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InvisibleRavus
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Darwinistic Consciousness
    #4424085 - 07/19/05 05:11 PM (12 years, 5 days ago)

While other philosophers have begun to touch on alternatives to the ancient fallacy of "free will", few that I've read have truely acknowledged the issue and solutions completely.

The reasons I do not believe in free will are numerous, but also simple; namely, free will is illogical and contradictary. It requires some ethereal force that is both part of us and separate from the universe and existence, both making our decisions and apart from them. For if free will was simply a natural part of the universe, then it would not be free; it would be following causality and other basic logical explanations. Namely, if we said free will was part of the universe, we would accept a deterministic view of free will, and this in itself is imcompatible with free will.

In biology, Darwinism is mainly the philosophical theory of all life. Darwinism doesn't go into how cells produce energy and reproduce and survive necessarily, but rather it tells us why, almost like the grand philosophy and reasoning of biology. And it would seem to be a similar situation with psychology; our grand philosophy cannot go into the complexity of each individual mental affect, for if that was done in Darwinism, the theory would be millions of pages long.

With that out of the way, we can observe the basics of our mind with a clear conscience. The first thing we notice is a similar type of natural selection; even in the calmest person, the mind is basically a battlefield of ideas fighting each other. Evidence adds ammunition to each of these ideas, while contradictions of one theory also give more manpower to the opposing ones. In this way, we can notice a strong similarity to natural selection, but rather it is a mental battlefield instead of an earthly one.

Each individual affect of our mind has its own will to survival. The next question, of course, is why, and this is easily answered.

Why in biology do the organisms have their own will to survival? It is not there automatically, but rather mutations produced the strong will to survival we see in all life nowadays. It is simply because those who do not have this will to survival, this will to expand and conquer will themselves be expanded upon and conquered, effectively assuring their demise. And it is the same in our minds; the ideas which are ingrained with their own sense to expand and conquer will be those that survive, while the ideas with no will to expansion will die off. Like in natural selection, the ideas that survive are those that will create the next generation of ideas; the cycle will only become greater as more ideas compete to dominance of the mind.

I would like to add a note here that the joining of ideas does not contradict my theory in any way; rather, it is simply another confirmation of it. Like in biology, animals will help each other out if it benefits their survival, even to the point of complete symbiosis, and it is is the same with our minds. If an idea is vastly strengthened by joining with another idea, this merged idea will easily wipe out similar competing ideas, effectively confirming merging ideas whenever it is beneficial. And likewise for dividing ideas; subtracting needless parts of an idea can often make it greater.

Our entire consciousness and "free will" is actually the battle of these mental functions, from the instinct up to the higher thoughts. We see the world, and the ideas that are fittest to dominate our perception are those that win out, giving us an illusion of free will as these ideas change and we become lulled under the illusion that it is us doing the changing. But there is no free will; there is only the mental battlefield we call the mind.

The irony of this is, of course, that the idea of free will is in itself following Darwinistic consciousness, trying to win out over opposing ideas. And it does, time and time again, but only because no other ideas are really there to fight it except in the bravest of philosophers and explorers.


--------------------
So long as you are praised think only that you are not yet on your own path but on that of another.


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Offlinecrunchytoast
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Re: Darwinistic Consciousness [Re: Ravus]
    #4424310 - 07/19/05 06:20 PM (12 years, 5 days ago)

it's interesting watching ideas mate, reproduce, and mutate.


--------------------
"consensus on the nature of equilibrium is usually established by periodic conflict." -henry kissinger


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InvisibleRavus
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Re: Darwinistic Consciousness [Re: crunchytoast]
    #4424394 - 07/19/05 06:40 PM (12 years, 5 days ago)

Is that sarcastic? But it's true; your current prominent ideas will give birth to the next generation of ideas you'll contain, unless a new idea comes along and is more fit to dominate than the current ones. And they do mutate just like traditional biological genetics; watch your ideas over time and you will see them slowly change based on evidence, with very few remaining truely constant.


--------------------
So long as you are praised think only that you are not yet on your own path but on that of another.


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Offlinecrunchytoast
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Re: Darwinistic Consciousness [Re: Ravus]
    #4424553 - 07/19/05 07:05 PM (12 years, 5 days ago)

i was serious, not sarcastic. just going with the flow, you know?

ideas mutate reproduce and mate on s&p too methinks

Quote:

with very few remaining truely constant



like the nautilus

i suppose people have got strange little isolated ideas that populate every niche of their realities


--------------------
"consensus on the nature of equilibrium is usually established by periodic conflict." -henry kissinger


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Offlineergot
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Re: Darwinistic Consciousness [Re: crunchytoast]
    #4424760 - 07/19/05 08:07 PM (12 years, 5 days ago)

Quote:

crunchytoast said:
it's interesting watching ideas mate, reproduce, and mutate.




Richard Dawkins. :laugh:


--------------------
"Remain a learner, never become a knower." - Osho


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Invisiblevampirism
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Re: Darwinistic Consciousness [Re: Ravus]
    #4424816 - 07/19/05 08:23 PM (12 years, 5 days ago)

Quote:


While other philosophers have begun to touch on alternatives to the ancient fallacy of "free will", few that I've read have truely acknowledged the issue and solutions completely.

