Home > consciousness, neuroscience, philosophy, physics, universe > Is consciousness an emergent property of the brain or a fundamental property of matter?

Is consciousness an emergent property of the brain or a fundamental property of matter?

February 25, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments
Which is more likely?
Isn’t saying that consciousness is an emergent property of the brain just as much a non-explanation as saying it is a fundamental property of all matter?

To begin with, I think that it is necessary to separate the notion of personal states of consciousness from the vastly more general phenomenon of awareness.

Despite continuing evidence that human beings are less unique and special compared to other species than we had believed in the past, there are still ways in which Homo sapiens exhibit superlative talents. While we may no longer be able to point to any one particular trait, such as tool use, language use, or bipedalism that makes humans fundamentally different from everything else in the universe, the overwhelming sophistication of human life is surely an order of magnitude greater than that of any other organism we have encountered.

We know now that human neurons are not very different from those of other species, however, the human brain has almost twice the ratio of brain to body mass and energy of expenditure than the next closest contender (Bottlenose dolphin). We have every reason to correlate this surplus brain capacity with the success of the human species in overcoming their natural limitations and extending their habitat in uniquely un-natural ways.

If we set aside the special case of human consciousness for a moment, what can we really say that a brain does for an organism which cannot be found in organisms which lack a brain that has to do with deciding whether that organism is aware or not? There are zooplankton, for instance, with no brains who have eyes made of just two cells. We can imagine that anything using such primitive sense organs would have a vastly degraded experience compared to stereoscopic human vision, but the general premise of using optical sensation to navigate the environment is no more or less an indication of consciousness than our own.

As neuroscience and biology progress, it seems that rather than finding a clear threshold of phenomena which begin to appear more conscious, the threshold continues to fall. Here are some interesting things to consider:

This even extends beyond the level of living cells:

Add to this the continuing lack of resolution on ‘fringe’ issues such as NDEs, OBE’s, paranormal phenomena, the increase of the placebo effect, statistical anomalies in random event generators (REGs) and we get a picture of consciousness emerging from brains as seeming awfully anthropocentric.

If we consider the possibility of a material panpsychism, in which consciousness is a property of matter, it is not clear that we have solved the fundamental problem. The so called Hard Problem of Consciousness and Explanatory Gap address this lack of understanding about what a phenomenal quality of aesthetic presence would be doing in a mechanistic universe in the first place. By focusing on the structure of the brain and function of neurons, we are hoping to deflate the mind body problem. The mind can be seen simply as the functioning of a neural body – a vast network which exploits biochemistry to represent computations in this as-yet-not-understood, but inevitably discoverable way we are familiar with as our naive experience.

If we look at this approach more closely however, I think that we should find that all we have done is to miniaturize the mind body problem, so that it now exists at an arbitrary scale (neuron-mind neuron-body, peptide-mind peptide-body, connectome-mind connectome body, etc.). The metaphor of hardware and software has, in my view, led a generation of cognitive scientists and consciousness enthusiasts down a misguided path in which the very systems which we use to serve our conscious user experience (screen, keyboard, GUI, software) are mistakenly identified as serving the hardware (CPU, RAM, storage, network).

To truly go beyond the hard problem requires that we look at ‘looking’ itself. Understanding sensation and awareness as a phenomenon in its own right requires that we suspend all previous judgments and delve into completely new directions. In my own hypothesis, I see consciousness as not only a property of matter or physics, but is the sole property from which all possible properties must extend. This doesn’t require a human-like deity any more than the belief in matter requires that the universe is a large human-like body. It is more a matter of understanding how nested symmetries of a primordial sensitivity could produce what we know as matter, energy, spacetime, information, and subjective experience.

Is consciousness a physical phenomenon? Something fully explainable as a complex interaction of elementary particles.

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  1. February 26, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    As difficult as it is to explore beyond the corporeal and physical in seeking to understand consciousness, it is the only path to grasping its WHAT, WHY and WHERE.

    After a pragmatic career, I experienced an NDE and absorbed some answers which changed my life completely. We have much to understand, but remaining stuck in the physical and mind dependent scientific method will not provide us answers.

    http://www.amazon.com/My-Self-Soul-James-Debar-ebook/dp/B00HZZ1XE0/ref=la_B00I11OHJK_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1393449753&sr=1-1

    “My Self, My Soul”

    One challenge is accepting that our minds, our egos, our intellects, are separate from our Souls, but are here joined for this temporary physical journey.

    • February 26, 2014 at 10:12 pm

      Nice to meet you James. Sounds interesting.

    • Theodore A. Hoppe
      November 14, 2014 at 5:59 pm

      What all these books have in common is not the question, how they differ is the problem. Your is just one more book that proves little more than subjective evidence.

      Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent
      Life After Life: The Investigation of a Phenomenon—Survival of Bodily Death by Raymond A. Moody Jr., with a preface by Melvin Morse and a foreword by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
      Paranormal: My Life in Pursuit of the Afterlife by Raymond Moody and Paul Perry
      On Death and Dying: What the Dying Have to Teach Doctors, Nurses, Clergy, and Their Own Families by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
      On Life After Death by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, with a foreword by Caroline Myss
      Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences by Jeffrey Long with Paul Perry
      Memories, Dreams, Reflections by Carl Jung, edited by Aniela Jaffé and translated from the German by Richard and Clara Winston
      Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander
      A Vision from Heaven (The Risen Christ) by Mary Stephens Landoll
      Revealing Heaven: An Eyewitness Account by Kat Kerr, with a foreword by Scribe Angels and illustrations by Walter Reynolds
      90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death and Life by Don Piper with Cecil Murphey
      Waking Up in Heaven: A True Story of Brokenness, Heaven, and Life Again by Crystal McVea and Alex Tresniowski, with a foreword by Laura Schroff
      Embraced by the Light by Betty J. Eadie with Curtis Taylor
      I Knew Their Hearts by Jeff Olsen
      Cold Noses at the Pearly Gates: A Book of Hope for Those Who Have Lost a Pet by Gary Kurz
      Wagging Tails in Heaven: The Gift of Our Pets’ Everlasting Love by Gary Kurz
      Furry Friends Forevermore: A Heavenly Reunion with Your Pet by Gary Kurz

  2. February 26, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    Send me an email address and I’d be glad to send you an eBook copy of “My Self, My Soul” through Amazon.

