Cc: Consciousness is an emergent property of biological complexity.
DH: “The notion of a conscious agent is based on intuitions that are widely shared. It must, however, be made precise and then endure the rough and tumble of science.” (¶9)
Hoffman hasn’t produced anything tangible. A fine tuned ‘theorem’ proven by mathematics within an idealized computer model universe, isn’t tangible.
Hoffman’s notions are the stuff of rough and tumble philosophical debates, not serious scientific inquiry. That is, observing, measuring and learning about tangible stuff.
DH: “…Evolution shaped our perception to hide the truth and to guide adaptive behavior. (¶3)
DH : ”A new theory is required, in which spacetime, objects, their properties, and their fiction of cause and effect,…” (¶4)
Besides a tendency to imbue Evolution with agency, Hoffman wants us to believe Conscious Agents act from outside.
Where do Hoffmanian Conscious Agents originate? How would they have been created? Have they ever been observed? Are they God’s twinkle dust holding everything together?
Evolution isn’t a thing, or a program, it’s a label we put on accumulating change over time.
A review of Donald Hoffman’s, Case Against Reality,
chapter 10a, Community: The Network of Conscious Agents
I invite you to consider a different kind of “Conscious Agents.”
If organisms were to survive upon this four dimensional Earth they needed to perceive and act. Sense organs needed to be invented or nothing would have happened on Earth.
Furthermore, those organs needed to communicate with something; and that something needed to decode the incoming data; that data needed to be communicated to higher authorities for processing; decision making; and inducing action.
“Conscious agents” are the information the brain sends forth to blossom into the thoughts within our mind.
A neuroscientist would correct me, by telling me about “neural correlates of consciousness,” then perhaps they’d point out the recent discovery of three super neurons that cradle a mouse’s mammalian brain, along with the implications and how that’s impacting the direction of current research.
Consciousness is an emergent property of biological complexity.
By Shelly Fan - March 09, 2017
… In the 140 years of mapping neuronal projection, scientists have seen it all: stubby ones, lopsided ones, and shockingly long branches that thread all the way from the back of the head, the brainstem, to the very front.
But the brain has more surprises in store.
This week at the BRAIN Initiative meeting in Maryland, Dr. Christof Koch, the president of the Allen Institute of Brain Science based in Seattle, announced the discovery of three neurons with branches that extensively span both hemispheres of the brain.
Incredibly, these neurons sit in the claustrum, a mysterious, thin sheet of cells that Koch believes is the seat of consciousness. Among the three, the largest neuron wrapped around the entire circumference of the mouse brain like a “crown of thorns”—something never seen before. …
Scientists have found that the simplest of creatures have light/visual sensors, implying that they also have some sort of neural connections and data processing where the cloud of awareness (conscious agents, if you like) creates commands and produces actions.
It seems logical to continue searching for consciousness within creatures themselves. But Hoffman believes the answer lies beyond Earth, without any physical evidence whatsoever.
How would Hoffman’s conscious agents experience or learn without ever embodying anything?
How do conscious agents store memories? Are conscious agents assigned to individuals or do they service many people?
DH: “No mystery of science offers more intrigue, or greater perplexity, than the provenance of quotidian experiences, … That this remains a mystery is not it would seem, due to dearth of data, …For us today, despite the breakthroughs of neuroscience, it remains just as surely unfathomable.” (¶1)
“Just as surely unfathomable” ? Or, is it laziness and lack of imagination?
No doubt, it’s a fascinating mystery with more surprises awaiting us. Still, Hoffman would benefit from reading Isaac Asimov’s “Relativity of Wrong"
Throughout his book, Hoffman mentions, then offhandedly dismisses all that neurologists and neuroscientists have learned. Why? I think it comes down to impossible expectations - nothing less than an Answer To Everything will do, and he wants it now.
Back in the pragmatic world scientists have gained incredible insights and abilities that shouldn’t be dismissed.
DH: “Why are we stumped? We can blame that basic tool of the conjurer’s trade, distraction. We have been lured with potential miscues, … We have been misled to believe that the brains, or the embodied brain, somehow serves up the magic of consciousness. We have in short been duped.” (¶2)
We stump ourselves because it’s easier than honesty looking at our connection to Earth.
We enable the conjurer’s trade by laziness and a general lack of critical thinking, coupled with only a superficial utilitarian interest in understanding this Earth that created us, nurtured us, sustains us, and that holds the key to understanding ourselves within her evolutionary story.
Avoidance of deep thinking about Deep Time, Evolution, and Earth, avoidance of taking responsibility for our actions, that's how we continue to stump ourselves.
