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Blogger William Orem wrote on May. 9, 2010 @ 23:18 GMT


I was having dinner with a friend the other day when our discussion turned to the problem of consciousness. Intrigued by the general host of deep science questions, he didn’t see why this famous conundrum was a problem for neurophilosophers (to borrow Patricia Smith Churchland’s phrase). The evolving organism functions more effectively if it can represent exterior objects in some kind of mental space. At some point it comes to represent itself in that same space, adding further advantage. The body becomes a representation in what can now be called the self-conscious mind. Why is this a mystery?

Having puzzled on consciousness since college -- I was a Cognitive Science person at the time, working in a clinical psychobiology lab at the NIMH over the summers while writing a thesis on the intersection of physics and psychology, in the grandiose manner of young people -- I found myself taken aback at how difficult it was to say why the emergence of Mind is still a puzzle. Before I could answer, my friend added the shy addendum: “Does it have something to do with quantum mechanics?”

These days, I tend to doubt it. Given a boost by Penrose, but seriously mused on by Planck, Pauli, and other gods of the pantheon, the proposed connection between QM and consciousness seems less compelling than it did in the eighties, when popular science books were conflating cultural expressions (like Zen) with the new particle physics. Here’s Gary Zukav from the trend-setting *Dancing Wu Li Masters*:

“Hindu mythology is virtually a large-scale projection into the psychological realm of microscopic scientific discoveries. Hindu deities such as Shiva and Vishnu continually dance the creation and destruction of universes while the Buddhist image of the wheel of life symbolizes the unending process of birth, death, and rebirth which is a part of the world of form, which is emptiness, which is form.”



A helpful comparison or a harmful one? We know the fruitless paths this has led many down in the area of popular science, and I personally lament the sense that now exists in the public mind that high energy physics has somehow confirmed various religious and pop psychology viewpoints. (As Asimov smartly rejoined, the only claim the SCM actually shares in common with Genesis is “the universe had a beginning.” Given the true/false nature of the assertion, this hardly constitutes an “I told you so” moment.)

At the same time, Zukav managed to impart some of the wonder of modern science, the thrilling recognition that we are very far indeed from the blandness of what was once called “mere determinism.” And then Carl Sagan, a lover of human cosmic ambition, very much appreciated the Hindu conception of infinite cosmic cycles – principally for showing that the mind can indeed roam in the utterly astounding reaches of space and time in which the data increasingly locate us. In this vastly expanded world, consciousness does indeed continue to be a puzzle, and we do not yet know exactly how deep its solution may reach. In fact, we don’t yet know whether we can even come to a solution; it’s conceivable that the fundamental nature of mental acts -- the “purple-ness” of purple, the “I” who feels an intentional state – is one area of nature that is permanently inaccessible to us, exactly because “us” is part of the phenomenon in question.

To return to QM: if I had to guess, I would say, along with Objective Collapse Theories, that “spontaneous localization” will be found to have a much more pedestrian source than Mind . . . such as gravitation. (Yet what is more commonplace than Mind, which has been present at every experiment ever executed?) I would say that the brain’s activity will be found to be unrelated to the particle interactions that underlie it in any way more significant than the activities of the liver or heart. I would say that for billions of years the PreCambrian Earth existed in just the way it now does, though unwitnessed.

But that’s really just a guess. It’s certainly exiting to think, with Wigner, that QM implies a metaphysical primacy to mental actions. What do *you* think? Is consciousness – which I will take here to be the natural activity of brains of a certain complexity -- fundamental or incidental to the structure of the cosmos? Is Mind *itself* foundational?



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John Merryman wrote on May. 10, 2010 @ 04:03 GMT
How does QM relate to consciousness? I thought it was just used to prove free will?

This "spontaneous localization" of mind seems more of a connection, say between particles/waves, or neurons, or people, than a collapse into an aware entity. It's more network than node. The brain doesn't have a central point of consciousness, but is more a function of what is the current focus. Much like crowds of people will follow one leader and then switch to another.

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Joe Fisher replied on May. 10, 2010 @ 13:44 GMT
Incredible though it might seem, and as difficult as it may be to grasp, the fact is that each moment you are alive will be similar to every other moment that you live, but it will always be minutely different. Not only that, every moment that you are alive will be similar to every other moment experienced by everyone else who is alive, but it also will always be minutely different. Not only that, every moment that you are alive will be similar to every other moment that has been experienced by anyone who has ever lived, or who will ever live, but it also will always be minutely different. Not only that, every moment that you are alive will be similar to every other moment that has ever been experienced or will ever be experienced by every other form of life that is alive or that has ever lived or that will ever live, but it also will always be minutely different.

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Anonymous replied on May. 10, 2010 @ 23:16 GMT
Joe, growth and change and becoming and variability are fundamental to life and experience. Everyones' experience is different too.

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Georgina Parry replied on May. 11, 2010 @ 00:17 GMT
Tom,

You said Yes its called theory. I agree that theory is formed by the mind and it is a subjective reality itself but so is experience. This therefore includes all experimental results based on observation and interpreted by the mind. All of science.

Objective reality is the actual existential stuff that is interacting, whether observed or not, which we can not see. We can only see via the "minds eye", that internal biological simulation, or comprehend something of it by use of scientific models, and theory constructed by the mind.

So although relativity is observed it is not objective reality but subjective interpretation of reality by weaving a dimension of human experience into the physical space where interactions occur,imo. This understanding of how human experience gives a distortion of objective reality but creates our subjective view of reality is relevant to physics.

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Roy Johnstone wrote on May. 10, 2010 @ 05:56 GMT
I think this whole question of QM/consciousness is one that is still worth pursuing and I have already suggested it as a possible subject for this year's essay contest. It could be framed within the larger scope of the free will v. determinism debate, the adequacy of reductionism, even implications for or from quantum computing.

Whilst I don't subscribe to the Wheeler "Self Observing Universe" idea as I believe it just leads to ridiculous "chicken or egg" paradoxes, or a strictly Copenhagen interpretation, I think there is enough evidence to show that the conscious mind/brain system most likely has quantum characterisics. There is already empirical evidence of quantum entanglement in photosynthetic organisms enabling highly coherent transport of excitations, with coherence times of order picoseconds in what are very "noisy" non-equilibrium environments. This is achieved by densely packed (antenna) protein molecule complexes. Genetically these organisms can be very complex with some having up to 4,000 more genes than human beings!

An obvious problem to overcome from the above is the at least 9 orders of magnitude shorter decoherence time to neuron firing time. But given that complex protein aggregations exist in the brain, including Penrose/Hameroff's microtubule tubulin strands with potentially coherent excitations, it seems entanglement may be at play allowing coherence to an unknown degree. It may lead the way to an understanding perhaps of how the "mind" can "act" on the matter of the brain for example?

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Steve Dufourny replied on May. 10, 2010 @ 08:58 GMT
Hello Dear Roy,

You say....I think there is enough evidence to show that the conscious mind/brain system most likely has quantum characterisics. There is already empirical evidence of quantum entanglement in photosynthetic organisms enabling highly coherent transport of excitations, with coherence times of order picoseconds in what are very "noisy" non-equilibrium environments. This is achieved by densely packed (antenna) protein molecule complexes. Genetically these organisms can be very complex with some having up to 4,000 more genes than human beings!

I totally agree ....the mass evolves .....

Regards

Steve

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Joe Fisher replied on May. 11, 2010 @ 12:37 GMT
Unfortunately, man limits all of his thoughts of consciousness cosmic or otherwise, to whatever he might be considering having essentially three major aspects. Matter can only be solid, liquid or gaseous. A theory can only have a thesis, antithesis or synthesis. God can only have a Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Conscious thought comprises the ego, id and superego. Time has an identifiable past, present and future. Natural entities have to be animal, vegetable or mineral. Dimension has length, breadth and width. There is a you, a me and them.

There is one universe. There is only one aspect of the one universe and that is that the universe is unique. Everything in the universe has to be unique because everything in the universe is inseparable. Only thinking about it makes the universe appear to be comprised of arbitrarily selectively quantifiable parts.

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J.C.N. Smith replied on May. 12, 2010 @ 20:35 GMT
As Carl Sagan once said, "we are made of star stuff." We are parts of the universe which are aware of the universe; we are the universe becoming self-aware. In this sense, the universe is self-observing.

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Jason Wolfe wrote on May. 10, 2010 @ 06:14 GMT
"Is Mind *itself* foundational?" If mind IS foundational, then I ask this:

Will science survive?

Religion will flourish the way it always has. I predict that if mind, if consciousness is foundational, I predict that mathematicians and physicists everywhere will have nervous breakdowns. I predict that Atheists will run through the streets in terror; they will foam at the mouth and mutter incoherently. If mind is foundational; if consciousness is foundational, scientific minds everywhere will snap like twigs.

Maybe it's too dangerous to ask this kind of question?

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Georgina Parry replied on May. 10, 2010 @ 06:37 GMT
Jason,

foundational to what? Foundational to experience and comprehension or foundational to objective non experienced reality? It is not possible to conduct science without a mind. But the mind does not create the objective reality that leads to physical processes. It creates our subjective experience of that reality, subjective reality. We know the cosmos and all external existential reality through the working of the mind and would know nothing without it. That does not mean that there would be nothing there without a mind to appreciate it.

It is not dangerous to ask these questions, imo. Science needs to realize what it is dealing with, subjective experienced reality, and then continue with better understanding of science itself.

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Jason Wolfe replied on May. 10, 2010 @ 07:26 GMT
Dear Georgina,

If the universe was made out of Lego, then Lego would be fundamental. Right now, we're not sure what the universe is made out of. It might just be energy. Others think it could be made out of wave functions. Some people say super strings. But I will be intellectually honest. When I consider whether or not mind, or consciousness, is fundamental, I believe that consciousness operates through quantum mechanics/particles. Yes, the brain has a highly organized neural network. When each of us dies, our neural networks also die. Each of us will be pleasantly surprised, or perhaps unpleasantly surprised, that our physical body and brains are dead, but that somehow, we still have consciousness. We can still think and feel. Granted, with the removal of our biological faculties (and limitations), our personality might change to some degree.

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Georgina Parry replied on May. 10, 2010 @ 10:55 GMT
Jason,

Whether consciousness persists after death is irrelevant to whether that consciousness is creating objective reality or whether objective reality exists separately from that consciousness. We do not usually find that when a person dies suddenly a big chunk of reality has disappeared because they have stopped thinking about it. There will be changes but that is because the whole...

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Lawrence B. Crowell wrote on May. 10, 2010 @ 12:39 GMT
A measurement apparatus which reduces a wave function to an eigenstate in a decoherent process does so without the need of consciousness. State reductions on a system with entanglement entropy have occurred at least since the reheating phase in the late inflationary cosmology. There were no mental observers there.

The existence of mind in the universe is of course strange. but we are in no position to scientifically understand its position in the unvierse. At this time it might be better to address the matter of IR/UV correspondence in renormalization group flow, gauge hierarchy and the value of low energy parameters or constants. Maybe there is some underlying principle involving an extremum of complexity. From there we might work step by step towards eventually asking how life exists in the universe and then maybe eventually consciousness might be addressed.

Cheers LC

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T H Ray replied on May. 11, 2010 @ 16:10 GMT
Lawrence, I agree. We have to have a basis to fix unambiguous and objective definitions of "life" and "consciousness" before we can even entertain a scientific model.

To assume that there are undefined foundational causes simply does not comport with what we already know about how matter behaves, and about the growth of nonlinear systems.

Take the simple case of what causes feedback between a microphone and amplifier. One cannot even in principle assign a cause to this or any positive feedback loop.

So suppose consciousness is negative feedback to the material universe. Then we would find by controlled experiment that thought is causal, that energetic brain waves exert physical effects on matter. All attempts at this hypothesis have failed. Or supopose that consciousness is negative feedback exerted by a collective consciousness, and that conflicting desires assure only slow and subtle effects. Without the means to sum these effects over the entire universe of conscious agents (or even to know what the agents are), the hypothesis is not falsifiable.

In any case, consciousness could not be other than a secondary cause, and be tractable to scientific theory. To assume consciousness as a primary cause, one must assume what one is trying to demonstrate, which is outside science.

Tom

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paull valletta wrote on May. 10, 2010 @ 14:36 GMT
How much of the minds consciousness does effect Relativity and Quantum Mechanics?

Quantum Mechanics appears to be a mind science,nearly all (total) the effects are related to observer and thus consciousnessism? weird mind trickery maybe? Whereas Relativity appears to be a physical science, external to the mind, what you see is what you relatively get?

If you think of an experience as one "moment" event, where did this event arise from, external to the mind or projected by the mind?

Quantum events in the labs (which must be external the at least those experimentalists inside the lab doing the experiments minds,but not maybe to some other non observer) show us that the mind does not comprehend the events on a relative, or reality scale? This can be interpreted as Quantum events are not actually real, in the external scope of Relativity(physical universe)arena.

Let me rephrase this, if Quantum Worlds were truely randoms, event-wise, how come all experiments are reproduced exactly?..should not the experiments theselves be reproduced with random results?

It really boils down to this:Do events external to the mind,occur before they are registered and effected (interpreted) by the observing mind, what is the cuase of an event in a conscious mind, and thus, is the mind just a quantum effect of a Relative cause?

Think true! p.v

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Lawrence B. Crowell wrote on May. 10, 2010 @ 15:19 GMT
P.V., Eugene Wigner raised the idea that consciousness might be involved with quantum mechanics, or more to the point quantum measurement. The issue has been discussed in various guises, and Penrose was a recent advocate of this, but not with just quantum mechanics, quantum gravity. However, nothing in any way has been concluded.

The central problem is that we do not understand what consciousness is. We experience it subjectively, but we have no objective understanding of just what consciousness is. So basing a scientific discipline around consciousness is not possible at this time. Since our understanding of consciousness is subjective, then any science which is presumed to ground itself on consciousness is also subjective. This is not acceptable, for an empirical science requires that data be recorded in a manner which is objective and can be read by anyone. As yet we can’t read minds and so a science can’t be founded on the inner existence of individuals. There is no communicating community which is based on the sharing or transmitting of conscious experience directly.

This state of affairs might change, as the technology to read the output of brains is becoming possible. So some science of consciousness might begin to take form later this century. From there maybe the connections with middle or later 21st century physics and consciousness will begin to take shape. This will require that the nature of consciousness be “transduced” into some readable form which can be shared. This could mean consciousness to consciousness connections, or brain links. Of course be careful of what you wish for. The Star Trek NG presented the BORG as an outcome of this sort of ability. Given what I see as the social addiction to mobile communication devices, cell phones, texting, B-berries etc, people may well clamor for direct brain to brain com-links once they are available.

