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Are Ideas Physically Manifested in the Brain?

January 31, 2016 Leave a comment

My answer to on Quora.

I don’t think that ideas can be said to be physically manifested, unless we extend physics to include phenomenology. Neurons, brains, and bodies* can all be reduced to the behavior of three dimensional structures in space. In this context, behavior is really the function of those 3D structures over time, and function is a chronological sequence (so a fourth dimension or 3D+1D) of changes in those structures. All such changes can be described in terms of movements of structural units, typically atoms or molecules, as they are rearranged according to deterministic and random-seeming chain reactions. The existence of ‘ideas’ or consciousness within such a system is, to paraphrase William James, “an illegitimate birth in any philosophy that starts without it, and yet professes to explain all facts by continuous evolution.

This is to say that there is no logical entailment which can explain how we get from a phenomenon which can be imagined to be composed of countless particle collisions that look like like this:

tumblr_o1jofi0rbl1v6nrrmo1_400

to something else. This gap, known in Philosophy of Mind as the Explanatory Gap, and the existence of that something else in the first place (known as the Hard Problem of Consciousness) are the two insurmountable obstacles for anti-idealistic worldviews**.

What many computer scientists may not appreciate is that while the theoretical underpinnings of information science point to brains being reducible to simple arithmetic functions, this reduction cuts both ways. If we can reduce everything that a brain does to a computation which can be embodied on any material substrate, that also means that no semantic content is required, other than low level digital logic. Just as all of the content of the internet can be routed by dumb devices which have no appreciation of images or dialogue, so too can the entire content of the brain be reproduced without any thoughts, feelings, or ideas.

Once we have used a mathematical or physical schema to encode our communication, there is no functional benefit to be gained by decoding it into any form other than computation. The computation alone – invisible, intangible, silent facts about the parts of a calculating machine in relation to each other (3D+1) is all that is necessary or sufficient to execute whatever behaviors will allow an animal’s body to survive and reproduce. Once we have converted conscious experience to localized machine signals, the signals alone are enough to generate any physical effect, without signifying any non-local content. This is what Searle was talking about with the Chinese Room, and is known as the symbol grounding problem.

In consideration of the above, the answer to the question is “no”. What is present in the brain can only be a-signifying material relations, not ideas. The connection between matter and ideas cannot be accessed in terms of physics or information, but only in the direct aesthetic participation which we call ‘consciousness’. In my view, it is not consciousness which is emergent from information or mechanisms, but information and mechanisms which are ‘diffracted’ or alienated from consciousness.

*not to mention windmills, computers, and rooms with people translating messages that they don’t understand from a book.

**These would include materialism, eliminativism, logical positivism, behaviorism, empiricism, verificationism, functionalism, computationalism, and emergentism.

 

Information Theory 1.1

January 25, 2016 Leave a comment

1/25/2016 Information Theory Update

Here are some notes which I hope will provide a more concise understanding about the nature of computation, logic, and mathematics.

Information theories such as those offered by Shannon and Turing give us cause to see an underlying universality of information which is rooted in simple Arithmetic truths such as addition, multiplication, and integers. These arithmetic truths are theories with can be applied successfully to computing machines without regard to their physical substrate*. While this offers a method to deploy universal principles to the control of a specific mechanism, the control which is offered is different in kind from the literal (motor) control of the hardware. Motor control of computer hardware can be accomplished electromagnetically or classically (as with analog clocks with gears powered by spring tension or a gravity pendulum), and now quantum-mechanically to some extent, but not directly by math. Mathematics cannot turn a computer on or keep it running, it can only provide a non-local set of rules which can be localized through motor control.

This is critically important to understand when considering the possibility of Artificial Intelligence: Computation can only be absolutely general or absolutely specific. When we implement a logic circuit, we are not literally imposing philosophical logic on a circuit, rather we are only interpreting the physical changes of a device metaphorically. In short, a logic circuit cannot literally represent a state of 1/0 or True/False, it can only literally present a concrete state of being switched to Stop (Off) or Go (On). This is the territory of computation – what is known as Layer 1 in the seven layer OSI network model**. All higher layers are not physical territories but logical maps – human abstractions projected by software engineers and application users.

osi-model

For this reason, no computing machine can represent the middle ranges between the absolute generality of mathematical theory and the absolute specificity of a machine’s physical condition. It’s all above-the-line of personal awareness (oceanic metaphor) or below-the-line (granular semaphores). We can get a lot of utility out of these devices, however we can’t get any empathy from them. They can’t care about anything or anyone, since ‘they’ are purely in our imagination.

The philosophically relevant part of what I’m proposing applies to the prospects for generating natural intelligence artificially. AGI that feels as well as thinks is not necessarily desirable, but if my view is on the right track, computers becoming sentient is not something that we need to worry about. It won’t happen. Why? Because mathematics is not accessing the Physical layer from the top down but from the beneath the bottom layer. This means that even though we can use a computing device to validate truth conditions, we can only validate those truths with refer literally to the concrete states of the machine, and those truths which refer figuratively to the universal arithmetic relations. Nothing that a computer does needs to be *about* anything beyond the machine’s physical state, and so any appearance of emotion, intention, sensitivity, etc are purely hypothetical and would violate parsimony. Church-Turing Thesis lays out the framework for universal computing, but in saying that all functions of calculation can be reduced to a-signifying digital steps, we are also saying that all semantic meanings shall be reduced to blind syntax. It cuts both ways.

Isn’t the brain just a biological computer?

No. This is an obsolete idea, for a lot of reasons which I won’t get into here, but suffice it to say, the brain is an organ within a living body which developed organically from a single self-replicating, self-modifying cell. Machines, by contrast, are assembled artificially from naturally unaffiliated substances and parts. That’s not a reason to discount the possibility of sentience through silicon, but it is a reason to go beyond knee-jerk presumptions that continue to dominate thinking about AI. While Turing’s genius is only now beginning to receive the appreciation it deserves, the shortcomings of his Imitation Game approach have not yet been widely understood.

Alan Turing can be pardoned for his reliance on mid-century Behaviorism as a psychological model, since it was very popular at the time and also because, along with others, I suspect that his natural instincts were quite systemizing/autistic. This carries over in modern populations, with autistic-masculine influences far overwhelming the psychotic-feminine influences in computer science and engineering fields. As a result, we have a lot of strong, controlling voices which insist upon reducing psychology to mechanistic terms, and all dimensions of consciousness to processing of logical information. This is so pervasive that any casual conversation online which challenges the supremacy of first-order logic will tend to erupt into a firestorm that ends with something like “Yeah I’m done here. You’re just spouting nonsense“.

