lightChristof Koch declares himself a panpsychist in this interesting piece, but I don’t think he really is one. He subscribes to the Integrated Information Theory (IIT) of Giulio Tononi, which holds that consciousness is created by the appropriate integration of sufficient quantities of information. The level of integrated information can be mathematically expressed in a value called Phi: we have discussed this before a couple of times. I think this makes Koch an emergentist, but curiously enough he vigorously denies that.

Koch starts with a quotation about every outside having an inside which aptly brings out the importance of the first-person perspective in all these issues. It’s an implicit theme of what Koch says (in my reading at least) that consciousness is something extra. If we look at the issue from a purely third-person point of view, there doesn’t seem to be much to get excited about. Organisms exhibit different levels of complexity in their behaviour and it turns out that this complexity of behaviour arises from a greater complexity in the brain. You don’t say! The astonishment meter is still indicating zero. It’s only when we add in the belief that at some stage the inward light of consciousness, actual phenomenal experience, has come on that it gets interesting. It may be that Koch wants to incorporate panpsychism into his outlook to help provide that ineffable light, but attempting to make two theories work together is a risky path to take. I don’t want to accuse anyone of leaning towards dualism (which is the worst kind of philosophical bitchiness) but… well, enough said. I think Koch would do better to stick with the austere simplicity of IIT and say: that magic light you think you see is just integrated information. It may look a bit funny but that’s all it is, get used to it.

He starts off by arguing persuasively that consciousness is not the unique prerogative of human beings. Some, he says, have suggested that language is the dividing line, but surely some animals, preverbal infants and so on should not be denied consciousness? Well, no, but language might be interesting, not for itself but because it is an auxiliary effect of a fundamental change in brain organisation, one that facilitates the handling of abstract concepts, say (or one that allows the integration of much larger quantities of information, why not?). It might almost be a side benefit, but also a handy sign that this underlying reorganisation is in place, which would not be to say that you couldn’t have the reorganisation without having actual language. We would then have something, human-style thought, which was significantly different from the feelings of dogs, although the impoverishment of our vocabulary makes us call them both consciousness.

Still, in general the view that we’re dealing with a spectrum of experience, one which may well extend down to the presumably dim adumbrations of worms and insects, seems only sensible.

One appealing way of staying monist but allowing for the light of phenomenal experience is through emergence: at a certain level we find that the whole becomes more than the sum of its parts: we do sort of get something extra, but in an unobjectionable way. Strangely, Koch will have no truck with this kind of thinking. He says

‘the mental is too radically different for it to arise gradually from the physical’.

At first sight this seemed to me almost a direct contradiction of what he had just finished saying. The spectrum of consciousness suggests that we start with the blazing 3D cinema projector of the human mind, work our way down to the magic lanterns of dogs, the candles of newts, and the faint tiny glows of worms – and then the complete darkness of rocks and air. That suggests that consciousness does indeed build up gradually out of nothing, doesn’t it? An actual panpsychist, moreover, pushes the whole thing further, so that trees have faint twinkles and even tiny pieces of clay have a detectable scintilla.

Koch’s view is not, in fact, contradictory: what he seems to want is something like one of those dimmer switches that has a definite on and off, but gradations of brightness when on. He’s entitled to take that view, but I don’t think I agree that gradual emergence of consciousness is unimaginable. Take the analogy of a novel. We can start with Pride and Prejudice, work our way down through short stories or incoherent first drafts, to recipe books or collections of limericks, books with scribble and broken sentences, down to books filled with meaningless lines, and the chance pattern of cracks on a wall. All the way along there will be debatable cases, and contrarians who disbelieve in the real existence of literature can argue against the whole thing (‘You need to exercise your imagination to make Pride and Prejudice a novel; but if you are willing to use your imagination I can tell you there are finer novels in the cracks on my wall than anything Jane bloody Austen ever wrote…’) : but it seems clear enough to me that we can have a spectrum all the way down to nothing. That doesn’t prove that consciousness is like that, but makes it hard to assert that it couldn’t be.
The other reason it seems odd to hear such an argument from Koch is that he espouses the IIT which seems to require a spectrum which sits well with emergentism. Presumably on Koch’s view a small amount of integrated information does nothing, but at some point, when there’s enough being integrated, we start to get consciousness? Yet he says:

“if there is nothing there in the first place, adding a little bit more won’t make something. If a small brain won’t be able to feel pain, why should a large brain be able to feel the god-awfulness of a throbbing toothache? Why should adding some neurons give rise to this ineffable feeling?”

Well, because a small brain only integrates a small amount of information, whereas a large on integrates enough for full consciousness? I think I must be missing something here, but look at this.

“ [Consciousness] is a property of complex entities and cannot be further reduced to the action of more elementary properties. We have reached the ground floor of reductionism.”

Isn’t that emergence? Koch must see something else which he thinks is essential to emergentism which he doesn’t like, but I’m not seeing it.

The problem with Koch being panpsychist is that for panpsychists souls (or in this case consciousness) have to be everywhere. Even a particle of stone or a screwed-up sheet of wrapping paper must have just the basic spark; the lights must be at least slightly on. Koch doesn’t want to go quite that far – and I have every sympathy with that, but it means taking the pan out of the panpsychist. Koch fully recognises that he isn’t espousing traditional full-blooded panpsychism but in my opinion he deviates too far to be entitled to the badge. What Koch believes is that everything has the potential to instantiate consciousness when correctly organised and integrated. That amounts to no more than believing in the neutrality of the substrate, that neurons are not essential and that consciousness can be built with anything so long as its functional properties are right. All functionalists and a lot of other people (not everyone, of course) believe that without being panpsychists.

