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Author Topic: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?  (Read 63112 times)

alancalverd

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1600 on: 05/01/2014 17:18:16 »
More crap.

DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1601 on: 05/01/2014 17:19:08 »

HA: As to the physical pole of Whitehead’s actual occasions, you suggest
a drastic reinterpretation, or better a major extension, of von Neumann’s
account of quantum measurement (von Neumann 1955/1932,
Chaps. 5 and 6). While von Neumann discussed the physical aspects
of measurement only, you refer to Bohr’s and Heisenberg’s distinction
of (i) choices made by an observer (or experimenter) in terms of
questions that are posed to nature and (ii) choices made by nature in
order to answer those questions. The second aspect clearly refers to
physics and places us in the role of detached observers, i.e., as ‘impotent
witnesses’. However, the first aspect introduces intentional actions
by conscious human beings, at least if controlled experiments are discussed.
As such, it escapes a purely physical discussion and points to
the causal gap that you indicated above.
HPS: Von Neumann, the mathematician, described the purely physical
aspect of the probing action, whereas Bohr, as physicist–philosopher,
described the enveloping conceptual structure needed to tie the mathematical
formalism to the activities and the knowledge of human beings.
Bohr’s pragmatic epistemology rationally accommodates the process 1
partitioning that is not understandable from within the causal framework
provided by the mathematical formalism alone. This deficiency
in the purely physical description is the causal gap. Bohr’s pragmatic
epistemology, eschewing ontological commitments, fills this gap by referring
to the free choices of human beings. But Whiteheadian quantum
ontology accepts in reality what Bohr accepts only pragmatically,
namely the idea that our conscious intentions cause, at least in part,
our intentional actions. This can be achieved by regarding the quantum
reduction events to be the physical manifestations of the termination
of a psychophysical process. Bohr’s free choices are the psychological
correlate of such a process 1 action, and, conversely, von Neumann’s
process 1 actions are the physical correlates of these conscious choices.
The physical and psychological aspects of reality are thus tied together
in the notion of a quantum event.
Within orthodox thinking, the physical process 1 action results
from, as von Neumann’s words emphasize, an intervention from outside
the physically described domain. This process has, according to
contemporary quantum theory, no sufficient causal roots in the physical
alone. The experimenter’s ‘free choice’ participates in the selection
of the needed partition that physical processes alone are unable to
achieve. It is then the job of a satisfactory ontology to place these anthropocentric
elements of human effortful attention within a broader
non-anthropocentric conception of reality.
Ontological uniformity requires, plausibly, every such quantum
event to have some experiential or felt component. But it does not
require every actual occasion to have the full richness of a fully developed
‘high-grade’ human experience. The richness of the experience
would naturally be expected to be correlated with the complexity of
the physical system upon which von Neumann’s process 1 acts.
HA: The correlation between physical state reduction (via projection)
and mental subjective experience is posited as an assumption in your
ontology, but it certainly does not follow from quantum theory! It is
very much analogous to von Neumann’s assumption of a psychophysical
parallelism of brain and mind. Although von Neumann sometimes
alludes to the mind (‘abstract ego’), he actually refers to the brain in
his discussion of quantum measurement.
HPS: Von Neumann focused on the mathematics, and avoided getting
overly enmeshed in philosophical issues of interpreting quantum
theory. But Heisenberg, speaking from the pragmatic epistemological
perspective, said: “The observation itself changes the probability function
discontinuously; it selects of all possible events the actual one that
has taken place” (Heisenberg 1958b, p. 54). Thus, Heisenberg tied the
mathematically described reduction events to the process of ‘observation’.
In order to have a useful scientific theory one needs to link the mathematics
to the perceptual aspects of our experience. The mathematical
structure of quantum theory is such that the classical materialist accounts
of the physical aspects of nature simply do not work. To achieve
a conceptualization that ties the new mathematics to actual empirical
scientific practice, in a rationally coherent and practically useful
way, the founders of quantum theory switched to a conceptualization
of the physical world based upon empirical events, such as the click of
a Geiger counter, and upon potentialities for such events to occur. The
mathematics thereby becomes linked to empirical phenomena within
the theory itself.
HA: The notion of an interaction between mind and matter, as in your
recent paper (Stapp 2005) on ‘interactive dualism’, may be somewhat
misleading. It seems to me that things are much more subtle than
a straightforward interaction between the mental and the physical
(which one might naively interpret as basically similar to a collision of
billiard balls). The proposal by Eccles, whose physical features were
worked out by Beck, has this overly simplistic appeal because some
‘mental force’ is assumed to act directly on synaptic, i.e. material,
transport processes. Your picture is definitely much more subtle: the
requirement that physical and mental outcomes of an actual occasion
must match, i.e., be correlated, acts as a constraint on the way in which
these outcomes are formed within the actual occasion. So the notion
of an interaction should be replaced by the notion of a constraint set
by mind–matter correlations.
HPS: It would indeed be misleading to understand the ‘action of mind
upon brain’ directly via a ‘force’. The effect is associated with a modulation
of the frequency of certain process 1 actions that act directly
upon large-scale (brain-sized) patterns of neurological activity. This
modulation of frequencies is achieved, strictly within the pragmatic
framework (that is, without any of Whitehead’s ontological superstructure)
by exploiting certain human ‘free choices’ that are allowed within
that pragmatic framework. This language suggests that the conscious
act is the cause, and the correlated physical process 1 action is the effect.
This interpretation ties the theory most naturally and directly to
actual scientific practice. In actual practice the experimenter chooses
on the basis of reasons and goals which of the experimental options will
be pursued, within the array of possibilities that the structure of the
physical theory provides. Bohr (1958, p. 73) spoke, accordingly, of “the
free choice of experimental arrangement for which the mathematical
structure of the quantum mechanical formalism offers the appropriate
latitude”. We are dealing here with the sophisticated way in which
mental intention influences quantum processes in the brain. Ideas do
not simply push classically conceived particles around!
HA: A major point in your ontological framework is that physical state
reduction and mental subjective experience jointly constitute the transition
from the continuous and the potential to the discrete and the
actual. Another significant issue is the contrast between instantaneous
projections, which von Neumann introduced as an idealization that he
characterized as ‘not enjoyable’, versus an objective dynamical process
of measurement that takes time, as advocated by a number of physicists.
For instance, Penrose strongly argues that way in his speculations
about mind and matter. Of course, this would require an individual
rather than a statistical description of quantum measurement, of which
no broadly accepted version is available so far.
HPS: The mathematical neatness of instantaneous (along a spacelike
surface) reduction makes it the better option, technically and mathematically,
and I see no reason to complicate the dynamics by smearing
out in time the reduction events. Indeed, to do so would confuse everything,
since the smearing would not be strictly confined, and hence
process 2 would never hold rigorously.
The fact that we experience process as involving duration is adequately
explained by James’ ‘marching band’ metaphor. Each instantaneous
‘snap shot’ corresponding to a single experience would catch
the components of brain activity correlated with the various stages
from just beginning to be experienced, to full blown vivid consciousness,
to fading out. This structure creates the impression that the
experience has duration, although it is really instantaneous – or confined
to a spacelike surface, when mapped into real spacetime (Stapp
1993/2004, Sect. 6.6).
HA: For details of what happens at the mental pole of an actual occasion,
the notions of attention and intention according to William
James in combination with your concept of a ‘template for action’ figure
prominently in your work, e.g., in Stapp (1999) and in Schwartz,
Stapp, and Beauregard (2005). Could you outline how these terms are
related to one another?
HPS: A template for action is defined to be a macroscopic (extending
over a large portion of the brain) pattern of neurological activity that,
if held in place for a sufficiently long period, will tend to produce a
brain activity that will tend to produce an intended experienced feedback.
This pattern of brain activity is the neural correlate (specified
by a process 1 action) of a conscious effort to act in an intended way.
William James (1892, p. 227) says that “no object can catch our attention
except by the neural machinery. But the amount of attention that
an object receives after it has caught our attention is another matter.
It often takes effort to keep mind upon it. We feel we can make more
or less of the effort as we choose. [. . . ] This feeling [. . . ] will deepen
and prolong the stay in consciousness of innumerable ideas which else
would fade away more quickly.”
Effort is a particular feature of consciousness that we feel we can
control, and that has the effect of intensifying experience. Hence it is
reasonable to suppose that increasing effort increases the rate at which
conscious events are occurring. If the rate becomes sufficiently great
then the quantum Zeno effect will, according to the quantum laws,
kick in, and the repetitious interventions of the probing actions will
tend to hold in place the template for action. That effect will, in turn,
tend to make the intended action occur. By virtue of this dynamically
explained causal effect of willful conscious effort upon brain activity,
trial-and-error learning should hone the correlation between the consciously
experienced intention and an associated template for action
that produces, via the physical laws, the intended feedback. This explains
dynamically the capacity of an effortful intention to bring about
its intended consequence.
HA: From a psychological point of view, one might distinguish a series
of steps: from a mental state with a particular intensity of attention
to the shift of that attention and finally to an intention to make a
decision, which is correlated with a neural template for action. This
template precedes the action – it is not already the action itself. Are
there empirically accessible psychological observables for these different
steps?
HPS: Actions include brain actions that control or guide other brain
actions. The theory says that each of the different experienced stages
should occur in conjunction with a different template for action. For
instance, the actualization of one early template could tend to set
in motion a multi-component sequence leading from neural activity
somewhere in the cortex to activity in the motor cortex to muscular
activity.

DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1602 on: 05/01/2014 17:19:54 »

HA: Concerning the neural correlates of such psychological states and
observables, we need the notion of a neural assembly. If you assume
that such neural assemblies are subject to a quantum Zeno effect,
this requires that they be in an unstable state, such as a quantum
superposition, or an entangled state. How do you think this condition
can be realized for an assembly of thousands of neurons?
HPS: Environmental decoherence effects will reduce the entire brain
state in question (represented by a reduced density matrix) to a statistical
mixture of states each of which is essentially a slightly smeared
out classically conceived possible state of the entire brain. This decomposition
of the state of the brain into a mixture of almost-classical
states is very useful in connection with this theory. It allows neuroscientists
to quite accurately conceive of the brain as a collection of
almost-classical possibilities that continually diffuse into more diversified
collections, but that are occasionally trimmed back, in association
with a conscious experience, to the subcollection compatible with that
experience. These processes all involve, or can involve, assemblies of
thousands or millions of neurons.
HA: What do you mean by “slightly smeared out” and “almostclassical”?
If you have some remaining quantum features in the brain
state – which you need for the quantum Zeno effect to act – you must
assume that the brain state was a quantum state to begin with. How
is such a state constituted, or prepared? Or do you assume that every
system is fundamentally a quantum system which, under the influence
of its environment, decoheres more or less rapidly into classical
subsystems?
HPS: By “slightly smeared out” and “almost-classical” I mean what
you would get from a classically conceived state if you replaced each
point particle by a very tiny continuous cloud of possibilities. Each
physical system – including a brain or a template for action – inherits
quantum features from the quantum state of the universe as a whole.
In the case of a brain, decoherence mechanisms are acting strongly at
all times, and they never allow its state to be anything other than a
mixture of almost-classical (i.e., slightly smeared out) states. Hence
the classical intuitions of neuroscience about the brain are generally
valid, except for two things. Firstly, at almost every instant the cloud
of possibilities is growing and diffusing into a wider set of possibili
ties which, however, every once in a while (at a reduction event) gets
reduced to a subset. Secondly, the diffusing action can be curtailed
by the quantum Zeno effect which arises from the small, but nonzero,
quantum smearing of each one of the almost-classical components.
In this way, the brain is described strictly quantum mechanically,
yet it can be understood to be very similar to a classical statistical
ensemble. Importantly, the relevance of the quantum aspects for
consciousness is not due to some macroscopic quantum superposition
effect, which would be extremely hard to realize. The pertinent nonclassical
feature is the occasional occurrence of a sudden reduction of
the ensemble to a sub-ensemble that is compatible with the content of
a co-occurring conscious experience.
The occurrences of such reductions are logically possible because
the state of the brain represents not an evolving material substance
but rather an evolving set of potentialities for a psychophysical event
to occur. The occurrences of such reductions are logically necessary because
the expanding ensemble of almost classical states is a continuous
structure that must be decomposed into a collection of discrete alternatives,
each associated with a distinct kind of experience. It is only
by means of this partitioning that the theory is tied securely to human
experiences, and to the empirically validated rules of quantum theory.
The smear of almost-classical possibilities must be partitioned, prior
to each experience, into a specified collection of components at least
one of which corresponds to a distinctive experience, or lack thereof.
HA: As you said before, brain states or templates for action cannot be
Zeno-stabilized simply by the direct action of something like a mental
force – this would lead to the same basic problem that Eccles has with
his proposal for a direct mental influence on synaptic processes. So
what do you concretely assume at the neural level that is capable of
exerting a quantum Zeno effect upon the template for action?
HPS: As an example, let us suppose that the occurring process 1 action
partitions the state of the brain into two parts. One of them, the
‘Yes’ part, is the neural correlate of the mental intent to, say, ‘raise the
arm’. This neural correlate is a template for action. The immediately
felt psychological effect of an increased intentional effort is an intensified
experience of the projected intended feedback. These projected
experiences are constructed from the memories of earlier experiences,
as discussed in Stapp (1993, Sect. 6).
Now the timings of the process 1 actions are an aspect of the ‘free
choice’ on the part of the human observer. It is therefore plausible
to conjecture that the effort-induced increase in the intensity of the
projected intended experience is caused by an increase in the observercontrolled
rate at which the associated process 1 actions are occurring.
If the essentially identical process 1 actions occur in sufficiently rapid
succession, then the associated neural correlate (i.e., the template for
action) will be held in place by the quantum Zeno effect. The resulting
persistent neural pattern of activity will then tend to cause the
intended action to occur. The effect of the effort-induced increase in
the rate of the process 1 probing actions is thus to hold in place the
entire macroscopic template for action. The dynamical effect, via the
neural machinery, of this holding in place is the likely occurrence of
the intended action.
This scenario differs in two important ways from the proposal by
Beck and Eccles. First, the action does not take place at the synaptic,
i.e., microscopic, level: the effect is directly upon the entire template
for action, specified by von Neumann’s process 1 action. And, in answer
to your question about ‘mental force’, there is no action of any
forces, mental or otherwise, upon the parts of a material substrate: no
pushing around of the atoms in a way that produces, in some totally
miraculous and unaccountable way, the action that the person has in
mind. No! The effect of the effort is on an entire macroscopic neural
pattern of brain activity. This pattern has been singled out by von
Neumann’s process 1 action and is held in place by the quantum Zeno
effect. By coupling von Neumann’s dynamical rules to learning, one
can rationally account for the observed – and essential for human life
and survival – correspondence between experienced intent and experienced
feedback.
HA: After all, this amounts to an overall theoretical picture that offers
a strong sense of formal and conceptual coherence and is intuitively
appealing in a number of respects, but also confronts us with a remarkable
degree of complexity. What do you think: Is there any chance
that empirical work can confirm or falsify particular features of your
approach?
HPS: First of all, it is evidently forever impossible to falsify, by empirical
data alone, the opposing blatant assertion that the apparent
causal efficacy of our conscious efforts is an illusion. It is impossible
to disprove empirically the physicalist contention that our conscious
experiences are merely causally irrelevant pyrotechnics that seem to
be influencing the course of bodily events, but are, in reality, merely
impotent by-products of causally self-sufficient neural activities. But
what rational argument could adequately justify such an outrageous
and completely unsupported claim? Like solipsism, such a claim cannot
be empirically falsified, but only rejected on the grounds of its lack
of reasonableness and utility.
During the nineteenth century, before the precepts of classical
physics had been shown to be fundamentally false, scientists and
philosophers had some sound reasons to conjecture that the physical
