Picture: Honeycomb series. Panpsychism, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say panexperientialism, has seemed to be quite a popular view in previous discussions here, but I’ve always found it problematic. Panexperientialism, as the name suggests, is the belief that experience is everywhere; that experience is the basis of reality, out of which everything else is built.  Objects which seem dead and inanimate ultimately consist of experience just as much as we do: it just doesn’t seem like that because the experiences which make them up are not our experiences.  The attractive feature of this view is that it removes some of the mystery from consciousness: instead of being a very rare phenomenon which only occurs in very specific circumstances, such as those which exist in our brains, consciousness of a sort is universal, and so it’ s not at all surprising that we ourselves are conscious.

One of the problems is the question of how many experiential loci we’re dealing with. Does the table have experiences? Does half the table? Do the table legs have four separate sets of experiences, and at the same time a sort of federal joint experience as a composite entity? There are ways to solve these problems, but they’re distinctly off-putting to me. More fundamentally, I’m inclined to doubt whether the theory is as helpful in explaining things as  it seems. OK, so my brain has experience just because it’s an object and all objects have experience; but surely that brain-as-an-object experience is the same kind of thing as the experiences rocks have, while the experience I’m interested in, the kind that influences my bodily behaviour, is something else; something which remains unexplained.

One of the sources of difficulty here, I think, as with many metaphysical theories, is that the philosophical point of view is not well integrated with any clear scientific conception.  When we need to pin down our loci of experience we’re left to rummage around and see what we can come up with – atoms? Too small.  Discrete physical entities? What exactly are they? (Shintoism, if I understand it correctly, has bitten this kind of bullet and given up on a sharp definition of what is animate: lots of things can have souls, but only if they’re salient or impressive. Mount Fuji definitely gets one, but some anonymous pile of dirt in your back garden is just a pile of dirt.)

But what about Finite Eventism? This theory (as expounded by Carey R. Carlson in Chapter 12 of Mind that abides: Panpsychism in the New Millennium) is a theory of physics first and foremost, one that happens to provide a neat basis for a solution to the mind-body problem taking a panpsychist/panexperientialist view. It is based on the late ideas of Russell and Whitehead, though one of its appealing features is that it dovetails well with quantum theory in a way Russell and Whitehead were not aware of.

The gist of the theory is a radical reduction of physics to a minimalist ontology consisting of events and the basic temporal relations of being earlier or later (there’s also cause and effect, which I take to be causally connected varieties of earlier/later). There are some rules which prevent inconsistency (events can’t be earlier/later than themselves) and that’s it. In particular, there is no initial concept of space or extension. We are allowed convergent and divergent causal paths, so we can construct complex multiple ‘honeycomb’ pathways like the one shown. The four consistent axes which appear in these diagrams are taken to make up a 4-D manifold of space-time, with neutrinos and electrons delineated by gaps, and the repetition of patterns in sequence representing persistence over time.  Quanta, in this theory, are represented by the steps between two events; the number of intermediate steps between two events corresponds with the relative frequency of the relevant path, and these relative frequency ratios provide relative energy ratios, following Planck’s E=hf.

I hope those brief,  inadequate remarks give a hint of how the basics of physics can be built up in a very elegant manner from the simple topology of these sequences: it looks impressive, though I must frankly admit that I’m not competent to explain the theory properly, never mind evaluate it. Readers may like to look at this short description (pdf).

The question for us is, what are these ‘events’? Carlson follows Whitehead in seeing them all as ‘occasions of experience’; in some ways they resemble the monads of Leibniz’s radically relativist ontology;  they are pure phenomenal moments. Carlson argues that the basis of all science is phenomenal experience; historically, in order to account for those experiences better through Newtonian style physics it became necessary to postulate unexperienced abstract entities; and then the phenomenal experience dropped out of the theory leaving us with a world made of fundamentally unaccountable entities.

The best part of it for me is that the theory provides relatively good and clear answers to the problems I mentioned above. It’s clear that the loci of experience are situated in the events: I take it that continuity of experience is guaranteed in exactly the same way as physical continuity by repeating patterns (though what the nature of those patterns amounts to is an interesting question).  If that’s so, then the relationship between the consciousness of my brain-as-object and the consciousness of my brain-as-brain is also helpfully clarified.

How far, though, is the actual nature of my consciousness clarified? The explanation of most of my mental characteristics is deferred upwards to be explained by the working of the brain. That is, no doubt, exactly as it should be: but it leaves me with no particular reason to adopt panpsychism. The one feature which the theory does explain is phenomenal experience (alright, a fairly important feature!); but it really only does so by telling us that things just do have phenomenal experience.  Why should we take it that the events are phenomenal in nature – doesn’t ontological parsimony suggest they should be featureless blips?

Still, I think this is the most viable and attractive formulation of panpsychism/panexperientialism I’ve seen.


  1. 1. Mike Spenard says:

    “When the sabbatical notion of ‘the Given’ has given place to the week-day notion of ‘the ascertained’, we shall have bade farewell to both Phenomenalism and The Sense Datum Theory.” ~Ryle

    And panexperientialism I might add.

  2. 2. Kar Lee says:

    Peter, if there is to be just one experience, then there has to be an experiencer, and it is the existence of this experiencer that is the target of explanation for philosophy of mind. However, depending on ones starting point, the nature, and the multiplicity of this experiencer (you called it experiential loci) are in complete disagreement among people with different beliefs. From the hardcore materialist’s altogether denial of this experiencer(s), to the panpsychist’s acceptance of its universal existence in all objects; from the solipsist’s seeing a single locus of experience, his own, to some dualist’s belief of its multiplicity, one for each physical body, the target of explanation is different for different people, even though they bear the same name. Despite their differences in what they are trying to explain, people pretend that they are trying to explain the SAME thing. If there is one thing that everybody agrees upon, it is that everybody believes he or she is conscious and find that mysterious, otherwise one will not participate in the discussion. Beyond that, everything else is all speculation depending on ones own emotional pull.

    I find myself gradually get pulled towards panpsychism without realizing it. I see multiple loci of experiences for no other reason than just a belief, so that I don’t become a solipsist. Psychologically I cannot withstand solipsism. Any attempt to justify this belief will fail miserably. Given the existence of multiple loci of experiences (my given fact, a personal dependent fact!), my target of explanation is the relationship between me and all these loci of experiences, or rather, my own locus of experience and all other loci of experiences. I failed to find any particular reason that I should be attached to one particular locus and not any other (why am I me problem, people don’t have this problem don’t have the same target of explanation as I do, and we will necessarily talk passed each other).

    If there is no particular reason that I am attached to this particular locus of experience, then it is either by chance or I am not attached to this locus at all and the apparent attachment is just an illusion.

    If it is by chance, then it means I COULD HAVE BEEN attached to any other loci, and it was just not realized. By having a real chance of being attached to other experiential loci, though not realized, my relationship with all these other loci is NOT that of exclusivity a priori. The relationship was there, but just not realized. There must be other experiencers having those (unrealized to me) relationships I am not having. But who are those experiencers? I will argue that these experiencers don’t exist outside of your belief. We either have to conclude that these other experiencers are none other than you yourself, or there are no other locus of experience other than the one you are having. It is either one all inclusive (universal mind) or one all exclusive (Solipsism). Mid-way solutions don’t make sense to me. Any mid-way solution necessarily begs the question “how many”, as you have asked. “1” has meaning. “None” has meaning. Ten? Ten is completely arbitrary. So is every other arbitrary number. And the number cannot be a constant over time either because experiential loci appear out of nowhere and disappear into nowhere. It is either Universal Mind or Solipsism.

    If it is an illusion that I am attached to one particular locus of experience, then what could have been causing this illusion? Here the CPU running multiple program analogy helps a lot. At each instance of computer time slice (a trigger from the clock), the CPU is running a particular program and is being lead to believe that it is attaching to that particular program only. Temporarily the CPU is attached to one particular viewpoint, but unable to “sense” the temporal nature of this relationship. As it cycles through all the programs, the illusion of being always attached to one particular program continues through different programs. Even though all the programs are just the same CPU playing different roles in different instances, the CPU could still ask “why am I me” through each program it is playing, as if each program is asking this question. Again, this metaphor leads to a universal mind hypothesis, a universal owner of all the experiences. The CPU/software interaction becomes the metaphor for Mind/body interaction.

    This eventually leads to one form of panpsychism: All structures that support experience formation will have this universal mind experiencing through them. The Universal Mind permeates through all these conscious entities and that makes them conscious. But it is more restricted than the regular panpsychism in which one claims a piece of rock is conscious. A person in coma may not support the formation of experience, not to mention a piece of rock. However, the criteria for “able to support the formation of experience” may never be established, leaving the possibility of a rock supporting experience formation open: True panpsychism.

    Ultimately, we all need to identify with something that we think we are, in the quest of our true nature. No answer will be satisfactory unless this identification is unchanging. If I am a drop of water today, but a diamond tomorrow, neither water nor diamond could be my nature. On the other hand, if someone is the King and has been the King from the beginning of time, and will always be the King until such time when time itself ends, then this person is the King and Kinghood is his/her nature. If I can identify such thing that I have a permanent association with, then I can gladly take this thing as my nature and my target of explanation is met. The Universal Mind seems to be that thing to me.

    As far as philosophy of mind is concerned, the “truth” is always personal dependent, which I am sure many will object.

  3. 3. Mike Spenard says:

    “The explanation of most of my mental characteristics is deferred upwards to be explained by the working of the brain. That is, no doubt, exactly as it should be: but it leaves me with no particular reason to adopt panpsychism. ”

    This seems exactly on target, on the issue with panpsychism. What is it we want to really explain about our minds? It seems to be, to me anyway, it is the aspects that are distinctly human in some loose sense. Take for example colors. Why are there 4 unique colors? Why do we experience them as paired in opposition (no reddish-greens & no yellowish-blues)? Why is the phenomenology of yellow less saturated but brighter then red? Opponent Color Theory (Hardin 1985) explains all of these details and more.