    My interest rests stimulating the discussion.

  3. February 27, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    Ya…consciousness is something that is close to awareness and all other, qualities like language etc are like communicating about a communication (what we aware from consciousness) . In that way all behavioral and special qualities are communications coming out of mind, the grasping of which is limited in space time realm. The conscious is what we feel (aware) and is beyond space time realm and hence neither our mind or physical laws can express it.

  4. October 20, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    It should be noted that the brain does not create electromagnetic energy or molecules. It transforms the energy and molecules into meaningful senses. Consciousness might also be an energy or property albeit an intangible one that the brain utilizes. No one knows.

    As a best guess consciousness existed prior to the evolution of the senses. Otherwise the senses would have no evolutionary explanation.

    This does not relate to religious beliefs except as someone gives it a religious twist.

    Experts in artificial intelligence continue to seek answers to the hard problem. In my opinion they should not discard this idea.

    • October 20, 2014 at 9:04 pm

      “It should be noted that the brain does not create electromagnetic energy or molecules. It transforms the energy and molecules into meaningful senses.”

      I think that all living cells create molecules, don’t they? Cells of the brain synthesize neurotransmitters by rearranging other molecules, etc. So too does the brain produce electromagnetic fields. I suppose you could say that they aren’t created as far as they don’t violate the law of conservation of energy, but that would be the same for anything.

      I consider sense experience to be a primitive form of consciousness. We have sense organs which are specialized to focus and amplify sensitivity, but sensitivity, awareness, perception, feeling, and consciousness are all ultimately interchangeable terms for the most part. Our sense organs have evolved, but that doesn’t mean that sense experience wasn’t already there to drive that possibility.

      I think that the hard problem has become more mainstream, allowing more AI experts to address it to some extent. There is certainly a lot of important work in AI to be done without having to get into philosophy of mind, so I don’t think that everyone has to make it the centerpiece of their research, but yes I would encourage the experts to hang on to explore the hard problem deeply and look for answers.

  5. January 1, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    Thank you this a great subject.
    How about this: ” Consciousness must be energy (fully intelligent by default superior by nature) that utilize our body as vehicle, to translate its feelings, thoughts, wishes, wants, and curiosity from ethereal form into tangible, and physical form.
    It works such as follows: Consciousness gets an idea and think about it, imagine its looks, shapes, dimensions, colors etc. ; then gives a name, however still continue to be intangible, until it is designed and physically made. Therefore our Consciousness, create things and uses all available tools the body (brain, eyes, hands, ears, etc) to transform it into tangible things.
    The question, is the Consciousness of person the same as that of other people, or is it unique?

    • January 1, 2015 at 10:41 pm

      Thanks Riad,

      I think that energy is a form of consciousness rather than the other way around. Energy is really a contrived concept which is used to tie out physics equations related to quantifying how mass ‘works’ over time. It is consciousness which is imagined as force which can be defined spatially and temporally, but in reality no such force has been encountered outside of a conscious ontology. Before our personal consciousness can create things, it has to extend beyond its own range, to the brain, nervous system, body, and the body’s world of body relations.

      Consciousness is the same in the sense that it there is nothing but consciousness, but it is unique in that consciousness is uniqueness itself. Consciousness is the eternal precedent of the unprecedented.

  6. Atla
    November 6, 2016 at 10:08 am

    I’m a nondualist, which is fundamentally different from both materialism and idealism (I consider these to have been experimentally disproven anyway). My understanding is that the “emergent property theory” is a delusion based upon a delusion based upon a delusion based upon a delusion.

    The real solution to the hard problem is very simple and yet very strange: there never was a mind-body duality in the first place. Matter and consciousness are one and the same thing. It’s just that people like Descartes “divided” the indivisible reality into these two categories. And after that, people took this new idea completely seriously and went crazy.

    Why was this made-up division required? To answer the question of the duality of the “I”, and the “other”. The question of the ego.
    But the real solution to the ego is very simple and yet very strange: there never was a duality between the “I” and the “other” in the first place. That is merely an illusion. It’s just that people like Plato divided the indivisible reality into these two categories. And after that, people took this new idea completely seriously and went crazy.

    Which all goes back to the primordial delusion, the delusion of seperateness. It was probably the Greeks who came up with it. I was wondering whether it might have been the Minoans, but looking at their art, probably no. Guess we will neve know until their language gets deciphered.
    So why are things separate in nature? Why do our thoughts seem to come in discrete packages? Why is reality divided into parts?

    The real solution to the separateness problem is very simple and yet very strange: there never was any separateness in the first place. That’s just an illusion. Our thoughts seem to come in distinct packages but they don’t. Because many of us are self-aware, we think that we aren’t one with nature. But we are.

    The above is how the Western “understanding” evolved in the last few thousand years. However in the East, they saw through these illusions all along. “Consciousness” simply means that we are reality itself. What else could we be? Consciousness has nothing to do with the human brain or mind or human experiences per se. These are all part of reality like everything else. And “matter” is simply the “structure” of reality.

    • November 6, 2016 at 11:51 am

      Thanks for your comments.

      “there never was a mind-body duality in the first place.”

