speculations, none of it would be necessary if he wasn't trying to support an incoherent model or definition of free will; and however he reaches the quantum superposition of states he wants free will to resolve, he's left with the unsustainable homunculus of free will, and a quantum version of Dennett's Cartesian Theatre.

With Don's facile version, if you start with an unsupportable a-priori assumption such as 'consciousness must be immaterial', you are quite likely to end up trying to deny contrary evidence (as we saw), and chasing less transparently obvious versions like Stapp's; but they are both built with the same flaw in their foundations, and both can be discarded as redundant simply by accepting a simpler interpretation of free will as the sense of agency accompanying a decision or action.

Don seems to have a religious underlay for his immaterial dogma, but I wonder what Stapp's excuse reason is?
 

Offline alancalverd

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4723
  • Thanked: 155 times
  • life is too short to drink instant coffee
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1592 on: 05/01/2014 15:46:06 »
So, try to be up to date by realising the revolutionary character of QM in that and in other regards ,instead of sticking to your own absurd outdated false and superseded 19th century materialism that was built on the approximately valid and fundamentally incorrect classical physics ....

Quantum theory has been around since 1877 and quantum mechanics has featured in the school physics syllabus since about 1920.

The "revolution" was no more than a realisation that a simple hypothesis explained a lot of observations and predicted a lot more. That is the essence of science. No heads rolled in the gutter, nobody was crucified, burned at the stake or subject to fatwah. All that happened was scientists around the world said "that makes sense, thank you, and it's worth a Nobel Prize".

Which is why science is good, philosophy bad. 
 

Offline Ethos_

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1277
  • Thanked: 14 times
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1593 on: 05/01/2014 16:01:17 »
All that happened was scientists around the world said "that makes sense, thank you, and it's worth a Nobel Prize".

Which is why science is good, philosophy bad.
Absolutely alan, and that's the reason why this thread is without significant value. Nothing but speculation and philosophy, making no honest attempt to follow the scientific method.
« Last Edit: 05/01/2014 17:07:13 by Ethos_ »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1763
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1594 on: 05/01/2014 17:06:06 »
How QM Have been refuting the mechanical materialist determinist classical world view :

"A Quantum Conception of Man "  By Henry P.Stapp :

Introduction :