aspects of reality were causally closed. However, even then this
led to an unreasonableness noted by William James (1890, p. 138):
consciousness seems to be “an organ, superadded to the other organs
which maintain the animal in its struggle for existence; and the presumption
of course is that it helps him in some way in this struggle,
just as they do. But it cannot help him without being in some way efficacious
and influencing the course of his bodily history.” James went
on to examine the circumstances under which consciousness appears,
and ended up saying: “The conclusion that it is useful is, after all this,
quite justifiable. But if it is useful it must be so through its causal
efficaciousness, and the automaton-theory must succumb to commonsense”
(James 1890, p. 144).
That was James’s conclusion even at a time when classical physical
theory seemed irrefutable, and the thesis of brains as mechanical
automata was rationally supported by physics-based legs. Today, however,
classical physics has been superseded by a theory with causal
gaps that need to be filled in some way, and that can be filled by allowing
our efforts to do what they seem to be doing. Embedded in
an adequate ontology, quantum theory has the technical capacity to
explain how a person’s conscious efforts can influence his or her bodily
actions. Consequently, there is now no rational reason whatsoever to
reject William James’s persuasive argument.
Beyond these philosophical considerations one can reasonably claim
that the entire body of neuropsychological experimentation is confirmatory
of this theory. All the data, to the extent that they are precise
enough to say anything about the relationship between mind and
brain, are in line with this theory. A large number of particular empirical
findings in neuropsychology and in the psychology of attention
are discussed in Schwartz, Stapp, and Beauregard (2005).
HA: The current support for this novel picture, especially as far as
cognitive neuroscience is concerned, is merely qualitative though.
HPS: Well, there are plenty of ways to falsify the quantum model. It
demands close connections between the psychological and the physical
aspects of psychophysical events. This includes, in particular, the
putative attention-induced quantum Zeno effect of holding in place
the templates for intentional action. But there is evidently no way
to counter the claim that whatever connections are empirically found
are exactly what the it’s-all-an-illusion proponents could claim that
their theory allows. For that position has no theoretical foundation in
established physics, and hence no basis upon which to falsify it.
Many scientists and philosophers have forced themselves to accept
the rationally unsatisfactory and unsupported physicalist position in
the mistaken belief that this is what basic physical theory demands.
But the converse is true: contemporary physical theory demands certain
interventions into the physical! The associated causal gap in a
purely physically determined causation provides a natural opening to
an interactive but non-Cartesian dualism.
HA: Since your approach does emphatically refer to attention, intention
and, if I may use this term, ‘free will’, it must have ethical implications.
Would you say that proper ethical behavior can be facilitated or
even entailed by reflecting and realizing the ontological conditions of
a given situation? Or, conversely, is that ethical misbehavior a consequence
of lacking insight of appropriate ontological conditions? Might
a processually conceived quantum theory, comprehending both psychological
and physical aspects of nature, provide insights that could
underpin a science-based rational ethical theory?
HPS: Behavior, insofar as it concerns ethics, is guided by conscious
reflection and evaluation. It is not mere unreflective response. The
output of such reflections and evaluations depends, of course, on the
input, and the core of the effective input is the individual’s self-image
in relation to his or her conception of the situation in which he or
she is embedded. One’s weighting of the welfare of the whole, and
one’s sensitivity to the feelings of others will surely be enhanced when
the individual sees his or her own judgments and efforts as causally
effective – hence important – inputs into a cooperative effort to develop
the vast yet-to-be-fixed potentialities of a quantum universe that, as
Bohr emphasized, can be properly conceived only as an intricately
interconnected whole.
Such a comprehension of self stands in strong contrast to an image
of the self as a cog in a pre-ordained mechanical universe – a cog
that thinks of his or her strenuous efforts to choose rightly as making
no actual difference whatever in the course of physical events. Such
a degradation in self-image will undoubtedly be correlated with a debasement
in behavior. Conversely, what you call ethical misbehavior
would surely be diminished by a shift in self-image from mechanical
cog to quantum player.
HA: If this is extended beyond individual human beings, it must also
have implications for human societies and their ways to interact with
each other.
HPS: The proposition, foisted upon us by a materialism based on classical
physics – that we human beings are essentially mechanical automata,
with every least action and thought fixed from the birth of
the universe by microscopic clockwork-like mechanisms – has created
enormous difficulties for ethical theory. These difficulties lie like the
plague on Western culture, robbing its citizens of any rational basis
for self-esteem or self-respect, or esteem or respect for others. Quantum
physics, joined to a natural embedding ontology, brings our human
minds squarely into the dynamical workings of nature. With our physically
efficacious minds now integrated into the unfolding of uncharted
and yet-to-be-plumbed potentialities of an intricately interconnected
whole, the responsibility that accompanies the power to decide things
on the basis of one’s own thoughts, ideas, and judgments is laid upon
us. This leads naturally and correctly to a concomitant elevation in
the dignity of our persons and the meaningfulness of our lives. Ethical
theory is thereby supplied with a rationally coherent foundation that
an automaton account cannot match.
But beyond supplying a rational foundation for Western culture,
the rooting of ethics in science, with its universal character and appeal,
shifts values toward the ecumenical, and away from those aspects of
religions that are hostile to, and preach violence against, followers of
other faiths. Such a shift is sorely needed today.

DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1603 on: 05/01/2014 17:22:09 »
More crap.

You're on a science forum, remember , that's no way to reply , behave ,please .
QT is more of a metaphysical philosophical view of the world = mind-dependent ,remember .
Stapp is a quantum physicist with more than 50 years of experience on the field , you cannot call that monumental work of his just ...crap , "scientist " ,can you ?
Are you unable to understand what Stapp has been saying ? = that's more like it .
So, don't try to hide your ignorance on the subject behind vulgar insults , the latter are no "arguments ",silly .
« Last Edit: 05/01/2014 17:26:26 by DonQuichotte »

DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1604 on: 05/01/2014 17:35:12 »
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.

QT is mind-dependent , and hence world-views dependent , since consciousness is shaped by the corresponding world view .
Stapp and others whose excerpts i have been posting have not been using the scientific method ,according to you ?
Stapp that's a quantum physicist with more than 50 years of experience on the field : was he using the alien method then ?
............
Pearls are not for ...swine, remember .

DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1605 on: 05/01/2014 17:39:11 »
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 ::)

I am talking here about theories of consciousness which are consistent with the 20th century contemporary science and with QM thus , the latter that have been refuting the materialist mechanical determinist classical view of the world : see my newly posted excerpts today on the subject .

DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1606 on: 05/01/2014 17:44:42 »
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  ;)

Wrong : Stapp did address all that in his major books : " Mind ,matter ,and quantum mechanics " and "Mindful universe and quantum mechanics " : those specific parts of those books are 2 lengthy to post + 2 technical mostly ,for people here to read .

He also addressed Dennett's "Cartesian theater " and other lunatics materialists ' 'arguments " as well .

And yes, biology neurology microbiology have been classical, as if QM has never existed : see my newly posted excerpts on the subject as well .

P.S.: See Stapp's interview here above regarding the absurd and false materialist " mind is in the brain, or the mind is just brain activity " bullshit ,among many other things concerning his work , while you're at it then .
« Last Edit: 05/01/2014 17:47:27 by DonQuichotte »

DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1607 on: 05/01/2014 17:56:09 »
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?

(Prior note : QT is mind -dependent , Von Neumann and others have proved the fact , mathematically and empirically , that the measurement problem in QM can only be solved by concluding that the intervention of a non-physical process outside of the laws of physics might be the explanation of that = the mind of the observer .
So, my world view or belief is consistent with what modern 20th century science and QM have been saying on the subject ,relatively speaking .
It's you that have been starting with a false facile  materialist ideological belief assumption regarding the nature of reality , and hence regarding that of the mind,a false materialist belief assumption you have been equating with science  thus ,so, you were just projecting again .)
There is nothing more coherent than Stapp's work .His free will model is the best so far and it is consistent with our intuitive experiences on the subject as well , unlike the counter-intuitive absurd materialist mechanical classical determinism bullshit .
No, Stapp was not doing what you said here above : how can you speculate so widely about the man's work without having a complete view  about it , by just repeating  what others said in that regard .....
Did you read his books or follow his work , obviously not .
Did you read those excerpts of his books i have been posting , obviously not .

Or you have been doing all  that ,relatively speaking ,   just through your materialist mind : Stapp's scientific mind-dependent QT that was built on those of the founders of QT ,  is evidence enough for the fact that we all do view the world through our respective world views that shape our consciousness , and hence our behaviours , thoughts , actions, ethics ...

Do you know how he responded to Dennett and others , and what models he proposed in order to solve some dilemmas and apparent flaws of dualism ? Obviously not .

Stapp has not been Cartesian ,  he does not view reality as being made of 2 different separate substances ,no : he's a dualist in the sense that reality has 2 aspects or rather processes...........that do 'conspire " to actualize certain specific actions events potentialities from a wide range of existing possibilities , events , potentialities ...waiting to happen .

The universe thus ,including ourselves, might be "made " of no physical or other substance , just of processes , possibilities, events , actions, potentialities ...Who knows ?

Science is just an evolutionary process,remember , just about approximate conjectural knowledge , not about the truth , so, Stapp's work is certainly not the final stage or word on the subject .

Stapp has been innovative ,intelligent , visionary ,  honest and couragoeus enough as to challenge and go beyond the current false materialist mainstream classical mechanical determinist "scientific world view " , thanks to QM :

So, just have the decency to shut up then .

As a superseded outdated materialist , you're irrelevant  and totally uninteresting , obviously  .
You cannot but view reality just through the false outdated and superseded mechanical classical determinist materialist key hole version of reality ,despite the fact that QM have been dualist and hence have been refuting classical materialism, together with its mechanical classical determinism ...

Your materialist world view shapes your consciousness ,and hence your thoughts , behaviour ,ethics , actions ...as the mind -dependent QT proves that fact to be correct : we all do view the world through our respective world views or beliefs indeed .

And i am not religiously motivated in all of this,once again  : i have just been trying to show to the people here how the 19th century materialism is a false outdated and superseded belief that's no science , even though materialism has ben equated with science for so long now .

Stapp has been motivated by what QM have been telling him , that's his scientific 'excuse " or reason ....
Amazing .
« Last Edit: 05/01/2014 18:44:40 by DonQuichotte »

Ethos_

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1608 on: 05/01/2014 18:11:58 »
No end to the crap........

But that's why I keep coming back, why spend all my time listening to logical science when I can make fun of philosophy and those who stake their reputation on it's IMMATERIAL so-called evidence?

DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1609 on: 05/01/2014 18:36:30 »
No end to the crap........

But that's why I keep coming back, why spend all my time listening to logical science when I can make fun of philosophy and those who stake their reputation on it's IMMATERIAL so-called evidence?

(Why do you keep  on  imitating others , i wonder : even monkeys are not really imitators )

Well, coming from you , that's a real compliment indeed .
Q physicist Stapp has more than 50 years experience on the field , and you dare to call the man's monumental work just crap : very 'scientific " reply indeed .
Pfff...
AS a paradoxical guy who cannot but believe in 2 mutually exclusive world views , you're also totally irrelevant in fact : i have been casting priceless pearls before swine such as yourselves indeed ,silly me .

Nevertheless , i will keep on doing what i have been doing and much more , just for the people watching,some of whom that might be intelligent and honest objective enough as to be able to value the priceless worth of those pearls i have been casting here .
« Last Edit: 05/01/2014 18:38:36 by DonQuichotte »

dlorde

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1610 on: 05/01/2014 18:38:27 »
Where does he address any of Dawson's criticisms?
Wrong : Stapp did address all that in his major books : " Mind ,matter ,and quantum mechanics " and "Mindful universe and quantum mechanics " : those specific parts of those books are 2 lengthy to post + 2 technical mostly ,for people here to read .
Perhaps you can summarise or simplify them for us, or just give us the page references; otherwise we have only your word for it, and given the grasp of QM you have demonstrated here, I think you're blowing smoke.

Quote
He also addressed Dennett's "Cartesian theater " and other lunatics materialists ' 'arguments " as well .
How?

DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1611 on: 05/01/2014 18:51:58 »
Where does he address any of Dawson's criticisms?
Wrong : Stapp did address all that in his major books : " Mind ,matter ,and quantum mechanics " and "Mindful universe and quantum mechanics " : those specific parts of those books are 2 lengthy to post + 2 technical mostly ,for people here to read .
Perhaps you can summarise or simplify them for us, or just give us the page references; otherwise we have only your word for it, and given the grasp of QM you have demonstrated here, I think you're blowing smoke.

Quote
He also addressed Dennett's "Cartesian theater " and other lunatics materialists ' 'arguments " as well .
How?

(I have never pretended  to be an expert on QM, not even remotely close thus , i am not , and neither are you ,so, what do have those silly insinuations of yours to do with anything then ...)
Well, do some effort and go look for just that : i am not gonna do the work for you anymore ,since you cannot value priceless pearls that are not meant for your narrow-minded outdated and unscientific classical mechanical  determinist absurd ...mind,as you have been showing all long  .
Nothing out there , no evidence or lack thereof would be able to make you change your materialist mind : only idiots fools or materialists indeed are unable to change their minds ...






DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1612 on: 05/01/2014 18:52:48 »
"Scientific " people, my a....pfff .
Amazing .

DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1613 on: 05/01/2014 19:10:46 »
Any given scientist , philosopher ...who dare to challenge the false materialist mechanical classical determinist outdated superseded mainstream 'scientific world view, thanks to QM or otherwise , materialism that was built on the approximately valid and fundamentally incorrect classical physics , then, he or she must have some hidden "excuse " reason agenda ,or some sort of lunatic conspiracy theory of some sort haha ,he or she must be senile , a fame freak or worse ,  including atheist T.Nagel, Stapp, Chalmers and the rest of those dissident religious and non-religious scientists ,philosophers ...: how convenient indeed .