      It depends what the local state of consciousness is. Nothing is a body in its own frame of reference. We are feelings, thoughts, experiences, and our body is one of aspect of our human experiences. We own a body, a body doesn’t own us. The tissues of the brain don’t know our name and we can’t describe anything that’s going on chemically or biologically in our brain by direct acquaintance. While we are under anesthesia, our body does not resist in any way undergoing surgery. As we know from NDEs, reincarnation accounts, and other non-ordinary states of consciousness however, consciousness experiences itself independently of the body, or as part of a dematerialized web of dancing energy, light, love, etc. If there were no separation between mind and body we would not know what we meant by those terms. We would not be able to conceive of a mindless body or a bodyless mind, just as we cannot conceive of a square circle.

      Empirically, the example of dreaming shows us two things: 1) The psyche can spontaneously access immaterial versions of material worlds. We know that when we dream of a person or place or thing, those do not correspond to a physical body in public space, composed of chemical elements on the periodic table etc. 2) We know that under most circumstances, dreamers do not suspect that they are dreaming, regardless of how surreal or impossible the content of the dream. This means that we either a) cannot be certain that we aren’t dreaming while we are awake, or b) when we are awake our consciousness is connected to a veridical sense of reality which transcends the limitations of any subjectivity generated strictly within the brain. Neither of those possibilities support the notion that mind and body could be transitive. We know that mind can dream a body, but there is no rational justification to expect that a body…which is a structure that must be describable purely in terms of publicly accessible material geometries, would or could generate dreams and interior qualities of experience simply because of the complexity of its shape or function. All that geometry can to is change shape and location, it cannot conjure feelings, thoughts, colors, etc from nowhere, and if it could, we should not consider it matter at all, but something more like magic.

      “there never was a duality between the “I” and the “other” in the first place. That is merely an illusion. ”

      Again, it depends on the state of consciousness. The word ‘illusion’ is itself an illusion. All that it can mean is that some experience which is expected to belong to some category or class of experiences actually belongs to another. We see a graphic of an optical illusion in which a grey and white checkerboard appear, but on closer inspection, we find that the grey and white are the same color. Calling this an ‘illusion’ is a mistake of prejudice. What these optical techniques actually provide is an opportunity for us to use our visual awareness to deconstruct itself. We see how the grey and white squares are both opposite and the same in different contexts. The mistake is assuming that just because we show the colors to be ‘really’ the same by measuring the light ‘objectively’, that one view is real and one view is illusion. The deeper truth is that both are real and both are illusion, they are just complex experiences which allow their mutable contextualities to be seen directly and chosen voluntarily. This is what I mean by Multisense Realism: Reality is actually a perceptual quality of ‘realism’ that reports on the degree to which any given experience is part of a context of experiences which lead back to the origin of all experience, or whether is an eddy which remains relatively insignificant outside of its own context. It’s all a dream-reality, but any given awakening can be more or less true in relation to all other experiences in the universe.

      “Consciousness has nothing to do with the human brain or mind or human experiences per se. These are all part of reality like everything else. And “matter” is simply the “structure” of reality.”

      To say that consciousness has *nothing* to do with the human brain is an exaggeration, and it contradicts what you say earlier about mind and matter being inseparable. Of course human consciousness, 99.99…9% of the time correlates with the activity we can observe in the human nervous system. That correlation, I’m saying, isn’t transitive. It’s a one way correlation in that everything that the brain is doing can be explained as an evolved mechanism to move a body around and help it survive and reproduce. What cannot be explained is why any of those mechanisms would be different than any other (presumed) unconscious mechanism such as cellular metabolism, genetic replication, etc. Why would some magical collection of chemicals or changes in their electrical properties take on flavors, colors, feelings etc. Where would these qualities exist physically, and how?

      The point of all of this is to say, yes, I agree that dualism is an illusion in one sense, but a reality in another. This interplay between illusion and reality however, cannot be explained by the actions of a body. Bodies can’t, by definition, conjure spectral, metaphysical phenomena such as dreams and imagination unless we explain exactly how and why that is inevitable given some particular geometric structure or physical concoction. It makes much more sense to say that the body-mind illusion is a dream of consciousness rather than that consciousness is the function of bodies.

      Have a look at this thread also:

      Physical existence is consciousness which has been cooked by the entropy of relative unconsciousness.

      • Atla
        November 6, 2016 at 2:23 pm

        Actually, I was referring to consciousness in general, not “individual consciousness”, but we probably need to go through the idealism phase first. Remember I’m a nondualist, not a materialist. Materialism and idealism are derived from dualism.

        I’ll try to point out some mistakes of dualistic thinking:

        “We are feelings, thoughts, experiences, and our body is one of aspect of our human experiences.”

        Individual feelings, thoughts, experiences are a part of the individual body. Or in other words, the individual body is the extended individual thoughts, feelings, experiences.

        “We own a body, a body doesn’t own us.”

        Individually, we are the body. “Owning” is merely a conceptualization of things. “We”, “I” is a conceptualization.

        “The tissues of the brain don’t know our name”

        Wrong. Some tissues of the brain are the knowing of our name. The idea of “I”, “our”, in other words the illusion of the seperate ego, is also a bunch of tissues in the head.

        “we can’t describe anything that’s going on chemically or biologically in our brain by direct acquaintance.”

        Why couldn’t we describe anything about experience?
        Individual experience is a part of the human head. They only question is whether it’s “viewed from the inside or outside”.

        “As we know from NDEs, reincarnation accounts”

        These are mostly dreams, hallucinations, abnormal processing. Reincarnation accounts mostly describe the state when the brain/mind gets fragmented into parts. Each part is kinda filled up with scenery and feels like a different person. I personally have experienced one NDE and several of these reincarnation-seeming things, there is so much nonsense going around about these.

        “other non-ordinary states of consciousness however, consciousness experiences itself independently of the body”

        Of course it does, that’s the illusion of the ego, or at least one layer of it. Right now in the normal everyday state, I experience “myself” more or less independently from “my body” too, it’s illusory.