Perhaps functionalism is really the direction Koch’s theories lean towards. After all, it’s not enough to integrate information in any superficial way. A big database which exhaustively cross-referenced the Library of Congress would not seem much of a candidate for consciousness. Koch realises that there have to be some rules about what kinds of integration matter, but I think that if the theory develops far enough these other constraints will play an increasingly large role, until eventually we find that they have taken over the theory and the quantity of integrated information has receded to the status of a necessary but not sufficient condition.

I suppose that that might still leave room for Tononi’s Phi meter, now apparently built, to work satisfactorily. I hope it does, because it would be pretty useful.

55 Comments

  1. 1. Arnold Trehub says:

    Peter: “It’s only when we add in the belief that at some stage the inward light of consciousness, actual phenomenal experience, has come on that it gets interesting.”

    I fully agree with this. So what turns the inward light of consciousness on? As far as I can determine, integrated information is a non-starter. I argue that the emergence of a system of brain mechanisms that give creatures an internal perspectival representation of the space they live in — subjectivity — is what turns the light on. See “A Foundation for the Scientific Study of Consciousness” on my Research Gate page here:

    https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Arnold_Trehub/?ev=hdr_xprf

  2. 2. John Gregg says:

    It sure sounds like Koch is a flat-out functionalist/emergentist. As such he falls prey to the arguments against these positions. Emergence, as David Chalmers once said, is a purely psychological phenomenon. It is a measure of nothing but our surprise at the macro-consequences of micro-facts, like the liquidity of water emerging from the individual H2O molecules. This surprise is a function of our cognitive and perceptual limitations, nothing more.

    Functionalism, and its subset, integrated information theory, relies on an airy-fairy cloud of unrealized hypotheticals. In what sense is any information system “integrated” when the the electrons aren’t flowing on a particular channel, or only one particular signal is flowing? It is only integrated in the sense that if this and that were to happen, then this module would send this signal to that module, etc. If..then, if..then, if..then. How does the system “know” it is “integrated” if its integration is defined in terms of these hypotheticals? Functional dispositions comprise a soft foundation indeed for an ontology of mind. A block of marble has a functional disposition: if struck with a chisel in the right ways, it will become Michelangelo’s David. So it is with all functional dispositions.

    -John Gregg
    http://www.jrg3.net/mind/

  3. 3. Hunt says:

    Sounds like a theory very attractive to people who have grown tired of not figuring out what consciousness is. So what is the proper means to integrate information to achieve consciousness? Why it’s that arrangement which delivers a non-zero Phi result, and what does Phi give? The corresponding level of consciousness. It’s question begging, unfalsifiable nonsense. That which explains everything explains nothing.

  4. 4. scott bakker says:

    Excellent piece. As much as I like them, I find both Koch and Tononi to be confusing when it comes the very questions they claim to be able to answer. Whether IIT or GNW something nonlocal seems necessary. It really is unfortunate that field theories have been lumped into the quantum camp. Neural field effects are pretty clearly a real possibility, and I agree with McFadden that it’s something evolution almost certainly would have leapt on. Anything more on CEMI in the pipes, Peter?

  5. 5. Peter says:

    Scott – I don’t know: I think I was a bit unsympathetic to McFadden last time round, so maybe I owe him another look. Ephaptic coupling and related phenomena are definitely a thing and very likely of some interest, though my guess is that we’re talking footnotes, not central theoretical ideas.

  6. 6. Arnold Trehub says:

    Scott: “Neural field effects are pretty clearly a real possibility, and I agree with McFadden that it’s something evolution almost certainly would have leapt on.”

    All active neuronal populations create EM fields by the superposition of their local field potentials. So what distinguishes conscious fields from non-conscious EM fields?

  7. 7. scott bakker says:

    Arnold: Wavelength. This is one respect in which CEMI is far superior to IITC or GNW, both of which rely on neural identity – whatever that amounts to. Tononi can argue his different wiring diagrams, but he actually can’t say why ANY configuration is prone to generate a conscious simultaneity of information (the fact that consciousness possesses ‘bandwidth’), let alone why one configuration is concious and not another. McFadden’s idea (as opposed to Pockett’s (if I remember correctly)) is that information integration is the evolutionary function of the specific variety of EM fields behind consciousness, what generates the information exchange of the global workspace. On CEMI, consciousness arises at the intersection of TWO information processing mechanisms, one neural, the other electromagnetic (thus obviating the problem of panpsychism). All neurons are broadcasting, but not all are broadcasting and receiving.

    It certainly fits hand-in-glove with BBT.

  8. 8. Arnold Trehub says:

    Scott: “All neurons are broadcasting, but not all are broadcasting and receiving.”

    You will have to tell us more about this. Most neurons in the brain are influenced by their synaptic inputs and the EM environment in which they are “bathed”. So, in this sense, they are receiving as well as broadcasting. But not all are conscious. Again, which neuronal, populations are conscious?

    A few years ago, I was among others discussing with McFadden his CEMI model. As I recall, my objection was (and still is) that subjectivity is not a natural property of his theory. As for panpsychism, the retinoid model of consciousness, which imposes biophysical constraints (subjectivity) on the pattern of its EM field, clearly disposes of panpsychism.