Science has enlarged tremendously the potential of human life. By augmenting
our powers it has lightened the weight of tedious burdens, and opened
the way to a full flowering of man’s creative capacities. Yet, ironically, it is
the shallowness of a conception of man put forth in the name of science that
is the cause today of the growing economic, ecological, and moral problems
that block that full flowering.
How could a shallow conception of ourselves, a mere idea, be the cause
of such deep troubles? The answer is this: Our beliefs about ourselves in
relation to the world around us are the roots of our values, and our values
determine not only our immediate actions, but also, over the course of time,
the form of our society. Our beliefs are increasingly determined by science.
Hence it is at least conceivable that what science has been telling us for three
hundred years about man and his place in nature could be playing by now
an important role in our lives. Let us look at what actually happened.
The seventeenth century was time of momentous change in men’s ideas
about the world. During that period thinkers like Galileo, Descartes, and
Newton transformed theworld, as seen by educated men, from a place where
spirits and magic could flourish, to a world of machines: the entire universe
came to be viewed as a giant machine, running on automatic, with each of us
a tiny cog within it. The symbols of the age that followed were the factory,
the steam engine, the railroad, and the automobile. Later on, during our own
century, this mechanical age would become transformed in turn by thinkers
such as Heisenberg, Schr¨odinger, and Bohr into the quantum age, whose
symbols would be not roaring factories but giant transistorized computers,
silently bonding all parts of the planet, with men becoming not so much
bodily cogs in a giant machine as mental hubs in a burgeoning network of
ideas.
The seventeenth-century transition from the medieval to the mechanical
age was triggered by a seemingly miniscule change in a single idea: the
182 9 A Quantum Conception of Man
orbits of the planets were found to be neither circles, nor circles moving on
circles, but ellipses. This apparently trivial and recondite detail, discovered
by the scientist Johannes Kepler, through laborious analysis of a mass of
astronomical data, was the foundation upon which Isaac Newton built modern
science, and simultaneously discredited both centuries of philosophical
dogmas and the methods of thinking that produced them. Painstaking observation
of nature, and analysis of the empirical findings, came to be seen as a
truer source of knowledge than pure philosophical reflection. That kind of
reflection had led to the notion that, because circles are perfect figures, and
everything in the heavens must be perfect, all planets must move on circles,
or at least on circles compounded. But Newton’s laws decreed that the orbits
of planets were ellipses, not epicycles, and the entire empire of medieval
thought began to crumble. In its place rose another, based on Newton’s idea
of the world as machine. Later on, when this mechanical idea gave way in
turn to the quantum one, it was again a mass of esoteric data, analyzed to
reveal a totally unexpected structure in nature, that combined to overthrow
a conception of the world that had become by then an integral part of the
fabric of human life.
The focus of our interest here is on the relationship between the mental
and material parts of nature. Human beings have an intuitive feeling that
their bodies are moved by their thoughts. Thus it is natural for them to
imagine that thoughts of some similar kind inhabit heavenly bodies, rivers
and streams, and myriads of other moving things. However, the key step in
the development of modern science was precisely to banish all thoughtlike
things from the physical universe, or at least to limit severely their domain
of influence. In particular, Descartes, in the seventeenth century, divided all
nature into two parts, a realm of thoughts and a realm of material things,
and proposed that the motions of material things were completely unaffected
by thoughts throughout most of the universe. The only excepted regions,
where thoughts were allowed to affect matter, were small parts of human
brains called pineal glands: without this exception there would be no way
for human thoughts to influence human bodies. But outside these glands the
motions of all material things were supposed to be governed by mathematical
laws.
Carrying forward the idea of Descartes, Isaac Newton devised a set of
mathematical laws that appeared to describe correctly the motions of both
the heavenly bodies and everything on earth. These laws referred only to
material things, never to thoughts, and they were complete in the sense that,
once the motions of the material parts of the universe during primordial
times were fixed, these laws determined exactly the motions of atoms, and
all other material things, for the rest of eternity. Although Newton’s laws
9.1 Introduction 183
were expressed as rules governing the motions of atoms and other tiny bits
of matter, these laws were tested only for large objects, such as planets,
cannon balls, and billiard balls, never for atoms themselves.
According to Descartes’s original proposal the purely mechanical laws of
motion must fail to hold within our pineal glands, in order for our thoughts
to be able affect our bodily actions. However, orthodox scientists of the
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, tolerating no exceptions to the laws
of physics, held that each atom in a human body, or in any other place,
must follow the path fixed by the laws of physics. This rigid enforcement
of the physical laws entailed, of course, that men’s thoughts could have
no effects upon their actions: that each human body, being composed of
preprogrammed atoms, is an automaton whose every action was predetermined,
long before he was born, by purely mechanical considerations, with
no reference at all to thoughts or ideas.
This conclusion, that human beings are preprogrammed automata, may
sound absurd. It contradicts our deepest intuition about ourselves, namely
that we are free agents. However, science, by pointing to other situations
where intuition is faulty, or dead wrong, was able to maintain, on the basis
of its demonstrated practical success and logical consistency, that its view
of man was in fact the correct one, and that our feeling of freedom is a
complete illusion.
This picture of man led, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries,
to an associated moral system. It was based on the principle that each of us,
being nothing but a mechanical device, automatically pursues his calculated
self-interests, as measured by a certain bodily physical property, which is
experienced in the realm of thought as pleasure. This principle, whichwas in
line with the commercial temper of the times, was fundamentally hedonistic,
though, from the scientific viewpoint, realistic. However, philosophers were
able to elevate it to a more socially satisfactory idea by arguing that the
“enlightened” rational man must act to advance his own “enlightened” selfinterest:
he must act to advance the general welfare in order to advance, in
the end, his own welfare. Yet there remained in the end only one basic human
value: no noble, heroic, or altruistic aim could have any value in itself; its
value must be rooted in the common currency of personal pleasure. This
kind of morality may seem to be immoral but it appears to be the rational
outcome of accepting completely the mechanical or materialistic view of
man.
This view of man and morals did not go unchallenged. Earlier traditions
lost only slowly their grip on the minds of men, and romantic and idealistic
philosophies rose to challenge the bondage of the human spirit decreed by
science. From the ensuing welter of conflicting claims, each eloquently
184 9 A Quantum Conception of Man
defended, followed a moral relativism, where every moral viewpoint was
seen as based on arbitrary assumptions. This pernicious outcome was a
direct consequence of the schism between the mental and material aspects
of nature introduced by science. That cleavage, by precluding any fully
coherent conception of man in nature, made every possible view incomplete
in some respect, and hence vulnerable.
 

