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PeterJ

Can science explain consciousness? (split from can science explain w/o God)

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I think we're having some understanding problems mainly because English isn't my native language.

What I was trying to say is that even if there is some thing that affects our reality while being not physical we could still be able to do mathematical models about it.

In my previous post I didn't say that information is dimensionless/frequency or whatever. What I was trying to say is that information can always be represented in 2 equivalent forms, as a space-time signal or as the frequency components of that signal (which are dimensionless). And this is nothing new and is consistent with the standard definition of information I think. You can also say that a spacetime signal and its frequency components contain the same information, if you want to be more accurate...

Edited by BlackSunGod

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In my previous post I didn't say that information is dimensionless/frequency or whatever. What I was trying to say is that information can always be represented in 2 equivalent forms, as a space-time signal or as the frequency components of that signal (which are dimensionless). And this is nothing new and is consistent with the standard definition of information I think. You can also say that a spacetime signal and its frequency components contain the same information, if you want to be more accurate...

frequency is not dimensionless, it's t^-1

 

are you sure you mean frequency? can you point out where i can find out about what you're calling frequency?

The evolutionists, meanwhile, might want to know, given that consciousness is causally impotent, why is it there in the first place.

it may be "causally impotent" entirely, but i don't know if that conclusion can be made because, due to lack of time, i don't know of research into such questions; there may very well be effects not relevant to decision making. if it is, it might be evolutionary baggage, like vestigial traits.

Edited by andrewcellini

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it may be "causally impotent" entirely, but i don't know if that conclusion can be made because, due to lack of time, i don't know of research into such questions. if it is, it might be evolutionary baggage, like vestigial traits.

 

But Andrew, if my understanding is correct, a vestigial trait is one which was once functional, but is no longer so. Moreover, vestigial traits, even if not functional, are part of the physical causal nexus (they cause and are caused upon -- just as rocks are).

 

On the epiphenomenalist account, consciousness is not only non-functional (past, present, and future) in the biological sense, but is quite unable to exert causal influence on anything physical; it is caused by the physical brain, but causes nothing (with the possible exception of other conscious states).

Edited by Reg Prescott

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But Andrew, if my understanding is correct, a vestigial trait is one which was once functional, but is no longer so. Moreover, vestigial traits, even if not functional, are part of the physical causal nexus (they cause and are caused upon -- just as rocks are).

i used vestigial traits as an analogy. to clarify, i am not saying that consciousness is a vestigial trait, i just couldn't think of the term (which is spandrel - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spandrel_(biology)).

Edited by andrewcellini

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On the epiphenomenalist account, consciousness is not only non-functional (past, present, and future) in the biological sense, but is quite unable to exert causal influence on anything physical; it is caused by the physical brain, but causes nothing (with the possible exception of other conscious states).

i'm leaving the possibility open to research because that seems to be the most reasonable; i certainly haven't read all of the literature on the subject. it would be daft to dig my feet in and defend a position i can't justify with evidence.

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frequency is not dimensionless, it's t^-1

 

are you sure you mean frequency? can you point out where i can find out about what you're calling frequency?

 

 

Temporal frequency is t^-1, spatial frequency is spatialunits^-1 and so on. Therefore frequency in itself has arbitrary units defined regarding to the period of the original signal. Since you can decompose any given signal with an arbitrary number of dimensions into frequency components (just one dimension), I think it's kinda fair to call it a dimensionless variable in this context, but maybe I'm probably just using bad terminology if we get really accurate. It's obvious that frequency is not a dimensionless quantity like the Reynold's number and such.

 

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Temporal frequency is t^-1, spatial frequency is spatialunits^-1 and so on. Therefore frequency in itself has arbitrary units defined regarding to the period of the original signal. Since you can decompose any given signal with an arbitrary number of dimensions into frequency components (just one dimension), I think it's kinda fair to call it a dimensionless variable in this context, but maybe I'm probably just using bad terminology if we get really accurate. It's obvious that frequency is not a dimensionless quantity like the Reynold's number and such.

 

i think you might be, but it's not like i know about every scientific usage of the word "frequency"

 

t's obvious that frequency is not a dimensionless quantity like the Reynold's number and such.

that's what i thought the definition of dimensionless was; having no units.

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The science of Consciousness is a tricky topic, not least because different people mean different things by the C-word. For example some people mean merely "awareness" or "the waking or attentive state", and others mean something like "the ability to understand, or, "that which happens when you understand something" and yet others equate C with "mind", whatever that is.

 

One meaning that I think we can get rid of from the start is "the way it feels to be conscious" - what Koch (who is smart and has written extensively and well about C) calls the "hard problem" - and I call the non-problem. Just ask yourself how it feels to be unconscious......

 

The first type of meaning is straightforward though not yet worked out in complete detail. There are brainstem and thalamic systems (e.g. cholinergic and adrenergic) that become active in awareness and attention and trigger global electrical changes (eg EEG desynchronization) that appear necessary for coordinated behavior and the ability to process and understand external (and less obviously internal) information.

 

This type of C links to the idea of "understanding", which is to me more interesting than C itself. I would rather talk to someone who's unconscious but seems to understand well than to someone whose fully awake but has little understanding.

 

In a nutshell, the science of AI, especially the new version that goes under the name "machine learning", is starting to make real progress, and also starting to forge links with the latest neuroscience e.g. of cortical circuits and physiology. This is the way science will provide real insight to C. One important last point: whenever we do have a good account of C, it will likely be rather counter-intuitive and difficult to thoroughly grasp, rather like electromagnetism, relativity and quantum mechanics. So if you are really interested in the C-problem, you need a lot of patience, hard-work and smarts!

 

I'm fairly confident that we will end up with a purely "mechanical" accounts of C, akin (and perhaps even closely related to) our current picture of "Life", but it's still a generation ahead, and will not be very satisfying to the average layperson, or not easily emulable electronically.

ACIB final.pdf

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