    But I agree, that Koch and Tononi, do not further our understanding of how the brain gives us our conscious experience.

  9. 9. Charlie Chapple says:

    It’s interesting when a philosopher finds themselves between explanations like this. It sounds like Koch is associating with panpsychism because he believes everything has the potential to be conscious. As you say, Peter, it is in no way strict panpsychism. The dimmer switch is an excellent analogy. As elements come together in certain ways they could ‘activate’ the consciousness in other elements more strongly.

    The one question I have for functionalists and emergentists is why, if consciousness is created by the complex interaction of multiple smaller things, does consciousness manifest itself as a single coherent experience. This is a difficult question for the pansychist to be honest. Though it could just how it is.

    Unfortunately, as posted by some of the other posters, this kind of theory remains unhelpful in any scientific way because it cannot be observed. This continues to be the road block with consciousness. However, I still enjoy new perspectives on the subject even if they are unfalsifiable.

  10. 10. scott bakker says:

    Arnold: The posit is that the EMFs at issue somehow enable systematic field effects. There’s lot’s of hard empirical work to be done to be sure, but nothing you’ve mentioned strikes me as problematizing the concept. Am I missing something?

    The problem you raise regarding *subjectivity* is only a problem if you equate subjectivity with consciousness, as opposed to the way metacognition solves consciousness. This is the fallacy that I’ve ranting about all these years, the notion that consciousness somehow cognizes itself as it is (and no one has been able to tell me how this magical feat of direct cognition is possible), as opposed to myopically.

    As you know, I’m a ‘Dual Theory Theorist.’ So I would say you’re right to say that CEMI doesn’t account for subjectivity, but you need to explain why it *should,* given that subjectivity is almost certainly a metacognitive artifact. Subjectivity is what my own Blind Brain theory (which is a theory of the appearance of consciousness) explains, and it seems to be an elegant fit for CEMI, which is a theory of consciousness proper.

  11. 11. Arnold Trehub says:

    Scott: “So I would say you’re right to say that CEMI doesn’t account for subjectivity, but you need to explain why it *should,* given that subjectivity is almost certainly a metacognitive artifact.”

    The reason that subjectivity is critical follows from my definition of consciousness:

    *Consciousness is a transparent brain representation of the world from a privileged egocentric perspective* (see my paper “Where Am I? Redux” on my Research Gate page).

    So I claim that subjectivity is a real biophysical event that is the hallmark of consciousness. What definition of consciousness makes subjectivity a “metacognitive artifact”?

  12. 12. Jorge says:

    Arnold you wrote:
    “I claim that subjectivity is a real biophysical event that is the hallmark of consciousness.”

    That is one hell of a bold claim. It is impossible to “find” the subjective frame from a reductionist biophysical point of view. If I take your autaptic neurons and put them in a petri dish, nowhere is the private frame evident either from structural inference or direct observation.

    It’s kind of like saying that because my video card can render a First Person Shooter, my computer has a subjective frame. It simply does not follow. [I apologize if this is an uncharitable strawman and welcome correction.]

    That being said, I do agree that private subjective frames (that can be “filled” with phenomenomal content) are a key hallmark of what we are talking about with consciousness mumbo-jumbo, so I await some clarification from Scott as well.

  13. 13. Hunt says:

    I hate being Mr. Negativity, though that seems to be the trend, but it seems to me that EM field theories of consciousness have a key vulnerability in that consciousness just doesn’t seem to be very, or at all, influenced by external EM sources, though in my admittedly cursory reading I did note some studies showing neural effects of external signals mimicking brain waves. But doesn’t it seem rather sensible that if consciousness resides in a global EM field, that by now it would be common knowledge that strong EM fields can mess with your mind? For instance, in high-power radio transmitting stations, MRI imaging devices…etc? MRI does not affect known neuron function since neurons are electrochemical and the only real “electronics” (ion flow) in them happen syntactically and axonally over perhaps a few microns up to perhaps millimeters. Whatever this effect happens to be (it isn’t enough to kill us or scramble our brains, we know that for sure) it is far smaller than the relatively macro effect that a strong external EM source would exert over the span of brain regions, say in the centimeter to several centimeter range. Perhaps this objection has already been dealt with, but one would assume that the field governing consciousness would be utterly scrambled by something like MRI.

  14. 14. Vicente says:

    Hunt, very good point. Following your reasoning, it seems that sheer anatomy and physiology are much better candidates to support consciousness. Think of the reported effects of LSD. It is not just the psychotropic effect, subjects report to experience differences in quale themselves, like more vivid and bright colors or sounds (even new colors), as well as other mystical effects (the inside of A. Watts ;^)).

    I also agree very much with Arnold, the fields created by the brain (quasi static not EM), blur most of the information as a result of the superposition principle, which in this case results more in information mashing rather than integration. Of course, we cannot discard the new human machine interfaces based on sensors helmets that take advantge of those fields to extract some information. But in general, and assuming that the inverse sources problem can be solved with enough accuracy, the fields created by the brain only provide information of the physiological (not functional or logical) activity of certain areas (in the same fashion that a gammagraphy measuring oxygen of glucose consumption does). MEG can locate deep epilepsy sources in this way, EEG has not enough space resolution. Mind you, strong approximations are made, like currents are modelled as point dipoles!! and a strong statistical and DSP processing is required to try to see anything in the fog.

    I don’t see why we should assign more consciousness to those fields than to the infrared radiation produced by the brain.