Offline DonQuichotte

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1763
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1595 on: 05/01/2014 17:07:48 »
 In the resulting moral vacuum the
lure of material benefits and the increasing authority of science combined to
insinuate the materialistic viewpoint ever more strongly into men’s thoughts.
This science-based creed contains, however, the seeds of its own destruction.
For behind a facade of social concern it preaches material selfaggrandizement.
We are now in the thralls of the logical denouement of
that preaching. With the accelerating disintegration of the established cultural
traditions, brought on by increased fluxes of peoples and ideas, the
demand for satisfaction of inflated material desires has spiraled out of control.
This has led to a plundering of future generations, both economically
and ecologically. We are now beginning to feel the yoke laid upon us by our
predecessors, yet are shifting still heavier burdens onto our own successors.
This materialist binge cannot be sustained. Yet the doctrine of enlightened
self-interest has no rational way to cope with the problem, as long as each
human “self” continues to be perceived as a mere bundle of flesh and bones.
For if we accept a strictly materialistic way of thinking, then our own pleasure
can be enhanced by ignoring calamities that we ourselves will never
face.
Men are not base creatures: all history shows them to be capable of
elevated deeds. But elevated deeds and aspirations spring from elevated
ideas, and today all ideas, if they are long to survive, must stand up to withering
scrutiny. They must in the end be rationally coherent, and consistent
with the empirical evidence gathered by science. The mechanical ideas of
seventeenth-century science provided no rational or intellectual foundation
for any elevated conception of man. Yet the ideas of twentieth-century science
do. Quantum theory leads naturally to a rationally coherent conception
of the whole of man in nature. It is profoundly different from the sundered
mechanical picture offered by classical physics. Like any really new idea
this quantum conception of man has many roots. It involves deep questions:
What is consciousness? What is choice? What is chance? What can science
tell us about the role of these things in nature? How does science itself allow
us to transcend Newton’s legacy? It is to these questions that we now turn.
9.2 Science, Tradition, and Values 185
9.2 Science, Tradition, and Values
This is the third UNESCO Forum for Science and Culture. Our focus
throughout the series has been on the interplay of science, tradition, and
values in mankind’s search for a sustainable future. At the first forum, held
inVenice in 1986, the specter of nuclear annihilation loomed as the principal
perceived threat to human survival. By the time of the second forum, in
Vancouver in 1989, it was the impending disruption of global ecological
balances that seemed most critical. Today, in 1992, the nuclear threat may
have receded. But the ecological crisis seems to be worsening, and we are
faced with problems of socioeconomic collapse: in the former Soviet Union
and eastern Europe one of the world’s two premier socioeconomic systems
has already collapsed, and in the West and the Third World pressures of
ethnic rivalries and economic malaise are tending to make many formerly
prosperous and stable countries increasingly ungovernable.
Science has been perceived as the major cause of these problems. It gave
man the capacity to ignite a nuclear holocaust, to disrupt the ecosystem on a
global scale, and to effect swift, massive and untested social and economic
changes. At a deeper level of causation, science has revised man’s basic idea
of himself in relation to nature. In traditional cultures nature was perceived
as a mysterious provider, to be revered and deified. But Francis Bacon,
herald of science, proclaimed a new gospel for the age of science: man,
abetted by science, was to achieve the conquest of nature.
At an even deeper level of causation the Cartesian separation between the
minds of men and the rest of nature, which was the key to the seventeenthcentury
scientific revolution, eroded the foundations of moral thought, and
left man adrift with no rationally coherent image of himself within nature.
He proclaimed himself to be, on the one hand, ruler of nature, yet was, on
the other hand, according to the very scientific theories that were to give
him dominion, a mere mechanical cog in a giant mindless machine. He
was stripped of responsibility for his acts, since each human action was
preordained prior to the birth of species, and was reduced to an isolated
automaton struggling for survival in a meaningless universe.
In the face of these science-induced difficulties one must ask: Whoneeds
science? What we obviously need is strong remedial action—a curtailing
of science-inflated population growth, consumption, waste, and poverty.
But howcan the required global actions be brought about? Direwarnings
have minimal effects on populations inured to media hype. An immediate
disaster at one’s doorstep might suffice, but by then full global recovery may
be out of reach.
186 9 A Quantum Conception of Man
To change human actions globally one must change human beliefs globally.
Global beliefs, to the extent they they exist at all, are the beliefs generated
by science. However, some of the most important science-generated
beliefs that now pervade the world are beliefs that arose from science during
the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and are now outdated.
Twentieth-century science has wrought immense changes in precisely those
beliefs that have in large measure created our present problems.
9.3 Science and a New Vision of Nature
Twentieth-century science yields a conception of nature that is profoundly
different from the picture provided by the seventeenth century science of
Newton, Galileo, and Descartes. Three changes are particularly important.
The first great twentieth-century change is the dethronement of determinism.
Determinism is the idea that each stage of the coming into being
of the physical universe is completely controlled by what has already come
into being. A failure of determinism means that what is happening, or
coming into being, at certain stages of the evolutionary process is not completely
