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Physics Of The Non-Physical

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#18 Moronium

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 10:34 AM

The things that become philosophical debates never cease to amaze me.  

 

 

Virtually every claim entails some philosophically debatable elements, eh, Hazel?

 

The author of this claim probably thinks he is merely  recounting observations of philosophy-free "facts," for example:

 

Consciousness is an activity of the brain, not a thing.

 

 

Far from it, whether he knows it or not.


Edited by Moronium, 26 May 2018 - 10:36 AM.


#19 exchemist

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 02:59 PM

In a way, yes.  But I'd say it is more a sleeping brain than a non-living brain.  Like with our sleeping brains, getting its crossed wires straightened out and cleaned up.  Then, turned on, its output is its Mind/Consciousness. 

 

I am sure Dr. Petrovic would protest my calling Consciousness "Mind".  That is unless he says more on the topic in his book.  But any number of people have equating the two.  If "consciousness" is awareness,  the mind needs awareness to function. 

 

But I wander again.  Your "non-living" computer is a thing. Its "living" output is it consciousness and consciousness is not a thing but an "activity". 

 

All right.  If I have that, I have what Exchemist is saying.  An activity is not a thing which we suspect, from his brief review, Dr. Petrovic is making of it.   It's a matter of semantics.  My only response is back to the quoted definition of an entity. 

 

Well, it's a living language. 

Yes, an activity, say walking, or sleeping, is not an entity, a "thing", as the body or the brain are. We are saddled with the body/soul or Body/mind dualism of Descartes and many before him because it is part of our culture. But now that we are all familiar with computers we can see this in a new way. There is the brain, and there is its activity, just as there is a computer and there is its functioning, when it is turned on.

 

I contend that seeing "body" and "mind" as complementary equivalents is a mistake. It seems to me that if one sees consciousness as an activity of the brain, it make no sense whatsoever to try to disembody consciousness and pretend to give it an existence independent of the brain is which the activity takes place.   



#20 A-wal

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 03:35 PM

Yes, an activity, say walking, or sleeping, is not an entity, a "thing", as the body or the brain are.

Er, huh? :)

 

We are saddled with the body/soul or Body/mind dualism of Descartes and many before him because it is part of our culture. But now that we are all familiar with computers we can see this in a new way. There is the brain, and there is its activity, just as there is a computer and there is its functioning, when it is turned on. 

A computer is in no way conscious.

 

I contend that seeing "body" and "mind" as complementary equivalents is a mistake.

I agree. Without consciousness the body can't even be defined, nor can anything else. To imagine a universe without consciousness you have to imagine it without any of the properties that consciousness endows it with. It can't look, sound, feel, taste or smell like anything because those are how consciousness experiences the universe. Existence can only be defined in terms of how it's experienced, and that requires a consciousness.

 

Either consciousness is a real thing, and something that materialist bullshit can't ever begin to explain or it's an emergent property of physical/chemical processes and all processes are to some degree conscious. You can't have it both ways.



#21 Moronium

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 03:44 PM

It seems to me that if one sees consciousness as an activity of the brain, it make no sense whatsoever to try to disembody consciousness and pretend to give it an existence independent of the brain is which the activity takes place.   

 

 

 

Most would agree that consciousness can't exist "independently" of the brain, but that doesn't answer the questions raised.  Is it "the same thing" as the brain?  Can consciousness, by materialistic reductionism, be explained by the motions of atoms, the interactions of chemicals, or something like that?

 

I can't drive to California without a car.  But the car won't go there of its own volition.  It needs a driver.  Does that make the driver the car?

.   


Edited by Moronium, 26 May 2018 - 03:44 PM.


#22 Moronium

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 03:51 PM

People often like to draw analogies to computers or, more generally, to artificial intelligence.  But, when doing so, they seem to overlook the fact that there is no hardware or software without a human to design and manufacture them.  Whoever did that had consciousness. Computers don't.

 

We may soon be able to program cars to drive to California all by themselves, who knows?  But the question would still be "who created the car and the program it follows?"  The answer certainly wouldn't be along the lines of "Well, ya see, some chemicals got together and designed, built, and programmed that car."


Edited by Moronium, 26 May 2018 - 04:00 PM.


#23 johnpetrovic

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 06:57 PM

Physical and Non-Physical:

 

The physical is what we can detect and measure with our senses and the scientific extensions of our senses and have a satisfactory understanding of with current scientific paradigms .  Before Maxwell, electromagnetic waves were completely  unknown non-physical quantities.  Then, when Hertz verified their existence experimentally, they took their place in the physical.

 

The non-physical is what we cannot presently detect and measure with our senses and the scientific extensions of our senses and where there are no current scientific paradigms that can be satisfactorily employed to provide an explanation.  The qualia of consciousness fall in this category.  The singularity at the center of a black hole falls in this category.

 

Things that are presently non-physical are made physical when we can measure and understand them in a satisfactory scientific way.  