    Jorge: private subjective frames (that can be “filled” with phenomenomal content)

    I believe, this doesn’t work, you need the subject, the frame and the phenomenal content to become one sigle thing… what is the subjective frame without the content? what is the content outside of the frame? who is watching the content in the frame? this model looks like the “spectator”, watching the “film” on the “screen”.

    Coming back to the core discussion, it seems to me that Koch has realised that strict materialism does not allow him to make any further progress, and he’s exploring new ways and approaches. Just see his references to the Dalai Lama or Spinoza, not to mention his opening with Watts, fantastic. This is why he’s so obscure, using strange formulas like the dimmer switch, the on/off relies on panpsychism and the dimmering on some emergence and information integration mechanisms, bizarre… The most interesting point is the on/off, anyway.

    I bet we will see even more daring writings coming soon.

  15. 15. Hunt says:

    Yes, it does seem odd to expend effort investigating a something the brain seems pretty inert to (electromagnetics), when something it seems acutely subject to (pharmacology, chemistry) is right at hand. On the other hand I can see the attraction that field theory offers. How great would it be to crack the “mind code” of coded EM fields that designate personal identity. Not only would it be perhaps the single greatest scientific discovery ever, it would make rational certain Psi phenomenon (to include another Greek letter), and by taking the unique signature of individual EM fields, it would possibly offer a scientific route to the preservation of the “soul” and immortality of sorts. Pretty heady stuff.

  16. 16. scott bakker says:

    Arnold: Your definition has always struck as me as problematic, Arnold, for reasons we’ve hashed before. In the simplest terms, it simply unpacks mystery with more mystery, more intentional posits (‘transparency,’ ‘representation,’ ‘perspective’).

    Hunt: This is the big objection, for sure. Radio waves, however, operate at too high frequencies to be a worry. Such is not the case with MRI’s, as far as I know, and yet MRI’s don’t impact EEG’s either. It’s not simply the frequencies, but the spatial configuration of the EMF that is crucial to generating interference. Vicente knows far more about this stuff than I do, however.

    Vicente: One of the mysteries of conscious cognition has to do with its low resolution (Prinz actually spends a great deal of time on this in his latest book), so the blurring of information might actually explain more than it discredits. Consciousness for me has the consistency of soup! Otherwise, physical things ARE conscious: the only real question is how. You have to admit fields + meat are at least as good a candidate as meat alone.

  17. 17. Arnold Trehub says:

    Jorge wrote:

    “Arnold you wrote:

    “I claim that subjectivity is a real biophysical event that is the hallmark of consciousness.”

    “That is one hell of a bold claim. It is impossible to “find” the subjective frame from a reductionist biophysical point of view. If I take your autaptic neurons and put them in a petri dish, nowhere is the private frame evident either from structural inference or direct observation.”

    1. A petri dish full of autaptic neurons is not a retinoid system and there is no principled reason to expect a subjective frame of reference among the neurons in the dish!

    2. If the structure and dynamics of a particular kind of brain mechanism were to successfully predict that, in a specified experimental setup, a normal person would have a vivid conscious experience (a hallucination) of a visual object without any such object being present in his/her visual field, we would be justified in thinking that the putative mechanism was the source of the conscious experience. These experiments were conducted and the findings were just as the retinoid model predicted. (See SMTT in “Space, self, and the theater of consciousness” on my Research Gate page.) In this case the hypothesized brain mechanism is the 3D retinoid system with its retinoid space organized around a fixed locus of perspectival origin which I designate the core self (I!). Notice that the claim for the reality of the retinoid system in the brain rests on the same kind of evidence as does the reality of the Higgs particle, namely that its theoretically specified properties successfully predict novel experimental findings.

    In science, even though we might each have different intuitions, empirical evidence trumps intuition. And there is an abundance of evidence that autaptic-cell activity in retinoid space (biophysical events) constitutes our subjective frame/phenomenal consciousness.

    The retinoid model explains/predicts salient features of our phenomenal experience under a variety of stimulus contingencies. So if we can obtain an external record of one’s phenomenal experience, it is possible to quantify, verify, and
    falsify any predictions made by the retinoid model. For example, in addition to the SMTT hallucination, it was possible to predict and verify a novel visual illusion — the pendulum illusion. The retinoid model predicted that if one observed a circle in lateral reciprocal motion behind an opaque screen with a triangular viewing aperture, one would perceive an egg-shaped object swinging like a pendulum pivoting at the apex of the triangle. The experiment was done and the results confirmed the prediction.

    Bottom line, the claim that subjectivity is a real biophysical event might be bold, but it is empirically well founded.

  18. 18. Arnold Trehub says:

    Scott: “Your definition has always struck as me as problematic, Arnold, for reasons we’ve hashed before. In the simplest terms, it simply unpacks mystery with more mystery, more intentional posits (‘transparency,’ ‘representation,’ ‘perspective’).”

    It seems to me that what I call the *transparency* of brain representations from the first-person perspective is no different from what you call “brain blindness”. And please elaborate on why you think the term “perspective” is packed with mystery. It seems to be no more problematic than a term like “blindness”.

  19. 19. Vicente says:

    Scott, I am afraid I have not read Prinz (yet).

    Let’s clarify the point. Electrodynamics play a central role in the brain works and in the rest of the body, and probably many more mechanisms like direct (non-synaptic) communication through membrane voltage coupling will be identified (already done), and other more sophisticated and subtle higher order multipolar interactions (or quantum effects) will be discovered. But this is not the issue at all.