fixed by what has come before. Those aspects of the evolutionary
process that are not completely fixed by prior developments can be called
“choices” or “decisions”. They are in some sense “free”, because they are
not completely fixed by what has come before.
The second great twentieth-century change is in science’s idea of the
nature of “matter”, or of the “material universe”, which I take to be that
part of nature that is completely controlled by mathematical laws analogous
to the laws of classical physics. The material universe can no longer be
conceived to consist simply of tiny objects similar to small billiard balls,
or even things essentially like the electric and magnetic fields of classical
physics. Opinions of physicists differ on how best to understand what lies
behind the phenomena described so accurately by quantum theory. But the
idea most widely accepted by quantum physicists is, I believe, the one of
Heisenberg. According to this idea the “material universe” consists of none
of the things of classical physics. It consists rather of “objective tendencies”,
or “potentialities”. These tendencies are tendencies for the occurrence of
“quantum events”. It is these quantum events that are considered to be
the actual things in nature, even though the potentialities are also real in
some sense. Each actual event creates a new global pattern of potentialities.
Thus the basic process of nature is no longer conceived to be simply a
uniform mathematically determined gradual evolution. Rather it consists
of an alternating sequence of two very different kinds of processes. The
9.4 Science and a New Vision of Man 187
first phase is a mathematically controlled evolution of the potentialities for
the next quantum event. This first phase is deterministic, and the laws that
control it are closely analogous to the laws of classical physics. The next
phase is a quantum event. This event is not, in general, strictly controlled
by any known physical law, although collections of events exhibit statistical
regularities. Thus each individual quantum event creates a new world of
potentialities, which then evolves in accordance with certain deterministic
mathematical laws. These potentialities define the “tendencies” for the next
event, and so on. Each quantum event, because it is not fixed by anything in
the physicist’s description of prior nature represents a “choice”. The critical
fact is that each such choice can actualize a macroscopic integrated pattern
of activity in the newly created material universe of potentialities.
The third great twentieth-century change in science is the recognition
of a profound wholeness in nature, of a fundamental inseparability and
entanglement of those aspects of nature that have formerly been conceived
to be separate. The apparent separateness of ordinary physical objects turns
out, in this view of nature, to be a statistical effect that emerges from the
multiple actions of many quantum events. It is only at the level of the
individual events that the underlying wholeness reveals itself.
9.4 Science and a New Vision of Man
The most important consequence of this altered vision of nature is the
place it provides for human minds. Consciousness is no longer forced
to be an impotent spectator to a mechanically determined flow of physical
events. Conscious events can be naturally identified with certain special
kinds of quantum events, namely quantum events that create large-scale
integrated patterns of neuronal activity in human brains. These events represent
“choices” that are not strictly controlled by any known physical laws.
Each such event in the brain influences the course of subsequent events in
the brain, body, and environment through the mechanical propagation of the
potentialities created by that event.
This revised idea of man in relation to nature has profound moral implications.
In the first place, it shows that the pernicious mechanical idea of
man and nature that arose from seventeenth-century science was dependent
upon assumptions that no longer rule science.
Contemporary science certainly allows human consciousness to exercise
effective top-down control over human brain processes. Hence the idea
that man is not responsible for his acts has no longer any basis in science.
Moreover, the separateness of man within nature that had formerly seemed to
188 9 A Quantum Conception of Man
be entailed by science is now reversed. The image of man described above
places human consciousness in the inner workings of a nonlocal global
process that links the whole universe together in a manner totally foreign
to both classical physics and the observations of everyday life. If the world
indeed operates in the way suggested by Heisenberg’s ontology then we are
all integrally connected into some not-yet-fully-understood global process
that is actively creating the form of the universe.
The strongest motives of men arise from their perception of themselves
in relation to the creative power of the universe. The religious wars of past
and recent history give ample evidence that men will gladly sacrifice every
material thing, and even their lives, in the name of their convictions on these
issues. Thus the quantum-mechanical conception of man described above,
infused into the global consciousness, has the capacity to strongly affect
men’s actions on a global scale.
Science recognizes no authority whose ex cathedra pronouncements can
be claimed to express a divine will. Nevertheless, this new conception of
the universe emphasizes an intricate and profound global wholeness and it
gives man’s consciousness a creative, dynamical, and integrating role in the
intrinsically global process that forms the world around us. This conception
of man’s place in nature represents a tremendous shift from the idea of man
as either conqueror of a mindless nature, or as a helpless piece of protoplasm
struggling for survival in a meaningless universe. Just this conceptual shift
alone, moving the minds of billions of people empowered by the physical
capacities supplied by science, would be a force of tremendous magnitude.
Implicit in this conceptual shift in man’s perception of his relationship to the
rest of nature is the foundation of a new ethics, one that would conceive the
“self” of self-interest very broadly, in away thatwould include in appropriate
measure all life on our planet.
 