Cheers LC

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paul valletta replied on May. 10, 2010 @ 22:34 GMT
Lawrence, I know there is a varied field in what QM is ..or isn't? My reference to QM experience, or experiments?, is where I find conflicts of understandings.

Take the example of repeated QM experiments whose understanding is based on the principle of Random results, say the location and detection of the Electron. In all repeated experiments, not a single Electron has been cornered to a...

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Jason Wolfe replied on May. 11, 2010 @ 05:42 GMT
I've heard that the military is working on mind to mind communication technology. In my opinion, mind to mind technology is going to be a bit like charades. If team members have trained together, they can communicate with the same set of mental symbols. Mind to mind communication is all about practicing with the same set of meaningful symbols. For example, one person's idea of "go check it out and report back", might translate awkwardly as, "go sight seeing and send me a postcard". But they'll work out the bugs.

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Steve Dufourny wrote on May. 10, 2010 @ 15:56 GMT
I think people wants to show a kind of rationality and on the other side, their ideas are not rationals, it's bizare and that's all .

The empirical sciences is lost my friends.

They try and that's all for the business , that's all .They try and still try with falses empiricals words for the confusions for the public .

The complexity returns to the simplicity.

Of course it's just a subtil suggestion for people who sees clear about the realism .......

Steve

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T H Ray wrote on May. 10, 2010 @ 16:40 GMT
LC's is the definitive scientific view.

It's possible (possible, not likely) that we can follow scientific progress all the way to the end, if such an end exists, only to find that all our hard won knowledge is wrong -- yet we will at least have offered up the game in the name of objective truth. Even though no scientific theory can be proven beyond all doubt, theory is still the highest...

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John Merryman replied on May. 10, 2010 @ 17:11 GMT
Tom,

To which I might add that theology presupposes the relationship between good and bad to be a dual between a righteous deity and the forces of evil, but it is the basic biological binary code, the attraction of the beneficial and repulsion of the detrimental. Which makes it a far more fundamental dichotomy than the relativism commonly ascribed to those not of a theological bent. Essentially the same processes which make computers work, with all number of processes and programs built of from infinite numbers of such switches. Morality is similar to language. A complex code by which members of a community function together, that may be different than that of other groups, but serves the same function.

Emotional judgments are like preloaded programs that come up with responses before we can rationally analyze the situation.

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Steve Dufourny replied on May. 10, 2010 @ 17:35 GMT
The jealousy is the sister of the vanity.....like the foundamentals are the bothers of the rationalities....

Steve

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Georgina Parry replied on May. 10, 2010 @ 21:15 GMT
Tom,

You said-"Lawrence is right - we do not yet have a framework to addres consciousness."

Then if science is to progress this must be addressed not ignored. Consciousness or awareness is how we are able to do science at all. We can not even be aware of the science that is observed without the minds interpretation of it. The subjective reality created by the mind is where science is conducted. How that reality is formed is therefore very relevant.

As to feedback to objective reality from consciousness, this happens all of the time. We are aware of things external to the body through our subjective reality simulation of it. Either as individuals or a group. We respond to those experiences via our behavior, which then influences or directly changes the external objective reality. There is no need to imagine a disembodied hive mind to realize that the though the mind creates its own subjective version of reality as experience it does not just experience, it directly influences or changes objective reality too. It directs the body to action so there is feedback.

The decor of my home is not the product of my mind alone. It may have mentally chosen the colours and furnishings and arrangement but it did not then just materialize. The mind had to direct the body to the shops and things had to be bought and transported back home and arranged etc. So is the decor the product of the mind? yes and no, imo. It would not be as it is without the minds role but there would be nothing there without the actual stuff (objective reality). It would still just be an imagining.

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John Merryman wrote on May. 10, 2010 @ 16:56 GMT
How far down into the roots of biology and possibly beyond that consciousness goes, there should be some clear scientific recognition, for larger social reasons, that it is a bottom up phenomena, not a top down structure. A spiritual absolute, or source, is the essence from which we rise, not an ideal from which we fell. In the conflict between religion and science, until science accepts and admits it does not have proof that consciousness is a late stage emergent effect of biology, the vast majority of sentient beings will continue to give credence to any alternative religious claims.

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Matt wrote on May. 10, 2010 @ 17:20 GMT
"Is Mind *itself* foundational?"

I think it's important to distinguish between the various meanings of the term "consciousness", and in this case in particular, the difference between "mind" (i.e. the function of cognition) - which is seemingly open to a reductionist view of emergence from physical properties - as opposed to "experience" (i.e. phenomenal consciousness, or the raw feel of qualia) which is quite possibly not.

For some interesting arguments on why this is so, and some equally interesting philosophical speculation on how this *could* lead to the idea of base phenomenal properties, see Chalmers:

http://consc.net/papers/nature.pdf

If that kind of thing interests you, Chalmers does a much fuller treatment of the subject in his book "The Conscious Mind".

Another recommendation on the subject would be Gregg Rosenberg's "A Place For Consciousness", which deals a lot more with causation, consciousness and QM.

Of course, philosophy is no replacement for hard science; but when all possibilities are open, it can at least narrow the scope by reflecting on logical possibility and impossibility.

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Carmen Putrino wrote on May. 10, 2010 @ 23:52 GMT
All of you are attacking on the "easy" problem of conciousness; not the "hard" problem as coined by David Chalmers. No physical theory can explain "red".

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Georgina Parry replied on May. 11, 2010 @ 00:38 GMT
Carmen,

You said "All of you are attacking on the "easy" problem of conciousness; not the "hard" problem as coined by David Chalmers. No physical theory can explain "red"."

Red is a part of subjective reality or experience.It is an internally generated representation "observed" by the conscious mind. It is formed from data processing in the brain, to allow comprehension of external reality.

It allows quick and easy recognition of difference, which may have a survival benefit to the organism. Red has a particular significance in this regard. Being the colour of blood and therefore possible danger. It stimulates a measurable heightened state of arousal and possibly sub conscious fear, which might also be interpreted as excitement.

The wavelength of (red) light that is intercepted by the eye is our scientific model of objective reality giving rise to the subjective experience of red.

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Georgina Parry replied on May. 11, 2010 @ 01:02 GMT
Carmen,

I should add that although we do not yet have the full explanation of how a nerve impulse delivered to the brain via the optic nerve can come to be experienced as red following electrical activity of the brain, it is in my opinion to do with the interaction of physics, biology and learning and not an ultimately inexplicable.It has not yet been fully researched.

Just poking the brain in different regions can cause different sensations or experiences. We have been taught to associate the sensation of red with the word and it is also linked to other information. We have learned what the (red) sensation or experience is.

If you require absolute detail of the process then I think it is not yet available.It does not seem that hard a problem though. Just more research needed.

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Georgina Parry replied on May. 11, 2010 @ 03:28 GMT
Carmen,

If you were to research this topic you would find a great deal of information is already known about colour perception.

Re physics and physiology. General interesting stuff about physiology of colour perception, mathematics of colour perception, evolutionary advantages etc.Wikipedia on colour perception

Re location of colour perception. This article is entitled Color Perception Is Not In The Eye Of The Beholder: It's In The Brain. Talking about retinas and how the brain appears to calibrate for differences in input.

Its in the brain.

Re the role of learning this Interesting paper talks about how the hemisphere that processes colour changes when colours are learned.

Color Perception Shifts

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Anonymous wrote on May. 11, 2010 @ 00:10 GMT
Carmen, emotion is manifest and differentiated as sensory experience and feeling. Thoughts and emotions are differentiated feelings. The integrated extensiveness of experience in general (including thought and emotion) is deopendent upon the comprehensiveness and consistency of our intention and concern, and upon what is generally and fundamentally natural.

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Anonymous wrote on May. 11, 2010 @ 06:01 GMT
Georgina: "Just poking the brain in different regions can cause different sensations or experiences. We have been taught to associate the sensation of red with the word and it is also linked to other information. We have learned what the (red) sensation or experience is."

If this were true, it would necessarily hold that if you had had no color vision all your life, but knew all you could conceivably know about the physical causes of color vision and seeing what "red" is, you would also have a full description of what it were *like* to see red.

The above is true because in most cases(if not all bar phenomenal consciousness), a full description of the physical facts is enough to exhaust what there *is* to know. (Think of a full description of a table or a face to a blind woman. In other words, the base physical facts fully *entail* the higher- level descriptions of "table" and "face".).

However, with phenomenal consciousness, it would seem that there is something *further* to know, as in the case of the experience of seeing red; thus it can't be described from one third party to another within the bounds of a science that only includes are current physical ontology.

This is know as th "knowledge argument".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowledge_argument

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Matt replied on May. 11, 2010 @ 06:01 GMT
Sorry - the above was me. Forgot the name field...

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Georgina Parry replied on May. 11, 2010 @ 08:28 GMT
Matt,

I agree with what you are saying. A description of the process is not enough to comprehend the experience as one could through personal conscious awareness of it. It is the same for flavour or pain. Any sensation derived from mental processing of input via the sense organs from objective reality. I think this is true of all personal experience actually. You might learn a great deal...

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Matt replied on May. 11, 2010 @ 16:10 GMT
"I have been reiterating on this site, for a long time now, that there are two separate perspectives or views of reality. One being experience, a biological simulation of reality or subjective reality"

Would you consider the two views to represent two different fundamental sides of reality, either in substance or in properties, or do you consider one to be real, and the other imagined?

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Roy Johnstone wrote on May. 11, 2010 @ 08:19 GMT
I tend to agree with Georgina regarding "redness". I don't see it as being part of the "hard" problem of consciousness. It is the way we are hard wired to recognise a particular part of the EM spectrum. Infants see red from day one, they just don't know the word yet. We have no choice (barring colour-blindness) in perceiving redness in the same way that, for eg a photosynthetic bacteria "recognises" the right wavelength in it's receptors, and we can agree I think that bacteria do not display any evidence of consciousness or self-awareness.

Anonymous is of course right to say that redness cannot be explained to a blind person, but this is not because the human *perception* of redness is subjective, it is because we don't have a descriptive framework for non-physical/non-spatial phenomena. The same would apply to describing the sound of a particular sound wavelength or the smell of a particular molecular gas etc. Redness is just an example of brain or species specific evolution.

I will however check out Georgina's references.

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Jason Wolfe wrote on May. 11, 2010 @ 10:05 GMT
Dear Roy,

Hard wired? Do you know what a synaptic cleft is? It's an open circuit in the neural network; this open circuit is closed when neurotransmitters are released into the cleft and detected by the receptors on the other side. That is Exactly NOT hard wiring.

Somebody needs to explain why we experience color. If the answer cannot be explained within the context of physics, then Occam's razor will demand an explanation. Failure to provide one will raise the likelihood that consciousness -is- fundamental and independent of physics.

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Jason Wolfe wrote on May. 11, 2010 @ 11:02 GMT
There is a very interesting article about the visual cortex:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_cortex

These visual cortical areas of the brain are highly sensitive to experiences like motion, form recognition, complex patterns, selective attention, etc... All of these are inputs into the brain. So the brain shuffles all the inputs together in such a way that consciousness emerges, the predator is cheated out a meal, and we can all thank mindless evolution for our lives. We could declare that everything is explained by physics and evolution, don't need God, souls, spirits or any spooky stuff.

But there is a problem. Physics didn't boil down everything into Lego or some simple absolute building block(s). Instead, the laws of physics, particularly quantum mechanics, is a big guessing game. The fundamental building blocks out of which everything is constructed, they are not simple, they are not building blocks at all. Physics can't predict every particles location and momentum, simultaneously. In fact, quantum mechanics is just a fancy name for: large areas of mystery and lack of predictability.

The atheists, who secretly hoped for an absolute certainty of annihilation of consciousness upon death, well, these poor souls are denied their certainty. In fact, they can't even explain all workings of the cell (fundamental unit of organic life). In fact, spooky action at a distance (also known as quantum entanglement) has to be invoked to explain certain functionality of the cell.

Hey! Maybe religion -isn't- for stupid people? Maybe logic shares a symmetry? Maybe problems can be solved with analog intuition? Not just digital logic...

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Roy Johnstone wrote on May. 11, 2010 @ 11:56 GMT
OK Jason, "hard wired" was perhaps not the best description for what I was trying to convey, which is that for human beings, color is an automatic response, requiring no conscious subjective intent or choice. It is the way our brains have evolved to perceive light and a selective adaptation which (among others) gives an advantage over other species. But why do you only refer to the importance of explaining color? What about explaining high C on the music scale to a deaf person or explaining the "feel" of your foot on the pavement to someone with no tactile sensory ability? These all require subjective *description*, but the phenomena being described are involuntary, species specific representations of the objective reality of quantifiable (and quantizable in 2 cases) wave forms or QM interactions.

Your suggestion that consciousness may be fundamental implies some sort of "primordial" cosmic field? You also say it may be independant of physics. If so, it would seem that, rather than consciousness emerging from complexity (widely held view), complexity enables some sort of "coupling" to this field. You then have to explain how the physical brain can couple/interact with a "field" which is inaccessible to physics! It seems there is nothing to be gained unless you are appealing to some sort of spiritual realm?

The other question then is at what point of complexity in the chain of organic life does consciousness or an awareness of self manifest? When is the "spirit" injected. Or, when is "access" to your "field" allowed? Doesn't it make more sense that increasingly complex structures, eg your neural network, with neurotransmitters and other protein complexes enables increasingly complex behaviour?

I think your independant consciousness "field" only shifts the problem elsewhere and to a far more metaphysical place. Science please!

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Jason Wolfe replied on May. 11, 2010 @ 19:25 GMT
Dear Roy,

"Primordial" cosmic field? Basically yes. Personally, I would call it a "God" field. In doing so, I suppose that everyone in the forum will want to line up to take turns slapping me. As for the "God particle", in hindsight, it was a mistake to waste excellent terminology on something as mundane as a mass giving, Higgs field.

But let's take a closer look at words like mind, awareness and consciousness. There is plenty of research on the brain that is sufficient to explain most of the features of mind. The problem of consciousness is not about mechanisms at all. It's about why we are not philosophical zombies. At least I know that I am not a philosophical zombie. Another way to phrase the question is: how do we imbue an artificial intelligence with "consciousness"? Even if we could get Big Blue working, isn't it just a philosophical zombie?

Awareness of self is a more sophisticated version of consciousness. That requires more of an integration of different parts of the brain. When different parts of the brain are in constant communication, a philosophical zombie emerges.

An electron is traveling about its merry way. It is existing in all of its available eigenstates. Then, suddenly, a particle physicist probes it. This is identical to the probe asking the electron: excuse me for disturbing you; I'd like to know where you are; and then, how fast you are moving. The electron, upon collapse, will give the probe and the particle physicist its location, and then its velocity (momentum).