The reasons I do not believe in free will are numerous, but also simple; namely, free will is illogical and contradictary. It requires some ethereal force that is both part of us and separate from the universe and existence, both making our decisions and apart from them. For if free will was simply a natural part of the universe, then it would not be free; it would be following causality and other basic logical explanations. Namely, if we said free will was part of the universe, we would accept a deterministic view of free will, and this in itself is imcompatible with free will.

In biology, Darwinism is mainly the philosophical theory of all life. Darwinism doesn't go into how cells produce energy and reproduce and survive necessarily, but rather it tells us why, almost like the grand philosophy and reasoning of biology. And it would seem to be a similar situation with psychology; our grand philosophy cannot go into the complexity of each individual mental affect, for if that was done in Darwinism, the theory would be millions of pages long.





Jeebus, you never even CONSIDER it as a possiblity, even though a concrete linear time scheme does not exist. In fact, time doesn't even exist as anything in particular. No use arguing that again...

Quote:


With that out of the way, we can observe the basics of our mind with a clear conscience. The first thing we notice is a similar type of natural selection; even in the calmest person, the mind is basically a battlefield of ideas fighting each other. Evidence adds ammunition to each of these ideas, while contradictions of one theory also give more manpower to the opposing ones. In this way, we can notice a strong similarity to natural selection, but rather it is a mental battlefield instead of an earthly one.






First off, you cannot directly observe many, many things going on in your head- the intuitive part of you can give a fuck if the analytical is being nosy.

Second, it's nothing like Darwinism because it's possible to "resurrect" anything at any moment for any reason if there is a need. This completely changes the dynamics of the situation: it's not about the survival of ideas, it's about the survival of you- it's a neverending and staged battle if anything. Not to mention that ideas don't actually exist. Yes your brain stores them on physical material. No, outside of perception they don't exist.

Quote:


Each individual affect of our mind has its own will to survival. The next question, of course, is why, and this is easily answered.




You're being too complicated for no reason. The brain creates the "will" in the staged battle."Why" is not answered by answering "how," btw. Yes evolution made it happen, but evolution isn't actually a meaningful answer. Everything biological exists the way it does because of mutations.

Quote:

Like in natural selection, the ideas that survive are those that will create the next generation of ideas; the cycle will only become greater as more ideas compete to dominance of the mind.



A common misconception is that only the strongest will survive- the dynamic is not really present in human society. With ideas, it is possible to achieve a perfection through simplicity which needs no change. They fall out of the competition, yet still hold a dominant role in the mind.

Quote:


Our entire consciousness and "free will" is actually the battle of these mental functions, from the instinct up to the higher thoughts. We see the world, and the ideas that are fittest to dominate our perception are those that win out, giving us an illusion of free will as these ideas change and we become lulled under the illusion that it is us doing the changing. But there is no free will; there is only the mental battlefield we call the mind.

The irony of this is, of course, that the idea of free will is in itself following Darwinistic consciousness, trying to win out over opposing ideas. And it does, time and time again, but only because no other ideas are really there to fight it except in the bravest of philosophers and explorers.



Source? Abstractions DO NOT EXIST. Both free will and predestination are meaningless jargon. Any use of the words implies a particular context, and not much else. If anything, philosophers are getting too caught up in a imaginary goose chase, as they often are. Seriously, the reality of these words is laughable.


As for your whole argument- take a close look- all you did was make an analogy for how the mind learns. It is imperfect because it is an analogy ( and i pointed out a couple of the immediate inconsistencies in it ), and too contrived to be strong. Or were you suggesting that ideas are actually just living beings- competing nuerons? Perhaps you were alluding to an idea that each view can create a personality of its own. Who knows.


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Offlinepsychomime
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Re: Darwinistic Consciousness [Re: Ravus]
    #4424870 - 07/19/05 08:39 PM (12 years, 5 days ago)

What you're basically describing is meme theory. the idea that ideas operate in a similar way to genes. It's an awesome theory with a lot of potential.

an interesting observation on the nature of free will. even if you believe in a deterministic view of the universe, that every choice is determined by prior causes, one still has to make the choice and to do so one has to believe they have the free will to make that choice. This has been my experience with integrating determinism into day to day life anyway.


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InvisibleRavus
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Re: Darwinistic Consciousness [Re: vampirism]
    #4424889 - 07/19/05 08:45 PM (12 years, 5 days ago)

Quote:

Jeebus, you never even CONSIDER it as a possiblity, even though a concrete linear time scheme does not exist. In fact, time doesn't even exist as anything in particular. No use arguing that again...




Please explain to me scientifically how free will can exist, even just one realistic scenario.

Free will is overly complex, and by Occam's razor is removed by many philosophers who see the uselessness of it. I have considered it as a possibility, but in my searchings have found no way outside of unsupported pseudoscientific answers free will could exist. Is it in our soul, Morrowind? :smirk:

Quote:

Second, it's nothing like Darwinism because it's possible to "resurrect" anything at any moment for any reason if there is a need. This completely changes the dynamics of the situation: it's not about the survival of ideas, it's about the survival of you- it's a neverending and staged battle if anything. Not to mention that ideas don't actually exist. Yes your brain stores them on physical material. No, outside of perception they don't exist.