To this end, I find this pyramid model for debate at least as important as the other models of information networking:

argument_pyr

My call for civility in discussion is not mere political correctness or over-sensitivity, but rather a purely pragmatic consideration. Unlike a computer, the human mind loses its capacity for curiosity and fairness when it falls into aggression. People talk over each other and assert their opinions ever more rigidly and repetitively rather than thinking creatively. This mirrors the action of computation itself – recursive enumeration masquerading as communication.

A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices. – William James

*Not entirely true. The physical substrate of a machine requires precision and solidity. We cannot build a computer out of clouds or fog, it needs to be made of something physical which stays put and which has at least one absolutely persistent read/write capacity. Traditional logic circuits must be implemented physically through a rigid skeleton of readable coordinates.

**It has been popular in recent years to proclaim that the OSI Model is dead. The feeling is that TCP/IP is the predominant protocol suite being used in the real world, and it doesn’t match up with OSI, so we should dump OSI in favor of something like this:

hybrid-model

I do see the appeal of this, however, agree with this author that “OSI teaches more of the reasoning behind making multiple layers and what they do. Collapsing the traditional model for the sake of making it look like TCP/IP is going to cause more harm than good.” – Tom Hillingsworth

Lucid Thinking Video Notes

December 20, 2015 2 comments

 

I like this video from Lucid Thinking, “What is Consciousness?” and I think that he mostly gets it right. The video does a great job of illustrating how we get to the Explanatory Gap and Hard Problem by examining the absence of experiences in material forms and logical functions.

Here are some suggestions to go farther and deeper in explaining consciousness, and/or for a more complete explanation:

  1. A minor note about the storage of information in computer systems as binary code (“a long number consisting of the digits 0 and 1”). If we are being completely literal about it, and I think that we must be, there are no numbers inside a computer either. “Codes” are also not objective phenomena but rather ordinary positions of off/on or stop/go switches. The enumeration of those switches is our semantic projection on them, and the decoding of codes is a communication between one who intends to send an encoded message and one who intends to receive it.
  2. There is a point made that ‘experience requires an experiencer’. I would challenge that. Even though human experience typically includes the sense of being an experiencer, it is not clear that all types of experience require this kind of bifurcated relation. An experiencer is after all, like a body or a number, only another experience…maybe only a key part of zoological kinds of experience.
  3. There is a point made that consciousness cannot see itself in the sense that we cannot see our own eyes. I suggest that this is an intellectual perspective which may conflate two very different levels of experience. Just as we can see our own eyes in a mirror, we may be able to see our own seeing, and we call that mirroring of visual sense “light” or “brightness”. The eye is only a conduit for our visual sense to localize itself in public facing optical conditions, not necessarily the only source of sight. It’s true that human seeing must be initialized by seeing through eyes (unless we consider NDEs where congenitally blind people report seeing), however that may also be a prejudiced expectation of animal life rather than awareness itself.
  4. “Consciousness is nothing that can become everything” is proposed as a way to understand what consciousness is. I propose the opposite. Consciousness need not be assumed to manifest as a phenomenon in isolation which transforms itself – not a blank, empty void upon which non-voids are projected. Instead I would say that consciousness is everything that can become almost nothing. Consciousness may look like nothing from our perspective, but that may be due to the nature of the typical range of consciousness within a human lifetime. Our waking consciousness is constrained to an ‘almost nothing’ scope, so that scope’s idea of consciousness is approximated by the intellect as ‘nothing’. In fact, I think that self-transparency is a necessary property of consciousness, as is self-opacity, and the capacity to oscillate between those extremes. Think of it like a meta-semiconductor…modulating or permitting permeability between more and less ranges of permeability. In this way, human consciousness is not only constructed from meaningless biochemical codes, but subtracted from a totality of experience beyond personal subjectivities. This is the transpersonal range of archetypal or ‘mytho-poetic’ awareness referred to by Jung as the collective unconscious, and it is experienced by ‘time’ itself rather than an individual subject. Time in this sense is not a dimension of timing on clocks, or a memory of the past combined with an anticipation of the future, but rather the collection of all experiences. Terms like the Absolute, totality, Akashic Records, and Morphic Resonance may be helpful in conceptualizing this.
  5. The point is made that we don’t directly experience other people’s thoughts, and that our experience is limited to our own inner world. Again I think that seems true under ordinary conditions of human consciousness, but there is no need to jump to the conclusion that it is always true in all experience. Indeed there are many experiments in remote viewing and telepathy, as well as ordinary empathy (twins complete each others’ thoughts and brain conjoined twins may share some thinking). We should assume that our true ‘body’ is a human lifetime rather than physical structures and functions, and we share our experience with all other experiences to the extent that our lifetime overlaps with them.

 

AI is Inside Out

November 18, 2015 2 comments

The subjective world is an arena of sense which is surrounded by an unseen sensor. Unlike a computer, which finds its own data stored in precise and irreducibly knowable bits, we find our own introspection to be confoundingly mysterious. Both the interior and exterior world are presented to us as a natural given to be explored, but the methods of exploration are diametrically opposite. Penetrating the psyche leads to an examination of symbols which are both intensely personal as well as anthropologically universal.

Whether we explore the objective world or the subjective world, we do so from the inside out, as visitors in a universe that matters to us whether we like it or not. To understand how machine intelligence differs from natural consciousness, it is important to see that a machine’s world is taken rather than given. The machine’s world is assembled from the bottom up, through disconnected, instrumental samplings.

It can be argued that our sense of the world is also nothing more than a collection of readings taken by our sense organs, but if that were the case, we should not experience the outside world as a complete environment, but rather as a probabilistic blur that is punctuated by islands of known data. A machine’s view of the outside world should (and would) look like this:

bag

This showed that even when shown millions of photos, the computer couldn’t come up with a perfect Platonic form of an object. For instance, when asked to create a dumbbell, the computer depicted long, stringy arm-things stretching from the dumbbell shapes. Arms were often found in pictures of dumbbells, so the computer thought that sometimes dumbbells had arms.

