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Hairnet

Why is there the subjective experience of conciousness at all?

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http://en.wikipedia....f_consciousness

http://en.wikipedia....ination_problem

So the typical bad ideas come out in response, materialism, idealism, skepticism, and a variety of forms of dualism.. Basically this question is ususally held as a way for people to jump off into a land of mysticism. However I am interested in how existence forms subjective experiences which at the very least seem to be distinct from matter.

The only idea that I find acceptable is the idea that "mind" is an aspect of the material nervous system. This mostly relegates the problem to neuroscience. My only problem is that I don't know if it is philisophically permissable to say that non-matter can arise from matter. Is that the dualism that Ayn Rand rejected? If so how can subjective experience experience exist in a physical world?

Edited by Hairnet

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What do you mean by subjective experience? I don't know why you added subjective rather than saying experience without an adjective.

Because there can be shared experiences. For example, if we both see a fireworks display, we have shared an experience. However, there is a subjective experience for both of us. Subjective here just means from the subject's perspective.

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Because there can be shared experiences. For example, if we both see a fireworks display, we have shared an experience.

No we haven't. We had two separate experiences, of the same thing.

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We had two separate experiences, of the same thing.

Then two lovers engaged in passionate love making are having two separate experiences of the same thing, rather than sharing the experience together? While I can appreciate the technicality, it does not come across with the same intensity of intimacy.

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Then two lovers engaged in passionate love making are having two separate experiences of the same thing?

Yes. I don't understand how this could possibly be a point of contention.

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Yes. I don't understand how this could possibly be a point of contention.

The point is that experience is not only used in the context of subjective perception or introspection but can also refer to experience one shared with another. Saying you shared a subjective experience with someone seems absurd. One might talk of having the same work experience. So the specification of "subjective experience" is used when discussing consciousness.

This couldn't be less important, though.

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Okay everryone got hung up on an unintentional redundancy.

I am sorry.

By subjective experience, I mean experience. I mean "my point of view", not the neurological mechanics of the brain.

I posted those wiki articles for a reasong as they describe the problem much better than I can articulate.

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I think the question "Why is there consciousness?" is both unanswerable and unaskable, because consciousness is axiomatic.

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On a semi-related note, Peikoff in the Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy posits the existentialists asking "Why is there something?" He contrasts this with the non-existentialists asking "Why is it this, and not something else?".

There are those who ask "Why is there consciousness?" and those who ask "Why is it in the form that it is and not some other form?"

In OPAR he points out that even if science were some day to fully explain consciousness, that would not alter its status as a philosophic axiom. I think it is valid to inquire as to how consciousness comes about,

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Consciousness is axiomatic in the sense any act of thinking is conscious, so you can't answer a question like "prove you are conscious." But asking how is it that a brain enables consciousness is just as answerable as how it's possible to see. Still, I do not think it is totally correct to say "non-matter can arise from matter". Consciousness could be considered non-matter since you can't touch it, but that isn't to say that a consciousness exists in a ghost-like, immaterial form in your head. There is no consciousness "spot" in your brain, just as there is no "appleness" to find within an apple. The only problem you are describing is no different than asking how programs run in a computer if there is no tangible program. I'm not saying a brain is a computer, only that no dichotomy is needed between physical and nonphysical. It's a complex interaction of signals in the brain to produce a conscious experience, and epistemologically, it's nonsense to "find consciousness" or look for the "consciousness center".

Edited by Eiuol

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@TheEgoist

The Reflexive Monist account is interesting. Honestly I am having trouble understanding the language of the essay and the implications of the idea. First I am not sure if he is arguing that just the brain/mind is "psychophysicall" or all of reality is.

Honestly this sounds a lot like aristotle, except instead of concepts being within the objects, the qualia of the object is inside the object. However I may have completely misread this as like I said I don't really understand it.

@Euiol

You are making me sound like I am looking for concrete evidence of concepts, I am not. I am asking why we have "point of view". Why is there the "perspective"? We accept the world as physical and integrated yet there are beings that have experiences that are completely unaccessable to others, that while existing do not seem to exist to anyone "outside" of them. If I were to even point to something that correlated to an experience in your brain scans, it would not be your experience because my experience would be of a brain scan, not what you were experienceing.

That is, I have first person, private thoughts/percepts/data that are only mine and no one can access but me. However I understand that the world does exist and is objective, even though I experience it subjectively.

