Home > Uncategorized > What is the connection between consciousness and the body it resides in?

What is the connection between consciousness and the body it resides in?

Answer by Craig Weinberg:

After a Long Debate On The Evolutionary Justification of Awareness with another user who deleted and locked the thread, I thought that I would reiterate the points that I made.

There is no intrinsic difference between the nature of the computations performed by simple organisms in the microcosm and animals which we are more comfortable calling conscious. While we would expect the size difference of the larger animal to engender a certain degree of computational overhead, there is nothing to suggest that complexity alone magically conjures qualities like color, flavor, and feeling out of thin air to better manage processing. We would not seek out such a thing if we were designing such a process, and indeed, there would be no reason to expect that such a thing would be available in the universe to begin with.

If we were to create a program to run a Sims Homo sapiens avatar as an AI which would develop a dashboard of indicators and controls to best secure its survival and reproduction, there is no reason to assume that this dashboard would be orders of magnitude more complex than that of a Sims octopus, a Sims dust mite, or even a Sims eukaryote. Though our aesthetic awareness is vastly richer than a single cell organism, the basic program of seeking nutrition, avoiding threats, and securing reproductive success is not very different in a petri dish than it is on the savanna. It seems to me the height of anthropocentrism to presume that there is something about our human survival condition which is billions of times more complex than anything that has to move and eat and learn what to avoid.

The question of why any dashboard would be needed at all is even more significant. The Hard Problem of Consicousness, as it has been called, recognizes that graphic interfaces and the like are what computer users need to operate a computer, but the computer itself gains no benefit and suffers no problems related to having the data it processes manifest somewhere in a form which can be see, felt, tasted, etc. Indeed, computers are useful to us precisely because any computer can reduce anything into pure data without any encumbrance from experiential requirements. The computer doesn't care if the DVD looks like a movie to you or a bunch of music, databases, whatever. To the computer it's all the same twitching semiconductor states.

Therefore, we must seek other solutions to the Mind Body problem. My solution involves recognizing the odd number of symmetrically opposite qualities of awareness and bodies. Here are a few.

Body

  • public extension
  • discrete shapes
  • unconscious
  • seems deterministic or random
  • a-signifying, meaningless
  • generic
  • nested geometric bodies divided by space and scale
  • forms and functions
  • literal positions (location coordinates)
  • inferred dispositions (energy, momentum)
  • doing, knowing

Mind

  • private intention
  • continuous non-shapes
  • conscious
  • ranges from reflex to voluntary
  • signifying, creative
  • proprietary
  • experiences united by time and subject
  • appreciation and participation
  • literal dispositions (attitudes)
  • inferred positions (personality revealed over time)
  • feeling, being

These have made me curious as to the nature of symmetry and aesthetics, and what function they have in the universe. After a lot of consideration, my hypothesis is that there is no plausible explanation for these phenomena and that the most likely solution is that what we call the universe actually emerges from them rather than the other way around. By this I mean that the fabric of the universe is the capacity to sense and make sense. Rather than assuming that matter or laws can simply exist independently of awareness, my understanding is that the universe is a strictly participatory experience.

It's going to sound absurd to most people, but that is exactly as I would expect, since we are already a human experience, made of countless other experiences in a context of a single eternal experience. Experiences nested this way only work if they are are kept relatively partitioned from each other, yet translucent enough to remain all part of a single uni-verse of sense. The way that I think that this is accomplished is through perceptual relativity. General relativity is really only conceivable with a subjective participant doing the relating anyhow, but Einstein did not get around to explaining exactly what observation entails and how it gets to change the nature of space and time. In my estimation, relativity is a special case of the more universal capacity to relate, which is sense itself.

What this means is that the bodies that we experience are themselves subjective experiences, but on a distant perceptual inertial frame. When one experience is so much slower and older than than another, or smaller and faster, then they two stories are tokenized within each others range. We see that which is on a very different scale from us as machine like and objectified, or supernatural and fictionalized. In both cases, our experience of them is rendered in such an alien way because that is in fact an appropriate default presentation for the significance of such an impersonal influence. We don't have much to do with what goes on at the geological scale personally, but our bodies can use minerals for a lot of purposes and we can build structures, etc.

Just because this is our experience of minerals does not mean that this is an impartial view of what the mineral experience is in the universe. Indeed, on a scale where time is vastly more accelerated, the universe had been perfectly content to spin fantastic quantities of mineralized orbs for thoudands of millennial. It is only from the perspective of hairy little dirt-fish on Earth that these celestial parties seem static and sterile. This is not to say that every rock and planet is a being, only that what we see of the experience which is taking place in the universe leaves a footprint within our inertial frame that presents its nature to the extent that it can be to us.

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  1. Erik Andrulis
    July 31, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    Hey, man, your post (and the image) reminded me: when are we going to do our x-examination?

  2. July 31, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    Yes! I was thinking of that too, reading your email interview. Should we do a format like that? Should we do two separate interviews, or maybe some quasi-performance art piece where we each try to avoid interviewing each other simultaneously in such a way that the interview is inferred in the negative space 🙂

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