DH: “…Evolution shaped our perception to hide the truth and to guide adaptive behavior. It endowed us with an interface, consisting of objects in spacetime. It let us reason, with frequent success, about cause and effect within that interface. (¶3)
Okay,… but be clear, any failures regarding ‘cause and effect’ are because human reasoning oversights and other failures - not because there was any underlying uncertainty about physical cause and effect within the realm of this Earth.
Within our day to day down to Earth reality, the “laws” of nature work with unerring success.
As for frequent success, that’s exactly what Evolution is about! Frequent success, along with frequent failure, and accumulating change over time.
DH :”“Physicist realize that spacetime is doomed, as well as its objects. …” (¶4)
No they don’t!
The breathless headlines are ‘come-ons’ - a bait-n-switch trick played on a gullible audience.
Rather than the “spacetime” of our real world, all that’s being threatened with doom is a mathematical formulation.
Within this universe, solar system, planet Earth, our lives, you can rest assured spacetime will continue, same as it ever was!
I know I’m repeating myself, but so does the professor, so here’s the warning message once again: For whatever motives, professor Hoffman leaves out that these formulas and theorems predicting the doom of spacetime only exist within computer models of idealized universes.
Why is Spacetime doomed you may be wondering?
Best as I can tell, it comes down to some philosopher mathematicians who figured out how to mathematically split up “spacetime” , first once, then why not, too much is never enough, lets do it an infinite amount of times to see what happens, lo and behold, spacetime disappears, or at least their formula short circuits.
It makes me think of Zeno’s paradox, all dressed up crashing the supercomputer’s spacetime program. Okay, fine, I'll give Hoffman his, that particular theoretical “spacetime” may be doomed because calculations tell us so.
My question professor: So what?
What different will it make to our lives, or the trajectory we've set for our society and biosphere, and the future? Time is no figment, it relentlessly moves forward.
DH : ”A new theory is required, in which spacetime, objects, their properties, and their fiction of cause and effect,…” (¶4)
“Their fiction of cause and effect” ? This is crazy-making talk.
Cause and effect is exquisitely established, alive and well and documented with consistency!
We know very well how to measure stuff and what cause and effect is. For example: CERN, Voyager Missions, Nuclear energy, etc., etc., etc., none of it would be possible, if not for the absolute rigidity of Nature’s Laws.
DH: “…sprout from a more primal cause.” (¶4)
Sprout from more primal cause?
Serious science is about learning by studying the world we inhabit. Studying what is here and perceivable. Hoffman is off in the realm of the unperceivable, the metaphysical, the realm of philosophy and religion.
Nothing wrong with that, but don’t call it science.
DH : “ For most science and technology, this fictional cause and effect is handy - it helps understand and exploit our interface. But if we try to understand our own conscious experiences, then this (physicalist) fiction gets in the way.
Its lure, wired by evolution into even the bests and brightest minds, poses the single greatest impediment of our progress. This fiction is built into each theory of consciousness that assumes, in accord with the Astonishing Hypothesis, that consciousness arises somehow from packs of neurons . . .” (¶6)
The massaging of words is interesting. The “best and brightest” ought to be ashamed of their gullibility, their acceptance of physicalism, is what I read between those lines.
“The fiction is built in.” Think on that a little.
Hoffman is saying Physicalism is a fiction. Seriously? Molecules, cells, creatures, the Earth around us, it’s all a product of outside conscious agents composing our perceptions for us?
Hoffman is telling us these things are entities in and of themselves. Perhaps not madness, but certainly not science. Hoffman is dancing in the realm of religion and philosophy.
Sidney Schulman, MD - JAMA Network - August 17, 1994
Partly as a side effect of the "Decade of the Brain," general readers with an interest in science have been afflicted with a surfeit of books about the brain from writers of curiously varied backgrounds. This one, with its garish title and disjointed assortment of 18 chapters, is by the distinguished codiscoverer of the structure of DNA.
Some work is required to tease out of the disorderly text the two main components of the book.
One of them, the better, consists of an account of current knowledge and trends of thinking about neural structure and function, with special emphasis on the cortical visual system of the higher mammals.
The other component, appearing irrepressibly in bits and pieces throughout the book, as well as in longer passages, consists of a mixture of Crick's zealous and uncritical Newton-or-bust ways of thinking about the relation of consciousness to brain and an insouciant polemic, …
Paul Austin Murphy repudiates a blasé reduction of mind to matter by one of the discoverers of the structure of DNA. (2019.v130 - PhilosophyNow.org)
In Francis Crick’s 1994 book, The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul, he wrote the following oft-quoted passage:
“‘You’, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.”