    Those motivated into panpsychism seem to be ignorant of the developments in visual science. Or worse, they are trying to create some maligned carriage to carry the presuppositions of ineffability, intrinsic-ness etc; rather then accept these as features of the limitations of autopsychology. And that the ad-hoc conventions of our language inherently don’t lend themselves to making sub-personal descriptions palatable at the personal level of day to day language.

    To accept this is to renounce neither an objective or physicalist view of experience, only to accept the limitations of our nature and speech. End of rant ;p

  4. 4. Paul Bello says:

    I wonder if the “limitations of autopsychology” also apply to our apprehension of the laws of nature. If this is the case, none of science rests on any firm basis whatsoever, including the vision sciences.

  5. 5. Mike Spenard says:

    I don’t see that acknowledging limitations and incompleteness necessitates having no firm basis. It’s quite easy to imagine a mountain of weight resting on a foundation that changes; its a matter of how many changes and how fast that pose issues.

    But yes, I’m of the opinion that Godel and Turing, were running down the same path having to do with incompleteness and methodological limitations; but it shouldn’t worry us. I rather welcome the incompleteness with open arms, even if it has epistemological consequences. As it shouldn’t scare us that there is no one idea, perception, or understanding of our world which could ever serve as the absolute destiny for our minds, that once having reached it there would be the end of all further need for alterations in thinking.

    It would only be with the greatest of hubris that we could be thinking all the while of changing foundations of science, but never believing in them.

  6. 6. Vicente says:

    Kar Lee, if I understood you well, you are moving along the Upanishads, and every “sentient/conscious” being holds an instance of this Universal mind. Following your SW/HW metaphor, there was a single thread, and at certain point of the code a C/Unix Fork command was called, and several threads with different construction parameters were spawned. So why this fragmentation happened? How is it that we do not have “sockets” to communicate “directly” with each other and the main thread? is there anything left of the main thread or it was completly fragmented?

    All this recalls me: “I am who I am” “I am who he is” etc

    The other point is that in this approach “occasions of experience” seem to be the basic building blocks of reality. We face again a vague, udefined, slippery, cumbersome concept.

    In my opinion, despite I find the theory quite appealing, I think that Russel, Whitehead and followers just made a forward flight, a way out as any other one. Since they can’t combine physical universe with phenomenal experience and qualia, they say everything is phenomenal experience and that’s it, philosophycally speaking it is easier to defend than the complementary, ie. everything is physical.

    Regarding the physical side of theory, I suppose it would need a much more detailed formulation and presentation before it can really be assessed.

  7. 7. Kar Lee says:

    Vicente, If we make the following mapping 1) CPU – Universal Mind, 2) individual programs-individual conscious beings, 3) software environment those programs interact in – physical world where those conscious beings interact in, then the communication between two threads (your language, but I like to think of two programs) will have to be accomplished through the software environment (callback protocol, share ram locations etc), which, in this metaphor, is the physical world. This metaphor gives you a picture depicted by physicalism. Everything is physical. Everything that runs is defined by the software, equivalently the physical world. The existence of the CPU is completely transparent and is undetectable (when was the last time we think about what CPU our program runs on if it is a general programming task?). The only reason to bring in the CPU (universal mind) is it is the only thing left “unaccounted for” in the entire picture that can account for “qualia”. Of course, if you talk about multitasking in the sense of TDM (time division multiplexing), you are taking the metaphor too far. It could be space division multiplexing too…why not..

    The extreme form of this way of thinking is the Universal Mind (CPU) gets qualia from running everything, including a chair (virtual chair) or a piece of rock (virtual, which might just appear as a boundary condition in a simulation). That turns it into panpsychism.
    Note that I am not promoting panpsychism, but just want to show that panpsychism can emerge from the universal mind hypothesis, which was designed to account for the mind-body interaction to begin with.

  8. 8. Vicente says:

    Paul, your cmmt #4 is pretty interesting. Actually, sciences that in certain cases have to rely on the testimony of a subject, like medical sciences, optometry, pharmacy, vision sciences, pose a philosphical problem for the scientific method. This point was discussed in the instrospection page. In addition you have logical Godelian concerns.

    Mike: when I imagine or dream a color, and there are no cones and rods involved, how does the “Opponent Color Theory” explain it? What if I tell you that I have just imagined a yellowish-blue hue.

  9. 9. Paul Bello says:

    I mention limitations because you seemed to have made the point that our current understanding of vision science obviates the need for a rethinking of metaphysics ala Whitehead and other panpsychist thinkers. My point was that vision science may be complete with respect to our cognitive capacities, but if those capacities are unreliable guides for discovering and applying the laws of nature to both scientific and philosophical questions, vision science itself is necessarily unreliable, although it might make accurate predictions in the limit. Dualism, panpsychism and the rest are theses about metaphysics — they are ultimately about the “stuff” the universe is made of, some of which might be completely undetectable using modern scientific methods. Much like God’s existence, I think it’s impossible for science to render a solid verdict on the existence of noumena, res cogitans, etc. All it can really do is provide alternative explanations. In any case, my impression is that vision science, and especially studies of the neural correlates of visual awareness is fraught with controversies and rife with major open questions. While some of the studies you mention might shed neurophysiological light on the differences between the representation of different colors, I think it might be overstating the case to assume that experiences can be thus explained without accreted evidence suggesting this is so.

  10. 10. Mike Spenard says:

    So metaphysical theories are more reliable then visual science? I’ll keep my chips on VS thanks 🙂

    “it’s impossible for science to render a solid verdict on the existence of noumena, res cogitans, etc”
    The same is true for science rendering a solid verdict about the sun coming up tomorrow. As mentioned above, I don’t see how having to live with a little bit of theoretic indeterminacy under-minds (pun indeterminately intended ;p ) the entire scientific process as applied to the mind.

    “While some of the studies you mention might shed neurophysiological light on the differences between the representation of different colors, I think it might be overstating the case to assume that experiences can be thus explained without accreted evidence suggesting this is so.”

    It seems like 1) panpsychists or dualist never want to be specific in this regard and list aspects they want explained 2) whenever some aspect is explained objectively, e.g. color opponency, they play the “that’s not what we were talking about” card; i.e. shifting goal post fallacy.

    It’s a little silly not to be forthright and give an example or two. So, exactly what aspects of color phenomenology would you like explained? And why can’t we consider opponent color theory’s elucidation of the above mentioned phenomenal aspects of yellows weak saturation and no red-greens etc as being a success?

  11. 11. Kar Lee says:

    Hello Mike, “…they play the “that’s not what we were talking about” card; i.e. shifting goal post fallacy…” Sounds like the “talking passed each other” I described. Bound to happen. Can’t avoid.

  12. 12. Paul Bello says:

    As far as metaphysics goes, it’s not a question of reliability at all. I merely said that its unreasonable to use cognitive limitations and an appeal to science to dismiss panexperientialism, since I can’t imagine how to measure experience-bundles. Scientific evidence can overturn other scientific evidence, but I don’t regard panexperientalism as falsifiable.

    As far as an example goes, try object feature binding in visual consciousness. There’s a metric ton of literature there, and nobody seems to have what looks like a plausible answer. As far as opponent color theory — I don’t know anythnig about it, so I assume it’s an unqualified success. I never intended to be dismissive of those results — I hope you didn’t take my last post to be so.

  13. 13. Vicente says:

    A comment made in another page made me think that maybe “ocassions of meaning” represent better panexperimentalism.

    Could it be that the experience of meaning, is the most pure form, the most intellectual among all possible phenomenal experiences. Does this idea make any sense to anybody?

  14. 14. John davey says:

    Very interesting. A bit low on mathematics albeit quite high on A-level chemistry set models. Lets’ be frank, it’s rubbish.

  15. 15. Lloyd Rice says:

    Assuming John Davey is talking about panexperientialism. I agree, it’s all rubbish. I claim that you need some computational machinery in order to have experiences. Rocks can’t do it.

    But then, I’m way behind of all of you guys’ in the philosophy realms.

  16. 16. Lloyd Rice says:

    Oh, One thing, though. Computational machinery is hardware + software. It doesn’t make much sense to talk about CPU = universal mind. If you spawn another process, you still get the same point of view of the world, the same “body” senses, etc. You could have different emotional bases, such as happy/sad, etc. It’s called schizophrenia.

  17. 17. Vicente says:

    No, no, this is not nice guys, I wouldn’t dare to call something rubbish so happily without putting something better on the table.

    In a way, I find in panexperimentalism similarities with the creationist line, but people on the evolution team has put tons of evidence in sight, still they are aware of the limitations and blank zones, that makes of evolution a scientific theory, so they are entitled to say that creationism is rubbish. Even though many evolutionists show respect for the believes of creationists, real scientists are usually humble, “I just know I know nothing”.

    Besides, all of us together don’t make a 1% of the deep understanding that Russel and Whitehead I pressumed reached at the end of their existence, so if the fellows thought something like this, I am sure there must be at least something interesting in it.

    Sorry for the scolding.

  18. 18. John davey says:

    “No, no, this is not nice guys, I wouldn’t dare to call something rubbish so happily without putting something better on the table.”

    So if somebody says that conscoiusness is caused by mountain elves I’m not allowed to say it’s rubbish? Or that if I believe we are years from a solution I am not allowed to comment on anything without having an alternative ?

    Let’s look at the text :-

    ” I came to the present theory by way of Russell and
    Whitehead’s eventism. By abandoning the continuum and confining eventism to finite
    structures, we come upon the structural definition of mass-energy. This emerges from
    the simple observation that relative frequencies are inherent in time sequence patterns,
    and that these discrete ratios serve as the measure of relative energies in accord with
    Planck’s E=hf. The countable units that provide the ratios are the temporal transitions.
    That is why the transitions themselves define “quanta of energy.” That basic insight,
    which eluded Russell and Whitehead, gives new impetus to eventism.