Offline DonQuichotte

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1763
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1596 on: 05/01/2014 17:09:24 »
Discussion:


 
Varela: How does your picture account for the many levels of structure in
brain processing that lie between the quantum events at the atomic level and
consciousness?
Stapp: In the first place the quantum events are not at the atomic level.
According to Heisenberg’s idea, the quantum events, that is the actual events,
occur only when the interaction between the quantum system and the measuring
device, “and hence the rest of the world”, comes into play. The actual
events that I am talking about occur at a macroscopic level: the whole Geiger

counter “fires”, or the whole pointer on the measuring device is actualized
as swinging to the left, rather than to the right. The quantum events select
from among the alternative possible cohesive macroscopic patterns of
activity. As for the many levels of processing in the brain, these are considered
to be mechanical brain processes: they are consequences of the
quantum-mechanical laws of motion, which determine the evolution of the
“propensities” for the various alternative possible quantum events. In most
other theories of the mind–brain connection there is no basis for a fundamental
ontological difference between brain processes that are consciously
experienced and those that are not. This is because their basic ontological
structure is monistic, rather than dualistic, as it is in quantum theory. Quantum
theory thus allows for a fundamental physical difference between brain
processes that are experienced and those that are not.
Varela: What empirical evidence is there that quantum theory is important
in brain processes that are directly connected to consciousness?
Stapp: Chemical processes are essential to brain operation, and hence a
quantum description is mandated. In fact, quantum mechanics is essential to
any understanding of the properties of materials, be they inorganic, organic,
or biological. Classical ideas do not suffice to explain properties of materials,
and properties of various materials play an essential role in the functioning
of the brain.
Varela: The microscopic atomic properties lead to macroscopic properties,
such as electric pulses along neurons, that can be described classically.
What empirical evidence is there that a classical description is inadequate
for describing those brain processes that are directly connected to conscious
process?
Stapp: The processes that can be described classically can also be described
quantum mechanically, and the latter description is fundamentally better because
it fits onto the lower-level chemical processes in a rationally coherent
way. Thus one can use a quantum description, and at least in principle,
should use a quantum description, because it is universal, or at least can be
universal: classical physics is known to be inadequate in some respects: it
is known to be nonuniversal.
The quantum description is not only required to explain the underlying
atomic and chemical processes, it is fundamentally richer also in the treatment
of macroscopic properties, as the theory of consciousness described
here shows.
As Quine has emphasized, theories are underdetermined by data. In
order to have any hope of achieving a reasonably unique understanding of
nature we must insist upon the unity of science, and strive for a coherent

understanding that covers the entire range of scientific knowledge. It is only
if science can give us a unified comprehension of nature that we can turn to
it with any confidence for an understanding of our place in nature.
McLaren: You say that a quantum jump selects one of the alternative possibilities,
and that this selection is not under the strict control of any known
lawof nature. And certain of these jumps control the course of brain activity.
My question is this: Are not these jumps arbitrary, and if so are we not back
in a random universe?
Stapp: These jumps are not strictly controlled by any known law of nature.
And contemporary quantum theory treats these events as random variables,
in the sense that only their statistical weights are specified by the theory:
the specific actual choice of whether this event or that event occurs is not
fixed by contemporary theory.
The fact that contemporary physical theory says nothing more than this
does not mean that science will always be so reticent. Many physicists of
today claim to believe that it is perfectly possible, and also satisfactory, for
there to be choices that simply come out of nowhere at all. I believe such
a possibility to be acceptable as an expression of our present state of scientific
knowledge, but that science should not rest complacently in that state:
it should strive to do better. And in this striving all branches of scientific
knowledge ought to be brought into play. There is currently in science a
movement toward fragmentation, reflecting the departmentalization of our
universities, whereby each discipline within science asserts its autonomy:
its right to stand alone as an independent field of study. I believe this movement
to be retrograde: that science can succeed in creating a unique plausible
picture of all of nature, including ourselves, only by accepting the scientifically
established results from all the fields and insisting on a rationally
coherent theoretical understanding of all scientifically acquired knowledge.
In this broader context the claim that the choice comes out of nowhere at
all should be regarded as an admission of contemporary ignorance, not as a
satisfactory final word.
Contemporary science certainly allows the choices to be other than
“purely random”. Indeed, in a model of the quantum world devised by
David Bohm these choices are deterministically controlled. The basic question,
however, is whether there is a rationally coherent possibility that is both
compatible with all scientifically acquired data, yet intermediate to these two
alternative possibilities of “pure chance” and “pure determinism”.
The philosopher A. N. Whitehead speaks of such an intermediate possibility,
which is closer to the intuitive idea that our choices are, in some
sense, self-determining: namely that they are conditioned by what has come
before, yet are not strictly determined by the past, but are nonetheless not
without sufficient reason. I think such a possibility is open, but to give this
logical possibility a nonspeculative foundation will require enlarging the
boundaries of scientific knowledge.
 

Offline alancalverd

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4723
  • Thanked: 155 times
  • life is too short to drink instant coffee
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1597 on: 05/01/2014 17:14:02 »
Crap.

Or, if you dislike four-letter words, philosophy.
« Last Edit: 05/01/2014 17:16:13 by alancalverd »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1763
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1598 on: 05/01/2014 17:16:00 »
For those who just want to know the summary of Stapp 's work , the following interview :