I say: measurements are "questions".

You will say: huh? I don't believe that! Prove it to me using a pile of mathematics.

I will say: just think about it.

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James Putnam replied on May. 11, 2010 @ 19:31 GMT
Jason,

Wow, Jason! I have to admit that I have not been clear most times what your view is; but, I am clearly impressed by this response.

James

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Georgina Parry replied on May. 11, 2010 @ 21:28 GMT
Jason,

Interesting ideas again. I think that we often consider ourselves to have more free will than is actually the case. I have been fascinated to watch the illusionist Derren Brown and discover how easily thought processes can be sub consciously manipulated or directed, so influencing behaviour. He has demonstrated this a number of times. Placing various cues in the environment which are not registered by the conscious mind but by the sub conscious mind. The subject considers these ideas to be their own self generated ideas not realizing where the information has come from. That is external input rather than internally generated input. The decision the person makes is based on the sub consciously implanted information, which they are unaware of having received, not free will at all. Even though they are superficially given freedom of choice.

I think that I am not so much influenced by a cosmic consciousness field as by everything and everyone in my environment. All of that effects my sub conscious mind and only some of it makes its way to my conscious mind to be experienced as external reality. The data is already limited by my senses but then it is filtered and processed before becoming experience. I may therefore think that what I am conscious of or experiencing is all that my brain knows. This is not true. The sub conscious mind has far more data available that it keeps to itself and which can also influence choice and behaviour. IMO We are not as free to choose as we like to think. The sub conscious mind "pulls the strings" and the conscious mind experiences a freely made decision.

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Matt wrote on May. 11, 2010 @ 13:22 GMT
Need some extra time to respond properly to your interesting post Georgina.

For now I'm just going to point out some problems and comments from Roy's:

Roy: "consciousness emerging from complexity (widely held view)"

It's certainly widely held, but it's very far from clear that this is a tenable view. Again, see Chalmers for a full treatment on how the concept of emergence necessarily requires logical supervenience on the physical, and how consciousness does not see to do so, and hence can't be an emergent property.

Roy: "Your suggestion that consciousness may be fundamental implies some sort of "primordial" cosmic field?"

Not necessarily. One alternative is a view of substance monism (where all matter / energy / fields are physical), but property dualism (where there are experiential properties, or proto-properties that manifest under certain conditions (complexity?). That's just one example.

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Matt wrote on May. 11, 2010 @ 14:12 GMT
@Jason:

While I agree with you regarding physicalism possibly being an incomplete description of reality due to consciousness, I don't follow how or why that would provide any evidence for or against the existence of a God (a supernatural creator), let alone anything to do with the Gods of religious tradition.

Regarding QM, I think it's strangeness may eventually help explain the existence and workings of free will, but I don't see how it could have any bearing on the "hard problem" phenomenal consciousness.

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James Putnam replied on May. 11, 2010 @ 15:22 GMT
Regarding cosmic consciousness and its relationship to human consciousness:

We absorb an incredible amount of data from photons. We select, by intelligent means, patterns from a hodgepodge of possible patterns. We may have selected correctly, and, we may have selected incorectly. Of these two possibilities, the first gives us the data for reality and the second gives us the data for...

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T H Ray wrote on May. 11, 2010 @ 16:19 GMT
James,

Suppose that when I feel joyful, I laugh and squeal with delight, leap in the air, talk freely about my experience and apologize to no one for being joyful, proudly flaunting my good feeling.

According to you, I do not experience "true" joy. I must be compelled to act differently in order to be the joyful person you expect to see.

You want to tell me again how your philosophy differs from religious dogma?

Tom

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James Putnam replied on May. 11, 2010 @ 17:25 GMT
Tom,

You have questions left over to answer. How is it that we attach meaning to photon data?

"A photon storm of extremely truncated pieces of data about changes of velocity originating from multitudinous sources of particles of matter, mixed up and scrambled together, arriving at the speed of light, in arrangements that are never repeated, and the only means by which we have ever received data.

Either we must already have the answers available to us from some source other than the photon storm or the photon storm carries and communicates the meaning to us. It appears that there is no means by which the photon storm can carry its own meanings with it."

What about the conditon of the initial and final states before and after an exchange of thermodynamic entropy occurs?

"Does the ideal gas, in a condition of equilibrium, inside a container with adiabatic walls have an initial state of thermodynamic entropy? If it was placed in contact with another container of ideal gas at a different and lower temperature level of equilibrium with only a diathermic wall between them, would my first container have a store of thermodynamic entropy such that it can transfer some of that thermodynamic entropy to the second container?

In other words: If there is an ideal gas, in a condition of equilibrium, inside a container with adiabatic walls, does that ideal gas have the property of thermodynamic entropy? While it is sitting there waiting for someone to change its adiabatic walls into diathermic walls and allow it to interact with the environment, does it have the property of thermodynamic entropy?"

Jases

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T H Ray replied on May. 11, 2010 @ 18:05 GMT
James,

"You have questions left over to answer. How is it that we attach meaning to photon data?"

Oh yeah? First, you have to tell me how you know when I am "truly joyful."

Then I'll tell you how scientific theory works.

Tom

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James Putnam replied on May. 11, 2010 @ 18:14 GMT
Tom,

You said: ""Oh yeah? First, you have to tell me how you know when I am "truly joyful."

Then I'll tell you how scientific theory works."

Your superiority complex has you confused. You are not in charge. You can make 'you have to' demands, but they count for nothing. You still have left over questions to answer.

James

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Carmen Putrino wrote on May. 11, 2010 @ 16:36 GMT
I should have realized that all of you would not really understand. You can be a zombie and have internal representation of the physical world. You can be a zombie and behave like a human being. However, this in no way really explains the "I"; the experiencer. I urge you to read David Chalmers.

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Matt replied on May. 11, 2010 @ 17:13 GMT
I'd second that advice.



I think that a lot of empirically-minded people find it difficult to engage with philosophical arguments in general, perhaps because they see science as having "replaced" the discipline, or perhaps because it frustratingly can never answer our questions definitively.

It's a shame, because there are still large areas of investigation (most particularly in the most fundamental area of micro physics) that remain completely open questions, and what philosophy does is enable us to sift through the endless possibilities, discarding those that are logically unsound, and leaving fewer options and therefore clearer parts of eventual empirical investigation.

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Steve Dufourny replied on May. 11, 2010 @ 17:44 GMT
I think that a lot of empirically-minded people find it difficult to engage with philosophical arguments in general, perhaps because they see science as having "replaced" the discipline, or perhaps because it frustratingly can never answer our questions definitively.

I think simply it's due to a lack of generality ....indeed for a good understanding, all centers of interest must be analyzed....Maths physics, chemistry,biology,philosophy, astrobiology, evolution,universality.....without this whole ,the points of vue aren't sufficients .

Thus we understand why it's not evident for them, just because they have not learned these subjects simply.

Sincerely

Steve

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James Putnam replied on May. 11, 2010 @ 18:03 GMT
Dear Steve,

Here is a quote I would like to add to what you have said:

"Scientific learning is composed of two opposites which nonetheless meet each other. The first is the natural ignorance that is man's lot at birth. The second is represented by those great minds that have investigated all knowledge accumulated by man only to discover at the end that in fact they know nothing. Thus they return to the same fundamental ignorance they had thought to leave. Yet this ignorance they have now discovered is an intellectual achievement. It is those who have departed from their original condition of ignorance but have been incapable of completing the full cycle of learning who offer us a smattering of scientific knowledge and pass sweeping judgments. These are the mischief makers, the false prophets." ___Pascal

James

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James Putnam wrote on May. 11, 2010 @ 21:29 GMT
Regarding cosmic consciousness and its relationship to human consciousness (The revised evening copy):

We absorb an incredible amount of data from photons. Our subconscious mind attempts to select patterns from the storm of photon data. Our subconscious may have selected correctly, and, it may have selected incorrectly. Of these two possibilities, the first results in reality and the...

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Georgina Parry replied on May. 11, 2010 @ 23:11 GMT
James,

I'm not going to disagree with the first half of your post as it sounds pretty much like the sort of ideas I have been discussing. We agree the brain gives an interpretation of external reality from selected and processed input which is only then experienced.

I don't find it so easy to agree with your connection between emotional response and fundamental truth. Some experiences can be profound and effect us strongly. The strength of the response is in part to do with neurotransmitter and hormone levels within the body. If there is a deficiency of certain neurotransmitters it will not be possible to feel certain emotions or they will be felt less strongly than the norm. If there is an excess of hormones or neurotransmitters the emotional response may be inappropriate perhaps excessive under the circumstances. Emotional responsiveness also depends upon such things as amount of sleep, diet, whether drugs are used etc. Which again all effect biochemistry.

I may enjoy the taste of fructose syrup. It may give me pleasure or temporary happiness to eat it. That does not mean that it is good for my body. It could be regarded as a metabolic poison. Therefore how we feel should not be taken as fundamental overriding truth and guide to appropriate behaviour, imo. You said "there must be a preset physical response, if we will recognize it, for confirming truth." I don't think so. There is an emotional response to highly significant new information or an important connection of ideas which we may experience as beautiful, joyful or emotionally "moving". New significant information or connections of ideas may have survival value for the individual or its species. Information such as I now have a baby. Therefore conscious attention is drawn to its significance via the emotional response.Imo.It is necessarily a temporary emotional state.

I think happiness is overrated. It naturally functions as a temporary reward for biologically desirable behaviour to encourage further pursuit of that behaviour. It is not desirable,imo for it to be a permanent state. That exhausts the neurotransmitter system and leads to lessened ability to experience joy or happiness in the long term. Contentment is a far better emotional state in my opinion. One which lets the conscious mind know that everything is OK. Not cold or too hot, not hungry, not lonely, not fatigued, not thirsty, not bored, not in pain, not in danger etc, etc.

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James Putnam wrote on May. 12, 2010 @ 00:30 GMT
Regarding human free will and its relationship to cosmic consciousness:

How does individual freedom of thought emerge from universal control? It occurs because the orderliness of the universe is not communicated to us fully intact. We are released intellectually from the control of universal determinism. This results from the method by which we view the universe. We do not see the universe in its continuous form. We see it as discontinuous and incomplete. This results from our receiving discontinuous and curtailed information via photons.

We use our incomplete genetic intelligence to interpret the incomplete information. In a sense, we must generate complete, smooth thoughts from piecemeal data. The anticipation of change is what allows us to connect together independent pieces of information. Our minds search for ways to connect discrete pieces of information together. We imagine what change may be occurring based upon our genetic knowledge of change possible.

The data is always about change. Even though received information is always about change, our thoughts are not only about change. Our thoughts include both change and no change. We experience change, but we invent no change. We do this because no change exists as a genetically programmed idea. It is a cosmic intellectual 'given'. Ideas are what we are genetically given as the tools to be used for understanding information. No change is an essential idea to human thought.

This idea is not based upon anything ever experienced at anytime or any place in the universe. No living thing has ever observed no change. However, we are intelligently predisposed to understand the concept of no change. Our view of the universe is an interpretation of an approximation. We picture the universe differently from its physical nature. Our view is a mix of approximation and interpretation.

We are genetically programmed to know the universe in a useful, intelligent manner. We subconsciously contain an intelligent, specialized understanding of the nature of the universe. Here I use the word intelligent to distinguish human perception from the mechanical perspective presented by physicists and endorsed by scientists in general.

Our conclusions can be shallow or deep depending upon the effort we put into forming them. The more facts we have the more likely our conclusion will be deeply supported. The more we think something over, the more deeply our mind will search for a better conclusion. This inexact method of matching ideas to information is an important part of generating human free will.

Jemas

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Georgina Parry replied on May. 12, 2010 @ 02:57 GMT
James ,

We also have our own unique genetic makeup and have had our own unique experiences, including education and social environment. Which affects the way in which we handle and process new information. The new information detected by each individual will also vary, due to differences in spatial position on the earth, environment, newspaper read etc, etc.

Everything that we have learned and experienced and are can effect our choices. Though it is not even just that. There are also outside influences. Complexities of current situation, urgency, other matters requiring attention, pressure from other people, novelty. I think it may be the sheer complexity and therefore unpredictability of choice that may sometimes gives the semblance of freewill. As well as the lack of recognition that the sub conscious mind often has access to information that it uses to decide without the knowledge of the conscious mind. The conscious mind only thinking that it has made a free choice.

Given that my sub conscious mind is not telling me what it is doing and there are too many variables for my conscious mind to take into account at once. So it is only given a few to think about rationally from the data available to the sub conscious mind. Although I -think- I have free will but maybe I don't really.

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Georgina Parry replied on May. 12, 2010 @ 06:13 GMT
I think I have free will but maybe I only think I have free will. Hum. Regarding I as that which is consciously thinking rather than the entire entity, which is Me.

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Georgina Parry replied on May. 12, 2010 @ 08:48 GMT
If in subjective reality (experienced reality) I have free will, because I think that I have, and subjective reality or experience is taken to be equally real but different to objective reality- then that free will must be a real experience, considered real.

The problem is- is conscious experience really real. Most people are of the opinion that, what is experienced is real. Some are of the opinion that only that which is experienced is real and many consider that which is experienced more real than that which is not experienced. So it is real free will.

However if the choice is actually determined by factors other than the choice of the conscious mind, then it is not free will in objective reality. So it is free will and it is not free will simultaneously. Unless a decision is made as to which reality is more real. Experienced subjective reality or objective reality existing outside of experience. Hum.

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Matt wrote on May. 12, 2010 @ 10:19 GMT
Explanations that try to retain determinism, while slipping in some watered-down version of free will are nothing but a cop-out in my opinion. The free will they propose is just a psychological illusion, which is no different than simply denying it's existence entirely.

To do so (i.e. deny it's existence) isn't a problem from a logical point of view, but since it prima facie seems obvious that we do have it, such an extraordinary claim requires extraordinary evidence, and as yet, there is none either way, so we should assume free will exists, but is as yet unexplainable.

For a good philosophical hypothesis regarding an alternative view of causation that allows for free will (and links with Chalmers-type views of panprotoexperientialism (that's a mouthful), see the book I mentioned earlier:

http://books.google.com/books?id=QFof5PjBY2YC&prints
ec=frontcover&dq=Gregg+Rosenberg%27s+%22A+Place+For+Consciou
sness%22&source=bl&ots=wqBviKl2BO&sig=WyRh7boxEIBKF9YVQN4jev
zKWJI&hl=en&ei=cIDqS-qgO8HB-QbpjPjCBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct
=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBIQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

Matt

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amrit wrote on May. 12, 2010 @ 11:57 GMT
Observer is not in the brain. Observer is consciousness itself.