Outside of perception we don't know that anything exists, so that's a moot argument when applied to ideas. There's no way to confirm anything outside of subjective reality.

You say it's not the about the survival of ideas, it's about the survival of you, but you yourself are just about the survival of the species. Our individual cells are just about the survival of us, yet their organs are just about the survival of the cells. Complex, isn't it? Yet that says nothing against the theory; the dissonance and conflict between ideas is useful to our survival, as we see by the fact that we're still here.

And you say it's possible to "resurrect" anything at any moment, but having the fossil of an idea in your mind isn't true resurrection. If you were a Christian in your childhood, yet through many experiences became an atheist, can you suddenly resurrect your strong ancient belief in Christianity? Not if you're a strong atheist, because the atheism has the power and has already dominated the fossil of an old belief. It is not an entirely perfect analogy between Darwinism in biology and Darwinism in the mind, but it is close nonetheless, even if some different circumstances apply.

Quote:

You're being too complicated for no reason. The brain creates the "will" in the staged battle."Why" is not answered by answering "how," btw. Yes evolution made it happen, but evolution isn't actually a meaningful answer. Everything biological exists the way it does because of mutations.




The mind creates the will, yet the mind itself is created by ideas, instinct and concepts. We're not talking about the physical brain, because in consciousness we are discussing the software, not the hardware which we don't fully understand.

And Darwinism does answer the why. How they survive is another question, but the fact that only ideas with the will to dominate survive is why ideas try to expand and conquer. That is all I was addressing.

Quote:

A common misconception is that only the strongest will survive- the dynamic is not really present in human society. With ideas, it is possible to achieve a perfection through simplicity which needs no change. They fall out of the competition, yet still hold a dominant role in the mind.




Evidently their simplicity gives them an advantage to some minds so that they do not need to change. But truely, I would bet the idea still does change from person to person, based on the way it has to fit into their mind and already existing ideas. Even in normal Darwinism we notice what you're talking about; the simplest of organisms are often the most successful, even in the modern day with primitive bacteria and viruses (not truely an organism, but still subject to Darwinism.)

Quote:

As for your whole argument- take a close look- all you did was make an analogy for how the mind learns. It is imperfect because it is an analogy ( and i pointed out a couple of the immediate inconsistencies in it ), and too contrived to be strong. Or were you suggesting that ideas are actually just living beings- competing nuerons? Perhaps you were alluding to an idea that each view can create a personality of its own. Who knows.




It is not really an analogy; it is what I have observed. I use the analogy of biology which does have some inconsistencies, but in my experience the Darwinism is not an analogy, it is the truth. The problem would come to comparing ideas to organisms because that is simply an analogy, but what are the inconsistencies of the Darwinistic aspect of it? Current ideas will create the next generation of ideas; ideas less fit to survive will be dominated by those more fit to survive. Ideas will mutate and change over time as experiences and new evidence comes about, and an idea may even split into many which fight for survival.


--------------------
So long as you are praised think only that you are not yet on your own path but on that of another.


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Invisiblemoog
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Re: Darwinistic Consciousness [Re: Ravus]
    #4424930 - 07/19/05 08:56 PM (12 years, 5 days ago)

lol

who or what is controlling you?


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Offlinecrunchytoast
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Re: Darwinistic Consciousness [Re: Ravus]
    #4424944 - 07/19/05 08:59 PM (12 years, 5 days ago)

[quot]e
As for your whole argument- take a close look- all you did was make an analogy for how the mind learns. It is imperfect because it is an analogy ( and i pointed out a couple of the immediate inconsistencies in it ), and too contrived to be strong.




i thought he was stating that ideas compete, with some ideas stronger than others. i got from this that an idea's strength is its accuracy. (he may have had something slightly different in mind.)

but that's more than an analogy IMO.


--------------------
"consensus on the nature of equilibrium is usually established by periodic conflict." -henry kissinger


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Invisiblevampirism
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Re: Darwinistic Consciousness [Re: Ravus]
    #4425401 - 07/19/05 10:41 PM (12 years, 5 days ago)

Quote:


Please explain to me scientifically how free will can exist, even just one realistic scenario.

Free will is overly complex, and by Occam's razor is removed by many philosophers who see the uselessness of it. I have considered it as a possibility, but in my searchings have found no way outside of unsupported pseudoscientific answers free will could exist. Is it in our soul, Morrowind?




Don't patronize me. The idea of predestination has no merit, and as such has just as much merit as free will. I keep telling you the same thing in different ways- just because you can describe something doesn't mean it means anything. This is the danger in discussing things abstractly- doubly so when you make believe you're talking about it as if it were truth.

Predestination requires a certain beginning and a certain end. If either is unknowable, then predestination cannot exist. In terms of the present, only the past is knowable, but is it even theoretically possible to be certain about the specifics of anything? Because of the uncertainty principle, you cannot be exact in measuring both time and energy at once. As such, there is no certain beginning point, which basically proves that predestination can only be a figure of speech to describe what we see as a pattern in terms of reality.

Free will requires no particular beginning or end, and is equally adept at describing reality.


Which one can take more fire, if you actually get specific?