    This is not elusive and technical : it is gobbledegook mixed with a huge slab of ego (“eluded Russell and Whitehead” !!!!!) There is a third party quote about a book used as a reference : a book that happened to be written by the same author. I say can call this rubbish, although I do not close the door on pansychism in principle. After all it’s true, consciosuness does emerge from the matter in brains after all.

  19. 19. Vicente says:

    Well John, if you realised I made my previous comments about Russel and Whitehead approach, and I completely ignored the third party (except for saying that the physics refered to cannot even be assessed). I also commented on Kar Lee’s comment. If your adjective is directed to the third party it is easier to agree with. I thought the interesting part of the post was the first party, and I think pansyschism has something interesting, I even believe that Theilard de Chardin “Omega Point Theory” has some interest and beauty in it.

    Still, my position is that unless: I have some better alternative to propose, and I don’t think that what I am presented is harmful (proselytism/religious ulterior motivation) I listen and respect.

  20. 20. Lloyd Rice says:

    I admit that when I’m saying “it’s rubbish”, I’m really saying “I say it’s rubbish”. It is not so much a question of which set of beliefs agrees with my “science” (or any science). It’s more a matter of how I judge and interpret my own set of beliefs. Now I would like to believe that those beliefs are based on a lifetime of careful and conscientious observation, but I also agree that all of that is subject to personal interpretation. And that is about as circular an argument as I can handle.

    The real bottom line for me is that I am so conceited as to believe that I have a good general idea of how consciousness works. So if something I read or hear does not fit with my new-found egotistical point of view, well then, out it goes.

  21. 21. Paul Bello says:

    @Lloyd: lol. Finally an *honest* post 😉

  22. 22. Lloyd Rice says:

    Thanks, Paul — Really. Is it true that beliefs about consciousness will be met with religious fervor? I would not have thought it so.

  23. 23. Paul Bello says:

    Depends on if your religious views equate consciousness with soul or spirit. One thing I’ve never understood about the science/religion debate is how invested people are in Descartes notion of res cogitans. Nowhere does this idea show up in the Judeo-Christian scriptures, and it certainly isn’t present in classical Thomistic Catholic theology.

  24. 24. Vicente says:

    Paul, the idea of res cogitans emerges from the dissonance between phenomenal experience and what we know from the physical Universe (res extensa). I am not a follower of any traditional religion, actually I believe religion is one of the worst things ever happened to humankind, still I am close to dualism, simply because I cannot fit my inner experience anywhere in the physical Universe. Therefore I believe there is something more, that could be a completely different stuff, or a part of the physical Universe that remains unveiled.

    When you think of the works of people like Descartes, or Spinoza, take into account that they had to fear for the lifes when writing down their ideas, the catholic fire was waiting near, inquisitors were tough guys (as most cowards). Many times I have wonder what would have Descartes or Spinoza really written if they would have been free to express their thoughts.

    For the time being nobody has never given me a satisfactory explanation for the question of consciousness, and the more I think of it the more confuse I feel, maybe this is the reason for which I am very open to listen to all ideas, despite none of them is eventually accepted.

    Catholic theology is purely physicalist because the resurrection of flesh is a core pilar of the dogma. The idea of soul is managed in a really clumsy fashion throughout the scriptures.

    Getting back to this post, I believe one of the reasons for which the concept of space is removed (they tried to remove it, ha ha) in the theory, is because to locate qualia in space is a major problem, so let’s get rid of space, amazing. I remember asking Lloyd about where consciousness would emerge when the requirements for it are met, and he managed with the time part, but definitely struggled and sunk in the space one.

  25. 25. John davey says:

    “still I am close to dualism, simply because I cannot fit my inner experience anywhere in the physical Universe.”

    OK. A curious statement, but let’s say there’s a “non-physical” universe. It’s still a universe to which science must inquire isn’t it ?

    I am going to make a guess here, and that is in fact you have no difficulty in fitting your inner experience anywhere in the physical universe, like the rest of the human race. Nothing, in fact, could be more natural than to be a human being who happily goes about his business with inner experience intact, bumping into things, smelling things and hearing sounds.

    Where you might have difficulty is when you try to reconcile inner experience with current theories of matter. I think that exposes the fault line in current thinking as regards the scope of reductionist physics, which assumes it to be a discipline of total scope. Evidently it is not.

    But that doesn’t mean we have to recourse to non-phenomenological causes of consciousness. Thinking is evidently not material, but that doesn’t stop it from being a real, matter-related phenomena. Thinking is a physical process, just not a material one.

    I think what most dualists, and most strong AI consciousness deniers have in common is a belief that reductionist physics has (if you’ll overlook the linguistics) the god-given right to be the answer for everything. It doesn’t. Ultimately physics is maths, and maths is a toolset used for modelling purposes. We have ascribed, unwittingly, a phenomenological character to our own creation(physics) and we simply can’t accept it might have limits in scope.

  26. 26. John davey says:

    “The real bottom line for me is that I am so conceited as to believe that I have a good general idea of how consciousness works”

    Conceit indeed ! LOL. I think it will be more elusive than almost any other physical problem, as we don’t appear to have the tools to deal with it.

  27. 27. John davey says:

    in any case, isn’t the problem of this stuff that it’s a strategy to squeeze religion into science ? probably in whitehead’s case. Just a thought.

  28. 28. Paul Bello says:

    I don’t think so, but keep in mind that science was reared in Western Europe by Judeo-Christian investigators supported by governments with drastically more church-state interaction than is the case these days. Most scientists at that point took God to be the source of the implicate order, and as the only reason anything was systematically discoverable at all. I see this as an inocuous assumption because it doesn’t explicitly commit to a God of the gaps nor does it commit to an active God who sustains the universe, although I could see why some might have distaste for it.

    Whitehead was certainly a theist, but I suspect his theism would be unrecognizable from the standpoint of traditional religious practice or dogma. I think what’s trying to be done is to reconsider our scientific ontology by admitting that our conception of physics is incomplete, and our notions of causation are not universally agreed upon — including causal closure of the physical.

  29. 29. Kar Lee says:

    John, “..I think what most dualists, and most strong AI consciousness deniers have in common is a belief that reductionist physics has (if you’ll overlook the linguistics) the god-given right to be the answer for everything…”
    I think this is not a simple belief, but a matter of practicality and how science is done. Everyone one who is in search of a reason to explain something is ultimately a reductionist. When you said reductionism does not have a god-given right to be the answer, then what do you mean by a reason? If my radio breaks down, and if I want to know why, I will have to look at the electronic board or other stuff at the component level. If a component breaks, and if you want to know why, you will have to look at the subcomponent level because that is just how things work. You always trace things at least one level down to attend deeper understanding. Case in point, the concept of entropy had been well established in thermodyamics well before statistical physics was developed. Not until statistical physics derived it, showing that it is merely the log of density of states that you started to understand why entropy is randomness. One is always in search of deeper understanding of phenomena in scientific endeavor, and that is reductionism. How else will you do science? If you stick with entropy and use it for other practical calculation, that is called engineering. In engineering, you can stay at whatever level you like as long as it is practical and convenient. Curve fitting works just as well as true understanding.

  30. 30. Vicente says:

    Kar Lee: Most physicists don’t think that physics have the answer to everything, the might wish, but they are aware of the limitations. Science is overall a mean to have a common objective frame in which we can communicate and construct models under certain rules. Actually the most important questions for physics remain without an answer. If you talk about dualists, even worse, since they consider that there must be something beyond the sphere of physics. In what respects to deny strong AI, things work the other way round, you are innocent by default, evidence have to prove you guilty. So AI does not create consciousness by default unless you prove it does showing evidence, there is no need for deniers to make any effort, or to believe in anything.

    John: I see your point in #25, but in #24 I also said that I accept that there could be a part of the physical Universe and laws still to be unveiled, and that it could account for consciousnes.

    So what do you think? you say: “Nothing, in fact, could be more natural than to be a human being who happily goes about his business with inner experience intact, bumping into things, smelling things and hearing sounds”. Explain it to me please, how does it work? what is your theory?

  31. 31. Lloyd Rice says:

    Vicente (and also sort of to John re #26): It may not help in providing you with a suitable explanation for the material nature of consciousness, but Metzinger’s view makes sense to me. He says the because the world/self model/map interpreter is so structured that its operation is not visible to us — we only see the results of the simulation of the world (he calls it “transparency”), we are not aware that such a simulation is taking place. All we “see” is the simulated manifestation of the world as our senses receive information about the state of that world.

    John, I believe we do have the tools to deal with it.

  32. 32. Lloyd Rice says:

    OK. I was clearly overenthusiastic when I said we have the tools. Obviously, it would be nice if there were a project 1000 times the size of Blue Brain or if we had the tools to simultaneously track 100 million neurons in vivo.

    What I was thinking was along the lines I described in Monkey See #85. The method of imagining myself in the place of executing software is a technique I have used often during the software design process. It amounts to trying to put myself into a 1st person role to see what the software would “experience” as it executed. When I did this with Metzinger’s ideas of how consciousness works, it was like a bell going off: “Yes, of course, that has to be right”.

  33. 33. Vicente says:

    Lloyd: The simulation metaphor is of no use in explaining qualia (and this is not talking pass each other Kar Lee). If we look at an ordinary mundane simulation, I can track the process from the beginning, (algorithms and code design, programming, testing, validation and verification, etc) down to the result output without problem. In consciousness, as you said we have the “big leap”.

    Even if you had your Blue Brain simulation to consider every single molecule messing around in the brain it will be of no use for explaining qualia, of course if would be a fantastic tool for neuroscience, and to analyse the physiological processes and mechanisms in the brain, full stop.

  34. 34. Vicente says:

    Well, please let me reconsider something. If you had an extremely powerful Blue Brain, it could serve as a tool to search for the underlying brain mechanisms responsible for turning on/off consciousness, to explain blindsight, etc. Or to help to understand GWT models, but not qualia.