Yours Amrit

attachments: 2_Observer_is_a_function_of_Fourdimensional_Timeless_Space__for_WEB.pdf

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Matt wrote on May. 12, 2010 @ 12:53 GMT
@Georgina (sorry - I can't get on with this hidden-replies style forum so am posting at the end)

To me it sounds like you regard the third-person view (conscious experience) as base reality, and the first-person view (objective measurement) as imagined, except that you don't want to use that terminology because you accept that the first-person view is nevertheless valid and important.

Personally I would challenge that reading on various grounds, including (as an overview position) the lack of supporting evidence either way, and the logical possibility of alternatives. That's not to say that I think that the individual conscious experiences of you are I are in any way fundamental, only that potentially their *cause* could be something fundamental to the universe that is outside our current physical-only scientific ontology.

To give one example of a specific objection, for me the view seems at odds with the our currently best description of base reality, quantum mechanics. Correct me if I'm misunderstanding, but as much as QM seems to say nothing directly about consciousness, and thus leaves it as quite possibly at a higher level than that of *base* reality, it nevertheless also demotes the third-person view (i.e. the objective measurement of the relative properties of physical objects) to a higher level than base.

That's because at base all matter and energy reduces to mere potentialities as described by wave functions. We see this by forcing the continued visibility of the wave function's causal effects in experiments like the double slit: yes, the measurement of the matter forces the revelation of a point-like particle as perceived in both the third-person and (theoretically in the) first person worlds, but the simultaneous and continued existence of the wave strongly suggests that the wave description is more fundamental than the perceived point-particle description.

Matt

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Georgina Parry replied on May. 12, 2010 @ 23:33 GMT
Matt,

Hi, I don't fully understand your reply. Why do you call conscious experience or subjective reality the third person view? Conscious experience can be my first person, personal experience or the shared experience of many people. Intersubjective, as Tom said. Objective reality is not measurable or observable. It is the underlying reality beyond experience that gives rise to experience and physics. There are two different versions of reality here. I have said I have come to realize that -because of the way people think of reality- it is necessary to consider them as equally real but different. However one is a biological simulation, with which the scientific method works, within which we interact with the world external to our own minds. The other is the un seeable source of that input that allows intersubjective, and so verifiable, subjective experience and physics to occur.

I do not believe that "at base" everything reduces to wave functions and potentialities. I think it is misinterpretation of the mathematics of uncertainty. If I must have a label I will have to say that I am a realist who believes in existentially real substance that is just unobservable and therefore undetermined in state, rather than a wave of different possibilities. However when talking of sub atomic particles, because of continuous change in spatial position that is occurring, what is observed when the detection is made depend upon when it is made. Not because it is actually a supposition of states but because it does not have a fixed position until one is determined -by the human mind- through detection of an interaction.

The state of Schrödinger's cat is materially certain in objective unobservable reality but undetermined by the human mind, imo. It is not really a supposition of possible states until observation makes it "real". Observation provides that input necessary for a biological simulation of what exists or a subjective reality to be formed. That is for the human mind to determine that it is real and of a certain state through -experience- of it. The so called wave function collapse is in my opinion the collection of data necessary for formation of the subjective reality or conscious awareness of an object's state.

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Ray Munroe wrote on May. 12, 2010 @ 13:34 GMT
Dear Matt,

This question of consciousness has been discussed on FQXi for a while now. I recently wrote the following on another thread:

"Yes - Consciousness or the emergence of intelligence/ self is poorly understood.

Edwin Eugene Klingman tried to tie in a relationship between Gravitational and Consciousness Fields that is similar to the relationship between Electric (radial) and Magnetic (tangential) Fields. It is an interesting idea, but pure conjecture without better data.

Frank Martin DiMeglio tried to approach the TOE through the power of Dreams. Should we count Dreams as the sixth sense behind sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste? How many 'charges' does the Dream carry? We know that human vision is based on 3-color 'charges' (a red, green, blue triality symmetry) whereas birds have 4-color vision and many mammals have 2-color vision. We know that human taste is based on 4- or 5-flavor 'charges' (a bitter, sweet, sour, salty, umami pentality symmetry). I think that scientists have overlooked the Dream as a sense because everyone has different types of dreams, and it seems to tie in with our creative nature more so than our senses. But what if our Dreams are our way of sensing the Multiverse, and we have different Dreams because the Multiverse is so large? I think Frank Martin's First Postulate should be "Dreams are the sixth human sense". That assumption is either right or wrong, but it would allow Frank Martin to build the theoretical framework that he needs to present his ideas in a more scientific manner.

Regarding the discussion that James and Tom have had. Is intelligence an - as yet - unexplained emergent property of matter, or do fundamental properties each have their small quantum of 'intelligence'? How could we know?"

Tom H. Ray responded to my posting with the following:

"The postulate P: Dreams are a sixth human sense

is demonstrably untrue in the context of science. If P, then

Q: Information interpreted by the known physical senses may be false (inasmuch as dream experience often contradicts physical possibility).

If P and not-Q, then dreams are not differentiable from the known senses, and P is a superfluous assumption.

If P and Q, science is useless, a recreational delusion whose results are merely accidentally true.

If not-P and Q, science is unnecessary."

Tom's response glazed over my assumption that the Multiverse is much larger than just our Universe, and that P and Q is possible with different types of measurements (experiences), say the contrast between a 'visualy experienced' reality and a 'Dream experienced' reality.

I am interested in a high-energy physics TOE. As such, I have largely ignored consciousness and assumed that it is an emergent property of the multiverse. However, *IF* consciousness *IS* a fundamental property of the multiverse, then we *MUST* include it in any TOE.

Have Fun!

Ray

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Steve Dufourny wrote on May. 12, 2010 @ 14:09 GMT
SPHERIZATION.....= HARMONIZATION...= OPTIMIZATION....=EVOLUTION.....THUS IMPROVEMENT OF THE INTELLIGENCE AND COSNCIOUSNESS .....if people doen't see this realism, thus I suspect a lack of generality about the conclusions....

Regards

Steve

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T H Ray wrote on May. 12, 2010 @ 14:17 GMT
Ray,

An assumed multiverse is not in principle accessible to measurement in this universe. I.e., One cannot access a higher dimension from the lower, if one assumes this lower dimension is embedded in a higher dimension model of a multiverse. OTOH, assume that the multiverse exists in the same dimension as ours -- then my entire chain of logic above holds. There is no objective way to assign truth value to scientific measurement vs. dream measurements.

Tom

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Ray Munroe replied on May. 12, 2010 @ 14:43 GMT
Hi Tom,

I understand that - in principle - If the multiverse exists, then we are separated from those alternate realities, and cannot experience those alternate realities short of an (assumed) rare quantum gravity event. My geometrical TOE models seem to require a Supersymmetric and Scale Invariant Multiverse. How do we know that the Dream does not perform a scale transform (the scale equivalent of an AdS/ CFT holographic transform) that allows us to sample data from different scaled parts of the multiverse? I agree that our visual experiences and Dream experiences are not always identical. But does that make one right and the other wrong? Am I 'crazy' for even suggesting that we put the Dream and visual experience on similar foundations? Are they complementary measurements? We get into similar debates in quantum mechanics when we discuss particle-wave dual nature, and the impossibility to measure a particle's position and momentum simultaneously within a factor of Planck's constant.

I am suggesting this idea as a possibility. It does not lie in my primary area of interest. I hope that Ed, Frank, Matt, or someone else wants to grab the idea and run with it. Personally, I am having too much fun working towards a SUSY TOE.

Have Fun!

Ray

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T H Ray replied on May. 12, 2010 @ 17:30 GMT
Ray, you wrote, "I agree that our visual experiences and Dream experiences are not always identical. But does that make one right and the other wrong?"

Sure it does. At least, from an objective scientific perspective, because unless we can differentiate personal experience from that which is universally valid, we have no science.

I recounted, elsewhere in this forum, my personal dream experience of dying (and I do mean the full experience of mortal injury and loss of consciousness) and awakening _within_ the dream, in another dreamscape. Does that constitute a theoretical basis for life after death?

Science cannot assign value to personal belief without losing its integrity.

Perhaps it is possible (at least I can think of no physical reason why not), to have a technology that allows dreamers to dream consciously; i.e., to share the same dreamscape, and interact. There has been more than one scifi movie with this theme--I seem to recall one with Jennifer Lopez (was it the "The Cell"?). In this case, though, we share that conscious experience in an objective way, no less than what we do in "waking" life. There is simply no _scientific_ way to ascertain that we are not living in a dream _now_.

Tom

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Georgina Parry replied on May. 13, 2010 @ 01:21 GMT
Ray,

I don't think visual experience and dreams should be on the same footing at all. Visual experience comes from input of data to the brain from external sources. From the physics of the universe one might say. Dreams are formed internally from internal self generated input and do not directly relate to external reality. Dream content is a mixture of memory and imagination effected by biochemical influences, such as foods and drinks and medications taken and the natural regenerative processes occurring, within the brain, during sleep. The dream experience is a personal subjective reality only. Although the experience may seem very real it is not real. In the same way that any hallucination is considered not real. It can not be confirmed as real by another person. Did you see that? No I didn't. You must have dreamed (or imagined) it then. This is simply about biology and psychology not the structure of the universe, consciousness fields or multiverses etc, imho

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Matt wrote on May. 12, 2010 @ 15:41 GMT
@Ray



The only thing I've researched from a logical/philosophical point of view is phenomenal consciousness as a whole, I've not read about, or thought long on, particular flavors of that consciousness such as those manifested in dream.



However, if a proper science of phenomenal consciousness ever does become viable and recognizes it as fundamental, an explanation of dream experience would probably have to be a part of that.

Moving to pure personal speculation, I entertain the idea of dream images being - like life - constructed (in terms of illogical allegory!) from the interplay between deterministic memories of the past (many subconscious), and non-deterministic "memories" of probable future events (not THE future, as I believe in free will!).

Obviously if future paths were truly revealed to us in this manner, then yes, that pet idea would have to rely on some mechanism like that you suggest, where in dream, individual consciousness somehow has access to a wider universal consciousness, which is not bound by time, and therefore can "see" the probable futures.

But yeah, just an idea. And very David Lynch.

On the subject of a multiverse, I think it's important to define terms. For me, in the context of the above, the term "multiverse" refers to the set of all possibilities within *this* universe, at QM base level, of which only one is actually physically realised. So in other words, the universe is in effect, just the history of the multiverse! This for me is akin to the Copenhagen version of QM. Other possible uses of the term are a multiverse of split actualities (like many-worlds QM), or universes with differing properties (like Susskind's Landscape).

To which are you referring?

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Ray Munroe replied on May. 12, 2010 @ 16:03 GMT
Hi Matt,

I think there are at least a couple of different types of multiverses. The idea originates with Inflation. A relativistically-separated part of the multiverse would be one that exists in a spacetime-like region, but is removed from us via relativity and the properties of spacetime. My favorite analogy for these alternate Universes are that they are like the bubbles in a glass of Champagne. All of the bubbles originate at the same point, but they seperate, and become distinct Universes within a multiverse. A scale-separated part of the multiverse would be one that is within (much smaller than, and hidden by the Uncertainty Principle) or without (much larger than, and hidden by the 'outer edges' of our Universe) our Universe and separated from us by the Planck scale. If the multiverse has these sorts of scale properties, we may be able to trace back to a phase transition such as Inflation. We seem confined to our 'fractal dust' Universe by these fundamental constants such as c and h. But what if (and I know its a big *IF*) self/ consciousness/ the Dream has fractal properties that allow it to sample all of these scales, some of which may - in principle - also support life and alternate Matts, Rays, Toms, etc. Or is the Dream simply a part of our creative nature that emerged due to some unknown evolutionary path?

Have Fun!

Ray

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Steve Dufourny wrote on May. 12, 2010 @ 16:28 GMT
Hi all,

I improve my english, it's necessary.

It is sometimes quite complicated to recount all the depths of an analysis when the first language is not used.

Consciousness and intelligence are indeed "evolutive fundamentals."

I noticed some very pertinent points about what the essence of behavior.

It is obvious and easy to understand this fundamental.

How can we understand, extrapolate, analyze consciousness and s"pirit analsyse" without this evolutionary line and the data stored since the first encoding of rationalities.

It would be futile and useless without these parameterss.

The mass is indeed a result of complexity in three dimensions.It's purely evident to extrapolate the optimisation of the intelligence and its sister the conscious.

Any rational minded person has this ability to discern what is right, we have the ability to distinguish the source.

Just look at the surrounding areas with rationality and contemplate its complementary systems, a bee foraging pollen leaves his look with tenderness, is not aware of that help to evolve.

There is evidence and axioms, it is these fundamentals that we reveal the essential evolutionary consciousness.

Since the dawn of time the particles are polarized and fit together more complexs.

13.7 .... 4.5 ... 3.6 billion years and it goes on and on with diversities drawing.

..........H CH4 NH3 H2O H2C2 HCN ...... AMINO ACIDS.............The conscious is an evidence correlated with the increasing of mass , these polarizations.

Best Regards

Steve

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Matt wrote on May. 12, 2010 @ 16:31 GMT
@Ray

I've read ideas in regards to the extra dimensions postulated by string theory, and gravity as an example of something that may permeate throughout such a multiverse (hence it's relative weakness). Is that the kind of thing you're talking about when you say "removed from us via relativity and the properties of spacetime"?

I presume you're thinking that consciousness could be something else that permeates all universes and that through dream we somehow have access to "events" there, or at least interpreted images inspired by whatever is in them?

What I'm struggling with is why there would be alternative versions of me or you in such universes. If they formed during inflation I would have thought they would be totally causally independent of our universe?

I don't see how causation could be integrated into this picture unless you have the alternative universes forming when realised events diverge from possible events, like the many-worlds QM interpretation.

However, if you suggested that, I'd still be challenging you because I don't like determinism! ;-)

Matt

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Ray Munroe replied on May. 12, 2010 @ 18:19 GMT
Dear Matt,

I simply presented an idea that might aid in the search for consciousness as a fundamental property of Nature. I haven't necessarily considered all of the angles for or against this idea. I think the multiverse could be more complicated than Many-Worlds. If our Universe is just a fragment of fractal dust, there may be fractal similarities with the other-scaled Universes. We take a QM measurement and force the collapse of wave functions in our Universe, but suppose something different (yet also probable) happens in the other-scaled Universe?

I also don't like Determinism. As a Physicist and a Christian, I believe that we must have Free Will. Or else, Sin and Grace are not choices (but rather 'our destiny' via mechanical processes), and the Death and Resurrection of Christ was unnecessary (obvious blasphemy to any true Christian).