        “as part of a dematerialized web of dancing energy, light, love, etc.”
        “To say that consciousness has *nothing* to do with the human brain is an exaggeration”

        Consciousness isn’t “dematerialized”. And I meant that the human brain/mind plays no special role in consciousness.
        I was talking about consciousness in general. Consciousness is universal. All matter is “conscious”. A rock is “conscious”. A human is “conscious”. All consciousness is “matter”. Seeing is “matter”. Hearing is “matter”. All consciousness is “matter”.
        Only when we split up reality into matter and mind, does the nonsense question arise about which one is fundamental and how they relate to each other.
        (Unfortunately, English is a dualistic language, it is nearly impossible to get across a nondualistic message.)

        “If there were no separation between mind and body we would not know what we meant by those terms. We would not be able to conceive of a mindless body or a bodyless mind, just as we cannot conceive of a square circle.”

        You see, this is a nice example of dualistic circular reasoning.
        Mind and body are the same thing, two ways to look at one thing.

        “Empirically, the example of dreaming shows us two things: 1) The psyche can spontaneously access immaterial versions of material worlds.”

        ?! When we are dreaming, the brain/mind is rearranging itself, which can mean surreal experiences. How on Earth you got to “immaterial versions of material worlds” I don’t know.

        “We know that under most circumstances, dreamers do not suspect that they are dreaming, regardless of how surreal or impossible the content of the dream. This means that”

        This means that the illusion of the ego usually doesn’t function while dreaming. Which is understandable since dreams usually are made of lower frequency brainwaves (delta and such) and the ego probably gamma waves.
        It takes a lot of meditation practice to be fully self-aware while experiencing sleep-like states.

        “Neither of those possibilities support the notion that mind and body could be transitive.”

        They aren’t “transitive”, they are one and the same thing.
        I guess in a way you could say that the mind is the software and the brain the hardware. But the software and hardware are one and the same thing, we just split it into two.

        “We know that mind can dream a body, but there is no rational justification to expect that a body…which is a structure that must be describable purely in terms of publicly accessible material geometries, would or could generate dreams and interior qualities of experience simply because of the complexity of its shape or function.”

        The mind IS the body. The body IS the mind.
        To think that one arises or doesn’t arise from the other is dualism.

        “All that geometry can to is change shape and location, it cannot conjure feelings, thoughts, colors, etc from nowhere, and if it could, we should not consider it matter at all, but something more like magic.”
        Geometry is a conceptualization. In a way, feelings, thoughts, colors are too. Doesn’t matter how you conceptualize experience and doesn’t matter how you conceptualize matter when they are the same thing. You could say in a dualistic way thath “matter” is the structure of “experience”.

        “This is what I mean by Multisense Realism: Reality is actually a perceptual quality of ‘realism’ that reports on the degree to which any given experience is part of a context of experiences which lead back to the origin of all experience, or whether is an eddy which remains relatively insignificant outside of its own context.”

        You are merely talking about human understanding here, aren’t you? Why confuse it with reality itself? You merely described (if I understand correctly) how the human brain/mind works. Layers upon layers of perception, experience, conceptualization, “illusion”, sure.
        Why “equate” that with reality itself? Humans have no special place or role or whatever.

        “What cannot be explained is why any of those mechanisms would be different than any other (presumed) unconscious mechanism such as cellular metabolism, genetic replication, etc. Why would some magical collection of chemicals or changes in their electrical properties take on flavors, colors, feelings etc. Where would these qualities exist physically, and how?”

        Which is why both materialism and idealism collapse. They also collapse to the fact that there is no “observer-independent” reality in physics.
        So, there is only nondualism.

      • November 6, 2016 at 4:17 pm

        “Individual feelings, thoughts, experiences are a part of the individual body.”

        Only because what we experience as our body isn’t really a physical body, it’s a summary of the entire history of experience. If it were really a body, it would be nothing but structures in space, so it couldn’t contain any feelings. If you want to say that feelings are part of a body, you would have to explain precisely how and why. To just take two obviously different – even opposite kinds of phenomena and just say that they aren’t different has no explanatory power.

        “we are the body”

        There is a lot of good evidence to the contrary. Beyond that though, just saying we are the body doesn’t help anything. My body is shapes in various stages of solid and liquid circulation. Nothing connects those shapes to me, except me. There is no sign of me in those shapes.

        “Wrong. Some tissues of the brain are the knowing of our name. ”

        Not necessarily. Terminal lucidity, neuroplasticity, and other cases of brain abnormalities show that there is no reliable way to localize specific conscious experiences in the brain. It doesn’t work that way.

        “These are mostly dreams, hallucinations, abnormal processing. Reincarnation accounts mostly describe the state when the brain/mind gets fragmented into parts.”

        That’s what people say when they are not familiar with the actual cases. Your position seems too dogmatic about this to continue, but if you like, take a look at these links. http://msrlinks.tumblr.com/post/114228621938/sense-essence-and-existence-archive

        Thanks for coming by!

      • Atla
        November 6, 2016 at 4:57 pm

        “If it were really a body, it would be nothing but structures in space”

        Only in dualism, I said this many times. Dualism was debunked.

        “To just take two obviously different – even opposite kinds of phenomena”

        That is dualism. But there are no two kinds of phenomena. There is only one.

        “There is a lot of good evidence to the contrary.”

        Depends on what you mean by “I”. You, individually, as a human, are that human body.
        Beyond this illusion of the ego, as I said, we are reality itself. That’s what consciousness is. Realizing this fact is sometimes called “awakening”.

        “Nothing connects those shapes to me, except me. There is no sign of me in those shapes.”

        Why wouldn’t there be. You can take a brain scan while you are thinking about yourself, and some brain regions will light up on the scan.

        “Terminal lucidity, neuroplasticity, and other cases of brain abnormalities show that there is no reliable way to localize specific conscious experiences in the brain. It doesn’t work that way.”