    I’d rather have more advanced brain observation systems, better than current fMRI, PET, EEG. In this way we could try to correlate brain states to states of mind in detail.

    We always stay at this side (looking at it from the other one, what a paradox), let see if anybody can break on through to the other side…

  35. 35. Lloyd Rice says:

    Vicente: I would respectfully try to make the case that you are not being successful in your attempts to “put yourself in the place of the executing program”. For software that does trivial unambiguous things like drawing symbols on a screen or running a speech synthesizer, there is no problem. But I claim that when the software does more elaborate things, such as computing a representation of an organism observing a representation of an object, it is not so simple to think through exactly what that software does.

    The breakthrough for me was when I read Metzinger’s description of the all-encompassing thoroughness of those representations. I agree that your comments about looking at the issue from “this side” or “the other side” do get to the core of the matter. But I claim it is not a paradox.

  36. 36. Vicente says:

    Lloyd: what does it mean to put oneself in the place of an executing program? you can “try” put yourself in the place of another person and nothing else. I claim it is not possible to make such a thing as putting myself in the place of an executing programme.

    You are already prejudging that the programme has a conscious point of view, for which you can put yourself in its place.

    Your view is not logically consistent.

  37. 37. Vicente says:

    “But I claim that when the software does more elaborate things, such as computing a representation of an organism observing a representation of an object, it is not so simple to think through exactly what that software does.”

    Lloyd, with due respect, what does it mean “to compute a representation of an organism observing a representation of an object”.

    Anyway, whatever it is, to track what software does in the hardware could be very messy, but it is pretty simple in conceptual terms. Just follow the instructions at each point/moment.

    That is what you do when you use a debugger, isn’t it?

  38. 38. Lloyd Rice says:

    Vicente: The point is that in the case of the software, you do have full information about all of the possible courses of action. So what it means to “put yourself in that place” is to think through the actions to be taken at each point of time and then imagine what you would experience if you were taking those actions. Of course, this gets more and more difficult to do as the program grows in complexity, but you do have a sense of what things can and will happen. There is nothing logically inconsistent about that strategy.

    What I mean by “compute a representation of …” is just that. Everything the CPU has sensory contact with, external inputs as well as local machine conditions (body/self state), gets included in the descriptive structure. I want to call that structure a “model”, but you had some problems with that word before and I’m not sure we resolved those issues.

    You are quite correct that it will get messy because it is a big, complex operation. And that task gets harder and harder. But we need to carry on.

    So the software builds a comprehensive model (representation, data structure) of the world and itself in the world based on the sensory inputs.

    Now comes the “other side” (as you put it earlier). What are you doing when you look at the world? The proposal being set forth of how consciousness works would say that your brain has built such a world/self model and keeps it up to date moment-by-moment as new sensory input arrives.

    Suppose you look at an object, then reach out to touch it. You have visual inputs which locate and describe the object in your visual field. The Kanisha triangle illusion shows us that you do not directly perceive the incoming stimulus, but rather that what you sense is the result of edge detectors, shape detectors, etc. And we have talked about filling in the info from the fleeting saccades. These are the percepts that are used to build up and maintain the model of the object. We know from Libet and others of the temporal corrections that occur to keep all aspects of the model in sync. You have similar inputs arriving from internal conditions such as muscle and joint feedback and the texture when you touch the object. Again, these are all time corrected.

    To get to the bottom line, the claim of the proposal is that your qualia of the object consist of just the processing of the internal model you have built up. What you are aware of is exactly that processing of the data structure.

    I am jumping back and forth between the 1st person view and the 3rd person view because you need to see this from both sides. In your experience of the world, what are you doing other than processing your internal world/self model? The leap (if there is one) is to understand that what you perceive IS JUST EXACTLY that processing of the model.

  39. 39. Lloyd Rice says:

    Vicente: I should perhaps add that at about the same time as I was reading Metzinger and thinking about all of this, I also heard Susan Blackmore talk about her views of the illusionary nature of the self. As you may know, her view is that the sense we have of having a “self”, of “being someone”, is largely an illusion.

    I claim it is not really an illusion as the idea would normally be understood, but that it is not what it seems to be. As Nagel might say, “what it’s like to be me” is just to be running my internal model of the world.

  40. 40. Kar Lee says:

    Lloyd, “…Everything the CPU has sensory contact with, external inputs as well as local machine conditions (body/self state), gets included in the descriptive structure…”

    Just imagine yourself being the CPU simulating the SIMS family…now you know exactly how the Universal Mind feels 🙂

  41. 41. Vicente says:

    I am afraid Kar Lee is right and we are talking pass each other… :^(

  42. 42. Lloyd Rice says:

    Let me try one more time. I’ll make it short.

    So the processor is doing all this stuff and sensing the world and making decisions about motor activity.

    So I’m doing all this stuff and sensing the world and making decisions about motor activity AND there is something it’s like to be doing that.

    Why should those two cases be any different? And don’t say, “Because res cogitans has been breathed into my soul”. That’s not an acceptable answer.

  43. 43. Paul Bello says:

    Metzinger’s ideas about simulation (which I’m somewhat sympathetic to) fall apart when the “hard” problem of qualia pops up. It’s simple, for one to entertain “a feeling that it’s like,” there clearly needs to be a feeler. If a simulation is essentially an efferent copy of non-“conscious” cognitive processes plus some extra stuff that’s supposed to “feel what it’s like,” how isn’t this merely pushing the hard problem inside the simulation? To say that somehow the extra stuff is doing all the work leaves phenomenal consciousness just as mysterious as it was before Metzinger ever cooked this theory up. To say that there’s a second simulation that encapsulates the first simulation pushes the problem back even further. In an earlier post you said:

    “I claim it is not really an illusion as the idea would normally be understood, but that it is not what it seems to be. As Nagel might say, “what it’s like to be me” is just to be running my internal model of the world.”

    Who exactly is the “my” that runs the internal model?

  44. 44. Lloyd Rice says:

    Paul: Well, the “my” in this case is just the organism.

    But you raise a valid point. if we are “just” processors running simulations of things as they come before our sensory mechanisms, why should there be any “feel” involved.

    This is the point where, in an earlier post on a different topic, I said that, “It’s just the way the universe works.”

    Obviously, that answer does not answer anything.

    We assume that our own sense of being someone is different from simple machines in some mysterious, inexplicable way. But is it possible that my experience is not really all it seems to be? I’m not rooting for panpsych in any sense. What I am saying is that what the more elaborate mechanism appears to do is exactly what is needed for the body so equipped to have experiences, in the same way that I seem to have them.

  45. 45. Kar Lee says:

    Representationalism is obvious right, but right for different problem. Of course we all have an internal model about the world, and in that regard, we are not all that different from an irobot vacuum cleaner (if you write the program for the irobot cleaner, you will give it an internal world model, won’t you?) Our internal world model contributes a lot to many illusions we have. Ask a magician and you will find out how they take great advantage of our internal model to give us surprise after surprise. But who is this entity that is looking at this representation? Now, you can ask me the same question: “who is this entity that is looking at this representation in the vacuum cleaner?” The fallacy of the question is in the way I phrased it, by taking a third person view. I asked it as if I was sitting outside of this person, and imagine there is an internal representation in this human, and ask who is looking at this rep. And the answer is obviously this human. In the same way, you can say the CPU is looking at the robot’s internal model. Taking a third person view, consciousness is a ill-defined concept. Therefore, it allows you to talk about human consciousness and machine consciousness in a completely arbitrary way, and argue back and forth as if we know what we are arguing about. That is the result of third person view: Arguing about something using a view in which it does not exist. None of these is truly problematic if we are not conscious. The problem is we are indeed conscious. The realization is that I am the person who is looking at this representation leads me to wonder why I am here to look at this particular representation, and not that representation. Why there is a me (or why I exist) to look at this representation is the hard problem. Now we see why representationalism completely side-step this problem.

    If you are comfortable imagining yourself being the vacuum cleaner looking at the vacuum cleaner’s internal model, then you see consciousness out of a vacuum and no one has any convincing argument to tell you otherwise. That is why I keep arguing this line of debate is deeply personal and subjective. I doubt if we will ever get to a conclusion.

  46. 46. Lloyd Rice says:

    Kar Lee: Let me say it this way. Suppose someday some human (or group) builds a machine that computes everything corresponding to my experience. Why would that machine not experience it the same as I do?

    To say it would not requires that you propose some kind of non-material, non-computable substance or process. I find that requirement much more difficult to believe than to simply believe that the machine would indeed experience the world as computed.

    I am undecided about the argument as to exactly how complex this model needs to be. Metzinger claims a lot. Sometimes I suspect that is just to cover his bases. It’s probably more than any Rhumba you can buy today. But I don’t know the answer.

  47. 47. Paul Bello says:

    As I said, I’m sympathetic to the idea of living in a mental simulation, and my “self” being a dynamic construction with some elements being stable through time as “I” perceive it. On my reading of Metzinger, one needs to either commit to something that looks like Berkley-style idealism, or accept something like Chalmers panprotopsychism to make sense of what he’s saying. Really what bugs me the most about it is that the organism itself isn’t a gigantic sensory organ. How does an organism represent itself to itself? Maybe my simple perceptual analogy is too simple…maybe Metzinger isn’t talking about a variety of perception at all, but if he’s not, I don’t know why he’s obsessed with phenomenalism.

  48. 48. Lloyd Rice says:

    Paul: What is it that I perceive about myself? I have memories. I see my hands moving in front of my face. I feel my guts doing all kinds of things I (thankfully) don’t know about in detail. I remember what I have planned to do tomorrow. Etc, etc. None of these seem to me to be non-computable. Why do you say that the organism needs to be a giant sensory organ?

    I don’t know about Berkeley-style idealism. I claim that the computational requirement puts us well clear of panpsych. I read Chalmers a long time ago and, anyway, probably didn’t understand whatever he said about panprotopsych.