At the end of the summer of 2006 Harald Atmanspacher conducted an
interview of me that appeared in the September 2006 issue of J. Consciousness
Studies (Volume 13, No. 6). Professor Atmanspacher raised
many pertinent questions that had not been dealt with in my prior
writings, and have not been adequately covered in the foregoing parts
of this book. My answers added important details to my elaboration
of von Neumann’s work. Atmanspacher’s formulations of his questions
have been widely praised, and any attempt by me to re-structure the
content of the interview would be inappropriate. I shall therefore, with
his permission, and that of JCS, reproduce that interview here:
HA: You have been actively interested in the relationship between
mind and matter for almost half a century. Shortly after receiving
your PhD at Berkeley, you went to work with Wolfgang Pauli at the
ETH in Zurich, in 1958, the year Pauli died. During that period, you
told me, you drafted a manuscript entitled Mind, Matter and Quantum
Mechanics, which was never published. But its title reappeared in your
book of 1993. What stimulated your interest so early on in your career,
and what were your ideas at that time?
HPS: 1959 was indeed early in my career as a PhD, but more than
a dozen years into my concerns with these matters. Already in high
school I had become very interested in the wave–particle puzzle, and
my driving motive in becoming a physicist was really to solve that
mystery. Looking now at my 1959 essay I find it remarkably mature.
I had a solid grasp of the technical and philosophical aspects of the
situation. I find in it today nothing that I would emend or consider
naive or deficient. It is a well-reasoned and sober assessment of the situation,
and ends with the conclusion that quantum theory “primarily
is a synthesis of the idealistic and materialistic world views. To some
extent it also reconciles the monistic and pluralistic attitudes, provides
a natural understanding of creation, and permits a reconciliation of the
deterministic aspects of nature with the action of free will.” I now say
much more about these matters, but nothing contrary to what I said
then.
HA: Since a bit more than a decade, the problem of how to relate
consciousness to brain activity has been put back onto the agenda,
first in the philosophy of mind, notably due to the courageous efforts
of David Chalmers and others. This has led to an increased attention in
other fields as well, including cognitive neuroscience, complex systems
research, evolutionary biology, and others. However, I think it is fair
to say that the mainstream position in the sciences is still that mental
activity can be reduced to brain activity in the sense that the mind
will be completely understood once the brain is completely understood.
Yet there are counterarguments against this position, for instance the
famous qualia arguments. How do you think about them, and which
of these counterarguments appear to be most striking to you?
HPS: I believe that the arguments advanced in favor of the idea that
‘understanding the brain’ entails ‘understanding the mind’ are malformed
and irrational. What does ‘understanding the brain’ mean?
What does the word ‘brain’ mean as opposed to ‘mind’? The aimedat,
and completely reasonable, meaning in this context of the phrase
‘understanding the brain’ is that this understanding should be basically
in terms of the laws and concepts of physics. If ‘understanding the
brain’ is not basically tied into understanding the brain in terms of the
laws and concepts of physics then the notions ‘mind’ and ‘brain’ are
nebulous and ill-defined, and no sharp conclusions can be reached. But
if the phrase means understanding the brain in terms of the laws and
concepts of physics then the first question is: which physics, classical
or quantum?
The answer is clear! The classical laws are fundamentally incorrect
at the ionic level at which the basic dynamics occurs, hence one must
in principle use the quantum laws and concepts. There is no rational
controversy about whether or not quantum effects occur in the brain
– of course they do! The crucial question is the extent to which the
quantum, as opposed to classical, precepts are essential for the dynamics
of the brain; and to what extent a classical approximation is valid
in a warm, wet, noisy brain?
To resolve these issues one must examine how well the possible
quantum effects can survive in an environment that is potentially lethal
to many of them. Careful analysis shows that one particular quantum
effect, the ‘quantum Zeno effect’ can survive, and indeed can play an
essential role in the causal relationship between a mind and its brain.
Of course, understanding any aspect of nature ‘completely’ may
very well entail understanding all of nature completely. But this does
not mean that understanding what physics alone can say about the
mind–brain system completely entails understanding the psychologically
described aspects completely. In fact, in the orthodox quantum
description neither of the two kinds of aspects is, by itself, dynamically
complete – rather, they complement each other. A specific problem is
that within contemporary quantum theory the physical description
does not by itself determine the occurrence or the character of certain
interventions that are needed to complete the dynamics. In actual scientific
practice the causal roots of these interventions are described in
psychological terms, e.g., in terms of the intentions of experimenters.
Thus, according to contemporary orthodox basic physical theory, but
contrary to many claims made in the philosophy of mind, the physical
domain is not causally closed. A causally open physical description
of the mind–brain obviously cannot completely account for the mind–
brain as a whole.
HA: In your articles you emphasize that your way to address the mind–
matter problem does not go beyond what you like to call ‘orthodox
quantum theory’. However, quantum physics in its usual understanding