#24 Moronium

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 07:19 PM

Physical and Non-Physical:

 

Before Maxwell, electromagnetic waves were completely  unknown non-physical quantities.  Then, when Hertz verified their existence experimentally, they took their place in the physical.

 

Of course you can define things any way you want, but this seems to tie what's "physical" to what we can know and verify.  But surely EM waves were "out there," in what's commonly called the "physical world," both before and after either Maxwell or Hertz came along.  It just sounds strange to say that Hertz's verification "made" them physical.


Edited by Moronium, 26 May 2018 - 07:19 PM.


#25 hazelm

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 09:07 PM

Yes, an activity, say walking, or sleeping, is not an entity, a "thing", as the body or the brain are. We are saddled with the body/soul or Body/mind dualism of Descartes and many before him because it is part of our culture. But now that we are all familiar with computers we can see this in a new way. There is the brain, and there is its activity, just as there is a computer and there is its functioning, when it is turned on.

 

I contend that seeing "body" and "mind" as complementary equivalents is a mistake. It seems to me that if one sees consciousness as an activity of the brain, it make no sense whatsoever to try to disembody consciousness and pretend to give it an existence independent of the brain is which the activity takes place.   

 

I am with you in what you say except that I think there are other ways that let what you say cannot exist actually exist.  This does require accepting the theory that the mind is consciousness    There are so many definitions to "consciousness".  I think of it simply as "awareness".  Then, in "Mental Biology", W R Klemm suggests that the mind is a product of the brain.  The mind is the non-physical part of the brain.  The mind uses what the brain has received and stored to get to understandings and make decisions.  There is a debate as to which is the tool and which the user of the tool but I leave that for later.

 

So, what if instead of saying "body/soul" or body/mind, we said "brain/mind"?  The mind is the consciousness (awareness) of the brain.  I do not yet know how Dr. Petrovic defines his view of "consciousness".  Since he refers to "spirituality" (not religion but spirituality), it may not fit.   But I do think it fits the possibility of a body/mind (brain/mind) - the simple awareness that we ---- hmmm?  "think, therefore.....".

 

Do I make sense? 



#26 hazelm

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 09:39 PM

Physical and Non-Physical:

 

The physical is what we can detect and measure with our senses and the scientific extensions of our senses and have a satisfactory understanding of with current scientific paradigms .  Before Maxwell, electromagnetic waves were completely  unknown non-physical quantities.  Then, when Hertz verified their existence experimentally, they took their place in the physical.

 

The non-physical is what we cannot presently detect and measure with our senses and the scientific extensions of our senses and where there are no current scientific paradigms that can be satisfactorily employed to provide an explanation.  The qualia of consciousness fall in this category.  The singularity at the center of a black hole falls in this category.

 

Things that are presently non-physical are made physical when we can measure and understand them in a satisfactory scientific way.  

I want to ask what is wrong with the body (brain)   having an emergent non-physical (entity? property?) which is called "consciousness"?  Over the millions of millenia, one wonder after another has been discovered that earlier people did not know existed.  Why not a non-physical consciousness?   If an "entity" has to be a physical thing (which I think of as touchable)  then I say we have evolved beyond that stage.  Another wonder of our universe, perhaps?  What I cannot see is a non-physical "thing" suddenly becoming a physical thing just because we detected and measured it.

 

And why - now that I am here - does everything have to be measurable to prove its existence? How can measuring something make it physical?  We can detect our awareness (consciousness) but we cannot measure it.



#27 Moronium

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Posted 27 May 2018 - 12:31 AM

And why - now that I am here - does everything have to be measurable to prove its existence? How can measuring something make it physical?  We can detect our awareness (consciousness) but we cannot measure it.

 

It appears that these are the questions John wants you to ask, Hazel.  I suspect his response is along the lines of:  "Consciousness can't be "measured" in any literal sense."  Therefore, it won't be considered a "physical" thing.  But it is nonetheless "real." 

 

This is an argument against physical monism, i.e., the stance that there is no mind/body dualism, but rather that everything that exists (i.e., is "real") is "physical."  The talk about EM waves "becoming" physical is really just designed to show that things can exist even if we have never discovered, measured, and "explained" them.  

 

Therefore "science," if it wants to deal with and explain "reality," shouldn't simply disregard consciousness and ignore it on the grounds that  if it can't be measured, then science can't deal with it.


Edited by Moronium, 27 May 2018 - 12:44 AM.


#28 Moronium

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Posted 27 May 2018 - 01:09 AM

I can't drive to California without a car.  But the car won't go there of its own volition.  It needs a driver.  Does that make the driver the car?

.   

 

 

Nobody answers my questions, so I'll give my own answer to this one.

 

No, the driver and the car are two fundamentally different things.  Having a car is a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition for "driving to California."  The car and the driver of it will arrive in California at the same time, together.  But that does not make the driver a "machine" or just another  "part of" the machine, like a spark plug.