Well, materialist folks ,does it ever occur to you that their motivation or agenda ....were /are what 20th century  science has been telling them on the subject ?
Does it ever occur to you that materialism is false ,and cannot be true ?
Why do you keep on assuming that materialism is true then ? implicitly or explicitly , consciously or sub-consciously ....

Science is not about the truth, remember .

Why do you keep on confusing or equating materialism with science then ?

QM have been refuting the false outdated superseded mechanical classical determinist materialism : can't you see just that ,through your indoctrinated materialist minds that shape your thoughts , behaviours , ethics ....and much more ?

Of course not , unless you would try to eliminate materialism from the 'equation " as QM have been doing .

Good luck,dear ...swine , i am really fed up with you  .

What a waste ,pathetic ...
« Last Edit: 05/01/2014 19:13:49 by DonQuichotte »

dlorde

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1614 on: 05/01/2014 20:06:31 »
(Prior note : QT is mind -dependent , Von Neumann and others have proved the fact , mathematically and empirically , that the measurement problem in QM can only be solved by concluding that the intervention of a non-physical process outside of the laws of physics might be the explanation of that = the mind of the observer .
Just for the record, this interpretation has long been abandoned by mainstream physics.

Quote
So, my world view or belief is consistent with what modern 20th century science and QM have been saying on the subject ,relatively speaking .
As above, no. Your view, and Stapp's, is way out on the fringe.

Quote
There is nothing more coherent than Stapp's work .His free will model is the best so far and it is consistent with our intuitive experiences on the subject as well , unlike the counter-intuitive absurd materialist mechanical classical determinism bullshit .
It's his definition of free will that is incoherent. His model seems to require an immaterial 'homunculus' to make an appropriate choice to resolve the quantum superposition. Unless you can explain how it doesn't?

Quote
No, Stapp was not doing what you said here above : how can you speculate so widely about the man's work without having a complete view  about it , by just repeating  what others said in that regard .....
Did you read his books or follow his work , obviously not .
Did you read those excerpts of his books i have been posting , obviously not .
I haven't read his books, obviously, but I've read what you've posted, and it seems to me that Stapp may be a competent physicist, but he's a poor scientist, and a lousy philosopher:

He initially talks of intuition quite sensibly:

"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"

Which seems to acknowledge the fallibility of intuition. But then:

"This rigid enforcement of the physical laws entailed, of course, that men’s thoughts could have no effects upon their actions... It contradicts our deepest intuition about ourselves, namely that we are free agents"

And he goes on to build his entire edifice on the assumption that 'our deepest intuition' must be how things really are... Then he leaves physics behind altogether (a bit odd for a physicist don't you think?):

"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"

Sadly, he supplies no evidence or support for this. Next he starts with the sematic games:

"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"

Here he's talking about superposition preceding wave function collapse; note his careful usage - 'not strictly controlled by any known physical laws'. He can insert some unspecified immaterial interference at this point because of this ambiguity; but this is where his theory becomes special pleading - because, apart from the conservation of energy problem highlighted by Dawson, while we may not know what physical laws are involved, we do know, more precisely than anything else in physics, that the outcomes of repeated measurements correspond exactly to the probabilities provided by the wave function calculated from the prior system state. Quantum Zeno effect or no, any external influence that disturbs that probability distribution contradicts both empirical knowledge and mathematical understanding.

Even if we accept wavefunction collapse as a physical process, rather than simply an expression of the observer's knowledge of the system, there are plausible rational (albeit ultimately unsatisfying) arguments that consciousness is not required, e.g. Measurement Problem?.

Also, Shimon Malin's argument needs a response:
Quote
Suppose a measurement of an electron's spin component along some direction is being measured. The result can either be "up" or "down". The result of the measurement is automatically communicated to a printer that can either print "up" or "down". If human consciousness is what causes the collapse to the observed state, then the collapse would only occur when someone read the printout, and not before. Now suppose that the printer has just enough ink to print "up", and not enough ink to print "down". Furthermore, if the printer runs out of ink, a bell sounds in a secretary's office. If the secretary hears the bell, a collapse to "down" has clearly occurred before the bell sounded. If the secretary does not hear the bell, a collapse to "up" must have occurred--and no human interaction was necessary at all.
Quote
...Stapp's scientific mind-dependent QT that was built on those of the founders of QT ,  is evidence enough for the fact that we all do view the world through our respective world views that shape our consciousness , and hence our behaviours , thoughts , actions, ethics ...
Evidence enough that scientific understanding moves on - even the greatest minds get things wrong or are overtaken by better, more complete models and deeper understanding.

Quote
Do you know how he responded to Dennett and others , and what models he proposed in order to solve some dilemmas and apparent flaws of dualism ? Obviously not .
As I said, I know Stapp's work by what you've posted - there's no explanation there. How did he respond? what models did he propose?  - references or summaries, I don't mind.

Quote
The universe thus ,including ourselves, might be "made " of no physical or other substance , just of processes , possibilities, events , actions, potentialities ...Who knows ?
Clearly not you.

Quote
Stapp has been innovative ,intelligent , visionary ,  honest and couragoeus enough to challenge and go beyond the current false materialist mainstream classical mechanical determinist "scientific world view " , thanks to QM :

So, just have the decency to shut up then .
Not the greatest argument I've heard  ::)

Quote
As a superseded outdated materialist , you're irrelevant  and totally uninteresting , obviously  .
You cannot but view reality just through the false outdated and superseded mechanical classical determinist materialist key hole version of reality ,despite the fact that QM have been dualist and hence have been refuting classical materialism, together with its mechanical classical determinism ...

Your materialist world view shapes your consciousness ,and hence your thoughts , behaviour ,ethics , actions ...as the mind -dependent QT proves that fact to be correct : we all do view the world through our respective world views or beliefs indeed .
Ah, now we get to the meat of it. You think QM is dualist and, because I'm not, that means I must support classical physics and reject QM... which really emphasises your ignorance of the relationship between classical physics and QM; and, reading between the lines, the fact that I enthusiastically endorse QM without being a dualist, and have provided solid criticisms of your flavour-of-the-month fringe 'philosophers', causes you cognitive dissonance, to which you respond with intemperate outbursts like that.

dlorde

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1615 on: 05/01/2014 20:17:23 »
Wrong : Stapp did address all that in his major books : " Mind ,matter ,and quantum mechanics " and "Mindful universe and quantum mechanics " : those specific parts of those books are 2 lengthy to post + 2 technical mostly ,for people here to read .
Perhaps you can summarise or simplify them for us, or just give us the page references; otherwise we have only your word for it, and given the grasp of QM you have demonstrated here, I think you're blowing smoke.
Well, do some effort and go look for just that : i am not gonna do the work for you anymore ,since you cannot value priceless pearls that are not meant for your narrow-minded outdated and unscientific classical mechanical  determinist absurd ...mind,as you have been showing all long  .
I thought so, just blowing smoke. If you really had those references, you'd post them just to make us squirm, but you can't because you made them up, and rather than admit it honestly you put up a smokescreen of insults. Prove me wrong.

Oh Don, for shame... what a piece of work thou art  :o)
« Last Edit: 05/01/2014 22:06:38 by dlorde »

dlorde

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1616 on: 05/01/2014 20:24:13 »
...Good luck,dear ...swine , i am really fed up with you  .