It’s easy to believe that here Crick was being willfully provocative and rhetorical. I want to consider to what degree he may also have been telling the truth, if at all. …
DH: “If no theory that starts with objects in spacetime can account for our conscious experiences, …” (¶6)
Who says? Hoffman? Take a look at these links I’ve added below, plenty of theory and research and progress going on.
“Can account for” is a rhetorical trump card of sorts. Account for what? What are the expectations? Impossible expectations backed by a dismissive attitude towards the incredible lessons that have been learned in neuroscience.
The attention schema theory (AST) of consciousness (or subjective awareness) is an evolutionary and neuropsychological scientific theory of consciousness which was developed by neuroscientist Michael Graziano at Princeton University.
It proposes that brains construct subjective awareness as a schematic model of the process of attention. The theory is a materialist theory of consciousness. It shares similarities with the illusionist ideas of philosophers like Daniel Dennett, Patricia Churchland, and Keith Frankish.
Graziano proposed that an attention schema is like the body schema. Just like the brain constructs a simplified model of the body to help monitor and control movements of the body, so the brain constructs a simplified model of attention to help monitor and control attention. The information in that model, portraying an imperfect and simplified version of attention, leads the brain to conclude that it has a non-physical essence of awareness.
The construct of subjective awareness is the brain's efficient but imperfect model of its own attention. This approach is intended to explain how awareness and attention are similar in many respects, yet are sometimes dissociated, how the brain can be aware of both internal and external events, and also provides testable predictions. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attention_schema_theory )
- Graziano MS (19 September 2013). Consciousness and the Social Brain. OUP USA. ISBN 978-0-19-992864-4.
- Webb TW, Graziano MS (2015). "The attention schema theory: a mechanistic account of subjective awareness". Front Psychol. 6: 500. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00500. PMC 4407481. PMID 25954242.
- Graziano MS (2016). "Consciousness Engineered" (PDF). Journal of Consciousness Studies. 23 (11–12): 98–115.
- Frankish K (2016). "Not Disillusioned: Reply to Commentators". Journal of Consciousness Studies. 23 (11–12): 256–289.
- Graziano MS (2017-11-14). "The Attention Schema Theory: A Foundation for Engineering Artificial Consciousness". Frontiers in Robotics and AI. 4: 60. doi:10.3389/frobt.2017.00060.
A neuroscientist on how we came to be aware of ourselves.
MICHAEL GRAZIANO - JUNE 6, 2016
DH: “then where shall we begin. … Suppose that I am an agent - a conscious agent - who perceives, decides, and acts.
How can something without substance perceive, decide, and act?
Suppose that my experience of objects in spacetime are just an interface that guides my actions in an objective world - a world that does not consist of object in spacetime. Then the question becomes, What is that world? What shall we place in that box labeled WORLD?
Now this form of the question itself makes assumptions that may prove false, Perhaps for instance, …” (¶6/7)
Suppose, suppose, assumptions, perhaps, for instance.
Let’s not suppose!
Let’s notice the world for what it is.
Appreciate our senses, and glory in our good health, if you are so blessed. If you aren’t blessed, be grateful for what you have, it could be worse.
Appreciate us as beings embedded within our physical body, within a world, that we perceive through our own senses and mind everyday.
Why not appreciate that the mind needs the body as much as the body needs the mind?
Why not appreciate that humanity has actually gained an amazing amount of trustworthy information about how our senses and body and brain works?
Hoffman belittles it, because it doesn’t answer his ultimate question of “truth” or god or some such abstract notion of a perfect understanding that seems to obsess many.
Me, I appreciate all I know, and how absolutely unique this moment and my mind is, and that the best I can do is enjoy it all to the best of my abilities and opportunities, despite the growing madness that seems to be gripping humanity. We all live one day at a time. Here and now. Worrying about what happens inside a quark just doesn’t register as relevant.
DH: “I’m just wrong to believe that I enjoy conscious experiences …” (¶7)
This is the sort of existential struggles that belong to children growing up and getting to know themselves a part of a big mysterious world. In an adult it’s the drama queen stepping onto the stage.
This metaphysical existential struggle is not the purview of science, despite Hoffman’s insistence to the contrary.
DH: “The notion of a conscious agent is based on intuitions that are widely shared. It must, however, be made precise and then endure the rough and tumble of science.
Then the question remains: What is the objective world?
Perhaps our world is a computer simulation… blockbuster Matrix… 13th Floor, games, …. Sims …” (¶9)
It would be so helpful if Hoffman would define which kind of Conscious Agents he is discussing at any one time.