excludes anything like mind, mental states, psyche, etc., even if
issues of observation and measurement are discussed. Obviously, most
experiments today are carried out in an entirely automatized way, so
conscious human observers are not at all needed to register a measured
outcome.
HPS: By ‘orthodox quantum theory’ I mean, specifically, versions of
quantum theory (such as the original pragmatic Copenhagen interpretation,
validated by actual scientific practice, and also von Neumann’s
extension of it) that explicitly recognize the fact that, prior to the appearance
of an experimental outcome, a particular experiment needs to
be set up. This ‘setting up’ partitions a continuum of quantum potentialities
into a finite set of discrete possibilities. A simple example of
such a partitioning is the placing of a detector of some particular size
and shape in some particular location. The distinction between the
firing and non-firing of this detector during some specified temporal
interval then induces a bifurcation of a continuous space of potentialities
into two subspaces, each correlated with a distinctive event, or
lack thereof.
Von Neumann referred to this essential physical act of partitioning
as ‘process 1’ and represented it in terms of projections onto different
subspaces. Quantum theory depends upon the injection of such process
1 interventions into the dynamical evolution of the state of the
system under study, which, except at the moments of these interventions,
is controlled by the Schroedinger equation (which von Neumann
called ‘process 2’). An adequate theory of nature must accommodate
physical process 1 actions even in situations in which no human agent
seems to be involved. These interventions into the physical dynamics
are perhaps the most radical innovation of quantum theory, vis-`a-vis
classical physics.
HA: If the formal structure of orthodox quantum theory remains unchanged
in your approach, this can only mean that it also remains
restricted to the material aspects of reality. This implies that, in order
to include the mental domain, you have to invoke truly substantial
additions to your framework of thinking, which are outside the realm
of established physics. For this purpose you must have an ontology
which (i) is consistent with our knowledge of (quantum) physics; (ii)
allows a plausible incorporation of the mental, and (iii) provides ideas
about how the two are related to each other – quite a program! How
would you briefly sketch such an ontology?
HPS: In the first place, the structure of orthodox quantum theory
allows us to make statistical predictions about correlations between
initially known experimental conditions and the knowledge gleaned
from their experienced outcomes. In Bohr’s words (Bohr 1963, p. 60):
“Strictly speaking, the mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics
and electrodynamics merely offers rules of calculation for deduction
of expectations about observations obtained under well-defined experimental
conditions specified by classical physical concepts.” In this
sense, quantum theory concerns directly (i) the creation and experiencing
of “well defined conditions specified by classical physical concepts”;
(ii) the experiencing of outcomes of these actions; and (iii) certain predictions
concerning relations among these two kinds of experiences. An
adequate conceptual framework must provide an understanding of our
role in the creation of conditions that will allow us to make quantum
predictions pertaining to our resulting experiences.
In short, already the orthodox version of quantum mechanics, unlike
classical mechanics, is not about a physical world detached from
experiences; detached from minds. It is about predictions of relationships
– entailed by a particular theoretical structure – between certain
specified kinds of experiences.
The natural ontology for quantum theory, and most particularly for
relativistic quantum field theory, has close similarities to key aspects
of Whitehead’s process ontology. Both are built around psychophysical
events and objective tendencies (Aristotelian ‘potentia’, according
to Heisenberg) for these events to occur. On Whitehead’s view, as
expressed in his Process and Reality (Whitehead 1978), reality is constituted
of ‘actual occasions’ or ‘actual entities’, each one of which is
associated with a unique extended region in spacetime, distinct from
and non-overlapping with all others. Actual occasions actualize what
was antecedently merely potential, but both the potential and the actual
are real in an ontological sense. A key feature of actual occasions
is that they are conceived as ‘becomings’ rather than ‘beings’ – they
are not substances such as Descartes’ res extensa and res cogitans, or
material and mental states: they are processes.
HA: So what you suggest is to start from the ontologically neutral
Copenhagen interpretation and supplement it with an ontology that
is different from all other ontological interpretations of quantum theory
that we know of. It combines Heisenberg’s ontology of potentia
with Whitehead’s process ontology. Let us first talk about Heisenberg’s
ideas, and how they go beyond the picture of a materially tangible reality.
HPS: In his Physics and Philosophy, Heisenberg (1958b, p. 50) asked:
“What happens ‘really’ in an atomic event?” He referred to events as
happenings: “Observation [. . . ] selects of all possible events the one
that has actually happened [. . . ]. Therefore, the transition from ‘possible’
to ‘actual’ takes place during the act of observation” (Heisenberg
1958b, p. 54).
Heisenberg’s ontology is about sudden events and about ‘objective
tendencies’ for such events to happen. The natural ontological
character of the ‘physical’ aspect of quantum theory, namely the part
described in terms of a wave function or quantum state, is that of a ‘potentia’
or ‘tendency’ for an event to happen. Tendencies for events to
happen are not substance-like: they are not static or persisting in time.
 