Dear Steve,

Did you see "Avatar"? In that movie, the trees formed a consciousness network that the Na'vi could 'link up' to with their 'hair'. The Na'vi could also 'link up' with other beasts of the air or ground. Is consciousness fundamental or an evolved emergent property?

Have Fun!

Ray

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Steve Dufourny replied on May. 13, 2010 @ 09:06 GMT
Hi Dr Cosmic Ray,

Yes indeed , I saw it 5 X , I love this film, it's splendid.

I d like be a na'vi.hihihi

Is consciousness fundamental or an evolved emergent property?

I beleive the two are there but the emergence shows us the improvement.

Friendly

Steve

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Steve Dufourny replied on May. 13, 2010 @ 12:06 GMT
You know that horticulture is a passion for me to which permits me to identify interactions.

The vagaries of life have made that I live a very small area, indeed a very large population of belgium,about 350/km², and again I am a modest mid-ters.

All this to say that I learned to cultivate very tight.

The interactions increase, and the awareness and responsibility emerge further "obvious and harmonious optimisations".

The number of animals and vegetals in a small area is so important in the macro and micro .

That is why I insist on the quality of soil for further optimize this dynamic of interactions.

Good soil produces simply harmonic series for balanced interactions. What is relevant is that consciousness can harmonize and create these interactions.We can therefore increase the mass.

If I had several acres of ground, I will demonstrate its energetic ability, and interactional easily.....Soil ....plantation ..multipication..composting....exponential ....we can produce all ...bacterias, fungis, micro fauna and flora,compost ,insects, plants of all kinds(it's the key, all animals is correlated with its environments)....

Regards

Steve

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Matt wrote on May. 12, 2010 @ 16:47 GMT
Oh - just one further on speculative pet theories like the dream one I suggested: in principle you'd have to say that some of them are testable. With that example, for sure it would be a nightmare (excuse the pun!), because the language of dreams (if it's is a language - let's not beg the question), is mostly allegorical and therefore subject to interpretation, but occasionally you may get solid images and events presented that the subject believes are not from the past, and record them. You could then, in a controlled environment try to see if the images actualize at a greater level than chance would dictate.

C'mon, there's been *more* silly experiments done. ;-)

I think that in regards to consciousness, finding suitable testable pet theories may actually be one way to proceed. After all, if consciousness were fundamental in the universe, you'd have to suspect that there would be rules associated with it, both associational with the physical (like experiential properties of objects) and/or causational (for example, an objective moral imperative rule akin to karma, but with more specific axioms that could be tested - don't worry, I have one in my pet collection... of course.).

Those are just two examples that fit with my own ideas - there will be a thousand other possibilities that align with other pet points of view, but it would be nice to start eliminating some, and if any survive the process, taking that evidence as a start for a more narrow philosophical investigation as to what might be going on in this darn strange world!

*chuckle*

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amrit wrote on May. 14, 2010 @ 07:57 GMT
consciousness is about experiencing and not about thinking, mind can not grasp consciousness....see more on

http://www.adyashanti.org/index.php?file=home

yours amrit

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Georgina Parry replied on May. 14, 2010 @ 08:51 GMT
Yes it is experience. Whether the experience of the individual's biological simulation of the external world, experience of internal thoughts and imagination or experience of silence and emptiness during meditation.

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amrit wrote on May. 14, 2010 @ 10:32 GMT
Dear Georgina,

Consciousness has ability to be aware of outer and inner world....and more consciousness can be aware of itself. This is what enlightenment is.

Consciousness is pure fundamental space in which all exists: stars, humans, animals, emotions, thoughts.....and SURE CONSCIOUSNESS IS TIMELESS.

Hameroff description of consciousness in a frame of space-time seems to me un-exact.

All that exists is a structured energy of pure space – of consciousness, human ego including.

The trouble is that scientific ego is searching on consciousness and deceiving itself with idea that consciousness can be known by scientific rational mind…..pure illusion.

Scientist that are courageous and sincere need start with Gnostic search. “Who I’ m ?“ that observes outer world, inner world ?

The answer is experience, not mental imagine. This discussion here shows that most of people think consciousness is an object can be discovered as atom or star……NO. Consciousness is a pure subjectivity of your BEING.

yours amrit

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Steve Dufourny replied on May. 14, 2010 @ 12:06 GMT
Hi Amrit,

Always a pleasure to read your ideas.Thanks for the sharing.

I totally agree with your views.

It is very rare indeed to find this apparent universality.

Most people get stuck by a restriction of the field observations.

The reasons are numerous, this implies a reduction of the speed of evolution evidently.

It is of crucial importance for these people to differentiate what is the human interpretation of this universality.

We can note therefore these foci on some localities.The religion is totally different from the universalism and its intrinsic evolution of improvement.That said we can perceive some fondamentals in these localities like the universal love for example.

The consciouss is evident , it's like an axiom simply.The education seems so important thus.....

Best Regards

Steve

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Ray Munroe replied on May. 14, 2010 @ 12:43 GMT
Dear Amrit,

Is consciousness a fundamental property of the Universe, or is it an emergent or evolved property of the Universe? If consciousness is an axiomic fundamental property, then we need to represent it with something like Edwin Eugene Klingman's Consciousness field, or a fundamental particle "consciouson". I have always considered it more of an evolved property, which implies that those of us who are more highly evolved have more consciousness. But how could we prove such? I have several pets - three dogs and four birds - and I think they all have some degree of consciousness. Sure, they don't write philosophy and poetry, but they are aware of their own little world.

Have Fun!

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Jason Wolfe replied on May. 14, 2010 @ 20:27 GMT
Dear Ray and Amrit,

If questions are like measurements, and answers are like wave function collapse, can this be used by nature to create a self sustaining life form. The idea is that such a system would regulate information flow this way. The system is happy when it is quantum mechanically ambiguous as a wave function. However, in order to survive, it can collapse its wave functions in order to engage in the specifics of information flow.

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amrit wrote on May. 14, 2010 @ 20:19 GMT
Dear Rey, Dear Steve

Consciousness is non created as also universe is non created. Material universe is structured consciousness. All over the universe matter has tendency to develop into life because it exists in consciousness. Consciousness is a physical property of cosmic space……………see more on file attached

Yours amrit

attachments: 3_Observer_is_a_function_of_Fourdimensional_Timeless_Space__for_WEB.pdf

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Ray B. Munroe replied on May. 14, 2010 @ 21:05 GMT
Dear Amrit,

We are using different terminology, but I think you are saying that Consciousness is a fundamental axiom. If it is, then any 'TOE' is incomplete without a mathematical modeling of consciousness. Having a High Energy Physics background myself, I interpret 'particles' and 'fields' as 'fundamentals'. Thus, ideas such as Edwin Eugene Klingman's 'Consciousness field' may not simply be interesting, but may be necessary for an understanding of Nature. How can we fully understand Nature itself when we don't fully understand how we ourselves experience Nature?

Dear Georgina,

Your ideas sound like a restatement of the Anthropic Principle - The Universe exists as it is because that is the only way that we could observe it, and thus that it could observe and be aware of, itself. I don't want to project Human Characteristics onto Nature. I think that Nature (and God) is bigger and better than that. If consciousness is fundamental, then where does the 'Mother Ship" reside?

Have Fun!

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Jason Wolfe replied on May. 15, 2010 @ 00:06 GMT
Dear Ray,

"Where does the Mother Ship reside"? With the baby ships, of course.

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Georgina Parry replied on May. 15, 2010 @ 01:39 GMT
Ray,

No, that is not what I am saying here. I am -not- projecting human characteristics on to nature in what I just previously said. I have said that the objective reality (of nature) is completely separate from the (human or animal ) mind until the mind is aware of it through its -own- simulation.

You would know nothing of nature unless you had observed it or been told the...

view entire post


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amrit wrote on May. 15, 2010 @ 08:50 GMT
Dear Ray

Yes I agree with you,

Wee need mathematical concept of consciousness (my research group also have it).

What is important is to know and be aware that this concept is not consciousness itself.

I suggest all researchers on quantum theory of consciousness one year training of “za-zen”.

After that they might have direct experience of consciousness and so build more adequate models if it.

I attend this courses of za-zen for years and I can tell you that this teachers know much more what consciousness is as many of leading scientist in this field that still try to squeeze consciousness in a concept of space-time that show complete ignorance about the subject.

yours amrit

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Jason Wolfe wrote on May. 15, 2010 @ 08:52 GMT
Georgina,

"If the ability to receive sensory information is taken away, the experience will not be formed. " Have you ever heard of a sensory deprivation chamber? That's where you go to get away from the physical world to experience your own thoughts.

"How does God, the anthropic principle, atheists and sex fit into this current discussion about consciousness? " Very easy to answer. The "anthropic principle" is how atheists deny the existence of God. It's not because atheists can't get proof of God's existence. God is everywhere and knows everything. God knows when a prayer is sincere. God also knows when the prayer is not sincere. God is about changing people's lives, not for performing parlor tricks for some egghead who thinks he's smarter than God. It's not about getting evidence.

The scientific community finds God threatening.

If God exists, whether as a Biblical God or as living universe kind of God, then suddenly, free will and God's will can butt heads. The Christian church has worked very hard at frightening non-believers with hellfire and eternal damnation. In fact, Christianity has dictated the terms of human sexuality to us. How we express ourselves in that area is a fundamental manifestation of our free will. It is no surprise that so many people would rather ignore God's existence than to have their most fundamental freedoms trampled upon.

Consciousness exists inside of the brain. But we are part of God. We are the flow of consciousness through biology. We are part of God even as we deny God's existence.

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Georgina Parry replied on May. 15, 2010 @ 12:39 GMT
Jason,

I said "If the ability to receive sensory information is taken away, the experience will not be formed. " I was clearly talking about the experience of an external reality. I have also said that the mind generates thoughts and internal visualization.

I have not actively or deliberately denied the existence of God in anything that I have said. So your rant seems a bit bizarre to me. I have just been saying that it is my opinion that consciousness is a product of our biology. The human body and brain is a part of objective reality. In my opinion.

I have been saying that objective reality is the actual substance of the universe outside of human experience of it. Unknowable, unsee-able, omnipresent. It is where the physics of nature happens. It is everything excluding experience.It is a pity you do not see the interpretation that could be put on this if so inclined. A great number of human minds unfortunately believe only in what they observe ( a biological simulation) and the subjective creations, imaginations, of their own and other human minds.

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T H Ray replied on May. 16, 2010 @ 15:10 GMT
Hi Georgina,

I largely agree with you.

I am reminded of the Jody Foster character in the movie adaptation of Carl Sagan's novel, Contact.

It is obvious that this character is a reflection of Sagan's innermost being -- the scientist who allows that however compelling one's personal experiences, science defers to the experiences we _share_ in a demonstrably objective way.

We do neither science nor ourselves any favor by promoting knowledge as a manifestation of belief. Under the those conditions, the world is eternally chaotic and nothing happens for a reason, because all the reasons are private and competing with one another (thus we have religion). Such is the logical consequence of consciousness a priori. In the "real" world of science, consciousness is what we creatively make of it.

Tom

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amrit wrote on May. 15, 2010 @ 10:57 GMT
Jason,

consciousness does not exis in the brain.

Brain and entire universe exist in consciousness.

yours amrit

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Georgina Parry replied on May. 15, 2010 @ 12:52 GMT
Amrit,

Consciousness does exist in the brain. Brain activity can be monitored and a persons state of consciousness can be simultaneously ascertained.

Yes the brain and the entire universe exists in consciousness. Everything that I form into a subjective reality or experience either via sensory input or imagination or thought or meditation can be said to exist in my consciousness.

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amrit wrote on May. 15, 2010 @ 14:24 GMT
Georgina,

I know out of my experience consciousness does not exist in the brain. Consciousness, watching, witnessing is a property of cosmic space. And consciousness can watch itself, consciousness can recognize not only material objects and mental objects, consciousness can recognize itself. Actually consciousness is recognizing itself by its very nature, when we step out of the mind into consciousness we recognize that immediately.

This is the next step of science: bridging ratio and consciousness.

Yours amrit

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Pankaj Seth replied on May. 15, 2010 @ 20:52 GMT
"consciousness can recognize itself."

Excellent, Amrit... and as you know, this in Buddha's teaching, Yoga and Vedanta is termed as 'Samadhi'.

Sama-dhi... same-seeing... that which sees is the same as that which is seen... non-dual awareness.

Otherwise, there is the subject-object divide. Finally, due to QM, we have seen that the subject-object divide is only an approximate feature, which if one looks deeply enough can be seen to be accompanied by a subject-object non-separability. The difference is not ontic, but epistemic.

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Georgina Parry replied on May. 15, 2010 @ 21:15 GMT
With respect Amrit,

you have said out of my own experience.... Personal subjective reality is not necessarily real. I have experienced lots of things that have seemed very real to me, such as dreams, which I accept have no reality beyond that personal experience. The person who has been abducted by aliens "knows" that aliens are real. The person who has seen a gnome run across their feet "knows" that the faerie folk are real. How can you deny their assertions when you accept without question the reality of your own experiences. Just because you have experienced it does not make it real for everyone or an underlying reality.

Yes I agree there can be conscious awareness of the inner self or I. I do not know if consciousness can exist in cosmic space without the brain. Though I do know it can exist in the brain as this can be demonstrated through monitoring of the brain and level of conscious awareness.

I have my own pre birth memories of floating on the astral plain in a state of bliss. Aware of self ,I , but having no discernible form or limits. It is a memory that seems as real to me as any other and is treasured. It could of course be a false memory. However I think it is most likely an indication that self awareness is a consequence of basic brain development and that the right hemisphere came "on line" before the left. It has been suggested to me that the stars and galaxies that I observed, which I "knew" to be real places, were due to the earliest awareness from the development of the visual cortex.Individual experience is not evidence of the underlying reality of that knowledge beyond that experience.In my opinion.

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Jason Wolfe replied on May. 15, 2010 @ 21:40 GMT
Dear Georgina,

I think your pre-birth memories are truly fascinating. You've had experiences that you remember, that your memory recorded. Quantum mechanics makes it impossible to discern what is knowable and what is mysterious. Whatever astral planes or other planes of consciousness exist, they are afforded the maximum possibility to exist because quantum mechanics itself is uncertain. It appears to be impossible to either prove the existence of or disprove the exist of other worldly experiences. I would urge you not to let science or skepticism pinch off your communication flow with the unknown, with the mysterious. In an absolute sense, science does not have the ability to disprove it.

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Steve Dufourny wrote on May. 15, 2010 @ 16:07 GMT
Hi all,

Consciousness is a truth that flourished in fact.

