What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?

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Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1550 on: 02/01/2014 20:05:57 »


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

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

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Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1551 on: 02/01/2014 20:10:46 »
date=1388683056]



He's wrong : here below is why :


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


DETERMINISM AND THE ROLE OF THE OBSERVER:



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

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Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1552 on: 02/01/2014 20:11:55 »

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

Chris carter

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Offline Ethos_

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1553 on: 02/01/2014 20:15:32 »

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

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

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Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1554 on: 02/01/2014 20:19:50 »
The stream of knowledge is heading toward a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look
more like a great thought than like a machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental
intruder into the realm of matter; we ought rather hail it as the governor of the realm of matter.
PHYSICIST JAMES JEANS

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Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1555 on: 02/01/2014 20:23:44 »

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

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

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

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Offline cheryl j

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1556 on: 02/01/2014 20:25:31 »


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

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

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

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Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1557 on: 02/01/2014 20:31:00 »


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

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

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



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

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

In short :

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


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Offline Ethos_

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

One thought about reality.

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

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

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Offline cheryl j

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1559 on: 02/01/2014 21:33:14 »
Here's some reading for you, Don.

 "Is Consciousness Universal?

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

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

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

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


His theory of consciousness has to do with integrated information.


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

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

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

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

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


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

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Offline Ethos_

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1560 on: 02/01/2014 21:45:31 »


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

"The more things change, the more they remain the same."

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Offline alancalverd

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1561 on: 02/01/2014 23:43:51 »
I might be convinced to read Stapp on the subject if someone can provide a one-line quote: what is Stapp's definition of consciousness?
Don't hold your breath alan, Doc. Don is quite incapable of meaningful and efficient one liners................................

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

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1562 on: 02/01/2014 23:59:38 »
1 more thing , just concerning the collapse of the wave function : are  the observing or  measuring device + the observer human not made of atoms ,sub-atoms .....themselves ?
So, how can't they not have effects on the observed ?

In the case of the human observer scientist , how can his mind or consciousness not have causal effects on the observed as well ?
How so? are you unaware how vision works?

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

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Offline cheryl j

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1563 on: 03/01/2014 00:16:16 »
1 more thing , just concerning the collapse of the wave function : are  the observing or  measuring device + the observer human not made of atoms ,sub-atoms .....themselves ?
So, how can't they not have effects on the observed ?
In the case of the human observer scientist , how can his mind or consciousness not have causal effects on the observed as well ?
In short :


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

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


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

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

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Offline dlorde

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

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Offline cheryl j

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

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

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Offline dlorde

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

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Offline dlorde

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

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Offline Ethos_

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1568 on: 03/01/2014 14:03:12 »


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

Mysticism only complicates the natural process we call mental activity.
"The more things change, the more they remain the same."

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Offline alancalverd

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1569 on: 04/01/2014 15:09:50 »
Why can I not use the Zeno effect to change the outcome of anything in the macro world that might be have some non-deterministic, quantum element? There would certainly be a huge evolutionary pay off if I could.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Offline DonQuichotte

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


"Human Knowledge
as the Foundation of Science" :



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

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Offline DonQuichotte

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

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

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Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #1573 on: 04/01/2014 17:28:14 »
Actions, Knowledge, and Information:
 The Anti-Newtonian Revolution:




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

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Offline DonQuichotte

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

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

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Offline DonQuichotte

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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.

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Offline DonQuichotte

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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

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Offline DonQuichotte

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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 ...

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Offline DonQuichotte

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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 .

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Offline cheryl j

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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.

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Offline DonQuichotte

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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 .

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Offline DonQuichotte

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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 »

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Offline DonQuichotte

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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 ...

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Offline DonQuichotte

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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 .

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Offline DonQuichotte

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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 .

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Offline DonQuichotte

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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 »

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Offline dlorde

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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.


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Offline DonQuichotte

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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 »

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Offline dlorde

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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 [::)]

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Offline dlorde

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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 »

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Offline alancalverd

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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.
helping to stem the tide of ignorance

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Offline dlorde

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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?

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Offline alancalverd

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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. 
helping to stem the tide of ignorance

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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_ »
"The more things change, the more they remain the same."

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Offline DonQuichotte

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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.

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Offline DonQuichotte

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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.

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Offline DonQuichotte

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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.

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Offline alancalverd

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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 »
helping to stem the tide of ignorance

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Offline DonQuichotte

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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.

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Offline DonQuichotte

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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.