        Yes, some other tissues can take over the job, when the “typical” ones get damaged etc. That doesn’t contradict what I said, on the contrary.

        “but if you like, take a look at these links.”

        Yes, most of the stuff there confirms my position. But there’s also some trickery, like calling the conditioning of dough “learning”.

      • November 7, 2016 at 7:07 pm

        “Only in dualism, I said this many times. Dualism was debunked.”

        This is an appeal to dogma and dictionaries. Saying that feelings and thoughts are structures in space is incoherent. You can say that they always correlate to each other (which is false anyhow), but you cannot say that the flavor “sweet” is not different from a flavorless geometric structure or function of brain tissue, molecules, etc. because “Dualism has been debunked”. That’s an argument from authority fallacy. To me it is more important to get back to the fundamentals of what is experienced, rather than what has been said by certain philosophers.

        “Depends on what you mean by “I”

        Not at all. It has nothing to do with that. What I’m talking about is the difference between that which is felt, seen, tasted, imagined, etc and what is touched with the body…tangible structures in public space.

        “You, individually, as a human, are that human body.”

        If you can prove that, Deepak Chopra says he will give you one million dollars.

        “Why wouldn’t there be. You can take a brain scan while you are thinking about yourself, and some brain regions will light up on the scan.”

        So what? That shows a correlation, but that doesn’t mean that the brain knows what function it’s performing. Cars go in and out of parking lots, but it doesn’t mean that they experience a desire to be parked.

        “Yes, some other tissues can take over the job, when the “typical” ones get damaged etc.”

        I’m talking about the absence of brain activity altogether…again, you have to actually look at the work being done.

        “Yes, most of the stuff there confirms my position. ”

        No, it doesn’t. You’re seeing what you expect to see, not what is there.

        I’d recommend this book – it is the best and most current source on the subject.

        https://www.amazon.com/Transcendent-Mind-Rethinking-Science-Consciousness/dp/1433822776

      • Theodore A Hoppe
        November 8, 2016 at 4:18 pm

        Arguing with a believer of nondualism about consciousness is a waste of time; you’re not going to chance their beliefs, and they cannot point to scientific biological evidence.

        “Consciousness is generally thought of as being comprised of two critical components – arousal and awareness.
        Researchers had already shown that arousal is likely regulated by the brainstem – the portion of the brain that links up with the spinal cord – seeing as it regulates when we sleep and wake, and our heart rate and breathing.
        Awareness has been more elusive. Researchers have long thought that it resides somewhere in the cortex – the outer layer of the brain – but no one has been able to pinpoint where.
        Now the Harvard team has identified not only the specific brainstem region linked to arousal, but also two cortex regions, that all appear to work together to form consciousness.”
        The research has been published in Neurology.
        http://www.neurology.org/content/early/2016/11/04/WNL.0000000000003404.short

      • November 8, 2016 at 11:01 pm

        Still it ignores the Hard Problem. By defining consciousness as “generally thought of as being comprised of two critical components – arousal and awareness.” we take aesthetic phenomena (qualia or experience) for granted in the first place.

        Being aroused or aware are qualities of attention, which relates to the personal experience of modulating sub-personal experience. It’s one thing to find the sites in human brains which can control that relation between personal and sub-personal experiences, i.e. to be able to bring a person out of a coma, but is it quite another to show how experience is attached to material or computational structures in the first place.

      • Theodore A Hoppe
        November 8, 2016 at 11:59 pm

        “Consciousness is a large, complex, and difficult topic. My conscious mind encompasses a great deal of information, including memories, knowledge about myself (self-awareness), and information about the outside world. But the problem can be simplified at least somewhat by focusing on the more specific property of awareness, rather than on the bewildering range of information about which I can be aware. Some process allows me to be aware of information. What is the process of awareness? Why does it apply to some information in the brain but not all?

        The theory

        In my lab we are pursuing a specific theory of awareness, the “attention schema” theory (Graziano and Kastner, 2011). The theory is described in detail in a forthcoming book (Graziano, Oxford UP, in press). We proposed that specialized machinery in the brain computes the feature of awareness and attributes it to other people in a social context. The same machinery, in that hypothesis, also attributes the feature of awareness to oneself. Damage to that machinery disrupts one’s own awareness.

        The attention schema theory was motivated by two sets of previous findings.

        First, certain regions of the cortex are recruited during social perception as people construct models of other people’s minds. (e.g. Brunet et al., 2000; Ciaramidaro et al., 2007; Fletcher et al., 1995; Gallagher et al., 2000; Goel et al., 1995; Saxe and Kanwisher, 2003; Saxe and Wexler, 2005; Vogeley et al., 2001). These regions include, among other areas, the superior temporal sulcus (STS) and the temporoparietal junction (TPJ) bilaterally but with a strong emphasis on the right hemisphere.

        Second, when these same regions of cortex are damaged, people suffer from a catastrophic disruption of their own awareness of events and objects around them. The clinical syndrome of hemispatial neglect, or loss of awareness of one side of space, is particularly profound after damage to the TPJ or STS in the right hemisphere (Karnath et al., 2001; Valler and Perani, 1986).

        The conjunction of these two previous findings suggests that awareness is a computed feature constructed by an expert system in the brain. The feature of awareness can be attributed to other people in the context of social perception. It can also be attributed to oneself, in effect creating one’s own awareness.”

        http://www.princeton.edu/~graziano/research.html

  7. Theodore A Hoppe
    November 9, 2016 at 12:02 am

    Re: the hard problem

    “Graziano’s scientific research focuses on the brain basis of awareness. He has proposed the “attention schema” theory, an explanation of how, and for what adaptive advantage, brains attribute the property of awareness to themselves. His previous work focused on how the cerebral cortex monitors the space around the body and controls movement within that space. Notably he has suggested that the classical map of the body in motor cortex, the homunculus, is not correct and is better described as a map of complex actions that make up the behavioral repertoire. His publications on this topic have had a widespread impact among neuroscientists but have also generated controversy.”

    https://www.closertotruth.com/series/what-consciousness-part-3#video-48375

    • Atla
      November 9, 2016 at 10:07 am

      @Theodore

      Nondualism isn’t a belief – dualism is.
      None of your three examples adressed the “hard problem” at all so you didn’t adress nondualism. Indeed you take qualia/experience for granted (or deny that it exists). You probably have no idea what we mean by these words.
      You talk about awareness but why CAN there be an experience of awareness in the first place?