These, originating of out nowhere Hoffmanian Conscious Agents have nothing to do with precise, rough and tumble science. They are the stuff of the Hollywood Dream Machine working on Hoffman’s amazing intellect and myopic imagination.
Hoffman needs to produce something tangible.
A fine tuned theorem from an idealized computer model universe isn’t tangible.
It’s the stuff of rough and tumble debate, but not serious science.
DH: “Could conscious experiences bubble out of a computer simulation?” (¶11)
The objective world is something we perceive within our minds, it is based on our perception of the physical world through our senses. It bubbles out of our neurons! For example,
Seeker - March 16, 2017
Our greater physical world bubbles out of something that happened 14 some billion years ago and has been evolving ever since.
DH: “Spacetime, for instance, may be pixelated like computer screen …” (¶11)
Here Hoffman again reveals how his Mindscape is trapped within the computer metaphor.
DH: “… no scientific theory that starts with neural circuitry has been able to explain the origin of consciousness. …”
“to explain the origin” Seriously? This sounds akin to Creationist denying Evolution because we haven’t been able to replicate the origin of life.
Aren’t there any critical thinkers in his audience who take offense when serious science is being slandered and disregarded so flippantly? Why do they never speak up?
Origins of consciousness is an amazingly alive area of study. In early days of amazing imaging breakthroughs, that promise further refinements in understanding the physical basis for perception, consciousness, and self-awareness.
Here’s a sampling of what Hoffman so glibly dismisses:
Consciousness as a Physical Process Caused by the Organization of Energy in the Brain
Front. Psychol., 01 November 2018 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02091
… The philosopher Thomas Nagel summarized one of our greatest intellectual challenges: how to explain mental processes as physical processes. The aim of this paper is to outline a principle according to which consciousness could be explained as a physical process caused by the organization of energy in the brain1. …
by Dr. J R Burger – May 17, 2014
“The human brain is the first computer to which all others are compared. Yet we know painfully little about how a brain accomplishes its peculiar computations. In particular, consciousness is at once familiar and mysterious, and needs to be understood both for science and for medicine. Boldly, but gently this book introduces a reader to the neural circuitry that achieves consciousness.
This amazing interconnection enables consciousness to flow like a stream, intimately relevant to the outside world; and for this to happen, fundamental cues emerge from mental images to bring forth associated recalls.
Alas cues can be inconsistent, causing memory failure; fortunately a subliminal cue editor encourages remembering forgotten items. Furthermore, cues generally address several memories, forcing the brain to make a selection. This necessitates another special circuit whose purpose is subliminal editing. The simplified explanations provided in this book make it clear that neurons do far more than ordinary devices, since a single neuron is capable of remarkably dense combinational and sequential logic.
Beginning with their interesting and unexpected logical behavior, the reader will genuinely enjoy Dr. Burger’s synthesis of a system for biological consciousness, a system that may someday result in credible artificial consciousness. …”
Hoffman gives Occam’s Razor lip service.
DH: “In accord with (Occam’s) advice, most attempts at a scientific theory of consciousness embrace physicalism. The basic constituents of objective reality are taken to be spacetime and its unconscious contents - particles, such as quarks and electron, and fields, such as gravity and electromagnetism.
Consciousness must somehow emerge from, or be caused by, or be identical to, these unconscious entities.
“Identical to”? That’s being silly. Emergence is the key concept Hoffman avoids.
Physicalists seek a theory that make good on the Astonishing Hypothesis that conscious experiences can be generated by packs of neurons, which are themselves cooked up from unconscious ingredients.” (¶18)
“Neurons are cooked up from unconscious ingredients” ??
Hoffman’s never defines consciousness, or unconsciousness, enough for that to make any sense.
Awareness, consciousness, is an emergent property of biological complexity.
The backstory of neurons and consciousness goes deep into biological history.
Hoffman implies that a cell is unconscious.
I don’t think that stands up to scrutiny.
There is too much going on for cells not have some level of awareness, consciousness.
The simplest eukaryote cell was already an amazing accomplishment of biological cooperation, command and control - it demands some level of awareness.
Of course, nothing like our brains, but then our brain is the epitome of biological complexity. Why not expect it to produce some extraordinary emergent abilities.
Such as a consciousness that includes memory, active learning, self-awareness. How well, or not, scientists can model and define it, is irrelevant to the fact of it happening.
Hoffman never acknowledges such nuances, nor does he seriously discuss the full evolutionary spectrum of awareness and consciousness.