Similarly, images that have been probabilistically ‘reconstructed’ from fMRI data show the same incoherence:

mqdefault

These are images which have been simulated from the outside in – a mosaic of meaningless elements spread out over a canvas seen by no one. These are not the kinds of visions that we have when we encounter the depths of our own psyche, which are invariably spectacular, if surreal, dreamscapes. By contrast, these early machine models of visual encoding show us a soulless sub-realism made of digital gas; a Bayesian partlessness gliding arbitrarily toward programmed compartments.

Although a machine’s introspection need not have any visual appearance at all, it makes sense that if it did, what would be seen might look something like a debugger interface, full of detailed, unambiguous data about the state of the machine.

debug2

It would be bizarre to have a layer of all-but-incomprehensible fiction in between the machine and its own functions. Even if the dashboard of such a complex machine used a lot of compression techniques, surely that compression would not be a mystery to the machine itself.

The point that I’m trying to get across here is that what we are developing in machines is actually an anti-subjectivity. Its world is fuzzy and delirious on the outside, and clearly circumscribed on the inside – exactly the reverse of our natural awareness. Machine psychology is a matter of compiling the appropriate reports and submitting them for error correction auditing, while machine perception is a tenuous process of probing and guessing in the dark. Our own inner depths seem to defy all machine expectations, containing neither useful reports on the state of our brain nor unnatural chaos. Our view of the world outside of ourselves is not one which seems to be manufactured on the fly but one which imparts a profound, pervasive sense of orientation and clarity.

Edit: 7/23/16, another example: http://www.fastcodesign.com/3062016/this-neural-network-makes-human-faces-from-scratch-and-theyre-terrifying

computerfaces

Edit 12/19/16, see also https://multisenserealism.com/2016/12/19/fooling-computer-image-recognition-is-easier-than-it-should-be/

Edit 5/19/17 https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2017/05/an-ai-invented-a-bunch-of-new-paint-colors-that-are-hilariously-wrong/

image_recognition

Edit: 6/29/17 – https://wordpress.com/post/multisenserealism.com/5161

artmonstern

7/22/17 – https://blog.keras.io/the-limitations-of-deep-learning.html

“One very real risk with contemporary AI is that of misinterpreting what deep learning models do, and overestimating their abilities. A fundamental feature of the human mind is our “theory of mind”, our tendency to project intentions, beliefs and knowledge on the things around us. Drawing a smiley face on a rock suddenly makes it “happy”—in our minds. Applied to deep learning, this means that when we are able to somewhat successfully train a model to generate captions to describe pictures, for instance, we are led to believe that the model “understands” the contents of the pictures, as well as the captions it generates. We then proceed to be very surprised when any slight departure from the sort of images present in the training data causes the model to start generating completely absurd captions.”

1/6/18 – https://gizmodo.com/this-simple-sticker-can-trick-neural-networks-into-thin-1821735479/amp

banana

5/2/2019 – heatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/05/ai-evolved-these-trippy-images-to-please-a-monkeys-neurons/588517

ageofAI

I Think Therefore I Am?

September 22, 2015 6 comments

The only thing that can be verified 100% to exist is your own consciousness (“I think, therefore I am”) does this effect/change your own beliefs in any way and how so?

In a way it is true that our consciousness is the only thing that we can verify 100%, however, that way of looking at it may itself not be 100% verifiable. Since cognition is only one aspect of our consciousness, we don’t know if the way that ‘our’ consciousness seems to that part of ‘us’ is truly limited to personal experience or whether it is only the tip of the iceberg of consciousness.

The nature of consciousness may be such that it supplies a sense of limitation and personhood which is itself permeable under different states of consciousness. We may be able to use our consciousness to verify conditions beyond its own self-represented limits, and to do so without knowing how we are able to do it. If we imagine that our consciousness when we are awake is like one finger on a hand, there may be other ‘fingers’ parallel to our own which we might call our intuition or subconscious mind. All of the fingers could have different ways of relating to each other as separate pieces while at the same time all being part of the same ‘hand’ (or hand > arm >body).

With this in mind,  Descartes’ cogito “I think therefore I am” could be re-phrased in the negative to some extent. The thought that it is only “I” who is thinking may not be quite true, and all of our thoughts may be pieces to a larger puzzle which the “I” cannot recognize ordinarily. It still cannot be denied that there is a thought, or an experience of thinking, but it is not as undeniable that we are the “I” that “we” think we are.

The modern world view is, in many ways, the legacy of Cartesian doubt. Descartes has gotten a bad rap, ironically due in part to the success of his opening the door to purely materialistic science. Now, after 400 years of transforming the world with technology, it seems prehistoric to many to think in terms of a separate realm of thoughts which is not physical. Descartes does not have the opportunity to defend himself, so his view is an easy target – a straw man even. When we update the information that Descartes had, however, we might see that Cartesian skepticism can still be effective.

Some things which Descartes didn’t have to draw upon in constructing his view include:

1) Quantum Mechanics – QM shifted microphysics from a corpuscular model of atoms to one of quantitative abstractions. Philosophically, quantum theory is ambiguous in both its realism/anti-realism and nominalism/anti-nominalism. Realism starts from the assumption that there are things which exist independently of our awareness of them, while nominalism considers abstract entities to be unreal.

  • Because quantum theory is the base of our physics, and physics precedes our biology, quantum mechanics can be thought of as a realist view. Nature existed long before human consciousness did, and nature is composed of quantum functions. Quantum goes on within us and without us.
  • Because quantum has been interpreted as being at least partially dependent on acts of detection (e.g. “Experiment confirms quantum theory weirdness”), it can be considered an anti-realist view. Unlike classical objects, quantum phenomena are subject to states like entanglement and superposition, making them more like sensory events than projectiles. Many physicists have emphatically stated that the fabric of the universe is intrinsically participatory rather than strictly ‘real’.
  • Quantum theory is nominalist in the sense that it removes the expectation of purpose or meaning in arithmetic. “Shut up and calculate.” is a phrase* which illustrates the nominalist aspects of QM to me; the view is that it doesn’t matter whether these abstract entities are real or not, just so long as they work.
  • Quantum theory is anti-nominalist because it shares the Platonic view of a world which is made up of perfect essences – phenomena which are ideal rather than grossly material. The quantum realm is one which can be considered closer to Kant’s ‘noumena’ – the unexperienced truth behind all phenomenal experience. The twist in our modern view is that our fundamental abstractions have become anti-teleogical. Because quantum theory relies on probability to make up the world, instead of a soul as a ghost in the material machine, we have a machine of ghostly appearances without any ghost.