1) Existence is primary. (Rules out idealism).

2) Conciousness exists.

3) The world is made out of matter, yet qualia exists, and qualia can't be reduced to brain states (rules out materialism) .

However Ayn Rand said that she rejected dualism, and dual substance theories.

Was she embracing something more like Reflexive Monism , that states that mind and matter are potentials expressions of the some lower order substance?

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I'm pretty sure Rand would reject any notion of substance or orders of a substance, at least in the metaphysical sense (TheEgoist knows better than me about those details, though). Atoms aren't "more fundamental" than cells. Everything that occurs is an epistemological distinction for knowledge, but nothing is divided or subdivided by its nature. My response to you was about this, so I wasn't trying to say you wanted concrete evidence of concepts. The mind is a totally different level of abstraction than talking about the physical parts of the brain. Talking about both simultaneously would be awkward.

Why is there perspective? Well, as I said, the brain a complex interaction of chemical and electrical signals that do not interact with other people. This is a hypothesis of mine. A similar idea is the signal a phone receives. The only phones that will experience the signal are the ones that are able to receive the signal. You (your brain, anyway) are the only one that can process electrical signals that come from the neurons in your eyes, and through visual processing in your brain. There is no philosophical quandary that I can point out that would lead you to wonder how both subjective experience and an outside world exist without dualism.

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@Haimet

The reason why we have different point of views is because our senses are not omnipresent. You and I could both watch the same fireworks, and have a somewhat different experience (i.e. sum of snesory data that we obtain) based on many variables. I might be sitting in a location where my view is partially obstructed by a tree, I might sneeze and miss one of the explosions. I might not have 20/20 vision and therefore miss some of the minute details of the fireworks that you may be able to see. But existence is primary to consiousness. The fact that I wasn't able to fully experience the display in it's every detail doesn't change the facts of reality such as the amount of fireworks that appeared throughout the show. It simply means that the circumstances caused my senses to miss some of the details that yours did not- thus a slightly different point of view or experience for you.

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I'm pretty sure Rand would reject any notion of substance or orders of a substance, at least in the metaphysical sense (TheEgoist knows better than me about those details, though). Atoms aren't "more fundamental" than cells. Everything that occurs is an epistemological distinction for knowledge, but nothing is divided or subdivided by its nature. My response to you was about this, so I wasn't trying to say you wanted concrete evidence of concepts. The mind is a totally different level of abstraction than talking about the physical parts of the brain. Talking about both simultaneously would be awkward.

Why is there perspective? Well, as I said, the brain a complex interaction of chemical and electrical signals that do not interact with other people. This is a hypothesis of mine. A similar idea is the signal a phone receives. The only phones that will experience the signal are the ones that are able to receive the signal. You (your brain, anyway) are the only one that can process electrical signals that come from the neurons in your eyes, and through visual processing in your brain. There is no philosophical quandary that I can point out that would lead you to wonder how both subjective experience and an outside world exist without dualism.

You are taling about observable information systems, not qualia.

I have qualia, this is distinct from matter in that qualia can not be detected by any other being but the one that embodies it. Now, we can talk about information systems that correlate to qualia, and this is important, but that doesn't answer the question, is qualia ultimately material? Even though it can not be detected by anyone other than the one experiencing it?

You are talking about levels of abstractions and I think that this is not an error I am making. Matter is a classification of all entities that exist and that can be known through experience. Mind (Qualia) is a classification as entities that can only be experienced through a first person perspective. Unlike a computer system or some leap in levels of abstraction, there seems to be a shift in properties that is so extreme it is confusing.

The swtich between public information to private information seems so extreme as to warrant to fundemental categories "Mind" and "matter". So the idea that there is a lower order category, that could potentially private or public information depending on the context, seems to be a good explanation for how both kinds of information relate .

The other explanations thtat exist are

1) Private information is all that exists, the idea that there is public information is a trick of the mind.

2) Public information is all that exists, public information only appears to be private information because of recursion and self reference happening rapidly and in complex systems. (I am a Strange Loop)

So above we have materialism and idealism.