The Global Consciousness must act for harmonization of chaotic systems.

It becomes the responsibility at a time which is quite unbalanced.

The solutions exist ...So why wait.....

Regards

Steve

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Clinton Kyle Miller wrote on May. 15, 2010 @ 16:46 GMT
I'm going to tell you all a little story. You must know that it starts before it begins, and it'll be over in no time. So, don't forget that it has a perfectly perfect plot, since it is only thought.

Once upon a time, I was alone. Then I found you. You told me I can do. And there there was us. So then he got the bus. Away we went, hell bent. Sea to sea we flew the flag. Freedom was celebrated with chemicals that inebriated. Minds were opened. Heaven lent a hand, and created a big rock and roll band. They brought a message, to those who would share time's passage.

Subjective worlds can merge and the objective reality can purge. Concepts, logic, and reason breakdown in a world of intersubjective light. The essence is drug-based life, right. Miracle or coincidence? Science works by providence. Albert Hoffman discovered God's key to open His own Mind. Please trust me, I will be kind. Just take a minute to rewind. Replay the moments of the day, and soon I think you will recognize that we can become one thing--one thought--any time, OK?

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Georgina Parry replied on May. 18, 2010 @ 02:32 GMT
Hi Clinton,

thanks for sharing your alternative perspective and poetry.

Are you able to answer from personal experience Jason's question as to whether it is possible during a drug induced experience to perceive colours never previously imagined by that mind?

I sat in the car a few days ago while it was raining . Looking through the windscreen I could see the other parked cars dissolving and changing shape and writhing as the rain drops rolled down the window. Distorting the reflected light from the parked cars. It was very surreal, like a Dali painting. However I knew that beyond the window the cars were still unchanged and not writhing about. There was another reality beyond what I was observing. During the drug alternative reality experience is there still a mental connection to the external reality beyond the current distorted perception or does one become entirely immersed and lost within the alternative reality? When concepts, logic,and reason breakdown is there any way to interpret what is happening or is it just pure experience and confusion? Does it depend entirely upon dose or the individual user?

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amrit wrote on May. 16, 2010 @ 08:54 GMT
Dear Friends,

we have to ways of consciousness research: TCR – Theoretical Consciousness Research and ECR – Experiential Consciousness Research. TCR without ECR is quite a pointless job……a lot of mind structuring without having experience. You imagine Newton building its physics without seeing material objects ?

Same is with consciousness, first you gave to experience it and than you can build a math models of it.

Yours, Amrit

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amrit wrote on May. 16, 2010 @ 12:49 GMT
PS

Powerful experiment of ECR is “Pinwheel experiment”. You watch for a while moving pinwheel on your screen, than you close your eyes and you watch imagine of pinwheel. You will discover that they both move into the same space.

When you move you attention from the pinwheel to the process of observation you will discover it is space that is observing – watching. You will become self-aware. You will know through your own experience who is the observer in physics.

Pinwheel experiment you can find on the down part of may home page under “Timeless Universe”

www.vetrnica.net

yours amrit

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Pankaj Seth replied on May. 16, 2010 @ 14:38 GMT
Dear Amrit,

I have seen for myself via Zen, which is a transliteration of the Chinese word "Chan", which is a transliteration of the sanskrit "Dhyan" meaning "attention". It is as simple and as difficult as written in Patanjali's Yoga Sutra. The method of ratio will always be felt to give an unsatisfactory knowledge, because we seek the knowledge of the "thing in itself", but ratio only gives us the measure of one thing with respect to another (Buddha called this relation 'Patticasamutpada'). When this is seen, then the truly curious will have to move towards Gnosis -- Dhyana until Samadhi. All knowledge in the form of the subject-object construct, while useful and even far-reaching cannot quench the thirst for knowledge. For a conscious individual, there is the possibility of one type of knowledge which need not be necessarily in the subject-object form -- self-knowledge or better put self-experience. This requires the stilling of the mental content beyond a threshold so that the subjectivity can only turn towards itself… it is then both the subject and the object. Nothing descriptive can be said about this as even the co-arisen concepts of space-time-matter-motion do not apply.

Thanks for the link to your website -- I will look at your writings. Here is my website in return -- www.deepyoga.ca

Peace,

Pankaj

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Jason Wolfe replied on May. 16, 2010 @ 18:42 GMT
Dear Dr. Seth,

I totally understand how the mind can drive a person crazy. Indeed there does come a time when yoga and meditation are necessary.

Your post is appreciated.

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Georgina Parry replied on May. 16, 2010 @ 21:20 GMT
Dear Pankaj,

although self awareness of I can be experienced through meditation I do not think that it is the only route. Descartes realized through skepticism and reason that the thinking self or I was the only thing of which he could be certain. I assume that everyone, with perhaps the exception of some severely brain damaged individuals, are born self aware. It is most likely essential for the the dependent infant to mentally appreciate itself as a separate entity and be aware of its own personal needs. So attracting to itself the attention and care it requires to survive and grow physically and emotionally. I is linked to the experience of being. I am content or I am not. I am hungry, I am cold, I am too hot, I am thirsty, I am lonely , I am bored, I am uncomfortable, I am in pain.

It is as we grow that we add more and more to our lives. Choices of clothing, hair style, possessions, inconsequential habits or routines, petty likes and dislikes, titles and roles etc. Which then obscure the very basic, primary knowledge that I, the inner self, is linked to experience of being. I, the inner self, am not not the external manifestation, body appearance, body covering, habits, mannerisms, history, titles or roles.etc. It may be necessary for some to shut out, via meditation, all of the additional information considered to define an individual. So that the original self, I, can be -rediscovered-. For others it has just always been known or may be rediscovered in other ways.

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Clinton Kyle Miller wrote on May. 16, 2010 @ 13:24 GMT
Consciousness, brain waves, and electricity are really all the invisible organization of energy. Order making use of disorder. The equation doesn't matter, because it cannot describe the latter. What I cannot create, I do not understand. So enjoy the rock and roll band, and maybe then consciousness will lend a metaphysical hand.

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Steve Dufourny wrote on May. 16, 2010 @ 18:02 GMT
Hi all,

It is crucial for conscious scientists to be centralized.

The solutions can be envisaged with a pragmatic and rational methodology.

It's pretty hilarious, even frustrating to identify the whole of our sad Earth.

If we want to act and solve our fundamental problems, it is clear that some universal parameters will harmonize this so-called resolution.

It is for this reason that the unity of universal and awareness scientists becomes crucial, essential,.....

It is this complementarity of ideas, inventions and methods that will generate harmonic effects, locally and globally.

Alone we are nothing, it is this unity of systems that will make the difference with wisdom and rationality.

It's possible.

People universally aware know the deplorable state of our planet.NO??? I am persuade you understand.

Universally and spherically hihihi

Steve

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amrit wrote on May. 16, 2010 @ 20:36 GMT
Dear Friends,

I believe this fruitful discussion will encourage FQXI to introduce ECR for members. We can have courses in Slovenia, I have a beautiful place for such a training.

Real power of science is uncompromised search for Truth.

Yours Amrit

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Steve Dufourny replied on May. 17, 2010 @ 12:04 GMT
Hi Amrit, all,

Bizare the post under review......

Regards

Steve

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amrit wrote on May. 17, 2010 @ 06:26 GMT
PS

my rescent article on ECR.

yours amrit

attachments: In_what_way_are_related_psychological_time_and_physical_time.pdf

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Anonymous wrote on May. 17, 2010 @ 18:05 GMT
The real unification of gravity and electromagnetism merges visible and invisible feeling as it is then applied to distance in space -- as this relates to what is experienced -- visibility, energy, touch, feeling, etc.

The laws of physics pertain to the body, thought, and experience.

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Ray B. Munroe replied on May. 17, 2010 @ 18:34 GMT
Is this my FQXi friend, Frank Martin? If so, I have been throwing around ideas regarding Dreams and Consciousness over the past couple of weeks on a couple of FQXi blog sites. I was wondering if you have any new ideas or opinions?

I don't know if Dr. Brendan Foster has banned you from this site. Personally, I would be interested in your opinion if you can present it in a new and fresh way.

I can be sarcastic, and I apologize for the times that I have been sarcastic towards you, but I'm usually nice on the playground when others are also nice.

Have Fun!

Ray

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Anonymous Ubermensch replied on May. 17, 2010 @ 21:01 GMT
Whitehead -- "The reason for the blindness in physical science ....it...neglects the body which is fundamental."

The reflective enlightenment of the superior self sees itself and experience both from the "inside" and "outside". There is no inside and outside. Is the visible body outside of the invisible eye/body?

Bohr has basically said that the analysis of the parts and the experience of the whole are complimentary, that both are needed for a complete understanding.

Now compare this : That which is in opposition is in concert, and from things that differ comes the most beautiful harmony."

with this: Basically -- "The opposite of one deep truth is another deep truth." -- Bohr

Whitehead -- "Every reality is there for feeling...and.. is felt."

What if DiMeglio is right that "dreams involve a fundamental integration AND sreading of being, experience and thought at the [gravitational] mid-range of feeling between thought and sense? What then?

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Ray B. Munroe replied on May. 17, 2010 @ 21:18 GMT
C'mon Frank,

Stop teasing us. Certainly you have an opinion regarding "Cosmic Consciousness". Have you integrated Bohr's and Whitehead's philosophies into your own? Share the dream...

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Pankaj Seth wrote on May. 18, 2010 @ 18:51 GMT
Anonymous,

I've never come across DiMeglio's work, but I quite like what you have written. The West is facing two bizarre seeming choices -- consciousness as primary and the obsession with describing existence/nonexistence as a self-assembling mechano set, the parts of which are somehow self-existent via the mathematical abstraction called 'the big bang singularity'. I don't understand why the West is somehow comfortable with space-time-matter-motion being self-existent and primary, but not consciousness… both are equally 'weird' scenarios. As an Easterner, I will wait patiently and see how all this plays out. Perhaps there will be as much research into consciousness as there has been so far on matter. The former will need to be studied not as an object, which it is not in any sense, being instead the subjectivity which defies all attempts at being objectified.

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Ray B. Munroe replied on May. 18, 2010 @ 20:05 GMT
Dear Pankaj,

DiMeglio's blog is at http://www.fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/593

I agree that consciousness is a 'wierd' science. Gravity is also a 'wierd' science, and Edwin Eugene Klingman tried to unify those two 'fields' in a way similar to unifying magnetism and electricity.

Klingman's blog is at http://www.fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/561

As a High-Energy Physicist, I have been trained to identify 'particles' and 'fields' as 'fundamentals'. This procedure has been historically effective at describing 'mechanical' phenomena in terms of mathematics. Can it describe 'consciousness'? I don't know... 'Consciousness' fields might also imply 'consciouson' particles or charges. Could a 'black hole' of 'consciousness' exist?

In my own research, I am trying to understand the origin of the dimensions. These dimensions (most 'unseen', but perhaps not 'unsensed') form branes of spacetime and hyperspace. The branes specify geometry and group structures, which restrict the possible types of force group structures on a given type of brane. Anyway, hyperspace and its supersymmetric mirror space are complex enough that many more interesting 'particles' and 'fields' should exist. There may even be alternate spacetimes within the multiverse.

IMHO, this begs questions such as "Does consciousness originate at another scale (say, within the poorly understood supersymmetric hyperspace), and yet our minds/souls/dreams can sense this consciousness?" and "Do dreams represent the sixth human sense, and yet they seem inconsistent to us because they are sampling different realities within the multiverse?"

I realize that there is a split between western and eastern philosophies, and we are probably looking at the same problem from opposite sides of the same coin. Is consciousness fundamental? And do we have free will, or is everything mechanistically determined for us?

Have Fun!

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Anonymous replied on May. 18, 2010 @ 20:15 GMT
Dear Pankaj:

I tend to agree with you. Einstein spoke of the "unreasonableness" of quantum mechanics, and yet his General Relativity theory is incomplete insofar as it fails to incorporate electromagnetism AND quantum mechanics. We must seek what involves and increases what is the INTEGRATED EXTENSIVENESS of gravity, electromagnetism/light, quantum mechanical phenomena, and thought. What does this, and what makes thought more like sensory experience in general? Dreams do. Indeed, the integrated extensiveness of thinking/thought(s) is improved in the truly superior mind (as DiMeglio correctly says).

The ability of thought to describe OR reconfigure sense is ultimately dependent upon the extent to which thought is similar to sensory experience -- as Frank Martin DiMeglio has taught us as well.

DiMeglio attempts to achieve a superior understanding and true growth of our being, desire, instincts, and of our consciousness in general (including thought, attention, and memory). Such growth is ultimately dependent upon the comprehensiveness and consistency of both intention and concern in relation to experience in general (that is, in relation to the natural, integrated, and extensive manifestations of sensory experience, including the range of feeling thereof); for the self represents, forms, and experiences a comprehensive approximation of experience in general.

Given the successful and increased (yet limited) involvement of the unconscious, the highest (or ideal/true) form of genius involves a superior integration of a greater totality of experience, thereby achieving a fundamental integration, growth, and spreading of being and experience (and of desire, thought, and emotion). Attention and memory are both improved and relatively sustained in conjunction therewith. Elevated and sustained desire (i.e., both intention and concern) and energy are connected with both courage and genius, and with the advancement of consciousness and life as well. In opposition to this, the reconfiguration (i.e., disintegration, alteration, reduction, and/or replacement) of sensory experience in general (including range of feeling) is progressively involving a disintegration and contraction of being and experience (including thought). This is evident in (and includes) sleep disorders, depression, anxiety, and the experience of television.

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Steve Dufourny replied on May. 19, 2010 @ 15:31 GMT
Hello dear Pankaj, Ray, all,

It's very beautiful what you say Dr Cosmic Ray.

"I realize that there is a split between western and eastern philosophies, and we are probably looking at the same problem from opposite sides of the same coin."

Indeed the Truth is the truth ....the huanity is like a rainbow a diversity of colors united, unified in the light......we are a part of this sphere in building like catalyzers of love and truth.

Universally and spherically

Steve

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James Putnam wrote on May. 18, 2010 @ 21:54 GMT
I do not think that the idea suggested by the phrase 'cosmic consciousness' is the most accurate way of thinking about the nature of the universe. I suggest that cosmic subconsciousness or perhaps even cosmic unconsciousness are more representative of the fundamental nature of the universe. Intelligence is the primary goal of the universe; however, the universe does not begin by openly exihibiting...

view entire post


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Carmen Putrino wrote on May. 19, 2010 @ 00:02 GMT
Please!!! I urge all of you to start here:

http://consc.net/papers/facing.pdf

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Deepak Vaid wrote on May. 19, 2010 @ 23:14 GMT
William says:

" .... the proposed connection between QM and consciousness seems less compelling than it did in the eighties, when popular science books were conflating cultural expressions (like Zen) with the new particle physics."

