In defense of Integrated Information Theory (IIT)

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In defense of Integrated Information Theory (IIT)

B.Kastrup

Quote:In what may come as a surprise to many, our Executive Director highlights the careful, scientifically laudable metaphysical agnosticism of IIT—the leading neuroscientific theory of the structure of consciousness—as well as its superiority to alternative theories and synergy with Analytic Idealism.

In recent days, the world of neuroscience has been shaken by an open letter—signed by several neuroscientists and philosophers of mind—claiming that the Integrated Information Theory (IIT) of consciousness is pseudo-science. The shock effect of this letter is due to the fact that IIT has been considered the leading theory of consciousness in neuroscience for many years now, being supported by big names such as Christof Koch and Giulio Tononi. The ensuing brouhaha has been covered by my friend John Horgan here.

Quote:... I have been discretely looking more closely into IIT. I have realized that, while there are enough physicalists out there claiming that IIT may offer an emergentist account of consciousness, the theory itself can be very straightforwardly interpreted as being metaphysically neutral, agnostic. As a matter of fact, the language used by the neuroscientists developing the theory is clearly and deliberately chosen so as to precisely avoid metaphysical commitments. Giulio Tononi, for instance, avoids equating experience with the neuronal substrate. Instead, he speaks of an “explanatory identity” between experience and the information structure IIT can derive from brain activity.

Note the carefulness and rigor here: the identity in question is explanatory, not ontic or metaphysical...
'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


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Read the letter condemning IIT and it seemed pretty laughable, basically seemed like because the theory leans toward non-materialist interpretations the Atheist-Materialist Fundamentalists tried to use their clout to push media to not cover the theory or cast aspersions on it for possibl[y] causing increased public doubt in the Atheist-Materialist religion.

Really seems the Russell quote in my signature is coming to pass, and the dogmatists who've controlled academia are panicking because they are losing their inquisitional powers.
'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: 2023-09-30, 07:48 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 4 times in total.)
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  • stephenw
Consciousness: why a leading theory has been branded ‘pseudoscience’

Phillip Goff

Quote:The problem is that consciousness is not merely a scientific issue. The task of science is to explain publicly observable phenomena. But consciousness is not a publicly observable phenomenon: you can’t look inside someone’s brain and see their feelings and experiences. Of course, science theorises about unobservable phenomena, such as fundamental particles, but it only does this to explain what can be observed. In the unique case of consciousness, the phenomenon we are trying to explain is not publicly observable.
Instead, consciousness is known about privately, through the immediate awareness each of us has of our own feelings and experience. The downside of this is that it’s very hard to experimentally demonstrate which theory of consciousness is correct. The upside is that, in contrast to other scientific phenomena, we have direct access to the phenomenon, and our direct access may provide insights into its nature.
Crucially, to accept that our knowledge of consciousness is not limited to what we can glean from experiments is to accept that we need both science and philosophy to deal with consciousness. In my new book Why? The Purpose of the Universe, I explore how such a partnership could be achieved.
IIT is not perfect, either in its scientific or its philosophical aspects. But it is pioneering in accepting the need for science and philosophy to work hand in glove to crack the mystery of consciousness.
'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 seems to be a tempest in a teapot so to speak. The trouble is, notwithstanding this latest attack on it, IIT still seems to have a fundamental flaw: like materialistic neuroscience it continues to link consciousness with neuronal activities. "IIT is trying to construct a map that allows us to infer the qualities of experience from the information structure of neuronal activity" (from Kastrup's letter defending IIT). 

Unfortunately for IIT, there is a large body of empirical evidence from veridical NDEs and other paranormal phenomena, evidence that mind and subjective awareness can under some circumstances (i.e. deep NDEs for instance) continue while the brain is dysfunctional, and are ultimately a mobile center of consciousness that can separate from the physical body and brain to travel to other locations in the physical world and in other realms. If that is the case, consciousness simply can't be linked to neuronal activities in the brain and IIT is wrong.
(This post was last modified: 2023-10-01, 12:57 AM by nbtruthman. Edited 3 times in total.)
(2023-10-01, 12:49 AM)nbtruthman Wrote: Unfortunately for IIT, there is a large body of empirical evidence from veridical NDEs and other paranormal phenomena, evidence that mind and subjective awareness can under some circumstances (i.e. deep NDEs for instance) continue while the brain is dysfunctional, and are ultimately a mobile center of consciousness that can separate from the physical body and brain to travel to other locations in the physical world and in other realms. If that is the case, consciousness simply can't be linked to neuronal activities in the brain and IIT is wrong.

The part in bold is a personal interpretation of the evidence and is not scientific therefore it is not at all unfortunate for IIT.
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(2023-10-01, 12:49 AM)nbtruthman Wrote: This seems to be a tempest in a teapot so to speak. The trouble is, notwithstanding this latest attack on it, IIT still seems to have a fundamental flaw: like materialistic neuroscience it continues to link consciousness with neuronal activities. "IIT is trying to construct a map that allows us to infer the qualities of experience from the information structure of neuronal activity" (from Kastrup's letter defending IIT). 