Why? Because Earth’s Evolution isn’t Hoffman’s area of interest or study, his passions are with human perception, computer processing, mathematics, advertising, marketing manipulation and making it big.
Hoffman’s ‘better’ idea is conscious agents flying through space, disregarding time, composing our thoughts - it seems to be selling well.
Why, that’s what I’m wondering more and more.
DH: “As we have discussed, all attempts at a physicalist theory of consciousness have failed. …” (¶19)
The hubris knows no bounds. Impossible expectations.
Scientists are beginning to unravel a mystery that has long vexed philosophers
- By Christof Koch on June 1, 2018
… The majority of scholars accept consciousness as a given and seek to understand its relationship to the objective world described by science. More than a quarter of a century ago Francis Crick and I decided to set aside philosophical discussions on consciousness (which have engaged scholars since at least the time of Aristotle) and instead search for its physical footprints. What is it about a highly excitable piece of brain matter that gives rise to consciousness? …
We seek, in particular, the neuronal correlates of consciousness (NCC), defined as the minimal neuronal mechanisms jointly sufficient for any specific conscious experience.
What must happen in your brain for you to experience a toothache, for example? Must some nerve cells vibrate at some magical frequency? Do some special “consciousness neurons” have to be activated? In which brain regions would these cells be located?
NEURONAL CORRELATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS
When defining the NCC, the qualifier “minimal” is important. The brain as a whole can be considered an NCC, after all: it generates experience, day in and day out. But the seat of consciousness can be further ring-fenced. Take the spinal cord, a foot-and-a-half-long flexible tube of nervous tissue inside the backbone with about a billion nerve cells. …
DH: “As we have discussed, all attempts at a physicalist theory of consciousness have failed. They have produced no scientific theory and no plausible idea of hoe to build one. in each attempt so far, at just the moment when consciousness pops out of unconscious ingredients, a miracle occurs, and a metaphorical rabbit pops out of the hat.
The failure I think is principled: you simply cannot cook up consciousness from unconscious ingredients.” (¶19)
Or perhaps he’s simply fooling himself.
Emily Sohn - JULY 24, 2019
A growing understanding of consciousness could lead to fresh treatments for brain injuries and phobias
… Newly developed techniques for measuring brain activity are enabling scientists to refine their theories about what consciousness is, how it forms in the brain and where the boundaries lie between being conscious and unconscious. And as our understanding of consciousness improves, some researchers are beginning to build strategies for its manipulation, with the possibility of treating brain injuries, phobias and mental-health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and schizophrenia.
But even as research progresses, and ideas from science and philosophy continue to meld, essential questions remain unanswered. “It’s still just fundamentally mysterious how consciousness happens,” says Anil Seth, a cognitive and computational neuroscientist and co-director of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science at the University of Sussex in Brighton, UK.
Detective story …
DH: “Physicalism is not the only available monism. (¶20)
Why does Hoffman make “Physicalism” sound like a curse word?
What’s up with this war against simple down to Earth physical reality, as if we don’t have plenty more pressing problems to think about?
We live in a physical world made up of atoms who after many, many billions of years have evolved to this point in time.
Our Earth hit the jack pot, not only did life start here, but circumstances helped it evolve, geology and biology processed raw materials that nurtured more complex life, with time thinking creatures evolved. We humans with our incredible minds are one amazing part of that pageant.
If you’re curious about the details visit Cc's Pageant of Evolution project for an excellent list of recommended videos and articles.
DH: “If we grant that there are conscious experiences, and that there are conscious agents that enjoy and act on experiences, then we can try to construct a scientific theory of consciousness that posits that conscious agents - not objects in spacetime - are fundamental, and that the world consists entirely of conscious agents.
Consider, for instance a toy universe with just two conscious agents. …” (¶20/21)
“if we grant conscious experiences” ? The hubris is astounding.
If we “grant” indeed. Actually, it’s more a matter of, ‘if we recognize.’
He tells us we can “construct a scientific theory of consciousness that posits conscious agents.” We can also construct a theory that posits a Flying Spaghetti Monster. But that doesn’t make either science.
It’s philosophy, religion. The shame is that Hoffman appears unaware of the distinction.
Here’s a different sort of provocative philosophical idea for our proverbial pipe,
Humanity is the most exquisite example of the Universe’s need and desire to know itself.
Puff on it awhile. I’ll be revisiting this in a future post, after a some more ground work. :-)
DH: “To turn conscious realism into a science, we need a mathematical theory of conscious experiences, conscious agents, their networks and their dynamics. We must show how conscious experiences, conscious agents, their networks, and their dynamics.” (¶23)
Science is about accepting what we can see and measure.
