Author Topic: Conscious Realism  (Read 586 times)

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Offline luberjz

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Conscious Realism
« on: February 28, 2009, 06:58:53 PM »
I've seen the topic of consciousness brought up here a number of times, and while I'd guess that most are interested I know that people can get burned out on the subject.  It's so relevant yet at times discussions can feel so unrewarding.  I think the best thing to do, when you're in the mood, is to just dive in feet first, again, for the umpteenth time. 

Here's a peculiar article on the mind-body problem:

http://www.cogsci.uci.edu/~ddhoff/ConsciousRealism2.pdf

You'll notice right off that this guy is an idealist, of sorts, which may put people off.  And his references to quantum mechanics will definitely spring red flags.  Even so I think that anyone with an opinion on the mind-body problem can take something from this paper.  You may reject conscious realism and accept the interface theory, for example.  In any case I think you'll find the read to be stimulating.  I had a difficult time reading it and disagreed with many of his points, but at the same time thinking about exactly why I disagree has been the best part of the experience.   

The Brain is just the weight of God--
For--Heft them--Pound for Pound--
And they will differ--if they do--
As Syllable from Sound--
                                                                  
~Emily Dickinson

Offline spiney

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Re: Conscious Realism
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2009, 06:13:20 AM »
Complete garbage (and unnecessarily obscure)! While admittting there's no scientific explanation of consciousness - as distinct from causal chain - it adds nothing new. OF COURSE the objects we see are "tokens" (no serious philosopher has ever thought otherwise!).

A (slightly!) easier to follow version can be found here:

http://www.alexandria.nu/ai/blog/entry.asp?E=48

(added) basically, this is just Kant's noumenon/phenomenon distinction, expressed in modern jargon!

http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/No/Noumenon.html
« Last Edit: March 01, 2009, 06:16:29 AM by spiney »

Offline Evil Eye

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Re: Conscious Realism
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2009, 04:33:15 PM »
Consciousness is needed to explain reality, but not at all necessary for reality to exist.

Whether or not I can logically conceive of gravity has no bearing on whether it is true.

Thoughts work the same way.

I am needed to have a thought, but that doesn't mean the truth of the thought cannot exist without me. The thought itelf needs me, but the validity of the thought can be true or false regardless of me.

The validity of the thought is independent of the thought itself. - meaning that my concept of reality does not alter or control reality itself.
"We'll get that information to you later" - Richard Feynman to Mr. Rodgers.

Offline luberjz

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Re: Conscious Realism
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2009, 10:19:08 PM »
The biggest problem with the paper is that the "conscious agents" are never really identified.  Hoffman says that, at this point, the idea of a "conscious agent" is entirely abstract with respect to possible objective, measurable entities.  He likens it to a Turing Machine.  So, the case may be that conscious agents are not conscious in the human experiential sense, and that many conscious agents could possibly constitute a single person, only some of which correspond to commonplace awareness.  In other words, classical free will could still be an illusion, and the universe probably doesn't care about you.   

The theory is in its preliminary stages, to be sure, but Hoffman draws his confidence from the rigid mathematical formulations spelled out in Observer Mechanics: A Formal Theory of Perception (the technical edition of Visual Intelligence), which, he claims, can be used to derive many of the equations of quantum mechanics.   

With regards to the interface theory being a rehash of Kant's noumenon/phenomenon distinction, I'm not sure if that's supposed to be a dismissal or what.  There's a lot to be gained by taking philosophically sound arguments and putting them into modern, technical terms.  The entire argument found in Observer Mechanics and Visual Intelligence rests on the basic language of Kant's distinction, but the evidence and fine points don't necessarily fall out of the Kant's original work. 

Now, I'm not saying that I agree with every one of Hoffman's points and accept conscious realism; I just think it deserves a fair shake.  I've tried debating with him several times and it's not easy (I always walk away thinking that I should have majored in math), but the experience is worth it.
The Brain is just the weight of God--
For--Heft them--Pound for Pound--
And they will differ--if they do--
As Syllable from Sound--
                                                                  
~Emily Dickinson

Offline Evil Eye

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Re: Conscious Realism
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2009, 04:42:53 AM »
The truth (or not) of a thought is not the same, or dependent on the thought itself.

For example:

A: I think I will go to the store. (this supposes a thought being the cause, but that's wrong, as you will see below.)

B: I do not think at all about going to the store. The lack of the thought does not remove the fact that I could go to the store. Therefore the truth of the thought is not dependent on the thought.
"We'll get that information to you later" - Richard Feynman to Mr. Rodgers.

Offline spiney

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Re: Conscious Realism
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2009, 10:10:39 AM »
This stuff is just garbage.