Offline DonQuichotte

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1763
    • View Profile
Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1599 on: 05/01/2014 17:16:56 »
When a detection event happens in one region, the objective tendency
for such an event to occur elsewhere changes abruptly. Such behavior
does not conform to the philosophical conception of a substance.
Thus, neither the event nor its tendency to happen are ontologically
substantive or self-sufficient: they are intrinsically connected to one another.
Descartes’ identification of two different ‘substances’ in reality is
neither helpful for nor concordant with quantum theory. However, the
conception of two differently described aspects of reality accords with
both the theoretical and the practical elements of quantum theory.
HA: Whitehead’s ontology is particularly radical insofar as it considers
process as primordial, not substance – substance as understood
in a philosophical sense. This is in contradistinction to all established
sciences and almost all mainstream philosophy. How do you see the
chances to establish a process ontology in the sciences?
HPS: Heisenberg never fully reconciled his ontological ideas with the
epistemological stance of the Copenhagen interpretation. Chapter 3 of
Physics and Philosophy (Heisenberg 1958b) is clearly an effort to bring
these two aspects together. But to bring them successfully together in
a rationally coherent and intellectually satisfying scheme requires one
to say something about how the particular event that actually occurs
comes to be selected.
Heisenberg did not address this issue, but Whitehead’s account
aims to explain it. Whitehead’s fundamental process is the process
of combining the pre-existing psychologically and physically described
aspects of reality together to form a new psychophysical actual entity,
or actual occasion, that is identifiable as an actual event (`a la Heisenberg),
whose physical manifestation is represented by a von Neumann
process 1 action. I am merely proposing that Heisenberg’s incomplete
ontology be completed by accepting what I regard as Whitehead’s main
ideas. The aim of this approach is to understand how the psychological
and physical aspects of reality conspire to select the events that
actually occur. It allows the basically anthropocentric features of the
pragmatic epistemological Copenhagen interpretation to be embedded
within the general framework of a non-anthropocentric world process.
HA: So introducing Whitehead not only brings in process; it also, at the
same time, integrates the psychologically described and the physically
described aspects of reality into an overall processual dynamics.
HPS: Yes. And getting now to your question about the possibility of
infiltrating these ideas in science, I need to stress that the core idea
that the events in our streams of consciousness are two-way causally
linked to events in the physical world lies at the intuitive heart of our
daily dealings with reality. A theory that breaks this link is highly
counterintuitive, and is also difficult to really make sense of, either in
everyday life or in scientific practice.
School children during the mechanical age were readily able to accept
the idea that the solid appearance of a table was an illusion;
that the table was ‘actually’ mostly empty space, with tiny particles
whirling around inside. How much easier will it be for future scientists
growing up in the age of information, computers and flashing pixels
to accept the idea of a world made of events and of potentialities for
these events to occur?
My point here is that our most profound and deeply held intuition
is not about the nature of the external physical world. It is rather
that our human thoughts and efforts can make a difference in the
behavior of our bodies. Our entire lives are based squarely on this
perpetually re-validated intuition, as opposed to the proclamation of
some philosophers, that our direct awareness of the physical efficacy
of our thoughts is an illusion. The Heisenberg/Whitehead quantum
ontology is thus concordant with both our most basic intuitions and
with actual scientific practice. For this reason, I don’t see why it should
be difficult to shift science over to this improved way of conceptualizing
nature and our role in nature.
HA: Whitehead treats matter and mind in terms of physical and mental
poles of an actual occasion. This has the flavor of a dual-aspect
approach, for which a number of other examples exist, such as Pauli’s,
Bohm’s, Chalmers’, or Velmans’. How do they differ from Whitehead’s
thinking, and from your own?
HPS: Pauli, in his discussion with Bohr about the notion of a ‘detached
observer’, emphasized that the questions we pose cause nature
some ‘trouble’. The actions that instantiate these questions are the
logically needed process 1 partitionings described by von Neumann.
My work carries forward Pauli’s emphasis on this crucial point, but
I remain so far uninfected by his speculations about archetypes and
the like. Bohm’s approach to consciousness brings in an infinite tower
of explicate and implicate orders, each one ‘in-forming’ the one below
and ‘in-formed’ by the one above. This picture is altogether different
from the much more concrete Whiteadian quantum ontology. Chalmers
appears to be moving in the right direction, but I believe he lacks a
sufficiently firm grasp of quantum theory to be able to develop his
approach in a way that I think would be fruitful. Velmans proposes
an “ontological monism combined with an epistemological dualism” in
which the quantum-induced failure of causal closure at the microphysical
level is compensated for by a causal closure at the neurophysiological
level. However, our conscious experiences are ontological realities
in their own right, not mere epistemological bits of knowledge. So the
claim of ontological monism seems unnatural, and the possibility of
uncontrolled microscopic fluctuations exploding into uncontrolled neurophysiological
fluctuations makes problematic the claim of dynamical
completeness at the neurophysiological level.
But why go that route at all when quantum theory offers the possibility
of bona fide straightforward real influences of conscious efforts
upon physical brains, and consequently upon bodily behavior, without
any demand of a causal closure of the physical at any level? Why hang
onto one of the most controversial aspects of a materialist worldview,
namely the notion that the causal efficacy of our conscious efforts is
an illusion, when orthodox quantum theory seems to say just the opposite,
and moreover provides the technical means for implementing
the causal efficacy of our efforts?
HA: What about panpsychism, a key feature of both dual-aspect types
of approaches and Whitehead’s ontology? At which point in biological
evolution do you think that the psychological aspect, the mental pole
of actual occasions, becomes manifest? Or does it go all the way down
to elementary particles?
HPS: Reduction events cannot act microscopically on individual particles.
That would destroy the oft-observed interference effects. So we
do not have end-to-end ‘panpsychism’. Indeed, von Neumann’s analysis
of the measurement problem shows that it is nearly impossible
to establish, below the level of human involvement, any failure of the
unitary law (process 2) of purely physically determined evolution. The
need for actual occasions even at the human level derives only from
the philosophical commitment to accept as the foundation of objective
science the outcomes of experiments “regarding which we are able to
communicate to others what we have done and what we have learned”
(Bohr 1963, p. 3). At present, we lack the empirical evidence needed
to specify, on objective scientific grounds, the details of the embedding
non-anthropocentric ontology which Whitehead’s ideas demand. But
we are certainly not yet at the end of science.
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1599 on: 05/01/2014 17:16:56 »

 

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