Home > consciousness, conversation, cosmogony, cosmology, Perception, phenomenology, philosophy > Evan Thompson Live! Consciousness Live! S4 E12 CW comments, part 2

Evan Thompson Live! Consciousness Live! S4 E12 CW comments, part 2

September 28, 2021 Leave a comment Go to comments
Part 2 of my comments on Richard Brown’s conversation with Evan Thompson

At 57:15 Richard is posing the question of why objects in a simulated world aren’t real objects in a real digital world. To this I say what is being overlooked is sense modality. We have to be as literal as we possibly can be when discussing these topics. Objects, in the most literal sense, are not images or numbers, they are tangible shapes. Solid, liquid, and gaseous volumes in public spacetime. Real objects are composed of molecules that are made up of atoms on the periodic table. Sense experience is the only thing that can generate realism. When we think of a simulation, we are thinking of some artificially stimulated sense experience – a GUI image that *we* see (birds don’t see it, hamsters don’t see it) on screen hardware. Without this, there is nothing begin simulated.

The interface hardware cannot be simulated. There is no software that can be written that will generate colors for the color blind in the way that software could be written to solve math problems for people who aren’t able to do math. No amount of computation or complexity will yield a new primary color. Eventually we will likely have hardware that is wired into the visual cortex directly but we still don’t know how or why changes in the states of cells would ‘seem like’ or ‘appear’ as anything other than what they physically are. If any data is being processed, the changes in the cellular states already ARE the data processing events. If an organ evolved to have a higher, meta-level governance of its own processes, then that too would only be and could only be more cells that are performing cellular functions which only happen to mirror a sampling of the lower level processes. There can be a functional link – for every 100 neurons that fire on a lower level, 2 neurons fire on the meta-level, and that would accomplish the result that our experience of ‘modeling’ allows us to accomplish functionally, but without any such thing as modeling. The relation of the “model” plane and the “actual” plane is metaphorical. They are both physical objects of different size and composition. It is only in human perception and association that one could seem to ‘model’ the other. There are no models in physics, chemistry, or biology, unless we understand those domains (as I do) to be scales of conscious interaction.

I very much agree with what Evan is saying around 1:05 about bits not existing apart from our practices of imposing maps and schemes. This gets us close to the big revelation that I’m pushing all of the time – It’s SENSE that matters. Matter doesn’t sense. Or it wouldn’t, if matter were primitive and real, but matter itself is just a lower rung of sense and motive engagement. That’s why QM and relativity describe the scale limits of physicality, rather than Cartesian coordinate objects. That’s why quantum contextuality and entanglement. The common denominator is always ultimately sense. Not even the sense-of-being-a-sensor or using a sensory, but sense experience itself: qualia. Matter can be qualia, information can be qualia, but neither information or matter can turn themselves into qualia materially or logically, nor can they turn themselves into each other. That’s perhaps the more important clue.

Software cannot find hardware and vice versa. When we ‘compile’ ‘code’, we are performing a physical task that just pushes physical changes in physical circuits. There isn’t a literal ‘conversion’ from ideas to physics, it’s just that the way that we set up the machine seems *to us* (and to the sense and sense making modalities we can access) to be isomorphic. There is no ‘code’ in physics – no concepts, only tangible shapes or regions where tangible shapes move in certain ways.

Electromagnetism can be reduced to that – to changes in the motion of particles. We can undo all notion of fields and forces, undo the intuitions of Maxwell and Faraday, and replace them all with sensory-motive engagements. These are the phenomena from which all laws and forces emerge. Something has to sense something before a change – any change – can be present. Present where? How? What is changing is always and only some sensed quality or property, like position of a tangible shape relative to another shape and to a memory or perception of that position quality being altered. We can look at it the other way around also, with stasis in the background and motion in the foreground. We can think of stillness as an artificial appearance that our sense filtering is presenting, and that without that filter, everything is motion on some timescale. Without sense, no present or presences can be accessed.

I don’t have much to add about the rest of the talk. I think it gets close to where my view begins to take shape, as far as Kant, Husserl, and Whitehead questioning the distinction of subjective and objective categories, etc. I agree that is the right direction to go in. Where I end up with it is that objectivity and noumenality are relative rather than absolute, and that existence itself is phenomenological, without being subjective or objective. The appearance of subjective and objective seeming qualities are artifacts of a particular scope of awareness, typically is divided and nested by timescale and distinction of modality. Scope of awareness lens each other to appear in these kinds of aesthetic categories. What we understand as the geological timescale is so slow compared to our own that we can’t empathize with it or directly access its flow. It seems static. The laws of physics, hold forever as far as we are concerned, but in an absolute sense, they may be more of a set of useful habits from which the longest and shortest timescale events are built.

Here’s a terrible hack set of images to try to illustrate what I mean:



Got it? Spacetime scales are nested inward so that astropysical timescales (longest and shortest duration, largest and smallest size) envelope geo-molecular (next longest and next shortest duration and next largest and smallest size), which envelope the most medium scaled durations and size (eco-cellular).

Now think of that in an orthogonal relation to the other half of the universe, which correlates to size and duration, but is defined by intensity of aesthetic-participatory richness, aka Significance.

The main takeaway that I can offer as a response to the video, if nothing else, is the idea that 

1. The distinction between anesthetic-participatory and anesthetic-mechanical is more fundamental than phenomenal/noumenal or subjective/objective.

2. Anesthetic mechanisms are either concrete (geometric mass-energetic force-field operations) or abstract (algebraic information-processing functions)3. Anesthetic mechanisms do not exist on their own and are in all cases a reduced, exteriorized reflection between two disparately scaled modes of aesthetic-participation.

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