Since the Milesians, NO philosopher - for the last 2500 years! - has believed in Naive Realism. Of Course everything we sense is only only a "representation", it has to be! Plato knwe this well, with his cave analogy, as did Leucippus with his atomism. And so on .........

The Big Question has always been, what is the intrinsic nature of the Real Thing, which our "representational system" represents?

As far as I can see - it's extremely vague - the MUI concept comes closest to Schopenhauer.

http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/arthursc.htm

The idea of perceptual representations ("sense data") as sets of working hyotheses - that is, the human perceptual system has evolved because it's usefuls for survival - is Karl Popper's position.

"Thus, we have not made our world. So far we have not even changed it much, compared with the changes achieved by animals and plants. Yet we have created a new kind of product or artefact which promises in time to work changes in our corner of the world as great as those worked by our predecessors, the oxygen-producing plants, or the island-building corals. These new products, which are decidedly of our own making, are our myths, our ideas, and especially our scientific theories: theories about the world we live in."

http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/at/popper.htm

Offline luberjz

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Re: Conscious Realism
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2009, 09:39:34 PM »
We can compare the MUI to its philosophical antecedents all day, but in the end the idea only serves as way for Hoffman to present conscious realism.  And your emphasis on "representation" tells me that you didn't read the article closely enough.  Hoffman rejects physicalism, so to him there is no external reality that needs to be re-presented.

Again, while I don’t agree with Hoffman I think that refuting his theory will take more than treating him as if he's a freshman philosopher who's unaware that he's plagiarizing.  It’s better to engage his concepts and use his language.  One inconsistency I found was the assumption of a computational burden that needs to be alleviated by the use of an interface.  This only makes sense in terms of neurological processes, but Hoffman says that neurons are epiphenomena.  What’s the logic of imposing such limitations on fundamental “conscious agents”, moreover ones that don’t even occupy space-time (as described by modern physics)?  I asked him about this the other day during a lecture and it stopped him dead in his tracks.  The whole thing was caught on tape.  It was glorious.
The Brain is just the weight of God--
For--Heft them--Pound for Pound--
And they will differ--if they do--
As Syllable from Sound--
                                                                  
~Emily Dickinson

Offline spiney

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Re: Conscious Realism
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2009, 08:22:15 AM »
We can compare the MUI to its philosophical antecedents all day, but in the end the idea only serves as way for Hoffman to present conscious realism.  And your emphasis on "representation" tells me that you didn't read the article closely enough.  Hoffman rejects physicalism, so to him there is no external reality that needs to be re-presented.

Again, while I don’t agree with Hoffman I think that refuting his theory will take more than treating him as if he's a freshman philosopher who's unaware that he's plagiarizing.  It’s better to engage his concepts and use his language.  One inconsistency I found was the assumption of a computational burden that needs to be alleviated by the use of an interface.  This only makes sense in terms of neurological processes, but Hoffman says that neurons are epiphenomena.  What’s the logic of imposing such limitations on fundamental “conscious agents”, moreover ones that don’t even occupy space-time (as described by modern physics)?  I asked him about this the other day during a lecture and it stopped him dead in his tracks.  The whole thing was caught on tape.  It was glorious.

No, that's wrong. Schopenhauer's position is identical with this, as far as I can see, that is, the world as will (ie, "conscious agents"). That perceptions are of noumena is Kant's position !!!!

What the point is of using bizarre and misleading analogies with data processing, in computers,l I've no idea. Whatever the brain is, it's not a computer!

We can compare the MUI to its philosophical antecedents all day, but in the end the idea only serves as way for Hoffman to present conscious realism.  And your emphasis on "representation" tells me that you didn't read the article closely enough.  Hoffman rejects physicalism, so to him there is no external reality that needs to be re-presented.

Again, while I don’t agree with Hoffman I think that refuting his theory will take more than treating him as if he's a freshman philosopher who's unaware that he's plagiarizing.  It’s better to engage his concepts and use his language.  One inconsistency I found was the assumption of a computational burden that needs to be alleviated by the use of an interface.  This only makes sense in terms of neurological processes, but Hoffman says that neurons are epiphenomena.  What’s the logic of imposing such limitations on fundamental “conscious agents”, moreover ones that don’t even occupy space-time (as described by modern physics)?  I asked him about this the other day during a lecture and it stopped him dead in his tracks.  The whole thing was caught on tape.  It was glorious.

No, that's wrong. Schopenhauer's position is identical with this, as far as I can see, that is, the world as will (ie, "conscious agents"). That perceptions are of noumena is Kant's position !!!!

What the point is of using bizarre and misleading analogies with data processing, in computers,l I've no idea. Whatever the brain is, it's not a computer!