Mathematical theory is most helpful when it has physical data to act as a reality check. Hoffman’s mathematical constructs have no physical data.
The quantum level experiments he points at have no correlates in our human realm to justify his imaginative suppositions and conclusions.
Hoffman has found a way around that by dismissing the validity of scientific observations of our macroscopic world. A compliant audience accepts that undercurrent.
I imagine most scientists would suggest, one must first observe and document the existence of supposed conscious agents, their networks and dynamics, before taking ones speculation too seriously.
DH: “We must get back to quantum theory and general relativity, and generalizations of these theories that are mathematically precise. (¶23)
(refer to ¶26)
You know, the scientific record makes a mockery of Hoffman’s flighty assertions about the state of the science:
WIKI page one
Jul 24, 2018 — Research into the neural correlates of consciousness and the theory of ... the discovery of the identity of lightning and electrostatic discharge ...
by M Polák · 2018 ·
Oct 4, 2017 — The neural correlates of consciousness (NCC) are defined as the minimal neural ... Advance online publication. doi: 10.1038/nrn.2016.105.
Jul 24, 2018 — Research into the neural correlates of consciousness and the theory of ... the discovery of the identity of lightning and electrostatic discharge ...
Since a seminal paper by Crick and Koch (1998) claimed that a science of consciousness should first search for its neural correlates (NCC), a variety of ...
Jun 2, 2016 — Neural correlates of consciousness: Progress and problems. April 2016 ... NCC began, the discovery of synchronized neuronal. discharges in ...
The neural correlates of consciousness (NCC) constitute the minimal set of neuronal events and mechanisms sufficient for a specific conscious percept.
Dec 7, 2007 — Figure 1: The Neuronal Correlates of Consciousness (NCC) are the ... breakthrough insights about the Neural Correlates of Consciousness.
May 4, 2018 — To the contrary, there is still active debate as to whether the neural correlates of consciousness are, in coarse terms, located in the back or the ...
May 1, 2003 — Abstract. Conflicting accounts of the neurobiology of consciousness have emerged from previous imaging studies. Some studies suggest that ...
DH: “But the proper ontology for science is physicalism. An ontology in which 'consciousness is fundamental' is mere quackery. (¶26)
“Consciousness is fundamental” implies that consciousness existed before there were creatures capable of experiencing the moment. That brings us right back to religious origin myths. Again Hoffman is more religious, than scientist!
Physicalism and the scientific method can get plenty close to defining consciousness without any need for god.
We humans seem to be an altogether different matter.
I appreciate that getting up close and personal with Evolution and biological complexity of life, things can get pretty dizzyingly mind boggling.
It can get near impossible not to wonder about something bigger, a guiding something for this infinity of complexity to be humming along so smoothly.
That's an all too natural impulse we should be willing to acknowledge.
But at the same time, we should admit to ourselves that those thoughts belong to our religious nature and not within the realm of scientific inquiry.
Consciousness is an emergent property of biological complexity, veiled within something beyond our current self-serving abilities to comprehend.
There have been a number of advances in the search for the neural correlates of
consciousness—the minimum neural mechanisms sufficient for any one specific conscious
percept. In this Review, we describe recent findings showing that the anatomical neural …
The role of the frontal cortex in consciousness remains a matter of debate. In this
Perspective, we will critically review the clinical and neuroimaging evidence for the
involvement of the front versus the back of the cortex in specifying conscious contents and …
GA Mashour - Science, 2018 - science.sciencemag.org
… informed (5). Global neuronal workspace theory posits that a subset of excitatory neurons and
long … Neuronal activity in the visual cortex (areas V1 and V4, in the back of the brain … in the front
of the brain) of awake monkeys was recorded to establish neural correlates of visual …
U Winter, P LeVan, TL Borghardt, B Akin… - Frontiers in …, 2020 - frontiersin.org
… signature of a stable attentional state that disconnects the neural correlates of both sensory
processes and processes of mental simulation from the neural correlate of consciousness … findings
provide a fascinating glimpse at the physiological and neuronal correlates of an …
Background Between pathologically impaired consciousness and normal consciousness
exists a scarcely researched transition zone, referred to as emergence from minimally
conscious state, in which patients regain the capacity for functional communication, object …
During the last three decades our understanding of the brain processes underlying
consciousness and attention has significantly improved, mainly because of the advances in
functional neuroimaging techniques. Still, caution is needed for the correct interpretation of …
Consciousness is a central issue in neuroscience, however, we still lack a formal framework
that can address the nature of the relationship between consciousness and its physical
substrates. In this review, we provide a novel mathematical framework of category theory …
In their interesting and thorough Review (Neural correlates of consciousness: progress and
problems. Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 17, 307–321 (2016)) 1, Koch and colleagues argue that the
fronto-parietal network is not directly related to consciousness as was previously thought …
Stimuli may induce only partial consciousness—an intermediate between null and full
consciousness—where the presence but not identity of an object can be reported. The
differences in the neuronal basis of full and partial consciousness are poorly understood …
DH: “To reject physicalism, and embrace conscious realism, is to embrace pseudoscence.” (¶26)
Donald said it. I can’t argue with that:
Conscious Realism is described as a non-physicalist monism which holds that consciousness is the primary reality and the physical world emerges from that. The objective world consists of conscious agents and their experiences that cannot be derived from physical particles and fields. (Donald D. Hoffman - Wikipedia)
Strictly speaking the objective world is our own best effort at perceiving the world. Physical Reality is the actual fundamental world outside of our minds. It simply IS. While our understanding is confined within the limits of our own mindscapes.