To some, these characteristics when taken together seem contradictory or incomprehensible…mindless mind-stuff or matterless matter. To others, the philosophical content of QM is irrelevant or merely counter-intuitive. What matters is that it makes accurate predictions, which makes makes it a pragmatic, empirical view of nature.

2) Information Theory and Computers

The advent of information processing would have given Descartes something to think about. Being neither mind nor matter, or both, the concept of ‘information’ is often considered a third substance or ‘neutral monism’. Is information real though, or is it the mind treating itself like matter?

Hardware/software relation
This metaphor gets used so often that it is now a cliche, but the underlying analogy has some truth. Hardware exists independently of all software, but the same software can be used to manipulate many different kinds of hardware. We could say that software is merely our use of hardware functions, or we could say that hardware is just nature’s software. Either way there is still no connection to sensory participation. Neither hardware nor software has any plausible support for qualia.

Absent qualia
Information, by virtue of its universality, has no sensory qualities or conscious intentions. It makes no difference whether a program is executed on an electronic computer or a mechanical computer of gears and springs, or a room full of people doing math with pencil and paper. Information reduces all descriptions of forms and functions to interchangeable bits, so the same information processes would have to be the same regardless of whether there were any emergent qualities associated with them. There is no place in math for emergent properties which are not mathematical. Instead of a ‘res cogitans’ grounded in mental experience, information theory amounts to a ‘res machina’…a realm of abstract causes and effects which is both unextended and uninhabited.

The receding horizon of strong AI
If Descartes were around today, he might notice that computer systems which have been developed to work like minds lack the aesthetic qualities of natural people. They make bizarre mistakes in communication which remind us that there is nobody there to understand or care about what is being communicated. Even though there have been improvements in the sophistication of ‘intelligent’ programs, we still seem to be no closer to producing a program which feels anything. To the contrary, when we engage with AI systems or even CGI games, there is an uncanny quality which indicates a sterile and unnatural emptiness.

Incompleteness, fractals, and entropy
Gödel’s incompleteness theorem formalized a paradox which underlies all formal systems – that there are always true statements which cannot be proved within that system. This introduces a kind of nominalism into logic – a reason to doubt that logical propositions can be complete and whole entities. Douglas Hofstadter wrote about strange loops as a possible source of consciousness, citing complexity of self-reference as a key to the self. Fractal mathematics were used to graphically illustrate some aspects of self-similarity or self-reference and some, like Wai H Tsang have proposed that the brain is a fractal.

The work of Turing, Boltzmann, and Shannon treat information in an anti-nominalist way. Abstract data units are considered to be real, with potentially measurable effects in physics via statistical mechanics and through the concept of entropy. The ‘It from Bit’ view described by Wheeler is an immaterialist view that might be summed up as “It computes, therefore it is.”

3) Simulation Triumphalism

Disneyland
When Walt Disney produced full length animated features, he employed the techniques of fine art realism to bring completely simulated worlds to life in movie theaters. For the first time, audiences experienced immersive fantasy which featured no ‘real’ actors or sets. Disney later extended his imaginary worlds across the Cartesian divide to become “real” places, physical parks which are constructed around imaginary themes, turning the tables on realism. In Disneyland, nature is made artificial and artifice is made natural. Audioanimatronic robots populate indoor ‘dark rides’ where time can seem to stop at midnight even in the middle of a Summer day.

Video games
The next step in the development of simulacra culture took us beyond Hollywood theatrics and naturalistic fantasy. Arcade games featured simulated environments which were graphically minimalist. The simulation was freed from having to be grounded in the real world at all and players could identify with avatars that were little more than a group of pixels.

Video, holographic, and VR technologies have set the stage for acceptance of two previously far-fetched possibilities.  The first possibility is that of building artificial worlds which are constructed of nothing but electronically rendered data. The second possibility is that the natural world is itself such an illusion or simulation. This echoes Eastern philosophical views of the world as illusion (maya) as well as being a self-reflexive pattern (Jeweled Net of Indra). Both of these are suggested by the title of the movie The Matrix, which asks whether being able to control someone’s experience of the world means that they can be controlled completely.

The Eastern and Western religious concepts overlap in their view of the world as a Matrix-like deception against a backdrop of eternal life. The Eastern view identifies self-awareness as the way to control our experience and transcend illusion, while the Abrahamic religions promise that remaining devoted to the principles laid down by God will reveal the true kingdom in the afterlife. The ancients saw the world as unreal because the true reality can only be God or universal consciousness. In modern simulation theories, everything is unreal except for the logic of the programs which are running to generate it all.

4) Relativity

Einstein’s Theory of Relativity went a long way toward mending the Cartesian split by showing how the description of the world changes depending upon the frame of reference. Previously fixed notions of space, time, mass, and energy were replaced by dynamic interactions between perspectives. The straight, uniform axes of x,y,z, and t  were traded for a ‘reference-mollusk’ with new constants, such as the spacetime interval and the speed of light (c). The familiar constants of Newtonian mechanics, and Cartesian coordinates were warped and animated against a tenseless, Non-Euclidean space with no preferred frame of reference.

Even before quantum mechanics introduced a universe built on participation, Relativity had punched a hole in the ”view from nowhere’ sense of objectivity which had been at the heart of the scientific method since the 17th century. Now the universe required us to pick a point within spacetime and a context of physical states to determine the appearance of ‘objective’ conditions. Descartes extended substance had become transparent in some sense, mimicking the plasticity and multiplicity of the subjective ‘thinking substance’.

5) Neuroscience

Descartes would have been interested to know that his hypothesis of the seat of consciousness being the pineal gland had been disproved. People have had their pineal glands surgically removed without losing consciousness or becoming zombies. The advent of MRI technology and other imaging also has given us a view of the brain as having no central place which acts as a miniature version of ourselves. There’s no homunculus in a theater looking out on a complete image stored within the brain. There is also no hint of dualism in the brain as far as a separation between how and where fantasy is processed. To the contrary, all of our waking experiences seamlessly fuse internal expectations with external stimuli.

Neuroscience has conclusively shattered our naive realism about how much control we have over our own mind. Benjamin Libet’s showed that by the time we think that we are making a decision, prior brain activity could be used to predict what the decision would be. With perceptual tests we have shown that our experience of the real world not only contains glaring blind spots and distortions but that those distortions are masked from our direct inspection. Perception is incomplete, however that is no reason to conclude that it is an illusion. We still cannot doubt the fact of perception, only that in a complex kind of perception that a human being has, there are opportunities for conflicts between levels.