      @multisenserealism

      “You can say that they always correlate to each other (which is false anyhow)”

      Oh? Give one example (which isn’t hearsay) where they can be shown not to “correlate”?

      “difference between that which is felt, seen, tasted, imagined, etc and what is touched with the body…tangible structures in public space”

      What are you talking about? “Tangibility”, “perception of structures in public space” etc. are just another forms of human experience, how is that fundamentally different?

      “That shows a correlation, but that doesn’t mean that the brain knows what function it’s performing.”

      The “knowing” and a part of the brain are the same thing.

      “I’m talking about the absence of brain activity altogether…again, you have to actually look at the work being done.”

      When there is a COMPLETE absence of brain activity, it’s called death.
      However small parts of the brain can react automatically to the environment, start to sing etc. even though there is really “no one there” what we would recognize as a human being. Some of these are almost completely braindead and will even tell you that there is no one there.

      Which really show the truth of nondualism and the illusion of the ego.

      • Theodore A Hoppe
        November 9, 2016 at 12:12 pm

        “and they cannot point to scientific biological evidence.”

      • November 9, 2016 at 3:49 pm

        In the case of consciousness, ‘evidence’ is what is evident to the senses. To really address consciousness, I think science will have to expand and change its expectations.

      • Theodore A Hoppe
        November 9, 2016 at 4:07 pm

        For thousands of years many, mostly philosophers and religious sorts, have speculated about “consciousness.”
        Science has only recently turned toward understanding it with great progress.

        Here is my collection of 54 recent articles and videos on the topic.

        https://plus.google.com/u/0/collection/8OR3AB

      • November 10, 2016 at 6:12 pm

        Nice, thanks! I’ve presented at TSC a few times.

    • Atla
      November 11, 2016 at 7:17 pm

      “and they cannot point to scientific biological evidence”
      You are talking about the “consciousness of organisms” which is of course biological in nature. I am talking about “universal consciousness”.
      These two topics have almost nothing to do with each other.
      Do you get it now or do I need to explain it a 4th or 5th time?

      • Atla
        November 11, 2016 at 7:47 pm

        I don’t how else to put it. The word “consciousness” has two major, fundamentally different meanings.

      • November 13, 2016 at 2:04 am

        The word we use and its meanings are not important.

        Topics are not important.

        Ego defense mechanisms are not important.

        I offer a plausible explanation for all psychophysical phenomena and a framework for their understanding.

        I’m happy to answer questions about it, but if you have any more concerns about words, terms, or impulses to condescend to me from a place of ignorance and arrogance then I refer you to this page: https://multisenserealism.com/dear-skeptic/

      • Atla
        November 13, 2016 at 7:31 am

        That one was adressed @ Theodore.

  8. Theodore A Hoppe
    November 12, 2016 at 4:48 am

    So, if we were to define the biological aspect of consciousness as awareness and attention, what is the nature of “universal consciousness?”
    Where is it evidenced?

    • Atla
      November 12, 2016 at 7:15 am

      I’m not sure but you might still be mixing them together to a misleading degree if you are talking about aspects. The “consciousness of an organism” “relates” to universal consciousness to the same degree that a rock relates to u.c.

      “Where is it evidenced?”

      The only thing we can know for certain is that all of this is happening instead of just “going on in the dark”. You are asking where the only thing we can have absolute evidence for, is evidenced.

      • Theodore A Hoppe
        November 12, 2016 at 3:39 pm

        Ahh, so universal consciousness is just your term for god.
        “Universal Mind is the universal higher consciousness or source of being in some forms of esoteric or New Thought and spiritual philosophy. It may be considered synonymous with the subjective mind or it may be referred to in the context of creative visualization, usually with religious or spiritual themes.”

        That is a just a belief, your belief.

    • Atla
      November 12, 2016 at 5:07 pm

      I have zero belief in anything supernatural/esoteric/religious/spiritual/”god”.
      You really have no clue about anything, do you..

      • Theodore A Hoppe
        November 12, 2016 at 9:47 pm

        Perhaps not, I’m listening!
        Where did you offer a definition of consciousness, universal or otherwise?

        Here is what I’ve found, “Universal Mind is the universal higher consciousness or source of being in some forms of esoteric or New Thought and spiritual philosophy. It may be considered synonymous with the subjective mind or it may be referred to in the context of creative visualization, usually with religious or spiritual themes.”

      • November 13, 2016 at 2:14 am

        Consciousness is anything that is not unconsciousness. Any feeling, thought, experience, sensation, awareness, perception of any kind. Universal consciousness is the totality of all of that.

  9. Atla
    November 13, 2016 at 7:07 am

    Since Descartes we divide reality into conscious and unconscious. It is one of the most destructive ideas anyone has ever come up with.
    Why is any of this experienced, instead of just “going on in the dark”? If all is just matter it all should just be “going on in the dark”.

    “Emergent property” means that stuff that is already there starts to behave in new ways, patterns.
    “Emergent property” does not mean however that you can get something out of nothing, because that contradicts all known laws of nature.

    “Conscious” out of “unconscious” is a something out of nothing “emergence”. If you throw a bunch of unconscious matter together in a certain way, consciousness emerges from it. You get something out of nothing. So, the current mainstream, widely accepted scientific explanation is pure magical thinking, which is a shame to say the least.