    The essence does somehow seem to be related to the way the mechanism represents itself. But then, as I said above, I do not really perceive myself doing the perceiving. In that sense, it is as Blackmore said, there is nobody home.

  49. 49. Paul Bello says:

    You used the word “I” seven times in the first three sentences. This should give you some pause. I don’t suggest that any of what you described is non-computable(except for the feeling of guts, perhaps, and even then it’s not clearly non-computable. All I suggest is that Metzinger seems to be saying that the “self” is a process of an organism representing itself to itself. Since our conscious mental lives seem to be replete with qualia-laden perceptions (like the blueness of the sky), it seems as if some aspect of the simulator must act as a transducer, the way our eyes act as a transducer of sense data. Where is this internal organ of perception, on Metzinger’s account? One could say that our eyes act in concert with the simulator, but that leaves me questioning why we’d need the simulator to explain anything at all.

  50. 50. Lloyd Rice says:

    Paul: Lots of evidence shows why we need the simulator. Filling in between the saccades and time correction are a couple of obvious cases. But the variety of visual illusions shows that many real-world situations are best dealt with by some amount of preproceesing. Just this afternoon, I was reminded of the dalmation in the picture. It is surely advantageous to have this mechanism by which memory can influence what is perceived. The simulator is a clean way to implement all such capabilities.

    As for blueness (and music and pain), I believe there are certain cases where the direct or indirect percepts are not by themselves adequate to serve as the qualia. In these cases, various “extra” signals are synthesized to serve as reminders, alarms, or other special notifiers. I believe that what I perceive as red is a signal that is synthesized, presumably somewhere in my medial temporal lobe, to make it easier to recognize and remember certain visual stimulus patterns.

    As for why I say “I” a lot, well, that is pretty much mandated by the way the whole thing is structured. It’s not just that language works that way, but that the simulator is structured so as to make me think “I” am in charge. Not much point in fighting that.

  51. 51. Vicente says:

    Thank you Paul, in cmmt #43 you expressed, as I could have never done, what I tried to convey to Lloyd in my previous comments. I can only add that I completely share the view.

    Lloyd: regarding your comment on the “self-illusion”. I have a new view, which is that actually it is true that we suffer from illusory self-identity, because we mainly identify ourselves with our body/brain and circumstance. It is like if a car driver that thinks he is the car; or if someone who is remote controlling a robot (in a virtual reality control cabinet), were so involved in the screen, the controls and the action that “feels” to be the robot itself.

    So rephrasing and “answering” Peter’s question at the top of the page:

    – “If the self is an illusion for the conscious – who is it that’s being fooled? ”

    – the pilot that thinks to be the ship!

  52. 52. Vicente says:

    I am aware that a dualistic approach naturally entails a self-illusion effect as the one I proposed in #51. But I believe it is a step ahead from the self-illusion concept proposed by physicalists, and still preserves the idea that a “self” makes no sense in a pure materialistic reality, since for them there is no reason to think that human is going to have more of a self than a stone, both are a collection of atoms behaving according to natural laws, therefore if humans have a self feeling emerging from ¿¿??, it has to be an illusion.

    I should have to acknowledge, that some could feel Heideggerian and say that in fact the ship is a part of the pilot… but what part?

  53. 53. Vicente says:

    So the point is that:

    what is an illusion is what most thing the self is, and not the self itself.

  54. 54. Vicente says:

    in #53: “thing” -> “think”

  55. 55. Paul Bello says:

    I completely believe in the simulator idea for lots of aspects of cognition — in fact I’m *deeply* committed to it computationally, I just don’t see how simulation needs to link up to selfhood. For example, I think that the conscious entertaining of mental imagery involves mental simulation, as well as understanding other minds. I do both of these, and they don’t seem to involve massive perturbations in my self-concept. Why are any of these mental simulations privileged so as to be *the* user-illusion as Blackmore and Metzinger endorse?

  56. 56. Vicente says:

    Lloyd: Just to try to understand you better. Let’s we have one of your extremely complex programmes, which is a simulation.

    Then the programme as one of is arguments takes another simulation (pointer to function variable or something, programming details are irrelevant).

    Let’s assume that your compiler accepts self-recursion calls.

    Now we make the simulation programme call itself.

    Is this the kind of “self” idea that your software can produce, or am I completely disoriented from your idea.

  57. 57. Kar Lee says:

    Lloyd, from #46
    “…Suppose someday some human (or group) builds a machine that computes everything corresponding to my experience…” What exactly does it mean to “compute everything corresponding to my experience”? I can only understand this statement if you refer to simulating your body’s structure atom by atom and interaction by interaction and let it run through a period of time corresponding to the period when you were having those experiences.

    If that is what you meant, then you will have to assume that your body and brain can be simulated accurately (which I argue you can’t because I believe the brain has a quantum component, and we don’t know how accurate atomic structure has to evolve to get the same EXPERIENCE). Even if you can, why aren’t you in the simulation instead? Why is it that there has to be ANOTHER GUY inside the simulation and having those experiences? And just for clarification (deja vu all over again), what exactly do you mean by saying “the machine EXPERIENCES the way you do”? I think this statement is incomprehensible in view of the “problem of other mind”. Apologize for pressing you for your definition of consciousness one more time, but I think we are going around in a circle.

  58. 58. Vicente says:

    Kar Lee:

    “let it run through a period of time corresponding to the period when you were having those experiences”

    This would be a real-time simulation, do you think we will ever have machines to compute “body’s structure atom by atom and interaction by interaction” in real time…

    Then the problem is that: either you simulate the enviroment too, so that you can match the “simulated brain time” with the “simulated environment time” by making the necessary waiting pauses, making it possible to synchronise the brain with the outer world, or if you have real time input (senses emulation) to the brain simulation, you can’t make it, there is no computer power on earth for that.

    Think of the environment.

  59. 59. Vicente says:

    Kar Lee: sorry, now I see you meant slow time simulation by “corresponding”. Then you definitely need to simulate the environment too.

    Then the problem I have (this is important for you Lloyd), is that the simulation of different processes will require different computation times, not necessarilly directly proportionate to the physical real time that those processes take. OK, you just need some synchronisation procedures, no problem. But you and I Lloyd, have many times agreed that information coordination and integration and single point is vital for consciousness to emerge, so the time management needed for conscious flow, that the brain seems to handle so well, is almost impossible to achieve through a simulation, for the reason I mentioned.

    I believe time management is one of the issues that is going to make a whole world difference between the brain and a simulation.

  60. 60. Vicente says:

    I would love to know how they do they manage time in Blue Brain.

  61. 61. Lloyd Rice says:

    There have been many incredibly interesting comments in the last 24 hours. I need to think carefully about each point.

    Paul: I see that I did not properly address the point you raised in #43 and which Kar Lee brought up again in #45. The point is that there is no “me” doing the observing. That is Blackmore’s illusion. The running software observes itself. It is not correct to say that the CPU observes the software. The CPU is no more than a supporting substrate. It’s all in the software.

    Thinking about this some more this morning, I realized that the observer itself is not actually simulated. That’s the one part of the organism’s higher-level processing that is not simulated. This is Metzinger’s “transparency”. So it is not quite correct to say that the software observes itself. The central controller has the task of organizing all of the simulated world details as represented for it and making motor decisions based on the evaluation of the information. But it is not itself included in the simulation. So if anything, this “organizer” would have to be called the “I”.

    I suspect that it was the evolutionary rise of this controller that first gave the appearance of consciousness. I would love to have some NCCs of that part.

    In case I need to say any more about who “I” am, let me make it clear once and for all.

    I hereby give full and unconditional permission for anyone to remove the words “I” and “me” from any sentence I write or have written or will write at any time and to substitute the phrase “the information structure running in the brain of the body of Lloyd Rice or the results of the running of that information structure”.

    Like I said, “Why fight it?”

    I will have more to say about other points raised.

  62. 62. Lloyd Rice says:

    I should have made it clear that I believe the central controller does not have a special “extra” part to do any observing. It simply organizes as described. In the process of doing so, it is conscious of the world. THAT is what consciousness is.

  63. 63. Paul Bello says:

    Ah, I think I understand better. Thanks for clarifying. Unfortunately, the clarification doesn’t remove any difficulty. Whether we talk about the system observing itself or organizing itself internally, the fact remains that both observation and organizations are actions. As such, there must be an actor.

    It seems to me that saying a system organizes itself and then “blammo!” consciousness…is saying absolutely nothing at all. I might as well say that as a matter of brute fact, consciousness exists in the ether. Such a statement is equally uninformative about the nature or purpose of consciousness. On the other hand, if consciousness arises magically as the result of interacting bits and pieces under the supervision of a controller, this fits the classic non-reductive definition of consciousness supervening on (but not reducible to) brain states, which is a fairly uncontroversial position to adopt in the philosophy of mind. In the case of the latter, I question the need for the simulator, since plenty of non-reductive accounts have been developed without one.

  64. 64. Vicente says:

    Paul: I don’t understand how is it possible that after your compelling address in #63, you find unacceptable that somebody could raise the idea of “res cogitans” or think of dualism as a possibility. I am not saying that you should support it, but why do you despice it.

  65. 65. Paul Bello says:

    Can you point out to me where I found it unacceptable to raise the idea of res cogitans? I think it’s perfectly acceptable — in fact, I don’t even think it suffers so much from the problem of overdetermination that Jaegwon Kim makes so much hay about. This classic materialist argument makes a number of presumptions about causality that are at best hypotheses rather than brute facts.

  66. 66. Lloyd Rice says:

    Several comments prior to #61 were restatements of Paul #43, to wit, Paul #47 and #49, Vicente #51 and Paul #55. I believe my #61 is a direct reply to those points. I believe #61 also gives my response to Vicente #56. No recursion is needed.

    Vicente: A couple of times, I believe you said it the other way around from what I am saying. In #51, “the car driver that thinks he’s the car”. To me, this implies that the driver is real and the car is an illusion. Your #52 seems to say the same thing. I’m saying that the car is real and the driver is the illusion. I’m not sure how to interpret your #53.