Again, neither theory is true, but they're nice to use in abstractions ( and thats where it ends ). Saying either one is "truth" is a joke, the same as saying infinite angels can dance on the tip of a needle.



Quote:



Outside of perception we don't know that anything exists, so that's a moot argument when applied to ideas. There's no way to confirm anything outside of subjective reality.




Ok, so then don't presume you have any clue as to the inner workings of your own ideas.

Quote:



And you say it's possible to "resurrect" anything at any moment, but having the fossil of an idea in your mind isn't true resurrection. If you were a Christian in your childhood, yet through many experiences became an atheist, can you suddenly resurrect your strong ancient belief in Christianity? Not if you're a strong atheist, because the atheism has the power and has already dominated the fossil of an old belief. It is not an entirely perfect analogy between Darwinism in biology and Darwinism in the mind, but it is close nonetheless, even if some different circumstances apply.




Yes- that was exactly my point. Everyday people overgo enormous changes for no apparent reason. If the will to accept the fossil ( non sequitur phrase in this case anyway ) exists, then it will be accepted. At times, the irrational takes full control of the mind. The reason that economic models hold true in many cases is simply because most people try to keep rational at all times. There is obviously an accuracy issue in terms of utility and action-- the irrational mind accounts for this and is completely unpredictable.


You keep making bold statements which ONLY hold for the analytical part of the mind.


Quote:


The mind creates the will, yet the mind itself is created by ideas, instinct and concepts. We're not talking about the physical brain, because in consciousness we are discussing the software, not the hardware which we don't fully understand.

And Darwinism does answer the why. How they survive is another question, but the fact that only ideas with the will to dominate survive is why ideas try to expand and conquer. That is all I was addressing.




They are inseparable. In terms of understanding, it's easy to see where evolution stepped in with the brain by comparing it to other "hardware". With "software," things are actually much more complex even if we can explain them more easily. As such, discussing them is very easy but a very poor lack of judgement. Conjecture is stupid- it lends itself to your own subjective desires- it was by logically discussing the software that 19th and 20th century "scientists" concluded that blacks and asians were inferior. A closer, actually analytical movement of studies showed otherwise. It's easy to lose track of reality if you speak only in terms of abstracts- logic has nothing to do with upholding the validity of an argument- the premises upon which it builds are most important.


Quote:

And Darwinism does answer the why



Not directly. You're implying something that was never meant to be implied.


Quote:



Evidently their simplicity gives them an advantage to some minds so that they do not need to change. But truely, I would bet the idea still does change from person to person, based on the way it has to fit into their mind and already existing ideas. Even in normal Darwinism we notice what you're talking about; the simplest of organisms are often the most successful, even in the modern day with primitive bacteria and viruses (not truely an organism, but still subject to Darwinism.)




Yes, but ideas in the human mind are not always in competition. Some are secluded and given protection in certain circumstances. No organism has that luxury- nor does it have the luxury of popping back into existence when it would become most convenient.


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InvisibleDiploidM
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Re: Darwinistic Consciousness [Re: Ravus]
    #4425867 - 07/20/05 12:21 AM (12 years, 5 days ago)

Please explain to me scientifically how free will can exist, even just one realistic scenario.

I've already covered this.

It seems you've made up your mind based on sound reasoning that free will doesn't exist. But your reasoning has dependencies that are not currently known.

You are correct if the randomness observed at the quantum level is deterministic; you are incorrect if it is not.

We do not know which is the case and there is absolutely no evidence in either direction at the moment. It is as fair to say at the moment that an ethereal soul, incorporeal and with free will influences these events as it is to say that a deterministic mechanism does. It's premature to come to any conclusion about free will when this seminal question remains unanswered.

All that can be said about free will given our current understanding is that we don't know. To complicate things, the source of this randomness may forever be beyond our knowledge by virtue of its origin below the Planck Scale. This is one of the difficulties with String Theories that cannot be tested; are they science or philosophy? :mushroom2:


--------------------
Republican Values:

1) You can't get married to your spouse who is the same sex as you.
2) You can't have an abortion no matter how much you don't want a child.
3) You can't have a certain plant in your possession or you'll get locked up with a rapist and a murderer.

4) We need a smaller, less-intrusive government.


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Offlinecrunchytoast
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Re: Darwinistic Consciousness [Re: Diploid]
    #4425935 - 07/20/05 12:42 AM (12 years, 5 days ago)

i thought this randomness was only apparent at a very small scale.

at larger scales you have neurons and synapses. yes they are composed of random elements. but it's like the lamp on my desk- i keep looking at it and it doesnt move. im sure theres some randomness at a very small scale there from what little i understand of qunatum physics. but once you get to a larger scale (the lamp, a neuron) this randomness is inconsequential.

?


--------------------
"consensus on the nature of equilibrium is usually established by periodic conflict." -henry kissinger


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InvisibleRavus
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Re: Darwinistic Consciousness [Re: Diploid]
    #4427442 - 07/20/05 11:00 AM (12 years, 4 days ago)

Yet we're dealing with reality and using Occam's razor here. It is possible that some vastly unimaginable and unknown scientific principle may hook us up to some ethereal free will from another universe, but the evidence is lacking. I haven't "made up my mind" but I've looked at our current evidence and there is nothing there to indicate that the deterministic large-scale universe has room for free will. On a quantum scale, there is no evidence that quantum randomness has anything to do with consciousness, so to use that to try to stop all new theories without any evidence on the matter is a waste of time.