    • Theodore A Hoppe
      November 14, 2016 at 12:59 am

      One word, “complexity.”

      • Atla
        November 14, 2016 at 5:06 am

        Yes, that is pure magical thinking.

      • Theodore A Hoppe
        November 14, 2016 at 5:18 am

        Re: Yes, that is….
        So, you then are the decider “IS”

      • Atla
        November 14, 2016 at 10:16 am

        So, you can create something out of nothing using “complexity”? Can you teach me that skill?

      • Theodore A Hoppe
        November 14, 2016 at 4:18 pm

        Re: “Can you teach me that skill?”

        lol, This demonstrates to me your limited understanding of complexity, and emergence.

        “Kauffman proposed the self-organized emergence of collectively autocatalytic sets of polymers, specifically peptides, for the origin of molecular reproduction. Reproducing peptide, DNA, and RNA collectively autocatalytic sets have now been made experimentally. He is best known for arguing that the complexity of biological systems and organisms might result as much from self-organization and far-from-equilibrium dynamics as from Darwinian natural selection, as well as for applying models of Boolean networks to simplified genetic circuits. His hypotheses stating that cell types are attractors of such networks, and that genetic regulatory networks are “critical” have found experimental support.”

        https://www.closertotruth.com/series/how-complexity-and-emergence-create-cosmos#video-2514

      • Atla
        November 14, 2016 at 4:42 pm

        You are a dishonest fool who just changed the topic mid-sentence, as expected. Now we are back to the “consciousness of organisms” (the easy problems of consciousness), which of course has a lot to do with complexity, surprise surprise. So much for limited understanding, “lol”. 🙂

  10. Atla
    November 13, 2016 at 8:29 am

    Of course “multisense realism” is also based on the fundamental division invented by Descartes and is therefore automatically refuted, it is merely condescension based on ignorance. How do your “senses” interact with each other? There we have the hard problem again, except now we went from substance dualism to substance pluralism, now it’s even worse.

    Nondualism here is the lack of belief in such divisions. Nondualism is a “belief” to the same extent that atheism is a “belief”.

    “The name Multisense Realism is intended to convey the idea that the whole of what we call reality is sourced entirely to a single unifying principle, which is the multiplicity of sense.”

    Multiplicity of sense is how the human brain/mind works. Layers upon layers upon layers of processing, “visualization”, perception, abstraction, abstraction over abstraction, illusions, hallucinations, emergence, thinking feeling conceptualization imagery sound etc. etc. etc. etc.

    Confusing the workings of the human brain/mind with the ultimate nature of reality is a very common type of delusion – in fact many philosophies of the East are full of this. It’s one of the most common forms of crazy there, though they are maybe more often about equating ultimate reality with a feeling of awareness experienced in deep meditation than projecting the illusion of multisense upon reality.

    • November 13, 2016 at 6:17 pm

      “Of course “multisense realism” is also based on the fundamental division invented by Descartes and is therefore automatically refuted,”

      Mischaracterization and logical fallacy. The term Multisense *means* that the sense of Cartesian division is only one aspect of a larger context of nondualism and pre-dualism. If some view were based on Cartesian division, that in no way means that is ‘automatically refuted’. Says who?

      “How do your “senses” interact with each other? ”

      I have sense experiences, and I am a sense experience. The interaction is not one where ‘senses’ exist and do things to each other, but rather all phenomena is sensory-motive, and the totality of experience is diffracted and refracted in many different ways.

      “except now we went from substance dualism to substance pluralism”

      Only in your straw man misreading of what I’m saying. There is no substance. Sense is the only ‘stance’. Sense experiences which are nested down within each other are re-presented as sub-stance. Sense experiences which are nested beyond the native frame are represented as super-stantial, or ‘superstitious’ if you oppose it.

      “Nondualism here is the lack of belief in such divisions. ”

      I know. My view picks up where nondualism leaves off. Your dogmatic version of nondualism is just another kind of dualism between 1) ‘everything’ and 2) ‘illusions of division’. See? Not believing in division is a division.

      “Multiplicity of sense is how the human brain/mind works. ”

      You don’t understand what I’m talking about. Sense = any phenomenal experience. Brains and minds are categories of phenomenal experience…things which are touched and seen or felt and heard. You presume absolute anthropocentricity. I am saying nothing about human beings at all.

      “Confusing the workings of the human brain/mind with the ultimate nature of reality is a very common type of delusion ”

      So common that you don’t realize that is exactly what you’re doing. This site is a complete overhaul of all previous physical and philosophical interpretation. I think that you are too invested in your own presumptions of expertise to begin to question your beginning assumptions.

      • Atla
        November 13, 2016 at 9:36 pm

        “Your dogmatic version of nondualism is just another kind of dualism between 1) ‘everything’ and 2) ‘illusions of division’. See? Not believing in division is a division.”

        This is merely word magic. Not seeing divisions as illusory is the problem. But made-up divisions are necessary for understanding, communication etc.
        Everything you write screams substance pluralism. You mistake the illusory divisions in the human mind / in human understanding for fundamental features of reality.

        Do you have any evidence for the “totality of experience being diffracted and refracted”?

      • November 13, 2016 at 10:35 pm

        “This is merely word magic. Not seeing divisions as illusory is the problem.”

        That’s a restatement of the same dogma. Your view of nondualism requires that we disqualify the experience of bodies as being different in any way from disembodied qualities of experience.

        Illusions can only exist within conscious experience. MSR explains that the experience of there being a difference between the flavor ‘sweet’ and the physical structure of glucose molecules cannot be an ‘illusion’, because that experience of understanding it to be an illusion would also have to be equally defined as an illusion.

        ” But made-up divisions are necessary for understanding, communication etc.”