Neuroscientific knowledge has also opened up new appreciation for the mystery of consciousness. Some doctors have studied Near Death Experiences and Reincarnation reports. Others have talked about their own experiences in terms which suggest a more mystical presence of universal consciousness than we have imagined. Slowly the old certainties about consciousness in medicine are being challenged.

6) Psychology

Psychology has developed a model of mental illness which is natural rather than supernatural. Conditions such as schizophrenia and even depression are diagnosed and treated as neurological disorders. The use of brain-change drugs, both medically and recreationally has given us new insights into the specificity of brain function. Modern psychology has questioned earlier ideas such as Freud’s Id, Ego, and Superego, and the monolithic “I” before that so that there are many neurochemical roles and systems which contribute to making “us”.

To Decartes’ Cogito, the contemporary psychologist might ask whether the I refers to the sense of an inner voice who is verbalizing the statement, or to the sense of identification with the meaning of the concept behind the words, etc.

In all of the excitement of mapping mental symptoms to brain states, some of the most interesting work in psychology have languished. William James, Carl Jung, Piaget, and others presented models of the psyche which were more sympathetic to views of consciousness as a continuum or spectrum of conscious states. By shifting the focus away from first hand accounts and toward medical observation, some have criticized the neuroscientific influence on psychology as a pseudoscience like phrenology. The most important part of the psyche is overlooked, and patients are reduced to sets of correctable symptoms.

7) Semiotics

Perhaps the most underappreciated contribution on this list is that of semioticians such as C.S. Peirce and de Saussure. Before electronic computing was even imagined, they had begun to formalize ideas about the relation between signs and what is signified. Instead of a substance dualism of mind and matter, semiotic theories introduced triadic formulations such as between signs, objects, and concepts.


Baudrillard wrote about levels of simulation or simulacra, in which a basic reality is first altered or degraded, then that alteration is masked, then finally separated from any reality whatsoever. Together, these notions of semiotic triads and levels of simulation can help guide us away from the insolubility of substance dualism. Reality can be understood as a signifying medium which spans mind-like media and matter-like media. Sense and sense-making can be reconciled without inverting it as disconnected ‘information’.

8) Positivism & Post-Modernism

The certainty which Descartes expressed as a thinker of thoughts can be seen to dissolve when considered in the light of 20th century critics. Heavily criticized by some, philosophers such as Wittgenstein, Derrida, and Rorty continue to be relevant to undermining the incorrigibility of consciousness. The Cogito can be deconstructed linguistically until it is meaningless or nothing but the product of the bias of language or culture. Under Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, the Cogito can be seen as a failure of philosophy’s purpose in clarifying facts, thereby deflating it to an empty affirmation of the unknowable. Since, in his words “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” we may be compelled to eliminate it altogether.

What logical positivism and deconstructivism does with language to our idea of consciousness is like what neuroscience does through medicine; it demands that we question even the most basic identities and undermines our confidence in the impartiality of our thoughts. In a sense, it is an invitation for a cross-examination of ourselves as our own prosecution witness.

Wilfrid Sellars attack on the Myth of the Given sees statements such as the Cogito as forcing us to accept a contradiction where sense-datum (such as “I think”) are accepted as a priori facts, but justified beliefs (“therefore I am”) have to be acquired. How can consciousness be ‘given’ if understanding is not? This would seem to point to consciousness as a process rather than a state or property. This however, fails to account for lower levels of consciousness which might be responsible for even the micro level processing.

In my view , logic and language based arguments against the incorrigibility fail because they overlook their own false ‘given’, which is that symbols can literally signify reality. In fact, symbols have no authority or power to provide meaning, but instead act as a record for those who intend to preserve or communicate meaning.

An updated Cogito

“I think, therefore I am at least what a thinker thinks is a thinker.”

Rather than seeing Cartesian doubt as only a primitive beginning to science, I think it makes sense to try to pick up where he left off. By adding the puzzle pieces which have been acquired since then, we might find new respect for the approach. Relativism itself may be relative, so that we need not be compelled to deconstruct everything. We can consider that our sense of deconstruction and solipsism as absurd may be well founded, and that just because our personal intuition is often flawed does not mean that kneejerk counter-intuition is any better.

With that in mind, is the existence of the “I” really any more dubious than a quark or a rainbow? Does it serve us to insist upon rigid designations of ‘real’ vs ‘illusion’ in a universe which has demonstrated that its reality is more like illusion? At the same time, does it serve us to deny that all experiences are in some sense ‘real’, regardless of their being ineffable to us now?

*attributed to David Mermin, Richard Feynman, or Paul Dirac (depending on who you ask)

Notes on Philosophical Incorrigibility

March 25, 2015 3 comments

No, this is not about philosophers behaving like unruly children (although at times, they can). Incorrigibility is a term that refers to “a property of a philosophical proposition, which implies that it is necessarily true simply by virtue of being believed. A common example of such a proposition is René Descartes’ “cogito ergo sum” (“I think, therefore I am).“

Symbolic reference cannot ‘break the fourth wall’ – meaning that whatever words or gestures that we use to communicate about something can only refer to things figuratively. This sentence, for example, can’t address you the reader in a literal sense. I can write “Hey you! Yes, you! Stand still laddie!” but it is not really possible for these words to address anyone literally. The same words could come out of a random letter generator, or they could have been written by someone who died before the reader was born. The entire premise that language is meaningful depends on an audience who is able to derive meaning from interpreting messages from that language.

Doxastic logic is a type of modal logic which uses the terms ‘belief’ and ‘proposition’ to formalize, and really digitize the possible relations of belief and truth, including beliefs about beliefs, possible beliefs about possible truths, etc.

Accurate reasoner: An accurate reasoner never believes any false proposition.

Bp→p

Normal reasoner: A normal reasoner is one who, while believing p, also believes he or she believes p.

Bp→BBp

My beef with modal logic is that while it gives us an informative language to talk about mental states, it cannot access the quality of the state itself, and therefore is misguided when applied to the deeper conditions of consciousness itself. There is no modal symbol for ‘wakes up’ or ‘loses consciousness’ because those conditions affect the entire phenomenon from which reason can arise rather than a function of reasoning.