After all, purple unicorns could also exist in the center of Pluto, but I would have "made up my mind" that there are none because according to current scientific evidence there is no support for that theory. Is it possible in some obscure situation purple unicorns could exist in Pluto? I wouldn't doubt it, but I wouldn't stop scientists from trying to actually theorize about the center of Pluto based on that simple open-mindedness alone.


--------------------
So long as you are praised think only that you are not yet on your own path but on that of another.


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InvisibleDiploidM
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Re: Darwinistic Consciousness [Re: Ravus]
    #4428980 - 07/20/05 05:23 PM (12 years, 4 days ago)

On a quantum scale, there is no evidence that quantum randomness has anything to do with consciousness

But there is pursuasive speculation based on the available evidence that it does. This is why I stress that the jurry is far from in on the question of free will.

Check it out:  :mushroom2:

--

Morality at the Planck Scale: A Chat with Stuart Hameroff

Metanexus: Views. 2002.12.13. 2898 words
"Assume consciousness is indeed occurring at the level of fundamental spacetime geometry at the Planck scale," says Stuart Hameroff, Professor in the Departments of Anesthesiology and of Psychology at the University of Arizona, "connected to our brains by quantum processes in microtubules. Then if the brain stops working the quantum information at the Planck scale could persist and remain coherent because of quantum entanglement, leaking out into spacetime geometry outside the head. It's possible that the soul could be a particular distributed pattern in fundamental spacetime geometry at the Planck scale."

Now, this, if true, could create interesting problems and possibilities. Consider a future debate in medical ethics about brain death occurring at the quantum level, for instance. Or the notions of personal responsibility, as Hameroff notes:

"Either evil is implicit at the Planck scale along with good, or evil people are wired differently biologically for whatever reason and are influenced in an aberrant way. But even so-called good people must allow themselves to be influenced by Platonic values rather than ignoring or over-riding them due to some needs or gratification."

Today's interview is part of an ongoing discussion with serious thinkers about life, the universe, and everything conducted by New York based writer and editor Jill Neimark. Previous interviewees include physicists Chris Isham, Antony Valentini and Marcelo Gleiser--Metanexus: Views: 2002.11.01, 2002.10.18, and 2002.07.12 respectively, cosmologist Lee Smolin--Metanexus: Views, 2001.12.24; theoretical biologist Stuart Kauffman--Metanexus: Views, 2002.02.18; Catholic theologian Mariano Artigas--Metanexus: Views, 2002.04.29; and philosopher of science Sherrilyn Roush--Metanexus: Views, 2002.05.03.

-Stacey E. Ake




Subject: Good and Evil at the Planck Scale: An Interview with Stuart Hameroff From: Jill Neimark Email: <hameroff@u.arizona.edu>

Stuart R. Hameroff M.D. is Professor in the Departments of Anesthesiology and of Psychology, and Associate Director of the Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He divides his time between clinical practice and teaching of anesthesiology in the surgical operating rooms at University of Arizona Medical Center, and research into the mechanism of consciousness.

Q: You're an anesthesiologist who's exploring the frontiers of consciousness research. What are the links between the two?

A: In medical school I became interested in how the brain produced consciousness, and thought I'd go into a specialty like neurology or psychiatry. But in 1975 the Chairman of Anesthesiology at the University of Arizona - a renaissance clinician/scientist named Burnell Brown - suggested that to understand consciousness I should study how general anesthetics work. Anesthesia is a tangible physical process acting on an otherwise unmeasurable phenomenon, and the mechanism was, and still is, largely unknown. Anesthesia is powerful but subtle. The right amount of anesthesia erases consciousness while other brain functions continue. The gas anesthetics are the most interesting because they work by very weak, purely physical, quantum-mechanical interactions. They don't form chemical or ionic bonds of any kind, they're not polar molecules, they don't bind to receptors and they can be inert. For example the inert gas xenon is an anesthetic. Anesthetics are very soluble in lipid environments, and in fact their potency directly correlates with their lipid solubility. So for many years it was assumed that since neural membranes are mostly lipids, gas anesthetics worked by getting into lipid portions of neural membranes and impairing their function. But in the 1980's it was realized that anesthetics work directly on proteins which account for the dynamic actions of membranes, for example protein receptors and ion channels. Within proteins are specific tiny pockets that are lipid-like and it turned out that anesthetic gas molecules were sucked into these little pockets. Once there, the anesthetic molecules didn't form chemical bonds like other drugs, but bound only by very weak quantum forces known as van der Waals London forces. One or two anesthetic molecules per protein were enough to do the trick. The question is, why would such very, very weak quantum mechanical forces in such tiny regions of certain proteins have such profound effects? The answer seems to be that proteins normally dance back and forth between different forms and shapes to perform their functions and what controls the dancing are quantum mechanical forces in these pockets - the pockets are like the tiny brain within each protein. What choreographs them all together is quantum coherence. It seems that brain proteins dance synchronously due to coherence among quantum actions in the pockets throughout wide regions of the brain. So by forming their own quantum interactions in the pockets, anesthetics inhibit normally occurring quantum mechanical forces necessary for consciousness.