This statement should be reconsidered in light of two of the most exciting discoveries in biophysics in recent years: The discovery that two essential biological processes - the avian compass and photosynthesis - harnesses quantum entanglement and many-body behavior in an essential manner. Then there is work by Apoorva Patel showing that in order to be efficient enough for life's processes to be feasible, DNA replication must utilize quantum computation. And more recent work (arxiv.org:1004.3120) argues that the function of myosin - the molecule responsible for muscular action - is well described by a two-state quantum system.

Given this growing body of evidence it is more likely, not less, that quantum processes will be found to play a crucial role in biological systems in the near future. The implications of this for the relation between consciousness and the quantum are therefore extremely positive from the believer's perspective.

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Anonymous wrote on May. 20, 2010 @ 00:02 GMT
Patience James, patience. This will start you off on the right foot.

The self represents, forms, and experiences a comprehensive approximation of the totality of experience by combining unconscious and conscious experience. Experience then becomes a more direct expression of the self that is increasingly representative of a greater totality of experience as well. This is due to the combined effect of higher feeling with consistent, balanced, and complex emotion; as the more concerning, compelling, and unconscious aspect of higher feeling merges with the more conscious aspect of emotion that is comprehensive (or complex) and balanced (or consistent). This is demonstrated in becoming "one with the music." Indeed, given such a fundamental integration and spreading of the self, the self represents and forms a comprehensive approximation of all experience.

Such truly elevated and powerful desire is characterized by relatively unified and comprehensive desire, intention, and concern. Art and great thinking advance and recognize the self as that which is true, serious, compelling, beautiful, and real. Indeed, man is only great and truly concerned to the extent that the totality of experience is understood and felt to be reflective of the self or desire; for this is how the self is fundamentally advanced.

The fundamental instinct or desire is to become other than one is; and this involves, includes, and is consistent with, the following:

1. All living things grow.

2. Powerful desire is involved in creating a life that is other than one's own.

3. The cyclical nature of dreams and waking experience, including the fact that dream experience tends to be unique, insofar as it generally does not recur.

4. Both the life and death drives.

5. The heightened passion and desire that are involved in the relatively new (and unique) experiences or creations of genius.

Desire consists of both intention and concern. The fullness and richness of our being, thought, experience, and desire (or emotion) is attained when intention and concern become consistent (or balanced) and comprehensive.

Ideally, the heightened feeling that the genius experiences at the emotional center of the self results in emotion that is balanced (or consistent) and comprehensive (or complex). Such emotion involves heightened intuition, concentrated and comprehensive desire, and a superior range, consistency, comprehensiveness, and depth of the attendant thought. The mind and desire are sharpened by focusing and concentrating thought and emotion. The increased desire or feeling that further involves the unconscious improves the consistency and comprehensiveness of the self's desire and thought, and attention is improved as well.

Beautiful, isn't it?

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Anonymous replied on May. 19, 2010 @ 23:26 GMT
Deepak and James: Intelligence in emotional form relates to the comprehensiveness and consistency of both intention and concern in relation to experience in general. This relates to language and to the perception and meaning of experience in general. Desire consists of both intention and concern, thereby including interest as well. From dreams and abstract or general ideas to the experience of great music itself, the worlds of thought and sense are encompassed by the self as desire. Emotion that is comprehensive and balanced advances consciousness.

Quantum mechanics is integrated and extended in conjunction with electromagnetism/light and gravity when scale is balanced/unified, when we have particle/wave, when space manifests as gravitational/electromagnetic energy, and when potential is actual.

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James Putnam replied on May. 19, 2010 @ 23:49 GMT
Anonymouse,

"Emotion that is comprehensive and balanced advances consciousness."

How does it do that? I assume you will want to point to:

"Intelligence in emotional form relates to the comprehensiveness and consistency of both intention and concern in relation to experience in general. This relates to language and to the perception and meaning of experience in general. Desire consists of both intention and concern, thereby including interest as well. From dreams and abstract or general ideas to the experience of great music itself, the worlds of thought and sense are encompassed by the self as desire."

Please explain what you mean by this? What is intelligence in emotional form? How does it relate to the comprehensiveness of intention? How does it relate to the comprehensiveness of concern? What is the consistency of intention? What is the consistency of concern? How do both relate to experience in general? What is the meaning of experience in general? What is the origin of desire, intention and concern? How does the universe make our interests possible?

"...From dreams and abstract or general ideas to the experience of great music itself, the worlds of thought and sense are encompassed by the self as desire."

Are you suggesting that dreams are a cause of experience? Abstraction is the practice of pretending that we see something that we do not see. Please explain how: "...the worlds of thought and sense are encompassed by the self as desire." What are you trying to say? Pick one point and dwell on it until you have made your position clear. Please start with: "Emotion that is comprehensive and balanced advances consciousness." Is emotion first or is consciousness first? Begin with a beginning. Your conclusions must follow logically from your beginning.

James

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THE MAN replied on May. 20, 2010 @ 00:06 GMT
Anonymous, how do you know this??: "Quantum mechanics is integrated and extended in conjunction with electromagnetism/light and gravity when scale is balanced/unified, when we have particle/wave, when space manifests as gravitational/electromagnetic energy, and when potential is actual."

It seems to be logically consistent, but that does not mean that there is any basis for it whatsoever!!!

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Pankaj Seth wrote on May. 20, 2010 @ 14:51 GMT
I tend towards the following statements and would appreciate critiques as to their veracity:

Space, time, matter and motion are co-arisen categories... one without the others cannot exist. We can speak of one of these as self-existent only as an abstraction, or due to the form of our language.

Space, time, matter and motion are forms of perception. To give them any other status is not evidential, but suppositional and amounts to a metaphysical statement.

Consciousness is primary... this is evidential, not suppositional. Space-Time-Matter-Motion are forms of perception, or categories of experience within consciousness.

Sensory self-experience discloses the senses themselves to be within the picture disclosed. This is an intractable circularity... the senses disclose the sensory display, but are also part of the sensory display which is disclosed... circularity.

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Ray B. Munroe replied on May. 20, 2010 @ 15:52 GMT
Dear Pankaj,

I am trying to understand the broken origin of dimensions: 1) Why is space a 3-brane? 2) Why is time a string/1-brane? 3) Why did space and time 'hook up'? 4) Does hyperspace exist? 5) What form should hyperspace have?

Personally, I think that spacetime is a (3+1)-'broken brane', hyperspace is a (5+2+1)-'broken brane'. Supersymmetry introduces scaled mirror images of these broken branes and scale invariance (Universes within and without of our Universe with possible alternate realities - perhaps 'consciousness' is the form of communication between these alternate scaled realities, and arises from some sort of 'least action principle' - we sample different choices in different realities, yet 'consciousness' allows a 'most probable' or 'best' reality to actually happen).

In turn, the dimensions establish geometries and potential symmetry groups. These symmetries establish the rules for our forces/fields/bosons, and the fundamental particles/fermions are determined by these symmetries.

I haven't finished the puzzle - its sort of complicated...

Have Fun!

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Anonymous wrote on May. 20, 2010 @ 23:52 GMT
The greatest thinkers are philosophers, not mathematicians and physicists.

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Anonymous wrote on May. 21, 2010 @ 00:09 GMT
Pankaj. You complicate and fragment matters with the distinctions that you draw, but you are moving in the right direction.

First, you need to define the terms and limits of the discussion. Without certain great and fundamentally organizing facts, we are lost. I will now begin this task:

1) Consciousness involves the extent to which the experience and expressiveness of the self comprehensively approximate to reality.

2) The ability of thought to describe or reconfigure sense is ultimately dependent upon the extent to which thought is similar to sense.

3) Dreams make thought more like sensory experience in general (including gravity and electromagnetism). There is a highly ordered and discernible structure/form to dream experience.

4) Dreams involve a fundamental integration and spreading of being and experience at the mid-range of [gravitational] feeling between thought and sense.

5) The self represents, forms, and experiences a comprehensive approximation of the totality of experience by combining unconscious and conscious experience. Experience then becomes a more direct expression of the self that is increasingly representative of a greater totality of experience as well. That the self represents, forms, and experiences a comprehensive approximation of the totality of experience is evident in both our waking and dream experiences.

You will need to think very deeply and persistently about what is presented in this post. Many of the other "thinkers" at FQXi are too lazy and incompetent to make use of, and to grasp the importance of, these great ideas.

I will try to help you though. It would be my pleasure. You raise a very important and central topic/line of discussion, and one that is not too popular here at FQXi, to say the least, as you can tell.

I would appreciate your carefully considered analysis/comments. Thank you.

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Jason Wolfe wrote on May. 21, 2010 @ 18:32 GMT
I think that consciousness is fundamental. However, adding it to a TOE is like trying to wrap a lasso around God. God will laugh and enjoy the chase, you will get stronger, faster and more skilled for your efforts, but a lasso is finite and Infinite consciousness is, well, infinite. In a moment of stillness, Infinite Mind will point and whisper to you, "Look at the wild oxen! Do you see them? Now your skills are strong. Go forth and lasso that which will make you prosperous and wise."

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Georgina parry replied on May. 22, 2010 @ 00:41 GMT
Ray,

consciousness (experience) is fundamental if one is modeling experience of the natural world. That is what physics at the macroscopic scale does.However it is not fundamental if one is trying to model the physics that occurs in an objective reality that underlies experience. That can not be observed or tested via the scientific method. Theory incorporating time and relativity already has experience woven into it, imo.

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Ray B. Munroe replied on May. 22, 2010 @ 00:49 GMT
Dear Jason,

That sounds a lot like Jacob's struggle in Genesis 32. The idea that our Universe might be a fragment of fractal dust within a much larger multiverse is intimidating. I don't think that infinity exists within our Universe, simply some power of Dirac's Large Number, ~10^40, or the number of String Theory vacua ~10^500 ~ (10^40)^12 (12 dimensions of spacetime plus hyperspace). But infinity may exist within the multiverse as one of those hugely inflated Universes without of our Universe. I'm not saying that we can understand a Cantor dust infinity, but rather, that there may be some finite fractal-like limit - perhaps a correction of Mohamed El Naschie's ideas.

Dear Pankaj,

I agree that I would prefer to be everyone's friend. I apologise for my part in the "ancient family squabble". Many of us have different backgrounds and beliefs. Its cool to me that we can actually talk about common interests in physics.

Have Fun!

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Ray B. Munroe replied on May. 22, 2010 @ 00:55 GMT
Dear Georgina,

It seems to me that objective reality has led to a 4-dimensional spacetime that is full of paradoxes. We may never(?) be able to measure hyperspace, but a mathematical model of hyperspace may solve some of the problems we have with modern physics. If the model simultaneously supplies a basis for consciousness, then that is all the better.

Have Fun!

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Jason Wolfe wrote on May. 22, 2010 @ 06:41 GMT
OK Ray, I admit it. My head is about to explode over this. I admit that I am aware of an occult concept that there are various planes of consciousness. The physical plane is just more dense. But for the love of God, for the love of Occam's razor, mathematics and consciousness are total opposites. If there were mathematics that could describe consciousness, it would be completely incomprehensible and useless.

This is what I think. Causality is transmitted by virtual photons. I understand that nobody has a clue what I'm talking about. What's the difference between a virtual photon and "let there be light!!!" Light is what transmits information content. Light is what drives away the darkness, the confusion, the lack of truth. Light is what brings truth. Light is what brings information. Virtual photons are what transmit causality. There are no takebacks, no time travel.

Hyperspace, planes of consciousness, they are just variations of the same theme, that photons transmit information and cause/effect.

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Georgina Parry replied on May. 23, 2010 @ 00:46 GMT
Jason,

I don't think light transmits information content but that the detected light can be used to generate information. The light is just light. Being light it can be absorbed, reflected , refracted and there can be interference. Some potential information can not be generated because the detector only generates a certain kind of information from the stimulus, or impact of the photons on the artificial detector.

So light gives an image that is partial in information content and potentially distorted. Also it will always give an image of what was (the past, old news, an illusion) not what is (existential now, the truth). The light does not lie but neither does it give the truth , the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

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T H Ray wrote on May. 22, 2010 @ 19:47 GMT
All,

I happened to pull a book at random from my shelf this afternoon, that I read some time ago -- Roger Penrose, _The Large, the Small and the Human Mind_ (Cambridge, 1997).

It's a tit for tat exchange between Penrose and Abner Shimony, Penrose and Nancy Cartwright, Penrose and Stephen Hawking.

Penrose's views on consciousness are pretty well known by now, so I won't go into them. But I had marked a page with a Chinese fortune cookie slip* in which Stephen Hawking had written, in an essay titled "The Objections of an Unashamed Reductionist:"

"Personally, I get uneasy when people, especially theoretical physicists, talk about consciousness. Consciousness is not a quality that one can measure from the outside. If a little green man were to appear on our doorstep tomorrow, we do not have a way of telling if he was conscious and self aware or was just a robot. I prefer to talk about intelligence, which is a quality that can be measured from the outside. I see no reason why intelligence should not be simulated on a computer. We certainly can't simulate human intelligence at the moment, as Roger showed with his chess problem.** But Roger also admitted that there was no dividing line between human intelligence and animal intelligence. So it will be sufficient to consider the intelligence of an earthworm. I don't think there's any doubt that one can simulate an earthworm's brain on a computer. The Godel argument is irrelevant because earthworms don't worry about PI_1-sentences."

Hawking precisely (and with better chosen language) supports what I have been saying in this forum. Which is not surprising because my POV is also reductionist, as is Murray Gell-Mann's, and Gell-Mann also supports a continuum of consciousness (defined by the boundaries of intelligence).

Tom

* Yeah, I know you want to know what it said. "Disasters can become blessings. Blessings can become disasters." I eat and read alone in Chinese restaurants a lot.

** Not sure, but I think the chess problem may have been written before the qualified success of IBM's Deep Blue.

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James Putnam replied on May. 22, 2010 @ 22:44 GMT
I have to look for more of what he said and give him the opportunity to say something that he can actually support.

He should get uneasy when theoretical physicists talk about consciousness. It is their non-mechanical, non-theoretical, opponent. It is what puts them out on that limb that future scientists will cut off. Actually consciousness can be measured from the outside. If the little green man listens to what you have to say in the most logical form that you can present it, he can respond that for his own reasons he disagrees with you. The measure of consciousness is the ability for anyone to think for themselves.