When viewed from an ontological perspective, I think that we would have to consider a proposition to be a kind of belief, even if it is a belief that is assumed to be shared by everyone or every thing. The proposition that “Fire is relatively hot” is itself only a message which is communicated through language. Before we can agree that “p = fire is relatively hot“, we must first agree that

p is literally a sensation: p is seen as a group of adjacent graphic squiggles, or heard as a phonic utterance. p is actually s(’p’), since acoustic vibrations or optical contrasts can’t literally be propositions about fire.

s(’p’) is subconsciously identified as a message (rather than, say decorative art) within our cognitive sense. We think that our sense of ‘p’ means something that we can understand. p is promoted to i(s(’p’)).

i(s(’p’)) is consciously understood as a particular message with a particular meaning. This promotion of i(s(’p’)) to the executive level of sense, where we personally evaluate and act on the contents of messages would be the third nesting of sense u(i(s(’p’))). It is not only cognitive, but articulated on the personal level of cognition.

It should be noted that deconstructing the foundation of classical logic this way is intentional. Logic begins with a philosophical assumption of semantic realism. This is ironic really, especially in doxastic logic when we are concerned with the consistency of reasoning, to being with the assumption of a reasonable universe as a given. p is simply p. A proposition is given, and in that presentation of the proposition, truth is considered (wait for it…) incorrigible. If we want to say that p is false, we would just say ‘not p’. Truth and proposition are equivalent because we are assuming an unquestionable solidity to this fundamental logical unit – a unit which represents facts as they simply are, unconditioned, present without any dependence on ontology. Logic of this sort can be used to diagram systems which remind us of physics or of thinking and communicating, but they begin with the fact of coherence and sense already in place.

By inverting this previously unexamined axiom, I hope to reveal the myth of the logical ‘given’ and replace it with the more skeptical, honest view that logic is derived from sense. Just as a child depends on developing sensorimotor skills prior to developing abstract reasoning skills, all logic derives from deeper levels of sensory experience. Even computer logic relies on the sense of a physical mechanism…the capacity for some substance to detect and project some tangible role in a tangible chain reaction. Abstract logic is always an intangible map that is projected psychologically onto such a tangibly experienced territory. It is this tangibility, this concretely participatory aesthetic spectacle which is doing the work and which can appreciate the benefits of having accomplished it.

In my view, artificial intelligence has a problem, not because there is something special or magical about living creatures, or Homo sapiens, but because it seeks to impose an abstraction onto reality ‘feet first’ as it were. A computer program is a set of propositions which is further proposed to be imitated by a physical machine. Instead of an a sensation which is identified and understood u(i(s(’p’))), there is a ‘p’(’p’(u) (’p’(i) (’p’(s))… a mere proposition of a proposition of an understanding of a proposition of an identification of a proposition of a sensation. Those who have a grasp of why this is different from the natural u(i(s(’p’))) don’t really need an explanation. ‘The map is not the territory’, or ‘the menu is not the meal’ should be enough. Those who do not see the difference, or do not identify why the difference is so significant, or do not understand the specific meaning of the significance are probably approaching the entire question of consciousness from the classical logical orientation. For those people, if there is any possibility at all of their shifting to the new perspective that I am proposing, I think that they would have to begin from the incorrigibility of concrete sense rather than of abstract logic.

Introducing the Aumwelt

March 22, 2015 2 comments

https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/david_eagleman_can_we_create_new_senses_for_humans.html

This is worth the 20 minutes IMO, as Eagleman lays out the contemporary view of sense. Where he leaves off is exactly where I want to pick up, and then to run in the opposite direction.

He begins by talking about the limitations of each species and how, for example, a tick lives in a world of temperature and butyric acid…a bat lives in a reality constructed out of air compression waves. This ‘slice of their ecosystem that they can pick up on’ is know as the umwelt.

Umwelt

The German word Umwelt means “environment” or “surroundings”. Lacan contrasts the term with Innenwelt– the inner world–to emphasize the interaction between the imaginary interior space that the “I” occupies and the physical world in which the living human subject is situated. The connection between Innenwelt and Umwelt is, for Lacan, always dialectical; in the mirror stage, the “I” only comes into being through an association with an image that is outside of and other than the infant.

So far so good. He then gets into the exciting directions that his research is going in, technologies to extend our sensory capabilities beyond the human umwelt, etc.

That’s great, and I have been looking forward to technologies like that all of my life. To be able to not only see in the infra-red range, but to be able to model information from any source – an Excel spreadsheet even, in a tangible, tactile way, is amazing.

What I suggest, however, is that the entire model of the umwelt being a slice of an ecosystem (the ecosystem being ‘real world’ or ‘welt’), while empirically sound *within a given umwelt* is actually reversible. The further we get from our own umwelt (which is only ever our umwelt’s view of other umwelts) the more it curls back in on itself.

It’s more like this:

The idea of a concrete reality which is completely outside of all experience is an unfalsifiable mirage generated by the umwelt as a boundary condition to the umwelt. What is beyond our experience is not the anti-experience of math and physics – not Platonic ‘information’ forms floating in a void, but simply more and more inclusive experience. Not a ‘welt’ but an Aumwelt:

In this view, the umwelt appears as a hazy cataract which masks the totality. The totality of all sense experience and capacity (which I see as ultimately the same thing) is what I am calling the Aumwelt. The haze is something like {the difference between the Innenwelt and (the difference between the Innenwelt and the Aumwelt)}. Each umwelt is not assembled autistically, but filtered or carved out of totality of sense (’artistically’ or aesthetically).  In this way, the aesthetic foundation (aumwelt) is divided into smaller dreams (innenwelt) with the remainder of that division serving as both diaphanous partition and reflective lens to the totality. The umwelt is like a semiconductor, half-silvered mirror or semi-permeable membrane; alternating between inner and outer, outer and absolute, and absolute and inner. This is what consciousness is about – not merely adapting to a body’s survival needs more effectively.

Why complicate things? Because if sensation were truly nothing other than “electrochemical signals coursing around in your brain”, then sensory substitution would not be necessary. Regardless of what frequencies and patterns occurred, they would all be formatted as those patterns – not as some fancy ‘feeling’ or ‘color’. Something like colorized film shows that computation is sufficient for deriving color information without seeing color. There is no computational reason to have to invent color simply to signal information about a wavelength of retinal activity or its isomorphism to exterior conditions. Occam’s razor does not allow us to take the leap from information to sensation. We can, however, use information to enhance and extend sensation.