Q: You speculate that there has to be a certain biological complexity in order to actually give rise to genuine consciousness. If I recall correctly, you suggest that consciousness probably arises once we get to the evolutionary complexity of a nematode worm. That sounds like emergence to me, although your view of emergence is richer and more complex than a simple brain-as-neuronal-network paradigm.

A: The standard answer to how we get consciousness is definitely emergence, the idea that sufficiently complex computation among the brain's neurons produces consciousness. The basic idea that a critical level of complexity in a hierarchical system gives rise to new novel properties is important in nature, for example wetness out of water, and hurricanes out of dust and gas molecules. A candle flame is an emergent phenomenon - emergence is real. But on the other hand none of these recognized emergent phenomena are conscious, though there are equations which predict the onset of their emergence. There's no equation or prediction for how many neurons interacting in any particular way will produce consciousness. Artificial intelligence people would like there to be such an equation so that sufficiently complex computers can be conscious, but there isn't. Just saying consciousness emerges from complexity is like waving a magic wand and trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat. Emergence may be part of the story but I think consciousness must be related to something irreducible, or fundamental.

Q: You've suggested that consciousness arises when the quantum wave function collapses in structures in the brain's neurons called microtubules. Are you saying that collapse is an emergent phenomenon?

A: That depends on what type of collapse, or reduction, you're talking about, and few people agree on this. If you have a quantum wave function - a quantum superposition of multiple coexisting possibilities for example
which interacts with its classical environment it is said to decohere, a type of collapse. Interaction with a classical, non-quantum system destroys the quantum state. But if a quantum system remains isolated and avoids environmental decoherence, then what? This is the enigma of Schrodinger's cat in a box which remains in quantum superposition of both dead and alive until the box is opened. Roger Penrose's idea is that any quantum superposition will eventually reach a specific, objective threshold for collapse, or reduction, thus objective reduction, or OR. His rationale is that quantum superposition is actually a separation in underlying reality
the universe shreds at its most basic level. This is something like the multiple worlds hypothesis in which every superposition branches off to form a new universe. However in Roger's view these separations are unstable and after a specific time will reduce and choose one reality or the other.

Q: How did you and Penrose get together?

A: Roger had proposed that quantum computation which reduced by this type of OR self-collapse was the essential feature in consciousness, so you could say that consciousness emerged when OR occurred. Initially Roger didn't have a good structural candidate in the brain for such occurrences. I had been studying the microtubules within neurons and thought they acted like some type of computational device because their structure and functions resembled computers. I suggested to Roger that microtubules might be performing the quantum computation with OR he was looking for. So we teamed up and developed a model of consciousness in which the microtubule quantum processes were orchestrated by inputs from the synapses and we called it orchestrated objective reduction, now known as Orch OR.

Q: So what constitutes a conscious event?

A: Each Orch OR is essentially a conscious event, and a sequence of these events is our stream of consciousness. From the indeterminacy principle we could predict, for example, how many microtubules and how many neurons would be involved in conscious events which occur on a time scale matching physiological events known to occur in the brain. So for example we can have conscious events forty times per second. Looking at evolution, very simple organisms have fewer microtubules and so would require a long time until reaching threshold for a conscious event. Even a single electron in isolated superposition would eventually have an OR conscious event, but not for ten million years.

Q: Then where does consciousness begin?

A: A single cell organism would require a few minutes of quantum isolation which seems unlikely although single cell paramecia are absolutely still during sex, so maybe primitive sexual experience was the first form of consciousness. It turns out that at the level of roughly 300 neurons the time scale becomes reasonable to maintain quantum coherent superposition. That's about one tenth of a second. This is the level of small urchins and worms such as the nematode you mentioned, organisms similar to those present at the beginning of the Cambrian evolutionary explosion. This was the period about 540 million years ago when all the animal phyla appeared on the scene. So maybe that's when consciousness emerged and accelerated evolution.

Q: I've come to think of myself as an aspectist, in the tradition of Spinoza. He believed that mind and body were just two aspects of an underlying, absolute reality. How would you classify yourself?

A: I don't disagree with that but I'd call myself a panprotopsychist-the notion that whatever gives rise to consciousness is implicit and exists inherently everywhere in the universe. Protoconsciousness is an irreducible, fundamental feature of the universe like spin or charge waiting to be acted upon to produce consciousness. One philosopher who took a comparable view was Whitehead. He said the precursor of conscious experience was everywhere in the universe, and also that the universe is a process, made up of events rather than things. He viewed consciousness as a sequence of events, occasions of experience, occurring in a wider field of protoconscious experience. Whitehead's occasions of experience are compatible with and perhaps equivalent to quantum state reductions, for example Roger Penrose's OR events. Here we finally have a connection between philosophy and science.

Q: So you believe the universe is, in part, built of protoconsciousness.