    The point is that CEMI ultimate claim is that the residual fields originated by the contributions of all sources in the brain ARE THE SEAT OF CONSCIOUSNESS. Otherwise the theory will not add anything to what we already knew.

    IMO, this is just resulting from intuition for two main reasons:

    1) The fields seem to integrate several sources across the brain. Probably this is not the case, and integration only covers very small areas (it would be nice if somebody bothers himself to check this). Definitely the Global Work Space theory based on the thalamo-cortical system looks much more appealing to me, in this sense.

    2) The fields map (translate) a discrete structure (neurons),more difficult to equate with consciousness, into a continuous soft (like soup) structure, i.e. the fields, that seem more adequate to support consciousness from a naive (supersticious) approach.

    Biophysical theories aiming to explain consciousness must be founded on a more solid analysis (Arnold did his homework in this sense, with a well a constructed model and some experimental work on top).

    Scott, the fields (classical) are defined as the force exerted on the unit charge at a certain point of space and time (for every point). What does it mean that a field holds consciousness? Is there any difference with saying that a quark holds a unit of experience? does the expression “the seat of consciousness” mean anything at all?

    So, yes, I admit meat + fields are as good candidates as meat alone, maybe even better. Actually, I would admit almost anything at this point.

  20. 20. scott bakker says:

    Arnold: On my account, the strange properties attributed to the ‘first-person perspective’ are best thought of as metacognitive illusions. BBT relieves theories of consciousness from accounting for naturalistically inscrutable properties like ‘transparency’ and ‘aboutness.’

    Vicente: “Biophysical theories aiming to explain consciousness must be founded on a more solid analysis”

    Agreed, which is why I think more people need to be taking EMFs seriously.

    “What does it mean that a field holds consciousness? Is there any difference with saying that a quark holds a unit of experience? does the expression “the seat of consciousness” mean anything at all?”

    Damn good questions. If one means ‘subjectivity’ by ‘seat of consciousness’ then I would say, no, it’s not very meaningful. Intentional explananda are chimerical. If one means ‘information integration mechanism,’ then I would say, yes. As soon as you clear away our metacognitive intuitions regarding subjectivity (really, intentionality more generally) then ‘information integration mechanism’ is all we need. Once we find it, figure it out, we have scientifically explained consciousness.

    Once you clear away intentionality on the phenomenal side, things like flicker fusion, the way experience resorts to *identities* once the ability of our neural systems to register discriminations is superceded are the heart of the mystery for me. Unless I’m overlooking something, IIT or GNW have no mechanisms to explain this that I know of. Fields seem to be quite promising in this regard. I’m imagining them functioning like a patchwork sheet, ‘dimpled’ by the neural complexities it synchronizes and integrates. But I’m suspicious of these kinds of imaginings… Does it square with the physics in your opinion?

  21. 21. Jorge says:

    Arnold- Here is the critical experiment someone will have to perform in order to falsify your theory. Take a group of people with normal vision. Use TMS to inhibit their retinoid neurons, including the ones that represent position 0,0,0 (or an unrelated neural cluster as a control). Now, ask them if they can still report consciousness.

    My hypothesis is that these people will be conscious although they will not be able to locate themselves in space (or form a concept of space at all anymore). I honestly don’t know if TMS techniques are exact/powerful enough to perform this is experiment, but this would falsify your hypothesis. It has been reported that monks in deep meditative trance lose a sense of location in space, but I doubt these monks would tell you they extinguished their consciousness.

    A contrary result (which would make me much more inclined to support your theory of consciousness) would be the person being unable to answer questions regarding consciousness or selfhood in a coherent manner but being able to answer neutral questions, like “are elephants larger than mice?”) or simply loosing all ability to respond. This would lend much stronger support to your model than your current claims (which merely appear to be weak assertions that physical phenomena can cause changes in consciousness… something no one would seriously debate).

  22. 22. Arnold Trehub says:

    Scott: “As soon as you clear away our metacognitive intuitions regarding subjectivity (really, intentionality more generally) then ‘*information* [emphasis mine] integration mechanism’ is all we need.”

    “Information” begs the question unless it is unpacked. Here is the way I think about “information:

    My definition: *Information* is any property of any object, event, or situation that can be detected, classified, measured, or described in any way.

    1. The existence of information implies the existence of a complex? physical system consisting of (a) a source with some kind of structured? content (S), (b) a mechanism that systematically encodes the structure of? S, (c) a channel that selectively directs the encoding of S, and (d) a ?mechanism that selectively receives and decodes the encoding of S.

    2. A distinction should be drawn between latent information and what ?might be called kinetic information. All structured physical objects? contain latent information. This is as true for undetected distant? galaxies as it is for the magnetic pattern on a hard disc or the ink?marks on the page of a book. Without an effective encoder, channel, and ?decoder, latent information never becomes kinetic information. Kinetic?information is important because it enables systematic responses with ?respect to the source (S) or to what S signifies. None of this implies ?consciousness
    .
    3. A distinction should be drawn between kinetic information and? manifest information. Manifest information is what is contained in our phenomenal experience. It is conceivable that some state-of-the-art? photo—>digital translation system could output equivalent kinetic ?information on reading English and Russian versions of *War and Peace*,? but a Russian printing of the book provides me no manifest information ?about the story, while an English version of the book allows me to? experience the story. The “explanatory gap” is in the causal connection? between kinetic information and manifest information.