    Kar Lee (re #57): No, I do not experience my body atom for atom. But, in fact, I was making a bit of an unstated leap there. I was not saying that the mechanism has to exactly duplicate my experience, but rather was using the level of complexity of my experience as you can more or less imagine it as a gauge of the level of complexity of the machine I was asking you to imagine. I hope that and #61 help to clear up the remainder of your #57.

    Vicente (re #59 and #60): These are good points about the nature of the temporal compensation. Libet shows us some of the problem areas. One of the more interesting cases for me was discussed by Dennett (and elsewhere?) in which a colored spot seems to move from loc A to loc B. More interestingly, it appears to change color halfway along the path. He used this case to show that things get rearranged as necessary.

    Nevertheless, I do not see anything here that is impossible to compute. To touch a moving point (or return a tennis serve), the motor actions have to be preplanned, even though we perceive the whole thing 1/3 sec later.

    Paul (re #63): The software is the actor. Machines execute instructions, neurons fire. The results of that activity is the action.

    I agree that it is a leap of thinking, well away from the conventional views of consciousness, to say that the controller organizes and consciousness results. But I ask, just what is it that you think you perceive? I claim that what you are aware of is just exactly those things that are presented to the controller in the form of processed perceptions, the things “you” need to be able to initiate motor activity. The Blackmore illusion is just that there is nothing else going on. It has been ingrained into us ever since we started to think about such things and enforced by social convention that there is a “you” behind it all. I like the way Nagel puts it: “What it’s like”. There is no actor.

    I respect that you have studied all kinds of philosophical positions that restate this bottom line one way or another. I’m asking you to reconsider all of that.

  67. 67. Vicente says:


    “One thing I’ve never understood about the science/religion debate is how invested people are in Descartes notion of res cogitans”

    your answer makes me suspect that I have not understood this statement.

  68. 68. Vicente says:

    Lloyd: I believe the ideas of Libet and Dennett you mentioned, refer to the brain works, and not to simulations. That is why I said that I don’t think a brain simulation can cope with the problem of synchronising in real time (or slow time but synchronised) all the simulated sub-processes. So without that real time simultaneity the flow of consciosness as correlated to brain states is not possible, ergo simulation will not lead to consciousness. You are one of the fans of this idea about concurrent processes, don’t pull back now.

    Right timing seems to be crucial for brain output, and remember you have to make your simulation interact with the world.

    I admit that this was following Kar Lee’s demand for a “Hyperdetailed nanoscopic Megadestroyer monster simulation”, maybe using not so much demanding functional simulations things would be different and affordable.

  69. 69. Vicente says:


    “even though we perceive the whole thing 1/3 sec later”.

    No, we are aware of it 1/3 s. later, but the zombie knows much faster. It is like blindsight, the autonomous vision modules take over, that is why professional tennis players can return bullet speed tennis serves. No will involved, just reactions of a marvellous trainned nervous system. They are really robots.

  70. 70. Lloyd Rice says:

    Vicente: Yes, I certainly agree that there are motor pathways that bypass the high-level GWT-type stuff we have been talking about. But the hyperdetailed … simulator does not need to produce results until 1/3 sec after the relevant events have occurred. I am not following you as to why this is a computational problem.

    Paul: I have just looked up George Berkeley in the “Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy”, my economy, short-cut to a degree in philo (grin, smirk). At first glance, his ideas seem rather close to panpsych as I understand it.

    Searle always said that a simulation would always be a dead computation. I claim that is because he could not imagine the hyperdetailed monster. But also, like most everybody else, he was and remains trapped by the view of consciousness as a sort of elixer. I believe it is time to give that up.

  71. 71. Paul Bello says:

    Yes, I think you misunderstood the context. The context specifically relates to religious ideas about the status of soul, spirit, etc. What I was saying in that post is that traditional Judeo-Christian texts indicate the person is a psychosomatic unity. Even the dualism of Thomas Aquinas is much different than the idea of separate mental “stuff.” That’s not to say that Descartes was wrong — I think the jury is still out. I’m particularly attracted to Aquinas’ notion of the soul being the form of the body. In some sense, this is almost like a version of property dualism.

    I stand by my earlier position and still am not convinced that phenomenal properties cannot be accounted for in this simulation framework unless there is an experiencer. The whole of phenomenology rests on this assumption. Saying that “what its like” is a result of a bunch of otherwise non-conscious goings-on in the controller that you mention is essentially saying that consciousness is an emergent phenomena, which while agreeable, lacks content. As far as what I think I perceive? I think that percepts come in, fire off expectations about what I expect to see next, I compare these results to what I see next, and if they don’t match, I move my attention. This is especially so if I have a set of goals, or I’ve appraised the current state of affairs and the amount of affect generated leads my attentional networks to either hyper-fixate, approach or avoid its contents. So again, all of this can be done within a simulation, and I suspect that mental simulation of expectations, etc. is a core cognitive capacity, but something in there has got to generate the emotional appraisals and “feel” the results in order to further guide behavior. So I suspect that this “feeling” part that guides behavior is the “I” and the thing that thinks about what I perceive.

  72. 72. Lloyd Rice says:

    Paul (re George Berkeley): OK. Not quite panpsych. But all objects are made of ideas??? really?? I suppose I’ll let it rest at that.

  73. 73. Burt says:

    I’m a little late to the conversation but as I consider myself a proponent of a sort of panpsychism, I am proposing an alternate view. In my philosophy, consciousness is merely another form of matter or energy. As matter and energy are totally interchangeable, so is consciousness interchangeable with the other 2.

    It is fundamental and not some emergent epiphenomenon that arises from a special complex arrangement of connections (neural or digital.) It comprises the n-dimensional warp and woof of the fabric of the Multiverse. All experience is simultaneous as time does not exist except as our brain generally perceives experience in a linear fashion so that it is comprehensible. The brain doesn’t create consciousness; consciousness creates the brain and everything else. The universal mind is the aggregate of all that exists (consciousness, matter, and energy) and each of us through our consciousness creates the entirety of our experience.

    This view has many ramifications and physicalists are loath to consider them.

    Here is a tidbit for the GUT enthusiasts:

    The phenomenon we call GRAVITY results from the innate gregariousness of consciousness, i.e., the attraction of consciousness to itself. That’s the missing link to a Unified Field Theory but most physicists have a problem with consciousness. They haven’t yet figured out a way to measure it with machines (ostensibly to eliminate their own consciousness from contaminating the research as they suspect (correctly) that consciousness plays an active role in the measurement process but their machines are also composed of consciousness.)

    Many of them ignore it or term it emergent epiphenomenalism and believe it is somehow generated from the complex physical structure called the brain. They use their conscious minds to derive their formulae but deny the mind’s or consciousness’ existence apart from the brain.

  74. 74. Lloyd Rice says:

    Burt: My only response is basically what I said in #22. As I said in #71, your beliefs are too far afield for me to comment.

  75. 75. Lloyd Rice says:

    To all the rest: I have immensely enjoyed this exchange. I hope we can pursue it further at some point.

  76. 76. Vicente says:

    Paul: thank you for the clarification, I believe now I got it right.

    Regarding your comment on Thomas Aquina, I understand you. My view is that as most scholastics (St. Agustin or other laity side philosophers under the church sight), Thomas put the chart in front of the horse, i.e. he took his time dogma and tried to construct a rationale for it. Therefore since “the resurrection of flesh” has to be taken on board, then that leads as you said to: “Aquinas’ notion of the soul being the form of the body” is more than convenient and “politically/religiously correct”.

    Well! and Whitehead (important in this post) with his “organicism” philosophy was a precursor of an idea that you might sympathise with (if you like Thomas view of soul as a body shape/shaper, actively?).

    There is a current line of “thought” based on “morphogenetic fields”, combining hinduism (chakkra), creationism, evolution blank zones, placebo effect, medical not explain cases, etc… really funny recipe.

    As I understand it they propose a dualism for developmental biology, so there is a driver “agent” for living organisms formation. Wether that agent is the same one responsible for consciousness…

  77. 77. Vicente says:


    “The phenomenon we call GRAVITY results from the innate gregariousness of consciousness”


    the phenomenon we call “ELECTROSTATIC REPULSION” results from the innate inclination of conscious electrons for solitude and fellow men rejection? for example… ;^)

  78. 78. Burt says:

    @Lloyd[74] RE: #22. Beliefs make us who we are. The religious fervor arises when one believes that the beliefs are, objective immutable truths. Truth is (as Kar Lee notes @#2) personal. There can only be subjective truth as all things are subjective, mental constructs.

    RE: #71? I “believe” it is #72: I would say yes: All things are made of ideas or “beliefs”. If this is too “far out” for your beliefs to entertain is it because you believe the Multiverse is external while I believe it is internal and an idea construct? If so, remember that what appears to be external is only a mental apprehension/re-creation and there is no way to distinguish “objective reality” from “simulated reality”. It is by convention and consensus that our simulated realities appear to jibe and it is trivial to remove each person’s reality from the apparent superposition.

    @Vincente[77] You are not incorrect, in my view electrons are quite the gestalt of consciousness. (BTW according to John Wheeler, a positron is an electron moving backward in time (time is another human construct) so there only needs to be 1 electron – it is just very busy.) Consciousness can manifest anyway it chooses. In this particular dimension (which we call physically reality), physical laws are a manifestation of particular aspects our personalities agree to accept for convenience. Consciousness just plays along with our beliefs.

  79. 79. Lloyd Rice says:

    Burt: Yes, I meant #71.

    You are of course correct that everything we know is represented in the internal data structure that I have described as a simulation. But that structure is created and maintained by a system of sensory inputs. In order to present a coherent view of an external universe, there must be a matrix-like system to coordinate these sensory stimuli. It seems to me that this coordination is most easily done by the external reality itself, rather than by any coordinated secondary system.