Unfortunately for IIT, there is a large body of empirical evidence from veridical NDEs and other paranormal phenomena, evidence that mind and subjective awareness can under some circumstances (i.e. deep NDEs for instance) continue while the brain is dysfunctional, and are ultimately a mobile center of consciousness that can separate from the physical body and brain to travel to other locations in the physical world and in other realms. If that is the case, consciousness simply can't be linked to neuronal activities in the brain and IIT is wrong.

How could there be a theory of consciousness that did not link consciousness to neuronal activity in some way?

This is something that has to be accounted for no matter one's metaphysical position, or so it seems to me...

I do think this is something of a "tempest in a teapot", as you say, though it does show the materialist-atheist faithful trying to desperately shame those who disagree with their faith. It's not a watershed moment but it does show the desperation of the materialist-atheist religion as its inquisitional power fades and non-materialists are increasingly comfortable rejecting the reductionist dogma.
'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: 2023-10-01, 04:03 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 1 time in total.)
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(2023-10-01, 04:01 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: How could there be a theory of consciousness that did not link consciousness to neuronal activity in some way?

If one must (and I'm not convinced of the need) tie consciousness to the physical world in some way, there are for humans other possibilities e.g. link it to the heart - certainly this was a historical association, or one might associate it with the entire body rather than just a bit of it.

Also, I see no reason to deny consciousness to lifeforms lacking neurons. It is difficult enough for us to even allow that other animals have consciousness yet it seems to me much more reasonable to assume all lifeforms have consciousness.
(This post was last modified: 2023-10-01, 04:22 PM by Typoz. Edited 1 time in total.)
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(2023-10-01, 04:01 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: How could there be a theory of consciousness that did not link consciousness to neuronal activity in some way?

This is something that has to be accounted for no matter one's metaphysical position, or so it seems to me...

I do think this is something of a "tempest in a teapot", as you say, though it does show the materialist-atheist faithful trying to desperately shame those who disagree with their faith. It's not a watershed moment but it does show the desperation of the materialist-atheist religion as its inquisitional power fades and non-materialists are increasingly comfortable rejecting the reductionist dogma.

To further elaborate on how IIT theory (the leading consciousness theory presently) apparently must be wrong based on the paranormal data, the following material is extracted from an excellent new book by both scientists and philosophers working on the consciousness problem, Minding the Brain - Models of the Mind, Information, and Empirical Science by Angus Menuge, Brian Krause, and Robert Marks (https://www.amazon.com/Minding-Brain-Inf...163712029X ).

In the terminology used in IIT theory, P-Consciousness is what is meant by experiential consciousness, the essence of awareness, of what it is like to experience something. This is something that is essentially ineffable, and is the most important form of consciousness. The following quotes express the apparent IIT view that the causal chain proceeds from the physical neurological substrate, to P-Consciousness:

Quote:"IIT (is) expressed as something that can mathematically dictate, or at least express, the physical substrate that undergirds p-consciousness;
.........................................
Logical equation:  Axioms re P-Consciousness (lead to) Postulates re P-Consciousness (lead to) Physical Substrate"

At its base definition, IIT appears to make the fundamental materialistic assumption that the most important form of consciousness has a physical substrate that "undergirds" it, and therefore P-Consciousness cannot exist without this physical substrate, presumably the neurological structure and activity of the brain. 

IIT apparently does not propose something that would in the light of the paranormal data explain the evident linkage between consciousness and the brain while the spirit is in body, the view that the neurological structure's activity merely implements or functions to express immaterial spirit's consciousness in the physical. That the causal path is from immaterial consciousness to brain cell activity, not the reverse, and while in body, consciousness is what is expressed in physical brain cell activity with all its flaws and problems.

Anyway, the paranormal evidence strongly indicates that consciousness is in fact not bound to the physical substrate of the brain.
Therefore IIT must be wrong.
(This post was last modified: 2023-10-01, 04:36 PM by nbtruthman. Edited 1 time in total.)
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(2023-10-01, 04:21 PM)Typoz Wrote: If one must (and I'm not convinced of the need) tie consciousness to the physical world in some way, there are for humans other possibilities e.g. link it to the heart - certainly this was a historical association, or one might associate it with the entire body rather than just a bit of it.

Also, I see no reason to deny consciousness to lifeforms lacking neurons. It is difficult enough for us to even allow that other animals have consciousness yet it seems to me much more reasonable to assume all lifeforms have consciousness.

Ah I don't believe the link that would exist for our brains would mean that all consciousness must be linked to neurons.

What I meant was that we have neural correlates of consciousness and this is something that should be included, in some way, in an accounting for consciousness. To me this would need to be done whether one is an Idealist, Dualist, etc...
'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


(2023-10-01, 04:35 PM)nbtruthman Wrote: At its base definition, IIT appears to make the fundamental materialistic assumption that the most important form of consciousness has a physical substrate that "undergirds" it, and therefore P-Consciousness cannot exist without this physical substrate, presumably the neurological structure and activity of the brain.

I don't think Tononi or Koch would agree with this. I just bought the book you mentioned this morning, I hope they aren't poorly informed as it would make the text disappointing.

Will have more to say when I read the relevant sections though...
'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: 2023-10-01, 05:25 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 1 time in total.)

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