 

This is all obvious enough, yet many who argue that "consciousness" is just "brain activity" seem to overlook such distinctions, if you ask me.  I would analogize the position taken by people like Exchem to someone arguing that, since you have a car, you can dispense with the driver and/or that the driver should be viewed as just another cog in the machine (which is the thing  which makes the travel possible).

 

If there is a "category error" being made here, it is one which puts a sensate being in the same category as an inanimate collection of material elements.


Edited by Moronium, 27 May 2018 - 01:26 AM.


#29 exchemist

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Posted 27 May 2018 - 03:33 AM

I am with you in what you say except that I think there are other ways that let what you say cannot exist actually exist.  This does require accepting the theory that the mind is consciousness    There are so many definitions to "consciousness".  I think of it simply as "awareness".  Then, in "Mental Biology", W R Klemm suggests that the mind is a product of the brain.  The mind is the non-physical part of the brain.  The mind uses what the brain has received and stored to get to understandings and make decisions.  There is a debate as to which is the tool and which the user of the tool but I leave that for later.

 

So, what if instead of saying "body/soul" or body/mind, we said "brain/mind"?  The mind is the consciousness (awareness) of the brain.  I do not yet know how Dr. Petrovic defines his view of "consciousness".  Since he refers to "spirituality" (not religion but spirituality), it may not fit.   But I do think it fits the possibility of a body/mind (brain/mind) - the simple awareness that we ---- hmmm?  "think, therefore.....".

 

Do I make sense? 

I understand you I think. But I contend there is no separate "thing" called "the mind". What there is is a brain activity which at a basic level enables us to respond to stimuli and, at a more advanced one, to learn what causes produce what effects. It also, in the case of more highly developed brains, gives a sense of "me": If "my" paw/hand touches this sharp thorn, it will hurt", or this wolf will eat me.   

 

None oft his means mind or consciousness is a thing, that is in some way a non-material counterpart to the physical brain. That I think is Descartes' dualist dead end. It is just the activity of the brain.


Edited by exchemist, 27 May 2018 - 03:34 AM.


#30 hazelm

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Posted 27 May 2018 - 04:00 AM

I understand you I think. But I contend there is no separate "thing" called "the mind". What there is is a brain activity which at a basic level enables us to respond to stimuli and, at a more advanced one, to learn what causes produce what effects. It also, in the case of more highly developed brains, gives a sense of "me": If "my" paw/hand touches this sharp thorn, it will hurt", or this wolf will eat me.   

 

None oft his means mind or consciousness is a thing, that is in some way a non-material counterpart to the physical brain. That I think is Descartes' dualist dead end. It is just the activity of the brain.

A characteristic of the brain, perhaps?  Just don't call it a mind?  Or consciousness?  What will you call it? 

 

As for what is and is not a thing,  I'll check Oxford.  It's such a small word to be so busy being and not being.  All right? 



#31 A-wal

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Posted 27 May 2018 - 04:11 AM

You can isolate the chemicals that correspond to specific emotions, you could even argue that those chemicals are the cause of those emotions rather than the other way around, but those chemicals aren't the emotions themselves.

Fear, love, sorrow, humour, awe, wonder, all somehow caused by the mechanistic processes of a lump of organic mush? Doolally batshit.



#32 Moronium

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Posted 27 May 2018 - 04:27 AM

 That I think is Descartes' dualist dead end. It is just the activity of the brain.

 

 

Although you confidently assert this as though it were a known empirical fact of science, in reality you are just manifesting the necessary implications of your pre-existing metaphysical assumptions (physical monism).  For you, the question has been answered before it has ever even been posed

 

Others have different ontological assumptions.

 

This whole thread should really be placed in the philosophy forum, not the physics and mathematics forum.


Edited by Moronium, 27 May 2018 - 04:29 AM.


#33 Moronium

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Posted 27 May 2018 - 04:34 AM

 I contend there is no separate "thing" called "the mind". What there is is a brain activity...

 

Only tangible, three dimensional "things" are real, is that the idea?  Is "brain activity" a tangible thing, ya think?  Is a "thought" a 'thing."  If so, tell me where it hangs out, willya?  The corner bar, maybe?  I'd like to meet a thought.

 

Speaking of corner bars, I was talking to good old Rene Descartes at one the other night.  I asked him:  "Hey, Rene, would you like to take that skank at the end of the bar home with you tonight?"

 

He said:  "I think not."

 

And then, all of a sudden, he just up and disappeared.


Edited by Moronium, 27 May 2018 - 04:42 AM.


#34 Moronium

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Posted 27 May 2018 - 04:53 AM

That's kinda what some people call a "joke," I guess.  It might require some sort of sense of humor to "get it," I suppose.

 

But "humor" and "jokes" are not physical things, so they don't really exist.  They are just "brain activity" (which IS a thing) and are caused by calcium, or some chemical.  So don't blame me, OK?  I didn't do it.  Calcium did.





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