  80. 80. Lloyd Rice says:

    Sorry, again I meant #72.

  81. 81. Burt says:

    @Lloyd[79]: The external universe is an idea construct and doesn’t exist beyond each individual’s mind. The sensory stimuli are also internally generated, which is why in Libet’s experiments the stimuli appear to be anticipated before they occur. It seems to me that the inverse of your coordination matrix is the case. The secondary system is external reality and the primary system is internal reality. The job of coordination is infinitely simpler in this formulation.

  82. 82. Vicente says:


    According to John Wheeler, and many others, the Universe seems to be expanding faster and faster, maybe ignoring “the innate gregariousness of consciousness”?.

    Could you please give me the reference of the Wheeler’s paper (professional journal) where he formally presented the theory that states that a positron is an electron moving backwards in time (retrocausality), and there is one single electron, and that is why all electrons have the same mass and charge, and R. Feynman answered on the telephone that why is it that there are so few positrons found…

    Maybe if you say according to an extremely intelligent idea/hypothesis informally expressed by J. Wheeler, you would be more accurate.

    “physical laws are a manifestation of particular aspects our personalities agree to accept for convenience. Consciousness just plays along with our beliefs.”

    For convenience not to contradict EVIDENCE. Of course if you deny evidence, that’s it.

    So what is the substrate of believes, that consciousness plays along with.

    “The external universe is an idea construct and doesn’t exist beyond each individual’s mind”

    The point is that if you say EACH INDIVIDUAL, you are appealing to plurality, so what is there outside (external) each individual mind, for other individual minds to exit, the Universe? whatever it could be. I don’t find your statement consistent althogether.

    Maybe you mean that the idea, the concept or the model of the Universe we have is a mind construct, but not the Universe itself.

    And it seems that we are so masochist and unlucky, that we often construct a Universe for ourselves that is hell, what a shame, being a construction we could have chosen to build paradise instead.

  83. 83. Lloyd Rice says:

    Burt: I want to try to construct an economical and consistent understanding of your world. I am not there yet. I need to think more about #81 before I can continue with that effort. I was interested that my “matrix-like … coordination system” became in your version, “coordination matrix”. I was, of course, referring to the movie Matrix, but I can also see the stimulation pattern as a matrix.

    I is of course clear enough that if I am generating the entire shebang internally, then I can make it as coherent as it needs to be. That is not the (movie) Matrix scenario.

    Am I correct, then, in believing that, in your universe, no one else exists but me? Who, then, am I talking to now?

  84. 84. Lloyd Rice says:

    Thank you for the notation Burt[81]. I like that.

  85. 85. Lloyd Rice says:

    Burt: For at least two reasons, I suggest that this discussion might be better carried on privately. First is that we might well range far afield of the consciousness theme and, second, because I prefer not to use the terminology of traditional philosophy, most readers of this blog will find the discussions tedious at the least. If you are willing to forgo the possible audience for your views, I suggest that you click on “Lloyd Rice” above, then “contact us”.

  86. 86. Vicente says:

    Burt: “The sensory stimuli are also internally generated”

    In which case it is nor “sensory” neither “stimuli”.

  87. 87. Vicente says:

    in #86: neither nor, sorry.

  88. 88. Lloyd Rice says:

    Vicente: I would argue that, in a sense, they are “internal” stimuli, although they would definitely not be sensory. My argument is that in order to do what Burt is saying, the brain has to be split into two isolated parts, one much like we would say it is and another which maps the outside world. The interface between the two would have to be much like the sensory inputs we have. ie. “stimulating” the “inner world model”.

    I many major problems with that part, however. Just for starters, the “outer world model” appears to operate with fantastically greater consistency than my neurons are capable of. If my brain were doing all of that, I would forget from one day to the next what’s out there. But yet, it seems to be there, nonetheless.

    The only explanation I can come up with is that, in fact, the world does change from day to day and I never notice it because my expectations change at the same time. Yuk.

  89. 89. Lloyd Rice says:

    And that means that you are changing along with everything else, because of course, you do not exist. I am just talking to my model.

  90. 90. Vicente says:

    Lloyd: “the brain has to be split into two isolated parts”, yes I agree. I believe in this blog there was a post page for this topic, titled “the two chambers” or something like that, I can’t find it.

    I believe everything changes and evolves in a sort of flow: Panta Rhei so Carpe Diem.

    Knowing that philosophy is what you like most in life, I am going to give you an Heraclitus piece, that I came across in Wikipedia, and I think fits in this post, and Kar Lee can take for the Universal Mind.

    “This Logos holds always but humans always prove unable to understand it, both before hearing it and when they have first heard it. For though all things come to be in accordance with this Logos, humans are like the inexperienced when they experience such words and deeds as I set out, distinguishing each in accordance with its nature and saying how it is. But other people fail to notice what they do when awake, just as they forget what they do while asleep.

    For this reason it is necessary to follow what is common. But although the Logos is common, most people live as if they had their own private understanding”

    you are welcome, no need to thank me.


  91. 91. Lloyd Rice says:

    Vicente: May I paraphrase? “I speak garbage and nobody understands me.”

  92. 92. Lloyd Rice says:

    Vicente: re Two Chambers. Clearly it’s an old, old idea. Solipsism has been around (in theory) for a long time. There is relevant material at (http://www.consciousentities.com/reality.htm), (http://www.consciousentities.com/pseudodoxia.htm#self) and (http://www.consciousentities.com/deadends.htm#solipsism), but I didn’t find anything called “two chambers”. As you know, Peter has several old pages in HTML that he has not converted to WordPress. But I suspect that we all have a pretty good idea of what’s there.

  93. 93. Lloyd Rice says:

    Peter, what an amazing blog! When are you going to tie it in to Cyc so we can just ask it about these things? 🙂

  94. 94. Paul Bello says:

    lol, Lloyd. Have you ever tried to actually *use* CYC? 😛

    Last time I tried, it took a near PhD just to figure out the *upper* ontology.

  95. 95. Lloyd Rice says:

    The only thing I have done with Cyc was a whirl at the answers game. I did read some of the literature and downloaded some files, but have not done any more with it.

  96. 96. Peter says:

    “the brain has to be split into two isolated parts”

    Julian Jaynes’ bicameralism?

    “When are you going to tie it in to Cyc…”

    Actually, Lloyd, as you may have guessed, I don’t really exist: the blog became a self-sustaining cognitive entity sometime in 2007 and has been running itself ever since.

  97. 97. Vicente says:

    Thank you Peter (or blog?), that is the one I was refering to.

    Lloyd, when I said I agree was in the context of your comment #88, i.e. it is needed for Burt idea. I agree with you.

    I would like to claim, acknowledging it is an absolutely unqualified claim, based on my very little knowledge about Cyc (and most other things), that: our human mind, has nothing to do with Cyc machinery and approach, so we manage to create rules on the fly and out of the blue, we are creative in a genuine manner from imagination grounds.

    Many will say that all it is at present in our mind can be traced back to some previous experience… and they have a point, yes.

  98. 98. John davey says:

    “I think this is not a simple belief, but a matter of practicality and how science is done. Everyone one who is in search of a reason to explain something is ultimately a reductionist.”

    It depends what you mean by “explanation”. I would say the ultimate goal of physics is “mathematically modelling physical situations in terms of its constituent dimensions of mass,space and time” (assuming mass-energy to be a synthetic dimension of all three).

    You will note that by virtue of its methodology it cannot, nor does not, attempt to provide an explanation for the constituent dimensions. No physicist would ever claim to know what time ‘was’, or what space ‘was’ , or what matter ‘was’. Atomic theory is not of course an explanation of what matter ‘is’, it is an explanation of how matter exists in space and time (if you don’t believe me, tell me what a quark consists of)

    If you like, matter, space and time are the metaphysical constituents of the science of physics. They are ‘givens’ to physics, and unresolved in themselves – they are the metaphysical input to physics and, consequently, once the equations are resolved, the only metaphysical output.

    It is not just difficult to see how the other great metaphysical class,mental phenomena, can be tied in to physics, it is evidently plainly impossible in a full incorporative sense. This doesn’t mean that any incorporation is impossible, just difficult – it would have to be on an adhoc basis like the current search for the neural correlates of consciousness. That strikes me as being our greatest hope.

  99. 99. Lloyd Rice says:

    Vicente: I would say that the obvious smooth operation of Blog is adequate proof that Cyc and other such mechanical methods can be made good enough so as to fool all of us. The question is: Who wrote Peter[96]? Was that really Blog? If so, why did it say “has been running itself” instead of “have been running myself” and why does it refer to Peter as “I”?. Apparently, Blog is not a conscious entity but only a “cognitive entity” as claimed.

  100. 100. Vicente says:

    Lloyd: I am sure that AI systems can fool humans (average ones at least), no doubt of that.

    I did like very much an idea you threw time ago about this blog being a place of ideas bouncing between minds. I don’t care much who is behind a comment, it would be interesting to know that somebody has connected a AI system to the blog and is fooling us all.

    What I really miss is metalanguage, which I find important for human communication. In this case, since topics are quite conceptual I believe they can be treated satisfactorily through this channel.

    Somebody said that he preferred to talk these things in the pub with his mates behind a pint. Well yes, but if I may share something with you, sometimes I have a very strange feeling that I know people in this blog better than some people I have been closely coexisting with for years, weird.

  101. 101. Kar Lee says:

    This has become a very interesting discussion because I see what you mean. I do have points I like to make in response.

    As someone has already pointed out, in the line of discussing what causality really is, one cannot even explain why a billiard ball colliding with another can “explain” the other one’s flying off in a different direction. There has to be a level below which we just recognize that it is a fact and no further explanation is required or possible. I said this with some hesitation because if one looks into history, this “lowest” level keep changing with time. At this point, the Pauli’s exclusion principle and Fermi-Dirac statistics take care of the billiard problem. But no one can guarantee that in the future, some new thinking will pop up to explain Mr. Pauli’s principle.