(added) I wish people would read what i actually say - and acquire some elementary knowledge - before posting totally stupidly ignorant and deliberately insulting "putdowns". It's quite obvious this bloke is an idealist. He says as much. However, claiming that matter is a construct doesn't make it unreal, idealists are NOT claiming "the world's a dream"! See Dr Johnson, Berkeley, etc ......
« Last Edit: March 06, 2009, 08:33:36 AM by spiney »

Offline spiney

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Re: Conscious Realism
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2009, 08:41:53 AM »
Consciousness is needed to explain reality, but not at all necessary for reality to exist.

Whether or not I can logically conceive of gravity has no bearing on whether it is true.

Thoughts work the same way.

I am needed to have a thought, but that doesn't mean the truth of the thought cannot exist without me. The thought itelf needs me, but the validity of the thought can be true or false regardless of me.

The validity of the thought is independent of the thought itself. - meaning that my concept of reality does not alter or control reality itself.


Right! Well, while I'm still in a bad mood, that's rubbish too. Or rather, it's not necessarily true !

http://access.nku.edu/garns/190/tutorial/berkeley8.asp

Or, as old Shoppinghour put it, "knowing" requires both subject and object. The idea of only the object existing without a subject is  ..... just a little bit incoherent!

"If indeed our representations must be processed by the categories of our thought in order for us to know their objects (which exist only in relation to subject), then the original representation before thought (which Kant says is the concern of sensibility and the Form of Intuition) has nothing to do with objects".

http://skeps.wordpress.com/2007/05/28/also-forthcoming-schopenhauer/
« Last Edit: March 06, 2009, 08:48:52 AM by spiney »

Offline Evil Eye

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Re: Conscious Realism
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2009, 09:58:49 AM »
I think I understand what you're saying.

I'm saying that regardless of the ability to conceptualize something, it has no bearing on the reality of the objective reality of whatever it is.

A rock is whatever it is without me being there to call it a rock. The rock is independent of my concept of it. It does not cease to exist just because there is no concept of it.

"We'll get that information to you later" - Richard Feynman to Mr. Rodgers.

Offline spiney

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Re: Conscious Realism
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2009, 07:41:16 AM »
Sorry, EvilEye, I was a bit pissed off by Luber's completely ignorant "putdown", and Zab's ranting ........

What the stuff of reality is, we have no possible way of knowing! So, Leucippus' atoms, Locke's primary and secondary qualities, Kant's noumena, ShoppingHour's "preceptual acts", and ...... not least, the probability waves of QM (and strings) .......

It's metaphysics, so not amenable to scientific investigation. Which doesn't mean the question is meaningless, as logical positivists claimed, or that meaning resides in the method of verification (Wittgenstein). What it means is, we just don't know.

But, to introduce straightforward idealism, in the guise of bizarre new jargon borrowed from brain research, seems to me pointless. As the above blog I linked to says, what's the point of claiming "conscious agents" might exist?

Offline Evil Eye

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Re: Conscious Realism
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2009, 08:04:23 AM »
Sorry, EvilEye, I was a bit pissed off by Luber's completely ignorant "putdown", and Zab's ranting ........

What the stuff of reality is, we have no possible way of knowing! So, Leucippus' atoms, Locke's primary and secondary qualities, Kant's noumena, ShoppingHour's "preceptual acts", and ...... not least, the probability waves of QM (and strings) .......

It's metaphysics, so not amenable to scientific investigation. Which doesn't mean the question is meaningless, as logical positivists claimed, or that meaning resides in the method of verification (Wittgenstein). What it means is, we just don't know.

But, to introduce straightforward idealism, in the guise of bizarre new jargon borrowed from brain research, seems to me pointless. As the above blog I linked to says, what's the point of claiming "conscious agents" might exist?

I agree.

Nature doesn't care. It just does. With or without conception.
"We'll get that information to you later" - Richard Feynman to Mr. Rodgers.

Offline Evil Eye

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Re: Conscious Realism
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2009, 08:07:55 AM »
Ah!

If conscious realism were true, then nothing exists outside of knowledge. That means that things we find are created when we discover them.

This means our entire universe has literally grown by leaps and bounds with our knowledge of it. (in their eyes)

Or the reverse which shows how dumb the idea is....

I cover my eyes.

I can't see you, so you are not there. (little kids do this)
"We'll get that information to you later" - Richard Feynman to Mr. Rodgers.

Offline spiney

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Re: Conscious Realism
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2009, 07:53:02 AM »
As far as I can see .............

This so-called "conscious realism" is, quite simply, just straightforward old fashioned idealism, but with some mumbo jumbo jargon atttached (which adds nothing to the general idea, at all!).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idealism

 

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