Hawking prefers to talk about intelligence, I presume that might mean that he equates intelligence with what computers do. That is obviously wrong. It is a sneaky tactic to think that we can prove something about human intelligence by simulating anything including that mythical worm's brain. He is welcome to investigate worms all he wishes while the real scientific investigation looks at human free will.

Reductionism has no scientific value with regard to understanding human free will. That is unless it is used to retrace the steps by which it has been brought into existence. However, reductionism is an attempt to avoid answering where the meaning for future steps in understanding come from. It has to be connected to an ideology, because, in so far as intelligence is concerned it has no value.

Reductionists do not get advancing steps in meaning without explaining where that meaning came from. It cannot come from meaninglessness. Intelligence can be simulated by computers, but so what. Ask a computer to add 2 plus 3 and it will tell you the answer is 5. The computer has no awareness that that mechanical symbol that it was forced to exhibit means anything. Only the human looking at the result knows that anything meaningful happened.

James

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Ray B. Munroe replied on May. 22, 2010 @ 23:50 GMT
Dear Tom,

I agree that I'm not the most qualified person on this blog site to talk about Consciousness. By the same token, there are people on this blog site who are not particularly qualified to talk about Physics. Wouldn't it be great if we could all get our terminology on the same page and try to make some progress in this split between physics and consciousness?

Physics/Natural Philosophy split from Philosophy, which had previously split from Theology. At some point, it is appropriate to talk about all of these phenomena, although many professional physicists develop a degree of 'tunnel vision' - to become a specialist in one area often means concentrating on the tree's bark so much that you can't see the forest.

A few years ago, I didn't believe in String Theory. I was convinced that our Universe is strictly 4-dimensional. Likewise, I was convinced that Biology and Psychology were sufficiently different from Physics that they were emergent, not fundamental, properties of the Universe, and need not be included in an attempt at a TOE. My personal quest for a TOE has led me to consider the idea of String Theory and extra dimensions. And last year's essays by EEK and FMD bring the question to the forefront: "Is consciousness/intelligence/mind/self/soul a fundamental or emergent property?" If it is fundamental then it is appropriate to try to include it in a TOE. Please read Edwin Eugene Klingman's ideas. I'm not saying that he must be correct, but he has put some thought into the matter and developed a mathematical model. As physicists, that is all we do - model the nature that we observe with mathematics and theoretical concepts.

I don't have consciousness figured out. FMD doesn't have physics figured out. Another blogger (was it Jason or James?) said that FMD stirs controversy so that someone else on this blog site can help him finish his idea. It would be cool if people with different backgrounds and educations can work together to attack these questions.

Have Fun!

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T H Ray replied on May. 23, 2010 @ 00:33 GMT
Ray, I don't quite know why you addressed me on this issue of consciousness. All I have really said about it is that the concept is not yet tractable to scientific treatment, particularly in the peculiar way that James defines "science."

String theory, OTOH, is quite well supported in quantum field theory and in other coherent physics.

I have no idea what FMD is getting at. I did reply to Kingman, vis a vis complex systems research and the small world model.

Tom

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James Putnam wrote on May. 23, 2010 @ 00:04 GMT
Dear Cosmic Ray,

It was Jonathan and I supported his view. I could be quiter if theoretical physicists would get all their ducks in a row before making grandiose statements that obviously go way beyond anything that fits within their expertise. It does not matter whether the false prophets have PHDs in theology or theoretical physics, they should separate their ideological beliefs from their scientific knowledge and not misrepresent what is known scientically. That is what I think.

James

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James Putnam wrote on May. 23, 2010 @ 00:49 GMT
What is peculiar about my definition of science is that I think it should stick to getting to the point of what it actually knows.

James

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Georgina Parry replied on May. 23, 2010 @ 01:14 GMT
James,

There isn't a singular agreed definition of the term knowledge.Wikipedia on knowledge It doesn't have to equate to certainty or absolute truth.

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James Putnam replied on May. 24, 2010 @ 22:58 GMT
From an earlier message, I said:

"What is peculiar about my definition of science is that I think it should stick to getting to the point of what it actually knows."

Following up on this, I will point to the foundation of theoretical physics and what is known and what is not know. What is known is that objects change their velocities; and, that these changes oftentimes occur in various patterns that invite the opinion that they must be due to separate causes. It is the causes that are not observed and not known. Theoretical physics invents the causes and treats them as if they are known. The only four properties that are actually known are: Time; Distance; Force; and, Mass which is resistance to force. All theory consists of conjectured properties that are founded upon the empirical evidence revealed to us by these four real properties.

James

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James Putnam wrote on May. 23, 2010 @ 01:20 GMT
Georgina,

We ended discussion.

James

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Georgina Parry replied on May. 23, 2010 @ 07:06 GMT
James,

I am not starting a discussion. Just directing you to some information that may be helpful in explaining to you why other people here are disagreeing with you. If you consider that you already know better, without even looking, then just ignore it and remain non the wiser.

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James Putnam replied on May. 23, 2010 @ 18:38 GMT
Thank you for well intentioned opinion. I will use my own judgement.

James

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James Putnam wrote on Jun. 25, 2010 @ 20:15 GMT
I am reading a book about quantum physics. The book and the author are not important for the point I wish to make. The author said: "Telepathy is nonsense..." I have heard this type of rejection expressed by various authors. I have never experienced it myself so far as I know. But, here is one observation I made about someone else and their twin. I was a teenager at a dance in a town where I did not know the other people. I met a girl and we danced. afterwords, I asked her name. She gave it, and mentioned that a girl across the room, dancing with someone, was her twin sister. The room was not small and the music was loud. The girl I was talking with turned back toward me and, without pointing, said: " She knows when I am talking about her." At that moment the twin, who's back was toward us, turned, leaned in our direction, and said something. I could not possibly hear what she mouthed, but, I could easily read it. She said: "What?"

James

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paul valletta replied on Jun. 28, 2010 @ 18:36 GMT
Hi James, isnt it the case that all quantum entanglement events are another way of stating "voodoo/telepaphy"?..the results/outcomes are more or less identical?

All of the minds workings are quantum scaled, the only moving parts inside the brain is (as far as I am aware) are neurons? this leads to the possibility of consciousness, as defined by neuron firings?..maybe fed information from external,entangled forms of energy?

Interestingly Relativity entangled events, such as the birth of human twins, have been the subject of research WRT the knowledge or sharing of emotional feelings, even though the subject twins were seperated by great distances?

The proximity of "twin" births, in a very confined spacetime, the birth is seconds apart, thus very close linked spacetime signatures link both parties, may be a scaled up version of "telepahic" quantum entanglement?

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James Putnam replied on Jun. 29, 2010 @ 14:51 GMT
Hi Paul,

Quote: "...isnt it the case that all quantum entanglement events are another way of stating "voodoo/telepaphy"?..the results/outcomes are more or less identical?"

In the case I cited it was clear who initiated or caused the event to occur. In the case of entanglement, there is no way to distinguish which object is the initiator and which is the reactor. My understanding is...

view entire post


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Jason Wolfe wrote on Jun. 25, 2010 @ 20:44 GMT
If telepathy really existed, (yes, I think it does), then how does it function? Does it work like blogging or instant messaging where responses are with words? If telepathy exists, it has to be embedded in evolution, right? It should potentially exist across the whole brain/nervous system. In other words, evolution didn't evolve language first, followed by telepathy. Evolution evolved telepathy first, and then continue its improvements upon the brain.

If this is so, then telepathy can occur within any one (or more) of the information processing centers in the brain. Emotional telepathy might exist. Perhaps only flashes of pictures or hints of meaning.

Do you follow what I'm saying?

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James Putnam replied on Jun. 28, 2010 @ 21:40 GMT
Jason,

Partially quoting: "If telepathy really existed, ... , then how does it function?"

I gave the example because I can testify to it. I think it is unfortunate that sometimes scientists make absolute statements based upon their own predisposition. I think theoretical physics in general represents a significant degree of predisposition. I gave a quote by Blaise Pascal in a much earlier message regarding, in my representation of what he meant, the very real risks of limited specialized education and the overall inability of even complete education to fill in for understanding, not merely modeling, the operation of the universe.

With regard to the example of telepathy that I cited, I was 17, it was 50 years ago. I wasn't astute enough to think deeply about it and try to question the twin who appeared to have this ability. I do not what she sensed. I cannot repeat the experiment. I don't even remember what town I was in. However, I was stunned by it and have now reported it for the first time as accurately as I could. I put it forward for consideration in opposition to the absolute pronouncement, pretending to be a scientific fact, that I quoted.

I don't have anything more to offer in evidence, and, I can only guess that the example suggests that DNA is the probable link. However, only one twin had this ability. So, I guess there must be more to think about. There was no indication that whatever signaled the twin broke any speed law of physics. In fact, it could have been very slow compared to the speed of light.

I consider the mechanistic analyses of theoretical physics to be a low level, limited, and ideologically guided presentation of what many believe to represent the natural properties of the universe. As for me, intelligence is missing from that list and it is the key property of the universe. So, because of deliberate limited analysis we do not know what a fundamental property of intelligence is capable of achieving. I suppose that some of these exceptional occurrances may be hints of what we are missing out on.

James

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Jason Wolfe replied on Jun. 29, 2010 @ 00:14 GMT
Dear James,

"I can testify to it. I think it is unfortunate that sometimes scientists make absolute statements based upon their own predisposition. " I absolutely agree. I have had experiences of these kinds many many times; enough to know that critics and their "lucky guesses" are deliberately ignoring reality. For years, this drove me nuts, trying to figure out what was going on. As a metaphor, physics can lock the doors, but it can't account for what happens inside of the rooms, outside, or for cracks in the walls. Physicists, who had hoped they would chase away all of the strange occurances, have been left with a chain around their neck that reads: "Uncertainty Principle"

Of course, there are lots of "crazies" who intermingle with these mysterious phenomena, but they can't articulate clearly what they experienced. Other "crazies" have someone missed the phenomena altogether, and are grapsing at their imagination, at nothing that is real. That is just how life is.

But rest assured that the physical universe, the scientific and logical world that we live in, is just a small part of reality.

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B wrote on Jun. 28, 2010 @ 09:21 GMT
If people would accept that large differences in entropy give "rise" to quantum or quantum-like events and/or observables, then the conscious predictions of the brain of what we will sense in the next few seconds versus the acutal inputs received leads to a macro quantum like system.

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amrit wrote on Jun. 28, 2010 @ 16:31 GMT
Dear Sirs,

rational mind has no pover of planetary integration.

Consciousness is un unknown power of integration.

I publich on that recently an article,

see on page 279-281

Yours Sincerely, Amrit

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amrit replied on Jun. 28, 2010 @ 16:32 GMT
PS here is article

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this post was moved here from a different topic

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Don Limuti(www.zenophysics.com) wrote on Jun. 30, 2010 @ 21:08 GMT
Dear William Orem,

Your blogs are very "thought" provoking and they all would make good questions for the next essay contest. Here are some additional questions that are foundational.

Is there an agreed upon definition of what is a thought? Or an answer to the question: What is a thought that a man (woman) could know it? Or, how can we "know" a thought without thought?

And further: Is thought (whatever that is) something that we do or something that happens to us?

I am using the word thought because we all are so intimate with it. And I avoid the words consciousness, and mind because they are used in lots of different contexts. Thought is fundamental to physics and few venture into the abyss.

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Georgina Parry replied on Jul. 25, 2010 @ 13:28 GMT
Don,

Descartes considered "I think, therefore I am" (thus I am a thinking thing), to be all that is certain. Thinking about this I too have wondered, Do I think, or does thought happen and it is attributed to me or rather I?

It seems that I is that which experiences so it is the focus of information related to the external environment and internal emotional and physical homeostasis.I can see the sun, I am hot, I am happy. I can hear the rain, I am hungry, I am afraid. It may be that this focus, I, is a creation of the brain activity, as it appears to be diffuse and not to have a singular structural focus. So without particular brain activity I do not exist because I am a creation of that activity.... There is a thought and I am it.

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The Lightbringer replied on Jul. 30, 2010 @ 21:01 GMT
Don, you said: "Thought is fundamental to physics and few venture into the abyss."

The interactive extensiveness of being, experience (and space), and thought go hand-in-hand.

Thought is foundational to physics, and the experience of the physics (the forces/energies/feeling) is necessarily related to (and inseparable from) the physical ideas (and their generation).

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Don Limuti wrote on Jul. 1, 2010 @ 06:35 GMT
Cosmo D, This is a good blog for dreams. Here is a quote from the master:

Prospero:

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,

As I foretold you, were all spirits, and

Are melted into air, into thin air:

And like the baseless fabric of this vision,

The cloud-capp'd tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces,

The solemn temples, the great globe itself,

Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,

And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,

Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff

As dreams are made on; and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep.

The Tempest Act 4, scene 1, 148–158

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Cosmo D wrote on Jul. 30, 2010 @ 19:58 GMT
Don, I'm glad that you have opened your mind. As a reward for you, I am going to give you some help, since you do seem to have potential.

The recessional, astronomical, and gravitational red-shifts -- Let's talk about it. An object that is magnified/larger and yet farther away has to have higher gravity. )(Witness the setting sun, and telescopes are known to be a sort of "big eye" -- like the Earth in relation to the red/setting sun.)

See, your problem here at FQXi is that you all think that you can "outsmart" experience in general. This you cannot and must not do. But you worship control and money, so what you have/get is lies. We are outsmarted in the dream.

Now, back to what I was saying. This "object" -- there are no things actually -- it is smaller (too far away to be seen) and yet larger/magnified. See how the recessional, astronomical/telescopic, and gravitational red-shifts are all linked? DiMeglio taught me this. This, in turn, relates to the increased invisibility/transparency of space.

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Anonymous wrote on Jul. 30, 2010 @ 21:19 GMT
The known mathematical unification of gravity and electromagnetism points to a deeper and more foundational reality; but it also shows the limits of explanation/thoughtful description in any event. To think that this mathematical union has no physical/"material"/sensory basis is utter foolishness.

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Anonymous wrote on Sep. 6, 2010 @ 13:44 GMT
What is called "matter" is sensory experience. There are no "things".

Touch is not vision, and vision and touch are not thought.

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amrit wrote on Sep. 8, 2010 @ 15:14 GMT
Cosmic consciousness is the basic frequency of quanta of space......consciousness is space. In human being consciousness acts as the observer.

yours Amrit

attachments: Observer_is_a_Function_of_Four_dimansional_Space.pdf

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Anonymous replied on Sep. 8, 2010 @ 20:13 GMT
Amrit, the Earth is in a smaller [transparent] space. The Sun is in a larger [black] space. The body is/involves physics (and GRAVITY).

The eye/body has a transparent AND black space. Attraction and repulsion people, think!

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