    In the retinoid theory of consciousness, the perspectival/subjective structure and dynamics of our brain’s retinoid space provides the causal connection between kinetic and manifest information. A very large body of empirical evidence supports the retinoid theory of consciousness.

    Scott: “Once you clear away intentionality on the phenomenal side, things like flicker fusion, the way experience resorts to *identities* once the ability of our neural systems to register discriminations is superceded are the heart of the mystery for me.”

    Flicker fusion like the phi phenomenon are easily and straightforwardly explained by the short-term memory property of autaptic neurons in retinoid space.

  23. 23. Arnold Trehub says:

    Jorge: “This would lend much stronger support to your model than your current claims (which merely appear to be weak assertions that physical phenomena can cause changes in consciousness… something no one would seriously debate).”

    You overlook the fact that the retinoid model enables much more than the assertion “that physical phenomena can cause changes in consciousness”. It explains in causal terms such critical, previously inexplicable experiences as size constancy, the egocentric stance, our ubiquitous experience of a world all around us, SMTT, phi phenomena, Julesz stereograms, the moon illusion, the Pulfrich phenomenon, map reading, etc, etc.

    Your TMS proposal sounds interesting. I certainly would like to see it explored by those with the proper facilities.

  24. 24. Mark Pharoah says:

    1. I agree that Koch does not make a strong case for panpsychism. He makes a strong case that gradual emergence is undeniable! – See my article on the panpsychism vs emergentism problem at
    http://mind-phronesis.co.uk/panpsychism-versus-emergentism
    2. More importantly Koch says
    “any complex system, as defined below, has the basic attributes of mind and has a minimal amount of consciousness”
    I see no ‘definition below’. He does not define system and in failing to do so, does not make a distinction between ‘true’ systems, material aggregates that are not systems, and what it is that might make one system ‘more complex’ than another. Find an appropriate definition here – http://mind-phronesis.co.uk/open-system-definition
    3. john gregg (comment 2):
    The integration problem: The key to making IIT a coherent thesis, is in determining the dynamic nature of ‘what it is to integrate'; and how complex integrations might emerge with novel properties, possess self-sustain characteristics and evolve.
    This entails understanding hierarchical systems constructs.
    Importantly, the term “hierarchy” is not in reference to increasing complexity or increasing aggregations of stuff (stuff being quantities of material structure), but rather a hierarchy of ‘types’ of systems-constructs – the types being connected by unified systems principles that explain their emergence i.e. one type of construct evolving to the next. Thus one gets – to use the language of IIT – a change in the format of information rather than an increasing aggregation or complexity of information. This is why the Hierarchical Systems Theory of Consciousness is the most coherent theory of consciousness – it explains the changes in format: it explains the nature of the construction of types of information inherent in the formation of systems hierarchies.

  25. 25. Vicente says:

    Scott,

    The question you make has not a straight forward answer. Everything square with physics as long as you don’t propose “physical” mechanisms that violate the current laws (Maxwell equations as summary). If we limit our analysis to electrostatic (very low frequency processes) in the brain, typical example is membrane polarisation mechanisms, fundamental for cell functions and nervous signal propagation, the electric fields involved are just local fields mediating the interactions responsible for the polarisation charges distribution (I am neglecting some complex phenomena that rule ion channels selective behaviour). Nothing else. At each point, due to the LOCAL net charge, you have an electric field (neutrality is maintain in average). These fields can be very strong near the charge layer but decay very fast with distance. Consider that in EEG what you measure is the polarisation charge accumulated on the scalp, not directly the electric field of the cortex neurons. Regarding magnetic fields, for the moment there are no proven interactions mediated by magnetic fields (some theories for pigeons navigation based on the spin of metal atoms in some proteins).

    So, this is the picture, charge distributions over the cell membranes that create local electric fields. When the tissues structures include many neurons aligned, e.g: pyramidal structures in the cortex, there is some space coherency in those fields as a result of larger polarised areas, which lead to the well known waves propagating over the cortex, alpha, gamma, etc, measured by EEG, or HMI helmets… The heart walls present a similar case. I don’t see information in this fields. It is not like an antennas array sending a modulated signal.

    It is just that. Why should we entitle those fields with conscious properties more significant than those attributed to the rest of the elements that build the brain? I believe that due to the two reasons I commented in #19, with no real rationale behind.

    Having said this, there are some issues related to electromagnetism that really interest me. If panpsychism has any truth behind, it is fundamental to understand the relation of consciousness with space-time itself. To me, this is a critical problem, how to assign space and time attributes to the phenomenal experience. How to assign coordinates to a phenomenal image, if this is possible. According to CEMI if the fields accounts with consciousness, we should be able to map field variables with consciouss attributes, or not? how do the fields account for different quale, color, or sound for example?

    Now, there is a curious fact, which is that the speed of light is constant at every reference system (this is beyond human intuition). Somehow, it means that electromagnetic waves (and photons) are intimately entangled with the fabric of spacetime itself. Then, as we have seen, electromagnetism plays a crucial role in life processes, so from this point of view I suspect that fields have something to do with consciousness, not in the sense that CEMI claims, but in a more profound and fundamental aspect of reality.