Scientists on the other hand speak of “Neural correlates of consciousness” (NCCs) which are the information packets that the brain sends forth to blossom into the thoughts in our mind. Exactly how that happens remains a mystery.
Though there are enough physical biological clues and indications, to eliminate the need for Hoffman’s brand of metaphysical alternatives.
Consciousness is an emergent property of biological complexity.
Consciousness requires experiencing.
Experience requires a physical body acting in spacetime, be you ameba or human.
Hoffman’s conscious agents are products of his imagination, formed within a model of an idealized mathematical universe. They supposedly exist all around us but have defied all observation.
I’ll proudly stick to good old fashioned physicalism.
DH: “… physicalism appears unfit in some new territories of science, such as quantum gravity and the relation of biology to consciousness.” (¶29)
Says Professor Hoffman as he’s hawking his book.
Quantum gravity, where the heck did that one come from?
I did a little homework.
Pretty out there, while researching the concept that quantum theory and even general relativity is required to figure out consciousnessI came across one Richard Seib who's written many papers.
By Richard Sieb
“… Space-time intervals may be the fundamental basis of life. The processing of space-time intervals by the human brain creates conscious experience and this animates us, i.e., makes us come to life.
A dead body no longer has consciousness and is no longer animated; it no longer processes space-time intervals.
Space-time intervals may also animate plants and animals as well, giving them the appearance of being alive; all plants and animals do certain things (what), at certain times (when), in certain places (where). …”
Notice that? ‘May’ with a question mark. “Appearance” of being alive.
Richard Sieb, a champion of the notion quantum/gravity creating consciousness won’t recognize that humans are on the same continuum as all other animals and plants. It speaks for itself.
It seems to me Arvin Ash provides a more balanced discussion of how quantum physics may be involved with consciousness.
Arvin Ash - Aug 21, 2020
Hoffman’s dismissal of consciousness being understandable through physicalism does not hold up to scrutiny.
Test Hoffman denial for yourself, google search: “relationship between biology and consciousness” see what’s out there.
Sébastien Maillé and Michael Lynn
Journal of Neuroscience, 1994, updated March 4, 2020
Understanding the neural basis of consciousness is one of the fundamental challenges in modern neuroscience. A number of sophisticated models and theories have attempted to formalize how the brain implements consciousness using insights from philosophy, psychology, computer science, and neuroscience. These include two major and perhaps competing theories, the integrated information theory (IIT) and the global neuronal workspace (GNW) theory, which differ mainly in their level of conceptual abstraction and anatomical specificity.
The IIT, first proposed by Tononi (2004), focuses on defining what a conscious system should look like with respect to information processing and architecture without considering particular brain areas or temporal profiles. One prediction of IIT is that neural networks supporting consciousness must be highly interconnected, effectively integrating different components of a state into a unified experience. A crucial advantage of the IIT is that it provides a mathematical metric of irreducibility (or integration), Φ, that can be related to the level of consciousness. Proponents of IIT point to its explanatory power: for instance, it can explain why the cortex is capable of producing conscious experience while the cerebellum is not (Lemon and Edgley, 2010; Yu et al., 2015), even though the cerebellum possesses up to four times more neurons. While the IIT has not received unambiguous validation (possibly due to the abstract nature of its description of consciousness; for review, see Tononi et al. (2016)), it provides one of the most detailed accounts for the emergence of conscious experience from an information-processing network.