    And that leads us the the second point, the irreducibility of mass. While mass seems to be a metaphysical input into physics, but once Einstein realized that mass is not a constant for a piece of object, but rather a function of its motion state, the fundamentality and irreducibility of mass is challenged. Then once we get into the standard model in physics, the Higgs field and the mechanism of spontaneous symmetry breaking seems to be able to account for the origin of all mass. If they manage to find the Higgs boson in the Hadron Collider, mass is no longer a fundamental metaphysical input into physics, but is originated from even lower level things in physics itself.

    We see time and time again, what once recognized as fundamental at one point, becomes something that is derived.

    I believe your definition of the ultimate goal for physics contains a lot of truth, but the question of whether space, time and mass are indeed fundamental has yet to be resolved, and the quest is within physics itself.

    On the other hand, the term “physical” is also an evolving concept, even among professional physicists. David Mermin (you automatically know Mermin if you are a physicist) generated quite a bit of discussions last year on the publication Physics Today on whether the wavefunction is real. I will ask the same question about gravitational field. Are these “physical” objects or just mathematical constructs to help us think? Many physicists think they are physical, but many don’t. My point is, what once thought of as non-physical can one day become physical if we get around to deal with it in new ways.

    The boundary between physical, non-physical, and metaphysical is surprisingly unclear. Why the hard problem is still merely just a hard problem instead of an “impossible problem” is because we still want to allow ourselves some surprises.

    Who knows, the mind may be physical some day (The Universal Mind is physical! Sounds like a good title for a book!).

    Ultimately, space and time is our perception. Why space and time show up to me the way they show up is the target of explanation for me: the mystery of existence. I can live happily without knowing the reason if I know I won’t die. But the fact that I will die at some point in the future implies that space and time will no longer show up the way they show up for me beyond certain point in the future, it becomes a personal question that needs to be resolved, and that is the target of explanation. In a certain way, philosophy and religion are not all that different. The real difference is in when you give up.

    As for what a quark is made of? It is a topological space-time soliton with a certain winding number 🙂

  102. 102. Vicente says:

    Kar Lee and John, I quite agree with both.

    Kar Lee, correct me if I am wrong, but the problem (one of them) with the reality of the wave function is a debate that comes from long before Mermin Today’s article, it comes directly from Schrödinger’s time, and it raises because the wave function is intrinsically a complex funtion, we don’t take its real or imaginary parts, it is intrinsically complex (Mermin just added his view to the interpretation you mentioned before, fine).

    In my opinion, the point is if physics will eventually be a CLOSED, CONSISTENT, COHERENT body of knowledge, if it includes some fundamental (non further reducible) concepts, well, that is going to happen for sure, it cannot be avoided.

    “Why the hard problem is still merely just a hard problem instead of an “impossible problem” is because we still want to allow ourselves some surprises.”

    I was exactly aiming to this statement, when I mentioned the possibility of using “existence and unicity theorems” like approaches for the hard problem. So at least we can prove it has no solution in the sphere of physics.

    So I will just add to your statement, Kar Lee, “impossible for physics”, if there is nothing more than physics then “absolutely impossible”, but then, if there is nothing more than physics: why is the problem impossible for physics !?

    I have the impression I have said something really important in the last paragraph (or maybe I am conceited about it, like Lloyd with his idea).

    I found cmmt #101 excellent.

  103. 103. Lloyd Rice says:

    Vicente: I agree that there is a certain kind intellectual camaraderie here that’s hard to find elsewhere. I have the metalanguage aspects with my lunchtime friend, but we talk about this blog.

  104. 104. Lloyd Rice says:

    Kar Lee: “a topological space-time soliton”. In what medium?

  105. 105. John davey says:

    “It is a topological space-time soliton”

    I assume this was a joke – but it proves the point . I didn’t ask what it’s “physics” definition was: I asked what it was. What you gave me was a definition relating it to spacetime : i asked what it consisted of. There will never be an answer to that provided by physics : it just isn’t going to happen.

    There will never be an explanation of what space, time or mass is – maybe there will be proffered explanations in terms of aggregate concepts (spacetime, massenergy) etc. but we are left with the same questions (what does spacetime consist of ? what does massenergy consist of?). You cannot square the circle that physics is a maths discipline, mathematics is a syntactical tool and the universe is pure semantic. Physics is doomed to never answer the ultimate questions.

    And why should it ? We are only human after all, and physics is a human pursuit. Physics has no phenomenological characteristics. This is where the arguments about strong AI and the ultimate aims of physics unite. People who say ‘the universe just consist of meaningless particles’ are probably right, but that language does not turn particles into blobs of information or mathematics. They remain matter, with all the phenomenological characteristics connected therewith. One of those well established phenomenolgical characteristics is the generation of real, semantical, mental states. From the ‘meaningless’ particles of the brain comes forth meaning. We And contemporary physics is incapable of predicting that. It’s a problem – but not with brains, it’s a problem with physics.

  106. 106. Lloyd Rice says:

    John: I guess I believe all of that. I would still like to know how a Higgs boson works, but I suppose this is not the place to go into that.

  107. 107. Burt says:

    @Vicente[82] Sorry for the late reply – I have limited computer access and time.

    “Could you please give me the reference of the Wheeler’s paper?”
    My reference was purely anecdotal – I’ve been quoting it for almost 30 years – I found the same reference as you when I just looked for it.

    “For convenience not to contradict EVIDENCE. Of course if you deny evidence, that’s it.”

    Evidence is subjective. One person’s evidence may not be evidence to another. I deny many evidentiary adducements as they do not stand upon rigorous analysis.

    “So what is the substrate of believes, that consciousness plays along with.”

    Individual and mass perception.

    “The point is that if you say EACH INDIVIDUAL, you are appealing to plurality, so what is there outside (external) each individual mind, for other individual minds to exit, the Universe?”

    There is only external reality as perceived by the individual which is modeled internally. I don’t understand what you mean by “other individual minds to exit, the Universe?” There is no outside except as one believes there to be.

    “Maybe you mean that the idea, the concept or the model of the Universe we have is a mind construct, but not the Universe itself.”

    No I mean the Universe itself is a mind construct as well as a model.

    “And it seems that we are so masochist and unlucky, that we often construct a Universe for ourselves that is hell, what a shame, being a construction we could have chosen to build paradise instead.”

    We construct the Universe and personal experience to comport with our beliefs. Some create what they might term Hell and others create paradise. Each entity creates experience for their edification. Beliefs are tricky, if you wish to know what you actually believe, examine your experiences. Seemingly fixed experiences can be altered by altering our beliefs about their nature and utility.


    ‘Burt: “The sensory stimuli are also internally generated”
    In which case it is nor “sensory” neither “stimuli”.’

    The stimuli are generated by our emotions and sensed through the filter of our beliefs about reality.

    @Lloyd[88] & Vicente[90 & 97]

    “My argument is that in order to do what Burt is saying, the brain has to be split into two isolated parts, one much like we would say it is and another which maps the outside world.”

    The brain has nothing to do with it per se, the brain is like a TV set receiver which needs a transmitter of information to produce intelligible patterns. Consciousness is the transmitter and consciousness may manifest in infinite patterns or states. The brain just focuses and translates patterns of consciousness, shaped via our belief systems into what we call “reality”.

  108. 108. Jonathan Speke Laudly says:

    Hi, Jonathan Speke Laudly here,

    I am coming to think that the most basic and encompassing idea or intuition is on a par with the least
    and that life is broader and more varied than any labels. But if I had to choose one label it would be
    that the world consists of–whatever shows up. In asserting this I am not positing that it shows up to anyone—rather that if there is an anyone,a self, it is just one of the things that shows up.
    But I insist that the concept itself should be left behind and what shows up simply attended to. This is the world arising moment by moment–it is the making of the world. Actuality.
    And that includes sense and thought and all in all–and all of it the same–the same showing up. The fly and the elephant.
    “What shows up”–is my verbal pointing to the fact that at base things showing up is all there is. If things stopped showing up—then nothing shows up. (one could say that a nothing is a something, but some other time). To know what there is in actuality–simply be present to what shows up.
    I suppose that my approach comes partly from my conviction that no one knows what anything is, nor generally what everything is.
    Science has atoms and forces and so on. But if you ask what a particle is
    or a quantum fluctuation, it is a unit of energy in some sense. And what is a unit of energy? Why it is something that does work, has certain behaviors and effects. And if you ask
    what are behaviors and effects and work, why it is that thing doing that over there or this phenomenon here, and if you ask what those things are
    why, they are amalgams of atoms and forces! Round and round. A ring of mutual definition.
    Leaves me in the icy cold of space
    Spiritual conceptions? Same. Round and round.
    I begin to long for something fundamental–rock solid, the most obvious in front of your face thing.
    What could it be?
    What is there moment by moment.
    All of it. What else could the world be?
    I find this oddly satisfying.I think it is because all the concepts I have had about what the world is got me no closer to the actuality of it. Only being present to what actually shows up shows deeply the actuality to me.
    I know it is not very glamorous–but simply being present is the most
    solid answer to what everything is
    that I have found.

  109. 109. Richard Miles says:

    I have written what I believe is a missing approach to psychology,you may find it helpful.It can be read on the web: perhapspeace.co.uk On the home page scroll down to the right and click on My philosophy of psychology.

  110. 110. Andy Kay says:

    Invitation to comment:


    In Defence of Panexperientialism
    Objective and Subjective
    “Other Minds” and Solipsism
    The Status of Science
    Talking about Consciousness
    The Mind/Body Problem
    Recreational Metaphysics
    The Combination Problem
    The Boundaries of Panexperientialism
    The Concept of Self
    1. The Self as the Person
    2. The Self as the Subject of Consciousness
    3. The Self as the Agent of Action
    4. The Self as the Field of Experience
    Appendix 1: Some Physics
    Appendix 2: Mass in Multi-Particle Systems

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