  26. 26. Vicente says:

    Scott, just one important clarification, the fields that control the charges distribution are just part of the system, the active part are membrane ion pumps that support the charge separation at a very high energetic cost. The fields act as limiting factors that lead to equilibrium, when the charge accumulated is large enough the electrical attraction of both sides of the layer (or equivalently the membrane potential difference) stops the net charge transportation creating a dynamic equilibrium (there is charge leak through passive channels). You can look at it using a mechanical analogy, as somebody stretching a spring, when the increasing tension (Hook’s law) gets strong enough the spring cannot be stretched any more. This holds for all body cells.

    This is just to show that the fields support one physiological mechanism among others.

  27. 27. Peter says:

    I see no ‘definition below’

    No: I did wonder whether the piece had been badly edited; perhaps some significant bits have been omitted.

  28. 28. Arnold Trehub says:

    Jorge: “It has been reported that monks in deep meditative trance lose a sense of location in space, but I doubt these monks would tell you they extinguished their consciousness.”

    Those in a deep meditative trance might lose their sense of location in their physical space, but in my discussions with practitioners of deep meditation it seems that they still experience a phenomenal sense of being in a boundless ineffable space. So there is no reason to think that their consciousness is extinguished.

  29. 29. Vicente says:

    Arnold,

    here we have again a clear example of our everlasting issue, now let’s go and observe and measure with an objective and scientific methodology the ineffable boundless space experienced by the meditators. Where is now the scientist looking over their shoulders?

    Do you really think this is like measuring the Higgs boson effects?

  30. 30. Arnold Trehub says:

    Vicente: “… now let’s go and observe and measure with an objective and scientific methodology the ineffable boundless space experienced by the meditators. Where is now the scientist looking over their shoulders?”

    Obviously, the scientist looking over the shoulder of the meditator will not have a similar conscious experience. This is why the SMTT experiment is so important. For the same reason, the LHC experiment was so important in confirming the Higgs boson.

  31. 31. Tom Clark says:

    Arnold:

    “It [retinoid model] explains in causal terms such critical, previously inexplicable experiences as size constancy, the egocentric stance, our ubiquitous experience of a world all around us, SMTT, phi phenomena, Julesz stereograms, the moon illusion, the Pulfrich phenomenon, map reading, etc, etc.”

    I’m wondering though how it explains the qualitative nature of experience in causal terms. All the findings you mention are quantitative.

    Poor Koch seems rather confused in this piece, calling IIT, a basically functionalist theory, panpsychism. There is no call to do so since IIT portrays consciousness as a system property, not a basic property of (for instance) the fundamental particles composing the system.

  32. 32. scott bakker says:

    Vicente: “Now, there is a curious fact, which is that the speed of light is constant at every reference system (this is beyond human intuition). Somehow, it means that electromagnetic waves (and photons) are intimately entangled with the fabric of spacetime itself. Then, as we have seen, electromagnetism plays a crucial role in life processes, so from this point of view I suspect that fields have something to do with consciousness, not in the sense that CEMI claims, but in a more profound and fundamental aspect of reality.”

    Thank you for the sterling explanation! I quipped the above quote because I’m curious to hear more. Care to provide a thumbnail?

    Again, the stumbling block for me regarding neural identity theories has to do with integration/binding: How does the activity of billions of neurons get summed into the low resolution simultaniety of experience? I can explain away the problems of phenomenality and intentionality… everything but this. Give me a secondary mechanism, one that somehow spans processes, and I think I have all that I need to explain away intentionality and so side-step the hard problem and demystify consciousness.

    I repeat all this because it makes me wonder whether there’s a kind of abductive ‘dual mechanism argument’ lurking around here, something that makes some form of *ephaptic* integration a necessary condition of consciousness… Hmm.

  33. 33. Arnold Trehub says:

    Tom: “I’m wondering though how it explains the qualitative nature of experience in causal terms. All the findings you mention are quantitative.”

    Are you claiming that the hallucinated triangle in lateral motion that is vividly observed in the SMTT experiment is a *quantitative* finding? It seems clear to me, and to others who have conducted similar experiments, that the finding is distinctly *qualitative*. The bridging principle that I have proposed for relating biophysical events in the brain (3pp) to conscious experience (1pp) is specifically aimed at promoting biological explanations of the *qualitative* property of phenomenal experience.

  34. 34. Arnold Trehub says:

    Scott: “How does the activity of billions of neurons get summed into the low resolution simultaniety of experience?”

    The short-term memory property of autaptic neurons and the spatio-temporal binding mechanisms of the retinoid system can account for our experience of an extended present (our phenomenal world). For a description of our brain’s minimal binding mechanisms see “Analysis and Representation of Object Relations” on my Research Gate page.

  35. 35. Tom Clark says:

    Arnold:

    “Are you claiming that the hallucinated triangle in lateral motion that is vividly observed in the SMTT experiment is a *quantitative* finding? It seems clear to me, and to others who have conducted similar experiments, that the finding is distinctly *qualitative*.”

    It seems quantitative to me in that everything predicted and explained via the model can be expressed in terms of measurable shape, size, location, velocity, etc., all third person specifiable properties. I don’t see how the qualitative, first-person aspect (the “what it’s like” color quale of the hallucinated triangle, for instance) gets captured in these findings.

  36. 36. Arnold Trehub says:

    Tom: “It seems quantitative to me in that everything predicted and explained via the model can be expressed in terms of measurable shape, size, location, velocity, etc., all third person specifiable properties.”

    Wrong. What is predicted and explained by the model is a particular kind of qualitative (conscious) experience (1pp) that can be *described* in 3pp quantitative terms. This what we have to do in order to provide a scientific explanation of “what its like” to have a particular kind of conscious experience.