Signs and Consciousness

July 25, 2014 Leave a comment

Consciousness or awareness or sense is the concrete and direct aesthetic encounter which defines all possible phenomena. Data or information is an accumulation and communication of signs, which intellectually represent the facade of experiences that relate to the function of their significance to the experiencer

Asperger’s, Autism, and the Hard Problem of Consciousness

July 22, 2014 1 comment

This test was also originally devised by Wellman and Estes, and involves asking the child what the brain is for. They found that normal 3-4 year olds already know that the brain has a set of mental functions, such as dreaming, wanting, thinking, keeping secrets, etc., Some also knew it had physical functions (such as making you move, or helping you stay alive, etc.). In contrast , children with autism (but who again had a mental age above a 4 year old level) appear to know about the physical functions, but typically fail to mention any mental function of the brain (Baron-Cohen, 1989a)

This paper on autism and theory of mind really shines a light on the most intractable problem within philosophy of mind. In particular

…children from about the age of 4 years old normally are able to distinguish between appearance and reality, that is, they can talk about objects which have misleading appearances. For example, they may say, when presented with a candle fashioned in the shape of an apple, that it looks like an apple but is really a candle. Children with autism, presented with the 5 same sorts of tests, tend to commit errors of realism, saying the object really is an apple, or really is a candle, but do not capture the object’s dual identity in their spontaneous descriptions (Baron-Cohen, 1989a).

This cartoon from a Psychology Today article illustrates the kinds of tests that show whether children have developed what is called a theory of mind; an understanding of the contents of other people’s experience:

“Children with autism are virtually at chance on this test, as likely to indicate one character as the other when asked “Which one knows what’s in the box?””

So often it becomes clear to me in debating the issues of consciousness that they are missing something which cannot be replaced by logic. The way that many people think, especially those who are very intelligent in math and physics, only includes a kind of toy model of experience – one which fails to fully realize the difference between the map and the territory. It makes a lot of sense to be that having a very low-res, two dimensional theory of mind would correlate with having a philosophy of mind which undersignifies privacy and oversignifies mechanistic influences. The low res theory of mind comes with a built in bias toward behaviorism, where all events are caused by public conditions rather than private feelings and experiences.

There are several other interesting findings in the (brief) paper. Autistic children find it difficult to tell the difference between what they meant to do and what they actually did, so that when they shoot at a target and miss, they don’t understand that they intended to hit it but ended up missing it and say that they meant to miss. Overall, the list of deficits in imagination, pragmatics, social mindreading, etc has been called mindblindness. This is not to say that everyone who doesn’t understand the hard problem has mindblindness, but I would say it is very likely that having mindreading-empathy deficits on the autistic spectrum would tend to result in a strong bias against idealism, panpsychism, free will, or the hard problem of consciousness.

Part II

When Kant wrote:

‘Being’ is obviously not a real predicate; that is, it is not a concept of something which could be added to the concept of a thing. It is merely the positing of a thing, or of certain determinations, as existing in themselves.

he brings up a point of distinction which I think can be resolved when we consider consciousness to absolutely primitive in the universe. When we say that something exists or that it simply is, we are invoking an unacknowledged sense of omnipotence. When we say for example that a circle exists, we are really exporting our own experiences of seeing circular patterns, or of participating in circular motions, repeating processes, etc into a hypothetical experience which hypothetically does not belong to us.

To say that the circle exists does not add anything to the description of a circle. We cannot imagine that there is a ‘circle which does not exist’ and expect it to be meaningful, since there is nothing that it means not to exist other than to be absent from consideration in the first place. It is upon this minor slip of epistemology into pseudo-ontology that the entire criticism of idealism hinges. George Berkeley’s phrase Esse est percipi (“To be is to be perceived”) encapsulates this recognition that the notion of being is a fallacy when it is separated from perception. Unfortunately, Berkeley was in my opinion too far ahead of his time to escape being misunderstood, and he himself had a conception of human psychology which was too simplistic to recover the principle without appeal to religion. He did not consider separating out perception from a perceiver or distinguishing human perception from non-human perception. The famous garbling of Berkeley’s ideas which we know as ‘If a tree falls in a forest and there is nobody around to here it, does it make a sound?’.

This of course was not very close to the philosophy that Berkeley had in mind since it opens a huge loophole that we find to be silly on the face of it. Of course a tree falling in a forest makes a sound – animals hear it, the ground shakes, etc. To say that none of that exists just because no human being is around would be insane. When we consider, however, that the nature of hearing is such that the event of the tree falling is part of a chain reaction that includes compression waves in the air, and our ears, and isomorphic waves of biochemical activity in the nervous system and brain, it is difficult to say what it is that is a ‘sound’ and how much a sound can really be separated from the experience of hearing.

Even if we can’t hear, the vibration of a tree falling is something that we can feel throughout our body. Informally we might say that we felt the vibration, or that we could feel the that the tree fell, but ultimately it is our own feeling of our body which is vibrating. We feel the world through our body, but the body, world, feeling, and vibration are different levels of description of the same thing. There is no vibration, tree, or body which exists independently of a sensory experience in which those things are presented. It is my suspicion that our conception of electromagnetism as a sort of vibration in a vacuum is mistaken because of the failure to consider the kinds of ideas that Kant and Berkeley were talking about.

In part I, I made the connection between poor theory of mind skills and the denial of the hard problem of consciousness. The cartoon about Ann and Sally can give some important insight as to fundamental differences in how people understand perception and reality. In the autism cases, children tend not to be able to understand that Sally will not know that Ann has put the ball in the box since they, the reader of the cartoon, knows that Ann put it there. This ‘mindblindness’ is exactly what Berkeley and Kant were each trying to overcome in their own way. Kant pointed out that the concept of existence or being without perceptual essences is purely conceptual, while Berkeley saw that perceptual essences are in fact identical with being. Our seeing Ann put the ball in the box does not give Sally access to that experience. Writing a program which displays the cartoon does not give the computer an experience of seeing it.

The interesting thing about awareness is that it is a real predicate. Unlike the idea of ‘being’ or existence, awareness isn’t merely the idea that X is a “thing” but that X is a concrete perceptual encounter. It has aesthetic qualities like hot or cold, loud or quiet, etc. Even the feeling of being a perceiver of X can be understood as a kind of feeling, so that we need not think of the entire universe as miniature souls as Leibniz thought (monads), but a vast exchange and development of perceptions. Beginning from there, we can see how quantitative structures could emerge from variations in aesthetic qualities and how those structures could be used as mechanical shortcuts for prediction and control, yet without ever developing additional qualities of experience on the machine level.

