Posts Tagged ‘Consciousness’

On the 4th of July, the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) announced that the two largest experiments at the Large Hadron Collider had uncovered evidence for the Higgs boson. This ‘particle’, called by some the ‘God particle’, and the Higgs quantum field that causes it, have been hypothesized as being necessary to explain how mass comes into being. As the science writer Jim Baggott says in his recent book Higgs: The Invention and Discovery of the ‘God Particle’: “Mass is constructed entirely from the energy of interactions involving naturally massless elementary particles… The physicists kept dividing, and in the end found nothing at all.” Mass, and so matter, are derived aspects of an insubstantial process of reality. In fact, they’re also products of aspects of reality that are immaterial, ie not material at all. However, this conclusion should not come as a shock, for if there is one thing that has been established by the science of quantum mechanics, it is the fact that ‘materialism’ must be abandoned as a viable metaphysical position. In fact, the belief in the existence of solid material stuff which exists completely independent of mind is now about as scientifically acceptable as the phlogiston theory of heat. This is why physicist John Gribben has written a book entitled The End of the Matter Myth; not to forget pronouncements such as that made in 1931 by the instigator of quantum theory, Max Planck, that he regarded “consciousness as fundamental, I regard matter as derivative from consciousness,” or that by Erwin Schrödinger, “Mind has erected the objective outside world … out of its own stuff” (What is Life? 1944). Regarding the metaphysical implications of the quantum revolution, quantum physicist Professor Henry Stapp of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California, says in his article ‘Why Classical Mechanics Cannot Naturally Accommodate Consciousness But Quantum Mechanics Can’: “the ‘matter’ that occurs in classical physics … does not exist in nature.” As we shall see, there is absolutely no ‘material stuff’ to be found anywhere in the fundamental grounds of the Universe – that is, as ‘material stuff’ has been classically (mis)understood.

On ‘Known-To-Be-False’ Materialist Philosophies of Mind | Issue 93 | Philosophy Now

Posted: December 7, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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The hard problem of consciousness is the problem of explaining why any physical state is conscious rather than nonconscious. It is the problem of explaining why there is “something it is like” for a subject in conscious experience, why conscious mental states “light up” and directly appear to the subject. The usual methods of science involve explanation of functional, dynamical, and structural properties—explanation of what a thing does, how it changes over time, and how it is put together. But even after we have explained the functional, dynamical, and structural properties of the conscious mind, we can still meaningfully ask the question, Why is it conscious? This suggests that an explanation of consciousness will have to go beyond the usual methods of science. Consciousness therefore presents a hard problem for science, or perhaps it marks the limits of what science can explain. Explaining why consciousness occurs at all can be contrasted with so-called “easy problems” of consciousness: the problems of explaining the function, dynamics, and structure of consciousness. These features can be explained using the usual methods of science. But that leaves the question of why there is something it is like for the subject when these functions, dynamics, and structures are present. This is the hard problem.

Hard Problem of Consciousness [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

Posted: November 29, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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There has been a regrettable tendency of many scientists to claim that science is so powerful and all pervasive that in the not too distant future it will provide an explanation in principle for all phenomena in the world of nature, including man, even of human consciousness in all of its manifestations. [Karl] Popper has labeled this claim as promissory materialism, which is extravagant and unfulfillable.

Sir John Eccles (via inthenoosphere)

Posted: September 25, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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In 1992, psychologist Bruce Bridgeman wrote that “Consciousness is the operation of the plan-executing mechanism, enabling behavior to be driven by plans rather than immediate environmental contingencies.” No theory of consciousness is likely to account for all of its varied senses, but at least in terms of consciousness-as-operation-of-the-plan-executing-mechanism, due to some very simple “facts of light,” dwelling on land may have been a necessary condition for giving us the ability to survey the contents of our mind. “Buena vista consciousness,” for lack of a better term, might have been the first kind of consciousness that selection pressures could have brought about.

Why Did Consciousness Evolve, and How Can We Modify It? | Science Not Fiction | Discover Magazine

Posted: September 3, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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We declare the following: “The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states. Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non- human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.” _________________________________________________ *

The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness was written by Philip Low and edited by Jaak Panksepp, Diana Reiss, David Edelman, Bruno Van Swinderen, Philip Low and Christof Koch. The Declaration was publicly proclaimed in Cambridge, UK, on July 7, 2012, at the Francis Crick Memorial Conference on Consciousness in Human and non-Human Animals, at Churchill College, University of Cambridge, by Low, Edelman and Koch. The Declaration was signed by the conference participants that very evening, in the presence of Stephen Hawking, in the Balfour Room at the Hotel du Vin in Cambridge, UK. The signing ceremony was memorialized by CBS 60 Minutes.

The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness – Shunya’s Notes

Posted: August 30, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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If the imperialist ambitions of Neuromania and Darwinitis were fully realized, they would swallow the image of humanity in the science of biology”. So begins the penultimate chapter of Raymond Tallis’ opus on the sinister forces of the mind-sciences, Aping Mankind. In a thoroughly enjoyable book, he identifies two: Neuromania, the addition of a neuro- prefix to just about every humanities discipline you can think of (art, literature, law), and Darwinitis, the reduction of human flourishing to evolutionary primitives that seethe under the surface of the psyche. For a neuroscientist, reading Tallis is humbling. He emphasises just how far we still have to go in order to understand even the most mundane aspects of the human mind.

In defence of cognitive neuroscience | The Elusive Self

Posted: August 29, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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Neuroscientists have become used to a number of “facts” about the human brain: It has 100 billion neurons and 10- to 50-fold more glial cells; it is the largest-than-expected for its body among primates and mammals in general, and therefore the most cognitively able; it consumes an outstanding 20% of the total body energy budget despite representing only 2% of body mass because of an increased metabolic need of its neurons; and it is endowed with an overdeveloped cerebral cortex, the largest compared with brain size. These facts led to the widespread notion that the human brain is literally extraordinary: an outlier among mammalian brains, defying evolutionary rules that apply to other species, with a uniqueness seemingly necessary to justify the superior cognitive abilities of humans over mammals with even larger brains. These facts, with deep implications for neurophysiology and evolutionary biology, are not grounded on solid evidence or sound assumptions, however. Our recent development of a method that allows rapid and reliable quantification of the numbers of cells that compose the whole brain has provided a means to verify these facts. Here, I review this recent evidence and argue that, with 86 billion neurons and just as many nonneuronal cells, the human brain is a scaled-up primate brain in its cellular composition and metabolic cost, with a relatively enlarged cerebral cortex that does not have a relatively larger number of brain neurons yet is remarkable in its cognitive abilities and metabolism simply because of its extremely large number of neurons.

The remarkable, yet not extraordinary, human brain as a scaled-up primate brain and its associated cost