A: Roger's OR is based on the idea that quantum superpositions are separations at the most basic level of the universe at the Planck scale. So you ask yourself, what is this basic level? What is the universe made of? Even mass is not fundamental according to Einstein. Atoms are mostly empty space as is most of the universe. So what is the universe made of? This argument has been going on since the Greeks. Is there a background fabric, or just an empty void? In the last few decades there's been a lot of intense work trying to understand the background pattern of the universe. It turns out that as we go down in scale, well below the size of atoms, things are smooth and featureless until we get to the apparent basement level of the universe known as the Planck scale, some 25 orders of magnitude smaller than atoms. Empty space seems smooth but at the Planck scale things get coarse and irregular, with a vast amount of information and energy. It's kind of like viewing the surface of the ocean from an airplane at 33,000 feet. The ocean seems smooth but if you were on the surface in a small boat you'd be tossed about by waves. How can we describe the Planck scale, basically quantum gravity? String theory has tried, but others, for example Lee Smolin, argue for spin networks, based on Roger Penrose's original idea that at this level everything is spin. The universe is made of spiderwebs of spin which define ultrasmall Planck volumes, or pixels of reality.

Q: Pixels of reality. That's a fetching image.

A: I'm oversimplifying it, but the number of possible shapes and edges and spins for each pixel is huge, and the number of pixels for example in the volume of our brains is incredibly vast. So the amount of information at the Planck scale is absolutely mind-boggling, and its also nonlocal - that is distributed, something like a hologram.

Q: So how do you tie this into panpsychism?

A: Everything - matter, energy, you name it - comes from curvatures, patterns and other properties originating at the Planck scale. If consciousness does have some fundamental, irreducible precursor it must originate as some sort of pattern at the same basic level of the universe. Philosophers call the raw components of conscious experience qualia. We're suggesting that qualia are specific patterns or properties at the Planck scale. Why not? If there's something fundamental and irreducible about consciousness or its precursors, as Spinoza and Whitehead said, then it has to exist somewhere. The Planck scale is all there is.

Q: But you usually don't translate from that level to this one we're living in. There isn't a direct correlation.

A: Ah but there is. That's the beauty of Roger's objective reduction. It's a bridge between the Planck scale and our everyday world, described by one simple equation - the uncertainty principle. Our brains, and our microtubules, make the connection. If our conscious experience is a compilation of fundamental qualia, then we're like a painter with a palette. All the individual colors are on the palette, and the artist takes a little of this, a little of that, and gets a Mona Lisa. So the colors are like the patterns of fundamental spacetime geometry from which processes in our brain select particular sets for each conscious moment. And if qualia are fundamental and exist at the Planck scale, then why not Platonic values like truth and beauty, good and evil.

Q: But you can already explain things like ethics, for instance, with Darwinian evolution. You don't need this explanation.

A: Ideas about beauty, for example, may change, for various cultural reasons if nothing else. But mathematical truth is constant as far as we can tell. In any case, as Smolin points out, even the Planck scale structure of spin networks has a dynamic evolution.

Q: Then you're a Platonist!

A: A Platonic naturalist I'd say, implying that Platonic values exist in a physical sense. That's what makes sense to me.

Q: What about near death experiences? You've said you may have an explanation for them that has to do with the quantum effects in the microtubules.

A: Assume consciousness is indeed occurring at the level of fundamental spacetime geometry at the Planck scale, connected to our brains by quantum processes in microtubules. Then if the brain stops working the quantum information at the Planck scale could persist and remain coherent because of quantum entanglement, leaking out into spacetime geometry outside the head. It's possible that the soul could be a particular distributed pattern in fundamental spacetime geometry at the Planck scale. I'd like to think that, anyway. It's sort of reassuring.

Q: How has all this theorizing affected your life?

A: It's enhanced my spiritual nature. I more or less rejected organized religion a long time ago. I like the idea that spirituality and God and consciousness could be part of the universe in a scientific way. I'm not saying we've explained these concepts because the more we learn the more we realize we don't know. It's very humbling to peel off one layer and find out how much more there is. Just consider the vastness at the Planck scale. If you take the sum total of this nonlocal, interconnected information and the idea of embedded Platonic values, that's pretty consistent with the idea of an omniscient, omnipresent, beneficent being.

Q: So is evil at the Planck scale?

A: Either evil is implicit at the Planck scale along with good, or evil people are wired differently biologically for whatever reason and are influenced in an aberrant way. But even so-called good people must allow themselves to be influenced by Platonic values rather than ignoring or over-riding them due to some needs or gratification.

Q: You've got a conference coming up this spring that discusses quantum mind.

A: Yes, its called "Quantum Mind 2003: Consciousness, quantum physics and the brain" and it will be held in Tucson March 15-19, 2003. Consciousness has played a role in quantum mechanics all the way back to the question of the observer effect. Quantum information technology including quantum computers are coming along very rapidly and will bring these ideas to the forefront soon. In every historical era we've compared our brains and minds to the vanguard information processing technologies so it will soon seem more natural to believe we have quantum computers in our heads. Critics point out that quantum computers need extreme cold to avoid decoherence, but we suspect evolution has solved that problem and we think we know how. In any case the decoherence debate will be one of the topics to be discussed. Information about the conference is at www.consciousness.arizona.edu/quantum-mind2 Thanks for asking.


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--------------------
Republican Values:

1) You can't get married to your spouse who is the same sex as you.
2) You can't have an abortion no matter how much you don't want a child.
3) You can't have a certain plant in your possession or you'll get locked up with a rapist and a murderer.

