A new solution to the Hard Problem? - not

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A new article in Aeon: "Seeing and somethingness: an evolutionary approach to consciousness can resolve the ‘hard problem’ – with radical implications for animal sentience"

As usual with essays of this type, the subject matter does not actually address the “hard problem” of consciousness - as is claimed in the opening caption. It simply looks at issues of the supposed development of feedback loops in the brain (physical signals however convoluted), detection, and supposed perception and qualia. This has been done many, many times previously.

A few capsules of his presentation:

Quote:"....all such physical-identity theories (mind is what the physical brain does) have got off on the wrong foot. They were – and are – attempts to explain how phenomenal properties could be properties of a brain process. But this rests on a fundamental misunderstanding of the kind of thing that needs explaining. Let me emphasise: sensations are ideas. They are the way our brains represent what’s happening at our sense organs and how we feel about it. Their properties are to be explained, therefore, not literally as the properties of brain-states, but rather as the properties of mind-states dreamed up by the brain.
..................................
...once I came to see it this way, the shades fell away. Phenomenal consciousness is the result of a cognitive operation performed by the brain: representing sensory experience in a certain way. Quite possibly, it involves the brain generating something like an internal text, that it interprets as being about phenomenal properties.
..................................
My project (then) became to work out how a biological machine like the brain could carry out this feat of representation. ...I’ve tried to come up with an evolutionary sequence that will get us from nothingness to somethingness..."

We are no further forward with the central issue of individuality, the discrete personal consciousness, and its essential (non-transferrable) subjectivity. The theory still utterly fails to bridge the gap between the physical and the mental and subjective.

Another problem with his theory is that the author (a psychologist) rules out animals other than higher mammals and birds from having the evolutionarily developed consciousness he claims. So no consciousness in octopi, reptiles, fish or any arthropods. Contrary to the latest research.

Quote:"....there will be no physiological means for generating phenomenal experience unless the animal has a brain that, building on reverberatory sensory-motor loops, can create attractors of the kind we’ve identified. Second, there can have been no evolutionary incentive for the animal’s ancestors to acquire such a brain unless it has a lifestyle in which possession of a phenomenally enriched sense of self can enhance its personal and social survival."

Final writing on the tombstone: here lies another materialist neurological (this time mixing in evolutionary concepts) theory that after all is said still totally and willfully ignores paranormal phenomena like NDEs and reincarnation memories. DOA.

I suppose it is an interesting piece though.
(This post was last modified: 2022-10-03, 06:41 PM by nbtruthman. Edited 3 times in total.)
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I might be mistaken but I get the impression it is saying that consciousness is caused by a conscious brain interpreting something as a sensation, but it doesn't explain how that brain is conscious in the first place.  Same old gibberish!
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Why can't blindsight be (partially?) due to Psi?

It seems like a lot of assumptions are built into this phenomena which seems to depend on patient reports...in fact it seems you can make a dualist or at least anti-reductionist argument with it too:

The Mystery of Blindsight Helps Us Understand the Mind Better

Quote:Modern mechanistic understandings of the mind/brain relationship clearly present a problem for understanding blindsight. How can a person have awareness of an object in his visual field without being conscious of it? What could the neurobiological basis of this unusual situation be? Most theories of blindsight invoke intermediate connections between the eyes and the visual cortex that go to other parts of the brain. These connections are thought to permit a kind of preconscious awareness of objects in the visual field (as asserted in the video). But the neurobiology on which that explanation depends is unclear and not at all well understood.

The classical scholastic understanding of sensation and perception seems to me to be a simpler and clearer explanation of blindsight. In blindsight, classically understood, the patient is capable of sensation via his normal retina. However perception of objects in his visual field, which is associated with neuronal activity in the occipital lobes, does not occur normally because of the cortical damage. This dissociation between sensation and perception leaves the individual with awareness that he is not able to understand but to which he is able to react.
Quote:On the other hand, if we take a more classical scholastic perspective on sensation and perception and if we note Wittgenstein’s distinction between experience and knowledge, blindsight is a simple example of sensation dissociated from perception which leaves an experience (sensation) of objects in the visual field without knowledge (perception) of those objects. From a neurobiological perspective, the retina and anterior parts of the optic system mediate sensation. The cortex and posterior parts of the optic system mediate perception. When they are disconnected, patients have sensation without perception. That is, they have experience without knowledge.
Quote:Neuroscience has been hampered by the implicit adherence of neuroscientists to mechanistic materialistic perspectives. A deeper understanding of good philosophy — such as scholastic philosophy and the profound work of philosophers like Wittgenstein — can help clean away the conceptual junk in modern mechanistic and materialist neuroscience.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2022-10-03, 09:55 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 4 times in total.)
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(2022-10-03, 06:22 PM)nbtruthman Wrote:
Quote:"....there will be no physiological means for generating phenomenal experience unless the animal has a brain that, building on reverberatory sensory-motor loops, can create attractors of the kind we’ve identified."

So... where are the scientific experiments demonstrating how a brain can generate phenomenal experiences? Where are the scientific experiments showing how different animal brains are capable of generating phenomenal experience compared to those that can't? Where are the scientific experiments showing these reverberatory sensory-motor loops that are shown to be capable of creating phenomenal experiences?

There are none... so, what does that leave us with? Physicalist philosophy masquerading "science"...

(2022-10-03, 06:22 PM)nbtruthman Wrote:
Quote:"Second, there can have been no evolutionary incentive for the animal’s ancestors to acquire such a brain unless it has a lifestyle in which possession of a phenomenally enriched sense of self can enhance its personal and social survival."

It never ceases to amuse how they happily (ab)use the language of intent and intelligence when speaking about the purposeless, intentionless, goalless, directionless, dumber-than-a-rock "process" that is (Neo-)Darwinian evolutionary theory. They know it's inaccurate, and doesn't describe how (Neo-)Darwinism actually happens, but I guess they have to manipulate the masses' perceptions of it so they can sell it. Reminds me of snake oil...
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
~ Carl Jung


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I've read it through. It seems to be yet another begging letter from an academic to try and make himself disappear. Honestly, I think it's terrible. I wonder how much of the stuff that's actually important (money not consciousness) he got for that.
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