What a waste ,pathetic ...
If you're flouncing out again, we can give you style marks this time ::)

Ethos_

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1617 on: 05/01/2014 20:47:00 »


Good luck,dear ...swine , i am really fed up with you  .

What a waste ,pathetic ...
You're correct about this being a waste Don. but you should be looking in the mirror when you make that remark.

BTW, I'm really fond of pork myself. I'll wager a guess that you don't partake.......do you?

alancalverd

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1618 on: 06/01/2014 00:15:16 »
Nor do I (at least not in public - there's a good joke I'll tell you later). But I don't transcribe pages of crap.

Here's the definitive test. Look at the spectrum of a distant star. You will see a whole lot of lines associated with specific quantum events. Allowing for red shift, no matter where you look, those lines are always the same. But the quantum event you are observing took place somewhere between 8 minutes and several million years ago (depending on which star you are looking at), long before any living observers existed. Ergo the presence of an observer has no effect on quantum events.

And just in case DQ is still lurking in the shadows
Quote
I must support classical physics and reject QM
Wrong! Quantum mechanics underpins classical physics, as any scientist knows!  Nothing to do with dualism or choice. QM is to newtonian physics as thermodynamics is to steam engines.   
« Last Edit: 06/01/2014 00:21:13 by alancalverd »

Ethos_

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1619 on: 06/01/2014 00:29:15 »
No end to the crap........

But that's why I keep coming back, why spend all my time listening to logical science when I can make fun of philosophy and those who stake their reputation on it's IMMATERIAL so-called evidence?

(Why do you keep  on  imitating others , i wonder : even monkeys are not really imitators )


Not imitating Don,......just repeating something worthy of repetition.
CRAP...........CRAP.......I rather like saying that word, especially when it fits so VERY VERY well.

dlorde

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1620 on: 06/01/2014 11:48:10 »
And just in case DQ is still lurking in the shadows
Quote
I must support classical physics and reject QM
Wrong! Quantum mechanics underpins classical physics, as any scientist knows!  Nothing to do with dualism or choice. QM is to newtonian physics as thermodynamics is to steam engines.
[my bolding]
That's a nice way to put it!


dlorde

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1621 on: 06/01/2014 12:55:43 »
A bit more research to ponder for those who believe that moral & ethical behaviours are mediated by a consciousness external to, or independent of, the physical brain:

These are studies of morals and ethics in subjects with prefontal cortex damage.

Impairment of social and moral behavior related to early damage in human prefrontal cortex.
Damage to the prefrontal cortex increases utilitarian moral judgements.
Damage to ventromedial prefrontal cortex impairs judgment of harmful intent.

DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1622 on: 06/01/2014 16:47:25 »
Impact of Quantum Mechanics
on Human Values:


 Impact of Quantum Mechanics
on Human Values:
Philosophers have tried doggedly for three centuries to understand the
role of mind in the workings of a brain conceived to function according
to principles of classical physics. We now know no such brain exists:
no brain, body, or anything else in the real world is composed of those
tiny bits of matter that Newton imagined the universe to be made of.
Hence it is hardly surprising that those philosophical endeavors were
beset by enormous difficulties, which led to such positions as that of
the ‘eliminative materialists’, who hold that our conscious thoughts
must be eliminated from our scientific understanding of nature; or of
the ‘epiphenomenalists’, who admit that human experiences do exist,
but claim that they play no role in how we behave; or of the ‘identity
theorists’, who claim that each conscious feeling is exactly the same
thing as a motion of particles that nineteenth century science thought
our brains, and everything else in the universe, were made of, but
that twentieth century science has found not to exist, at least as they
were formerly conceived. The tremendous difficulty in reconciling consciousness,
as we know it, with the older physics is dramatized by the
fact that for many years the mere mention of ‘consciousness’ was considered
evidence of backwardness and bad taste in most of academia,
including, incredibly, even psychology and the philosophy of mind.
What you are, and will become, depends largely upon your values.
Values arise from self-image: from what you believe yourself to
be. Generally one is led by training, teaching, propaganda, or other
forms of indoctrination, to expand one’s conception of the self: one is
encouraged to perceive oneself as an integral part of some social unit
such as family, ethnic or religious group, or nation, and to enlarge
one’s self-interest to include the interests of this unit. If this training
is successful your enlarged conception of yourself as good parent, or
good son or daughter, or good Christian, Muslim, Jew, or whatever,
will cause you to give weight to the welfare of the unit as you would
your own. In fact, if well conditioned you may give more weight to the
interests of the group than to the well-being of your bodily self.
In the present context it is not relevant whether this human tendency
to enlarge one’s self-image is a consequence of natural malleability,
instinctual tendency, spiritual insight, or something else. What is
important is that we human beings do in fact have the capacity to
expand our image of ‘self’, and that this enlarged concept can become
the basis of a drive so powerful that it becomes the dominant determinant
of human conduct, overwhelming every other factor, including
even the instinct for bodily survival.
But where reason is honored, belief must be reconciled with empirical
evidence. If you seek evidence for your beliefs about what you
are, and how you fit into Nature, then science claims jurisdiction, or
at least relevance. Physics presents itself as the basic science, and it
is to physics that you are told to turn. Thus a radical shift in the
physics-based conception of man from that of an isolated mechanical
automaton to that of an integral participant in a non-local holistic process
that gives form and meaning to the evolving universe is a seismic
event of potentially momentous proportions.
The quantum concept of man, being based on objective science
equally available to all, rather than arising from special personal circumstances,
has the potential to undergird a universal system of basic
values suitable to all people, without regard to the accidents of their
origins. With the diffusion of this quantum understanding of human
beings, science may fulfill itself by adding to the material benefits it
has already provided a philosophical insight of perhaps even greater
ultimate value.
This issue of the connection of science to values can be put into
perspective by seeing it in the context of a thumb-nail sketch of history
that stresses the role of science. For this purpose let human intellectual
history be divided into five periods: traditional, modern, transitional,
post-modern, and contemporary.
During the ‘traditional’ era our understanding of ourselves and our
relationship to Nature was based on ‘ancient traditions’ handed down
from generation to generation: ‘Traditions’ were the chief source of
wisdom about our connection to Nature. The ‘modern’ era began in
the seventeenth century with the rise of what is still called ‘modern
science’. That approach was based on the ideas of Bacon, Descartes,
Galileo and Newton, and it provided a new source of knowledge that
came to be regarded by many thinkers as more reliable than tradition.
The basic idea of ‘modern’ science was ‘materialism’: the idea that
the physical world is composed basically of tiny bits of matter whose
contact interactions with adjacent bits completely control everything
that is now happening, and that ever will happen. According to these
laws, as they existed in the late nineteenth century, a person’s conscious
thoughts and efforts can make no difference at all to what
his body/brain does: whatever you do was deemed to be completely
fixed by local interactions between tiny mechanical elements, with your
thoughts, ideas, feelings, and efforts, being simply locally determined
high-level consequences or re-expressions of the low-level mechanical
process, and hence basically just elements of a reorganized way of describing
the effects of the absolutely and totally controlling microscopic
material causes.
This materialist conception of reality began to crumble at the beginning
of the twentieth century with Max Planck’s discovery of the
quantum of action. Planck announced to his son that he had, on that
day, made a discovery as important as Newton’s. That assessment was
certainly correct: the ramifications of Planck’s discovery were eventually
to cause Newton’s materialist conception of physical reality to
come crashing down. Planck’s discovery marks the beginning of the
‘transitional’ period.
A second important transitional development soon followed. In 1905
Einstein announced his special theory of relativity. This theory denied
the validity of our intuitive idea of the instant of time ‘now’, and
promulgated the thesis that even the most basic quantities of physics,
such as the length of a steel rod, and the temporal order of two events,
had no objective ‘true values’, but were well defined only ‘relative’ to
some observer’s point of view.
Planck’s discovery led by the mid-1920s to a complete breakdown,
at the fundamental level, of the classical material conception of nature.
A new basic physical theory, developed principally by Werner Heisenberg,
Niels Bohr, Wolfgang Pauli, and Max Born, brought ‘the observer’
explicitly into physics. The earlier idea that the physical world
is composed of tiny particles (and electromagnetic and gravitational
fields) was abandoned in favor of a theory of natural phenomena in
which the consciousness of the human observer is ascribed an essential
role. This successor to classical physical theory is called Copenhagen
quantum theory.
This turning away by science itself from the tenets of the objective
materialist philosophy gave impetus to, and lent support to, postmodernism.
That view, which emerged during the second half of the
twentieth century, promulgated, in essence, the idea that all ‘truths’
were relative to one’s point of view, and were mere artifacts of some
particular social group’s struggle for power over competing groups.
Thus each social movement was entitled to its own ‘truth’, which was
viewed simply as a socially created pawn in the power game.
The connection of post-modern thought to science is that both
Copenhagen quantum theory and relativity theory had retreated from
the idea of observer-independent objective truth. Science in the first
quarter of the twentieth century had not only eliminated materialism
as a possible foundation for objective truth, but seemed to have discredited
the very idea of objective truth in science. But if the community
of scientists has renounced the idea of objective truth in favor of
the pragmatic idea that ‘what is true for us is what works for us’, then
every group becomes licensed to do the same, and the hope evaporates
that science might provide objective criteria for resolving contentious
social issues.
This philosophical shift has had profound social and intellectual
ramifications. But the physicists who initiated this mischief were generally
too interested in practical developments in their own field to get
involved in these philosophical issues. Thus they failed to broadcast
an important fact: already by mid-century, a further development in
physics had occurred that provides an effective antidote to both the
‘materialism’ of the modern era, and the ‘relativism’ and ‘social constructionism’
of the post-modern period. In particular, John von Neumann
developed, during the early thirties, a form of quantum theory
that brought the physical and mental aspects of nature back together
as two aspects of a rationally coherent whole. This theory was elevated,
during the forties – by the work of Tomonaga and Schwinger –
to a form compatible with the physical requirements of the theory of
relativity.
Von Neumann’s theory, unlike the transitional ones, provides a
framework for integrating into one coherent idea of reality the empirical
data residing in subjective experience with the basic mathematical
structure of theoretical physics. Von Neumann’s formulation
of quantum theory is the starting point of all efforts by physicists to
go beyond the pragmatically satisfactory but ontologically incomplete
Copenhagen form of quantum theory.
Von Neumann capitalized upon the key Copenhagen move of bringing
human choices into the theory of physical reality. But, whereas the
Copenhagen approach excluded the bodies and brains of the human
observers from the physical world that they sought to describe, von
Neumann demanded logical cohesion and mathematical precision, and
was willing to follow where this rational approach led. Being a mathematician,
fortified by the rigor and precision of his thought, he seemed
less intimidated than his physicist brethren by the sharp contrast between
the nature of the world called for by the new mathematics and
the nature of the world that the genius of Isaac Newton had concocted.
A common core feature of the orthodox (Copenhagen and von Neumann)
quantum theory is the incorporation of efficacious conscious
human choices into the structure of basic physical theory. How this is
done, and how the conception of the human person is thereby radically
altered, has been spelled out in lay terms in this book, and is something
every well informed person who values the findings of science
ought to know about. The conception of self is the basis of values and
thence of behavior, and it controls the entire fabric of one’s life. It is
irrational, from a scientific perspective, to cling today to false and inadequate
nineteenth century concepts about your basic nature, while
ignoring the profound impact upon these concepts of the twentieth
century revolution in science.
It is curious that some physicists want to improve upon orthodox
quantum theory by excluding ‘the observer’, who, by virtue of his subjective
nature, must, in their opinion, be excluded from science. That
stance is maintained in direct opposition to what would seem to be
the most profound advance in physics in three hundred years, namely
the overcoming of the most glaring failure of classical physics, its inability
to accommodate us, its creators. The most salient philosophical
feature of quantum theory is that the mathematics has a causal gap
that, by virtue of its intrinsic form, provides a perfect place for Homo
sapiens as we know and experience ourselves.

DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1623 on: 06/01/2014 16:48:44 »
Conclusions :

How can our world of billions of thinkers ever come into general concordance
on fundamental issues? How do you, yourself, form opinions
on such issues? Do you simply accept the message of some ‘authority’,
such as a church, a state, or a social or political group? All of
these entities promote concepts about how you as an individual fit
into the reality that supports your being. And each has an agenda of
its own, and hence its own internal biases. But where can you find an
unvarnished truth about your nature, and your place in Nature?
Science rests, in the end, on an authority that lies beyond the pettiness
of human ambition. It rests, finally, on stubborn facts. The
founders of quantum theory certainly had no desire to bring down
the grand structure of classical physics of which they were the inheritors,
beneficiaries, and torch bearers. It was stubborn facts that forced
their hand, and made them reluctantly abandon the two-hundred-yearold
classical ideal of a mechanical universe, and turn to what perhaps
should have been seen from the start as a more reasonable endeavor:
the creation an understanding of nature that includes in a rationally
coherent way the thoughts by which we know and influence the world
around us. The labors of scientists endeavoring merely to understand
our inanimate environment produced, from its own internal logic, a rationally
coherent framework into which we ourselves fit neatly. What
was falsified by twentieth-century science was not the core traditions
and intuitions that have sustained societies and civilizations since the
dawn of mankind, but rather an historical aberration, an impoverished
world view within which philosophers of the past few centuries have
tried relentlessly but fruitlessly to find ourselves. The falseness of that
deviation of science must be made known, and heralded, because human
beings are not likely to endure in a society ruled by a conception
of themselves that denies the essence of their being.

DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1624 on: 06/01/2014 16:50:16 »
A Gazzaniga’s The Ethical Brain:


Michael S. Gazzaniga is a renowned cognitive neuroscientist. He was
Editor-in-Chief of the 1447 page book The Cognitive Neurosciences,
which, for the past decade, has been the fattest book in my library,
apart from ‘the unabridged’. His recent book The Ethical Brain has a
Part III entitled Free Will, Personal Responsibility, and the Law. This
part addresses, from the perspective of cognitive neuroscience, some
of the moral issues that have been dealt with in the present book.
The aim of his Part III is to reconcile the materialist idea that brain
activity is determined with the notion of moral responsibility, which
normally depends upon the idea that we human beings possess free
will.
Gazzaniga asserts:
Based on the modern understanding of neuroscience and on the
assumptions of legal concepts, I believe the following axioms:
Brains are automatic, rule-governed, determined devices, while
people are personally responsible agents, free to make their own
decisions.
One possible interpretation of these words – the quantum-theoretic
interpretation – would be that a person has both a mind (his stream of
conscious thoughts, ideas, and feelings) and a brain (made of neurons,
glia, etc), and that his decisions (his conscious moral choices) are free
(not determined by any known law), and that, moreover, the rules
that govern his brain determine the activity of his brain jointly from
the physically described properties of the brain combined with these
conscious decisions. That interpretation is essentially what orthodox
(von Neumann) quantum mechanics – and also common sense intuition
– asserts.
If this interpretation is what Gazzaniga means, then there is no
problem. But I believe that this is not what Gazzaniga means. Earlier
on he said:
The brain determines the mind, and the brain is a physical
entity subject to all the rules of the physical world. The physical
world is determined, so our brains must also be determined.
This seems to be suggesting that by ‘determined’ he means determined
solely by physically described properties, as would be the case if the
concepts of classical physics were applicable. However, what he actually
said was that “the brain is a physical entity subject to all the rules
of the physical world”. The rules of the physical world, as specified by
contemporary (orthodox quantum) theory, explain how the brain is
governed in part by the brain and in part by our conscious choices,
which themselves are not governed by any known laws. If this physicsbased
understanding of ‘determined’ is what Gazzaniga means then
there is no difficulty in reconciling the fact that an agent’s brain is
‘determined’ with the fact that this agent’s person is ‘free’: the agent’s
brain is determined partly by his brain and partly by his conscious
free choices, and hence the person whose actions this brain controls is
likewise jointly controlled by these two factors, neither of which alone
suffices.
If this contemporary-physics-based interpretation is what Gazzaniga
meant, then he could have stopped his book right there: that
interpretation is in complete accord with common sense, with normal
ethical theory, and with contemporary physics. Thus the fact that he
did not stop, but went on to write his book, including Part III, suggests
that he is using not the quantum mechanical meaning of ‘determined’;
but rather the meaning that would hold in the classical approximation,
which exorcizes all the physical effects of our conscious choices.
Indeed, he goes on to say:
If our brains are determined, then [. . . ] is the free will we seem
to experience just an illusion? And if free will is an illusion,
must we revise our concepts of what it means to be personally
responsible for our actions?
I am assuming in this appendix that Gazzaniga is adhering essentially
to nineteenth century physics, so that ‘determined’ means automatically/
mechanically determined by physically described properties
alone, like a clock, and that he is thus endeavoring to address the
question: How can one consider a person with an essentially clocklike
body-brain to be morally responsible for his actions? How can we
uphold the concept of ethical behavior within the confines of an understanding
of nature that reduces each human being to a mechanical
automaton?
Gazzaniga’s answer is built upon a proposed restructuring (redefining)
the meanings of both ‘free will’ and ‘moral responsibility’. Following
an idea of David Hume, and more recently of A.J. Ayer, the word
‘free’ is effectively defined to mean ‘unconstrained by external bonds’.
Thus a clock is ‘free’ if the movements of its hands and cogs are not
restricted by external bonds or forces. However, the ‘free will’ of traditional
ethical theory refers to a type of freedom that a mechanically
controlled clock would not enjoy, even if it had no external bonds.
This latter – morally pertinent – kind of free will is specifically associated
with consciousness. Thus a physically determined clock that
has no consciousness is not subject to moral evaluation, even if it
is not constrained by external bonds, whereas a person possessing a
conscious ‘will’ that is physically efficacious, yet not physically determined,
is subject to moral evaluation when he is not constrained by
external bonds. Thus the morally pertinent idea of ‘possessing free
will’ is not the same as ‘unconstrained by external bonds or forces’.
The Hume/Ayer move obscures the morally pertinent idea of freedom,
which is intimately linked to consciousness, by confounding it with different
idea that does not specifically involve consciousness. This move
throws rational analysis off track by suppressing (on the basis of an
inapplicable approximation) the involvement of consciousness in the
morally relevant conception of ‘free will’.
Ethical and moral values traditionally reside in the ability of a person
to make discerning conscious judgments pertaining to moral issues,
coupled with the capacity of the person’s conscious effort to willfully
force his body to act in accordance with the standards he has consciously
judged to be higher, in the face of strong natural tendencies
to do otherwise. The whole moral battle is fought in the realm of conscious
thoughts, ideas, and feelings. Where there is no consciousness
there is no moral dimension. Moreover, if consciousness exists but is
permitted by general rules to make no physical difference – that is,
if consciousness is constrained by the general laws to be an impotent
witness to mechanically determined process – then the seeming struggle
of will becomes a meaningless charade, and the moral dimension
again disappears.
It is the imposition, by virtue of the classical approximation, of
this law-based kind of impotency that eliminates the moral dimension
within that approximation. The morally pertinent free will is eradicated
by the classical approximation even if there are no external
bounds. Calling a system ‘free’ just because it is not constrained by
external bonds does not suffice to give that system the kind of free will
that undergirds normal ethical ideas.
Gazzaniga’s attack on the problem has also a second prong. He
avers that: “Personal responsibility is a public concept.” He says of
things such as personal responsibility that:
Those aspects of our personhood are – oddly – not in our brains.
They exist only in the relationships that exist when our automatic
brains interact with other automatic brains. They are in
the ether.
This idea that these pertinent things are “in the ether” and exist “only
in the relationships” is indeed an odd thing for a materialisticallyoriented
neuroscientist to say. It seems mystical. Although ideas about
personal responsibility may indeed arise only in social contexts, one
would normally say that the resulting ideas about personal responsibility
exist in the streams of consciousness of the interacting persons,
and a materialist would be expected to say that these ideas are ‘in’ or
are ‘some part of’ the brains of those socially interacting persons. Yet
if the causes of self-controlled behavior are wholly in the brains and
bodies of the agents, and these brains and bodies are automatically
determined by the physically described body-brain alone, then it is
hard to see how these agents, as persons, can have the kind of free will
upon which our moral and ethical theories are based. Some sort of odd
or weird move is needed to endow a person with morally relevant free
will if his body and brain are mechanically determined.
But if some sort of weirdness is needed to rescue the social concept
of personal responsibility, then why not use ‘quantum weirdness’. The
quantum concepts may seem weird to the uninitiated, but they are
based on science, and they resolve the problem of moral responsibility
by endowing our conscious choices with causal influence in the selection
of our physical actions.
It is hard to see the advantage of introducing the changes described
by Gazzaniga compared to the option of simply going beyond the inprinciple-
inadequate classical approximation. Why do thinkers dedicated
to rationality resist so tenaciously the option of accepting (contemporary
orthodox quantum) physics, which says that our conscious
choices intervene, in a very special and restricted kind of way, in the
mechanically determined time development of the physically described
aspects of a system – during the process by means of which the conscious
agent acquires new knowledge about that system? Because acquiring
new knowledge about a system normally involves a probingem, it is not at all weird that the system being examined
should be affected by the extraction of knowledge from it, and hence
comes to depend upon how it was probed.
The advantages of accepting quantum mechanics in cognitive neuroscience,
and ultimately in our lives, are:
• It is compatible with basic physical theory, and thus will continue to
work in increasingly complex and miniaturized empirical situations.
• It specifies how a person’s consciously experienced intentional
choices are represented in the physically described aspects of the
theory.
• It removes the incoherency of a known-to-be-real ontological element
that contains the empirical data, yet resides in a realm that
has no law-based connection to the flow of physical events.
• It provides a foundation for understanding the co-evolution of mind
and brain, because each of these two parts contributes to the dynamics
in a way that is linked to the other by laws that are specified,
at least in part.
• It provides for a free will of the kind needed to undergird ethical
theory.
• It produces a science-based image of oneself, not as a freak-accident
out-cropping – with consciousness riding like a piece of froth on
the ocean – but rather as an active component of a deeply interconnected
world process that is responsive to value-based human
judgments.

Henry P.Stapp

 

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