4) We need a smaller, less-intrusive government.


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Offlinecrunchytoast
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Re: Darwinistic Consciousness [Re: Diploid]
    #4430076 - 07/20/05 09:32 PM (12 years, 4 days ago)

this is an interesting theory. i for one haven't heard it before. honestly i dont like it since i have a lot of strong opinions about consciousness. but if it's plausible and parsimonious, it's plausible and parsimonious and id like to know the truth of it and perhaps my mind will be changed.

Quote:

The question is, why would such very, very weak quantum mechanical forces in such tiny regions of certain proteins have such profound effects? The answer seems to be that proteins normally dance back and forth between different forms and shapes to perform their functions and what controls the dancing are quantum mechanical forces in these pockets - the pockets are like the tiny brain within each protein. What choreographs them all together is quantum coherence. It seems that brain proteins dance synchronously due to coherence among quantum actions in the pockets throughout wide regions of the brain. So by forming their own quantum interactions in the pockets, anesthetics inhibit normally occurring quantum mechanical forces necessary for consciousness.




what's the difference between this, and say, blood supply to the brain? if i stop the blood supply in the brain, that seems to stop consciousness. but i wouldn't say that blood -is- consciousness.

or is my question off-base and i'm misunderstanding?


--------------------
"consensus on the nature of equilibrium is usually established by periodic conflict." -henry kissinger


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Offlinepsychomime
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Re: Darwinistic Consciousness [Re: crunchytoast]
    #4452807 - 07/25/05 11:56 PM (11 years, 11 months ago)

Blood supply contains nutrients to the brain, it's like the gas in your car. The quantum dancing is the result of of your consciousness working. cut the fuel line and the car won't go but it does'nt have anything to do with the laws of physics that your car is operating in.


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OfflineGomp
¡(Bound to·(O))be free!
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Re: Darwinistic Consciousness [Re: psychomime]
    #4452940 - 07/26/05 12:23 AM (11 years, 11 months ago)

""The reasons I do not believe in free will are numerous, but also simple; namely, free will is illogical and contradictary. It requires some ethereal force that is both part of us and separate from the universe and existence, both making our decisions and apart from them.""

Are you reading this, an act of free will? (bound by the act?)

Love your post! :smile:


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OfflineLittleBen
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Re: Darwinistic Consciousness [Re: Ravus]
    #4453322 - 07/26/05 01:28 AM (11 years, 11 months ago)

Quote:

Ravus said:
It requires some ethereal force that is both part of us and separate from the universe and existence, both making our decisions and apart from them. For if free will was simply a natural part of the universe, then it would not be free; it would be following causality and other basic logical explanations.




That doesnt follow. If genetics did give us the ability to choose (free will), we would have free will. If what you said happened we would not have free will, but that does not suggest an ethereal force would be needed to have free will.

I largely agree with the rest of what your saying, but not as an argument supporting determinism.


--------------------
Gaia, as you awaken, I heal myself. As I awaken, you are healed.


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Offlinecrunchytoast
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Registered: 04/07/05
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Last seen: 10 years, 3 months
Re: Darwinistic Consciousness [Re: Gomp]
    #4453744 - 07/26/05 02:55 AM (11 years, 11 months ago)

Quote:

Blood supply contains nutrients to the brain, it's like the gas in your car. The quantum dancing is the result of of your consciousness working. cut the fuel line and the car won't go but it does'nt have anything to do with the laws of physics that your car is operating in.




this quote really helped my understanding of diploid's posting.

but i still have some problem-

i guess i dont understand - how come consciousness is something acting on the brain, rather the brain itself?

i mean, it seems to me the laws of physics operate on the brain and produce consciousness. subjectively i experience that as the palimpsest of my earliest memories to my most recent experience. objectively that is the laws of physics operating on organic matter to produce a person that contains a physical brain with neurons firing through time.

Quote:

Philosophers call the raw components of conscious experience qualia. We're suggesting that qualia are specific patterns or properties at the Planck scale. Why not? If there's something fundamental and irreducible about consciousness or its precursors, as Spinoza and Whitehead said, then it has to exist somewhere. The Planck scale is all there is.




this is a total misreading of spinoza [i havent read whitehead])
spinoza argued that consciousness and matter were coextensive, two sides of one reality.

like, when a rock hits me, it causes me pain. on the one hand theres this subjective experience; on the other hand theres the rock physically hitting my skin, causing impulses to go through my nerves and into physical neurons in my brain

it's like there's two theories: either platonic ideals come from
'quantum dancing' and 'the planck scale' or from something else- say the brain.

why would platonic ideals have to come from the planck scale?

my thinking is that it's simpler to say they come from the brain.

one theory:
quantum dancing
planck scale (somehow including ideals)
ideals communicated through microtubulues
brain interaction with these ideals
brain constructs

other theory:
quantum dancing
planck scale
microtublues serving some function like blood supply
brain constructs (including total construction of "platonic ideals")

which is more parsimonious?

i mean, you'd have to say the brain is communicating not only with the outside world but with the quantum dancing.


--------------------
"consensus on the nature of equilibrium is usually established by periodic conflict." -henry kissinger


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