        Again, your nondualism is a dualism between that which is ‘made-up’ and that which is not ‘made-up’. Instead of excluding either mind or matter from our picture of nature, you’re excluding ‘real undivided nature’ from ‘unreal illusions of division’. MSR resolves this confusion completely by explaining that all phenomena are experiences. Some experiences contain rigidly distinct, Cartesian style appearances of public space vs private experiences, while other experiences contain fluid, ambiguous, or transcendent qualities. They are different modes of awareness. It is the fact of that modality (the multi-sense selectivity) which is the only plausible ground of Realism. To consider a view in which our ordinary experience is dominated by disqualified ‘illusions’ of division, but then exclude a this particular division of ‘made-up’ vs ‘non-made up’ conditions is a glaring double standard. Your nondualism is an intellectual fetish that does not explain our real experience, except to deny it for the satisfaction of feeling exempt from it.

        “Everything you write screams substance pluralism. ”

        To you it does, because your belief system won’t allow itself to be challenged, so a straw man of my view is projected for you to attack.

        “You mistake the illusory divisions in the human mind / in human understanding for fundamental features of reality.”

        There is only one fundamental feature – sense experience. This has nothing to do with minds or matter, humans or philosophy. It is a hypothesis based on a process of elimination of other plausible solutions. Idealism is already known to be true in the context of dreams. We can dream of a rock. We know that we can dream of a rock without knowing that we are dreaming. This means that every rock we encounter while awake could be either part of a dream, or that we can access a veridical sense of waking while we are awake. Both of these support nondual fundamental awareness as an aesthetic phenomenon rather than as an unexperienced logical or material structure. The converse thought experiment – the idea that dreams are generated by ‘rock-like’ material structures is not a rational expectation and can only enter our minds as projection of our own subjectivity onto our ignorance about matter and consciousness. Objects have no business dreaming, but dreams do routinely feature rocks.

        “Do you have any evidence for the “totality of experience being diffracted and refracted”?”

        Evidence like that would require direct access to the totality of experience. It is not required to have evidence of a hypothesis being true prior to formulating the hypothesis.

      • Atla
        November 14, 2016 at 5:33 am

        “because that experience of understanding it to be an illusion would also have to be equally defined as an illusion”
        “but then exclude a this particular division of ‘made-up’ vs ‘non-made up’ conditions”

        I don’t know what you are talking about, I didn’t exclude anything.
        All human experience is illusory to one degree or another, one form or another, but certainly not “equally”.

        “MSR resolves this confusion completely by explaining that all phenomena are experiences.”

        I don’t know what you are talking about I don’t know what you think I meant by nondualism. All phenomena ARE experiences.

        “They are different modes of awareness. It is the fact of that modality (the multi-sense selectivity) which is the only plausible ground of Realism.”

        And here is where we enter this substance pluralism. What are these different modes? How do these modes “interact”? What is this “multi-sense selectivity”, where is it, how do everyday experiences interact with this selectivity? Why is it needed anyway.
        Soft and hard problems popping up left and right, but the even bigger problem is: where is any evidence for this? How is this anything more than projecting how the human brain/mind works onto reality?

        “We can dream of a rock. We know that we can dream of a rock without knowing that we are dreaming. This means that every rock we encounter while awake could be either part of a dream, or that we can access a veridical sense of waking while we are awake.”

        This is pure insanity. During dreaming the brain/mind is simply rearranging itself, reprocessing things that are already inside the head. Dreaming has no such magical implications.

        “Idealism is already known to be true in the context of dreams.”

        wrong

        “Both of these support nondual fundamental awareness as an aesthetic phenomenon rather than as an unexperienced logical or material structure.”

        It doesn’t, your example is a complete misunderstaning of what dreams are. Anything you base on this falls apart.

        “the idea that dreams are generated by ‘rock-like’ material structures is not a rational expectation”

        Nor is yours, both idealism and materialism are debunked.

        “Evidence like that would require direct access to the totality of experience.”

        We have direct access to the totality of experience. 🙂 No one has ever seen any proof for it being diffracted or refracted though. You haven’t offered any either, even though your whole hypothesis is based on it.

  11. Atla
    November 14, 2016 at 5:40 am

    Dude, your explanation of dreams clearly shows that you are profoundly delusional. 🙂 Actually I’m more interested in knowing how you can take yourself seriously?

    • Atla
      November 17, 2016 at 10:48 am

      “We know that we can dream of a rock without knowing that we are dreaming. This means that every rock we encounter while awake could be either part of a dream, or that we can access a veridical sense of waking while we are awake.”

      “Encountering” an image of a rock while awake and while dreaming are two different things. While awake, the image is constructed using input from the sensory organs. While dreaming, the image is constructed using input from the memory. Whether or not we know we are dreaming is irrelevant.

      There is no “accessing” a sense of waking while we are awake. Being awake is being awake and it feels like that.

      “The converse thought experiment – the idea that dreams are generated by ‘rock-like’ material structures is not a rational expectation”

      But you didn’t solve the hard problem either. How does fundamental awareness, which “should” be a completely homogeneous nothing, gain access to material structure, how does experience gain “shape”, “form” etc.

      It doesn’t work the matter -> experience route and it doesn’t work the experience -> matter route either because it can’t.

      You see for me it’s easy, because I see the Western insanity from the outside. Materialism and idealism are both impossible due to the hard problem, they are the two sides of the same coin. I’m sorry you invested so many years into this, but at least you know more than materialists do.

      • Atla
        November 17, 2016 at 10:56 am

        One more note, both materialism and idealism as a philosophy are directly disproven by the fact that there is no observer-independent reality in physics. As demonstrated by every experiment every done, especially since the Leggett inequalities. Experience and matter are one and the same thing and there is no distinction between them whatsoever. Now of course this freaks out materialist physicists more than anything, and try to bury it and forget it in every way possible, but facts are facts.

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