Searle’s Chinese Room and the other Symbol Grounding arguments are attempts to bring Kant and Berkeley’s insights into artificial intelligence. They show how a computer can function on a syntactic level, passing recorded relations of data back and forth, without having any higher level understanding. There doesn’t appear to be any special level of sophistication at which a machine that is built to imitate functions of the mind becomes a genuine experience of its own. As long as we look for a magic formula to create a ‘being’, we are making the mistake of confusing a ‘dozen’ with a thing that can be built out of eggs.

Gödel of the Gaps

July 15, 2014 Leave a comment

So much of our attention in logic and math is focused on using processes to turn specific inputs into even more specific binary outputs. Very little attention is paid to what inputs and outputs are or to the understanding of what truth is in theoretical terms. The possibility of inputs is assumed from the start, since no program can exist without being ‘input’ into some kind of material substrate which has been selected or engineered for that purpose. You can’t program a device to be programmable if it isn’t already. Overlooking this is part of the gap between mathematics and reality which is overlooked by all forms of simulation theory and emergentism. Without some initial connection between sensitive agents which are concretely real and non-theoretical, there can be no storage or processing of information. Before we can input any definitions of logical functions, we have to find something which behaves logically and responds reliably to our manipulations of it.

The implications of binary logic, of making distinctions between true/go and false/stop are more far reaching than we might assume. I suggest that if a machine’s operations can be boiled down to true and false bits, then it can have no capacity to exercise intentionality. It has no freedom of action because freedom is a creative act, and creativity in turn entails questioning what is true and what is not. The creative impulse can drive us to attack the truth until it cracks and reveals how it is also false. Creativity also entails redeeming what has been seen as false so that it reveals a new truth. These capabilities and appreciation of them are well beyond the functional description of what a machine would do. Machine logic is, by contrast, the death of choice. To compute is to automate and reduce sense into an abstract sense-of-motion. Leibniz called his early computer a “Stepped Reckoner”, and that it very apt. The word reckon derives from etymological roots that are shared with ‘reg’, as in regal, ruler, and moving straight ahead. It is a straightener or comb of physically embodied rules. A computer functionalizes and conditions reality into rules, step by step, in a mindless imitation of mind. A program or a script is a frozen record of sense-making in retrospect. It is built of propositions defined in isolation rather than sensations which share the common history of all sensation.

The computing machine itself does not exist in the natural world, but rather is distilled from the world’s most mechanistic tendencies. All that does not fit into true or false is discarded. Although Gödel is famous for discovering the incompleteness of formal systems, that discovery itself exists within a formal context. The ideal machine, for example, which cannot prove anything that is false, subscribes to the view that truth and falsehood are categories which are true rather than truth and falsehood being possible qualities within a continuum of sense making. There is a Platonic metaphysics at work here, which conjures a block universe of forms which are eternally true and good. In fact, a casual inspection of our own experience reveals no such clear-cut categories, and the goodness and truth of the situations we encounter are often inseparable from their opposite. We seek sensory experiences for the sake of appreciating them directly, rather than only for their truth or functional benefits. Truth is only one of the qualities of sense which matters.

The way that a computer processes information is fundamentally different than the way that conscious thought works. Where a consistent machine cannot give a formal proof of its own consistency, a person can be certain of their own certainty without proof. That doesn’t always mean that the person’s feeling turns out to match what they or others will understand to be true later on, but unlike a computer, we have available to us an experience of a sense of certainty (especially a ‘common sense’) that is an informal feeling rather than a formal logical proof. A computer has neither certainty nor uncertainty, so it makes no difference to it whether a proof exists or not. The calculation procedure is run and the output is generated. It can be compared against the results of other calculators or to employ more calculations itself to assess a probability, but it has no sense of whether the results are certain or not. Our common sense is a feeling which can be proved wrong, but can also be proved right informally by other people. We can come to a consensus beyond rationality with trust and intuition, which is grounded the possibility of the real rather than the realization of the hypothetical. When we use computation and logic, we are extending our sense of certainty by consulting a neutral third party, but what Gödel shows is that there is a problem with measurement itself. It is not just the ruler that is incomplete, or the book of rules, but the expectation of regularity which is intrinsically unexpected.

One of the trickiest problems with the gap between the theoretical and the concrete us that the gap itself is real rather than theoretical. There can be no theory of why reality is not just information, since theory itself cannot access reality directly. Reality is not only formal. Formality is not real. There is a bias within formal logic which favors certainty. This is at the heart of the utility of logic. In mathematician Bruno Marchal’s book “The Amoeba’s Secret”, his view on dreams hints at what is beneath the surface of the psychology of mathematics. He writes

“What struck me was the asymmetry existing between the states of dreaming and of being awake: when you are awake, you can never be truly sure that you are. By contrast, when dreaming, you can sometimes perceive it as such.”

Surely most of us have no meaningful doubt that we are awake when we are awake. The addition of the qualification of being “truly sure” that we are awake seems to assume that there is a deeper epistemology which is possible – as if being awake required a true certainty on top of the mere fact of being awake. To set the feeling of certainty above the content of experience itself is an inversion; a mistake of privileging the expectations of the intellect over the very ground of being from which those expectations arise.

Likewise, to say that we can sometimes perceive our dreaming in a lucid dream is to hold the dream state to a different epistemological standard than we do of being awake. If we could be awake and not really be sure that we are, then certainly we could think that we are having a lucid dream, but could be similarly misinformed. We could be dead and living in an afterlife from which we will never return or some such goofy possibility. Mathematical views of reality seem to welcome a kind of escapist sophism which gives too much credence to rabbit holes and not enough to the whole rabbit.

That we sometimes tell when we are dreaming means only that we are more awake within our dream than usual – not that our usual awareness is any more true or sure than it ever is. If we are uncertain in waking life and certain in dreams, it is because our capacity to tell the difference is real and not a dream or theory. There is no way to prove that we are awake, but neither is there any need to prove it since it is self-evident. Any proof that we could have could theoretically be duplicated in a dream also, but that does not mean that there is no difference between dream and reality. The difference is more than can be learned by ‘proof’ alone.

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