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I do not think that is a fair description of matter, in terms of physics. All that exists can be known through experience, even if it isn't matter per se. Electricity exists and is measurable, but you can't touch it. I'm not an expert on physics, so I'll just leave it at anything that exists can be measured in some capacity by nature of being real. If qualia exist, they can be measured, even if not experienced by the individual doing the measuring. I'm starting to think that there is no such thing as qualia in the first place because it's proposing the existence of some feeling that is immeasurable. How would anyone make sense of qualia if there is no form given to them? In other words, by thinking about qualia is what conscious experience is made of, *of course* it seems like conscious experience is a type of dualism, something mystical, or plain bizarre.

Of course, talking about philosophy of mind is very difficult. I may be imprecise. Close your eyes and imagine a 50 foot tall tree. What is going on by imagining that? What IS the experience? Don't say qualia - I'll only ask what you what a qualia is made up of.

In what way is a mind not an observable information system? One of my premises is that the the mind is an information system, simply one level of abstraction above the brain. (I emphasize level of abstraction, because information by nature is an abstraction.)Any information system is one level of abstraction above the materials that make it up, whether it's an adding machine from the 1800s, a computer, or a cell phone. Telephone signals only have data, but contain information by the complexities of how the information is made up. Only the entity doing the processing to produce information can choose from alternatives involved, and any entity which is set up to make sense of that information. When you call someone on a phone, no other phone is capable of picking up your signal and all the data represented in the signal until another phone is set up to receive the signal. The signal is "private" and only accessible by the original phone. The reason you can't feel another person's perceptions in an identical way is because you have *no way* to pick up the electrical and chemical signals/interaction going in on in someone else's head. No qualia is involved. Experience is possible because of how the complex perceptual data is put together, and to be processed involves selection, i.e. experience. There is not an extreme shift in properties, at least not any more extreme than a phone line converting digital signals into analog signals.

(Again, the phone is not a metaphor - a phone is an information system, and I propose your mind/brain is also an information system.)

You may have misspoke, but you can certainly detect what a person's experience is like.

Edited by Eiuol

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To add an interesting thought: I think that the enactive perception of Alva Noe and his influence in J.J Gibson offers an interesting response to the Hard Problem.

For Noe, perception is non-proposition sensorimotor knowledge. We become acquainted and learn how to perceive the world around us. An organism operates by acting in its environment. In this way, we don't answer the hard problem but render it irrelevant.

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However I understand that the world does exist and is objective, even though I experience it subjectively.

You don't experience the world subjectively - you experience objectively. Even when you do so in error. What you don't do is experience it omnisciently. This is a crucial distinction. Rand demonstrated that "subjectivity" does not exist.

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Looking up qualia, it appears the sense it is being used here is along the line of "a property as it is experienced as distinct from any source it might have in a physical object." Does this differ from the description offered near the beginning of ITOE of the sensations being automatically integrated by the brain into percepts, which serve as the material for later integrating into concepts? This would be much like stating that qualia is the form the sensory apparatus provide of the object, or the form/object distinction.

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I am asking why we have "point of view". Why is there the "perspective"? We accept the world as physical and integrated yet there are beings that have experiences that are completely unaccessable to others, that while existing do not seem to exist to anyone "outside" of them. If I were to even point to something that correlated to an experience in your brain scans, it would not be your experience because my experience would be of a brain scan, not what you were experienceing.

That is, I have first person, private thoughts/percepts/data that are only mine and no one can access but me. However I understand that the world does exist and is objective, even though I experience it subjectively.

Why don't you take a moment to think about what it would mean for a consciousness to exist which did NOT have the limitations of a particular perspective and private thoughts?

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Euiol said:

"In what way is a mind not an observable information system? One of my premises is that the the mind is an information system, simply one level of abstraction above the brain. (I emphasize level of abstraction, because information by nature is an abstraction.)"

Looks like your making a category error here.

Edited by Plasmatic

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Euiol said:

"In what way is a mind not an observable information system? One of my premises is that the the mind is an information system, simply one level of abstraction above the brain. (I emphasize level of abstraction, because information by nature is an abstraction.)"

Looks like your making a category error here.

At risk of making a major thread digression, there is a mathematical theory of information which is on a sound enough basis that I think it ought to be considered part of physics (it is already considered as at least engineering). On the other hand, I would say that knowledge is always and by nature an abstraction which depends upon the existence of a knower, the knower being a consciousness with a subjective perspective and private awareness.

Edit: Ooops. This post was prompted by the quote that Plasmatic isolated, but I don't have a beef with Plasmatic's point or expect a response from him. Sorry bud.

Edited by Grames

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