The GNW theory (Dehaene and Changeux, 2011), in contrast to the IIT, was empirically derived from EEG and imaging studies in humans and primates. …
DH: “The surprising insight of the FitnessBeforeTruth theorem - that an organism that sees objective reality cannot dominate an organism of equal complexity that instead sees fitness - clashes with physicals and warns of its demise.” (¶29)
If you code your game that way, that’s how it’ll be.
DH: “… conscious realism, denies that physical objects exist when unperceived, and denies that they are conscious when perceived, physical object are our conscious experiences, but they are not themselves conscious. …” (¶31)
It’s all so much fast talk, like big brother taking advantage of trusting gullible little bro. Or better yet, a Calvin and Hobbes with the professor playing dad.
A skilled graphic artists who wanted to defend Physical Reality and Earth’s Natural Evolution and Humanism could have a field day with this chapter.
Chapter 10 will continue to be a challenge, that’s why I’m splitting it up. In the next section Hoffman steps up with more details about his 'Hoffmanian Conscious Agents' which affords me the opportunity to revisit some of the question I've raised in this review. Hoffman also tells us about incredible, or is that hardly credible, "icons" and their astounding power over our minds.
I’ll keep plugging away and sharing the results of my efforts. When that’s done, we’ll consider a more rational way of looking at our human condition, along with the physical reality we are embedded within, along with our brain and the consciousness we perceive it with.
Public notice to W.W.Norton Co and Donald Hoffman:
Donald Hoffman Playing Basketball in Zero-Gravity,
a critical review:
Why Evolution Hid The Truth From Our Eyes
By Donald Hoffman
Published August 13th 2019
Publisher: W.W. Norton Company
©all rights reserved
I hereby claim FairUse on the grounds that Donald Hoffman’s “The Case Against Reality” is part of an ongoing public dialogue which Hoffman explicitly encourages others to join. He invited critique and I accept his challenge.
I intend to be a witness for a fact based DeepTime, Evolutionary perspective on our “human mind” -“physical reality” interface.
To do Hoffman’s arguments justice I’m compelled to reprint quite a few of them as I go through his book and I appreciate both W.W. Norton Company and Donald Hoffman’s understanding, and I hope for their consent.
email: citizenschallenge at gmail
Cc’s Students’ Guide, a work in progress.
Frontiers in Psychology - June 17, 2014
Student Resources - Background:
More to come . . .
Feel free to copy and share
Email: citizenschallenge gmail com
Students Introduction to Reality Based Brain/Consciousness Research
Consciousness: here, there and everywhere? Giulio Tononi and Christof Koch
The Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness, Dr. Christof Koch,
Allen Institute for Brain Science, Coding & Vision 101, 12-part undergraduate-level lecture series
Some Elements of an Evolutionary Theory of Perception
Perceptual Systems, Historical Background, Innate And Learned Classical perceptual phenomena, Broad theoretical approaches, Current research/future developments.
Agnes Szokolszky, Catherine Read, Zsolt Palatinus, et al., 2019
Eric P. Charles, 2017,
Kristian Tylén, Riccardo Fusaroli, Sergio Rojo, et al. PNAS 2020
doi.org/10.1146/annurev-earth-082517-010120, March 21, 2018
Eve R. Schneider, Elena O. Gracheva, and Slav N. Bagriantsev, 2016
Leda Cosmides & John Tooby, Handbook of Emotions, 2000
Simon Neubauer, Jean-Jacques Hublin and Philipp Gunz, 2018:
Rainer Mausfeld, PhD.
By: Stephen Burnett, PhD, Nature Education Knowledge 3(10):75
H. Clark Barrett
by: Andrea Korte, February 19, 2017
The bottom line:
Mysteries of Modern Physics by Sean Carroll
Jan 29, 2020 - Darwin College Lecture Series
. . . these are the particles that make up you and this table and me and this laptop and really everything that you have ever seen with your eyes touched with your fingers smelled with your nose in your life.
Furthermore we know how they interact with each other and even better than that, the most impressive fact is that there will not be a discovery tomorrow or next century or a million years from now which says you know what there was another particle or another force that we didn't know about but now we realize plays a crucial role in our everyday life.
As far as our everyday life is concerned by which I really mean what you can see with your eyes touch with your hands etc we’redone finding the underlying ingredients. That is an enormous achievement in human history one that does not get enough credit, because of course as soon as we do it we go on to the next thing.
Physics is not done. I'm not saying that physics is done, but physics has understood certain things and those things include everything you encounter in your everyday life - unless you're a professional experimental physicist or unless you're looking of course outside our everyday life at the universe and other places where we don't know what’s going on. …