  37. 37. Vicente says:

    Scott,

    I regret making the comment, I just did it to show that I don’t disregard the fields, my concern is just related to the rationale of CEMI. It is a vague idea simmering at the back of my mind that never gets cooked. I cannot produce a concrete meaningful statement about it. It is like when you feel you are on to something, but it never turns into a tangible proposition. Similarly, I have a few other insane notions related to some exotic quantum effects, today you can find them galore.

    My position is far from yours, I think science cannot tackle the problem of consciousness in the frame of the current paradigm, beyond neurology and psychology prosaic activities. I think a completely new concept, a new revolution in physics is necessary. But I am not really a dualist, since I believe reality is one (by definition), whatever it is, we simply can so far understand/describe/formalised part of it, not the whole. But I think the most important ingredient of the recipe is still missing. I could be a “missingmist”. I don’t really agree either with cognitive closure positions, because I think that if somebody would tell us, we could know much more. I am not only referring to the sort of revealed knowledge, gained in meditation or mystic experiences, but to a formal and logical model that includes subjective phenomenal experience as part of it (not just the NCCs that seem to support it). I suspect Koch, or C. S. Pearce, felt a similar frustration. But it is very disappointing to see how when exiting orthodox science schemes, everybody ends up making statements that could mean anything… i.e. pansychism…. since Teilhard de Chardin, nobody has written anything in this line at least nice to read.

    I didn’t mean to deceive you with my outlandish paragraph.

  38. 38. Jorge says:

    I don’t know if anyone has seen it, but Max Tegmark has joined the Phi party.

    http://arxiv.org/pdf/1401.1219v1.pdf

  39. 39. Tom Clark says:

    Arnold:

    “What is predicted and explained by the model is a particular kind of qualitative (conscious) experience…”

    I’m wondering how it explains the qualitative nature of experience in causal terms.

  40. 40. Arnold Trehub says:

    Tom: “I’m wondering how it [the retinoid model] explains the qualitative nature of experience in causal terms.

    The retinoid structure has causal properties that follow from the well known biophysical properties of its neuronal components when they are synaptically connected to form a mechanism that has been demonstrated to be able to generate patterns of neuronal activity that are analogous to the qualitative features of the SMTT experience (what these experiences will be like). So the neuronal structure and dynamics of the retinoid model enable one to successfully predict what kinds of hallucinations will be *caused* under the specified conditions of the SMTT paradigm. This is an example of biophysical causation within the norms of science.

  41. 41. Tom Clark says:

    Thanks Arnold (40). So the neuronal patterns are analogous to and predictive of qualitative features, e.g., the what it’s like of red. Now, if only we had a clear story about why the existence of qualia are a function of such neuronal patterns, we’d have the hard problem wrapped up. At the moment, however, it isn’t clear to me that or how qualia per se are *caused* by the patterns (which was my question to you), for instance in the way that motor acts are caused by chains of neural activity.

    I think we’ve determined from previous exchanges that you don’t think having such an account is necessary to claim to have successfully solved the hard problem. On your view, a bridging principle and co-variation is as far as we’re going to get when it comes to saying why the qualitative aspect of experience exists. Of course I’m hoping for more, but may not get it.

  42. 42. Vicente says:

    Tom,

    for instance in the way that motor acts are caused by chains of neural activity

    It is not the same case at all. In the case of qualia you cannot observe and measure directly their properties.

    If, for example, you are studying a spinal reflex movement pathway, you can follow and describe the whole causal chain in detail, from stimulus to reaction. And the movement is always well defined, observed and measured. There is a complete, physical and physiological model covering events end-to-end. This is the prosaic neurology I was refering to.

    Now, consider voluntary movements and trouble comes. In Libet’s experiment, for example, I still have not seen an explanation of what is the triggering factor that makes the subject push the bottom, whether he does it 300 ms before being aware of the decision, or not. Is it a sort of parasite process operating in the motor cortex, that suddenly colapses in the motor instruction, or what? when there is no external stimulus, how is the decision (motor command, conscious or not) made? In any case, I agree that this problem can be analysed on a neurophysiological basis, qualia on the contrary, I doubt it.

    For the case of qualia there is a conceptual and nature gap between the matter and the experience(the only bridging I see is a reasonable time synchrony). CEMI makes use of this fact to propose the fields as vehicles for consciousness. They are created by the brain tissue (the link), for each point they integrate the contributions of some nearby neurons, and in popular imaginery they look continuos and soft (like smoke of rays coming out of the head), features closer to conscious experience than those of neurons themselves. But these are no reasons.

  43. 43. Arnold Trehub says:

    Tom: “Now, if only we had a clear story about why the existence of qualia are a function of such neuronal patterns, we’d have the hard problem wrapped up.”

    This is your hang-up. It is similar to the conceptual blind spot that Stevan Harnad struggles with. Try to understand that a quale is not something *separate* that has to be a *function* of the neuronal pattern. According to the retinoid theory of consciousness, the progressive patterns of autaptic-cell activity in retinoid space ARE (constitute) our qualia. And these critical neuronal patterns (qualia) are CAUSED by the neuronal mechanisms of the retinoid system interacting with the brain’s pre-conscious cognitive mechanisms.

    Why should we believe this? Because we can now successfully predict, on the basis of the retinoid model, many different kinds of conscious phenomena that were previously inexplicable/unpredictable. We accept the existence of the Higgs boson and its unique field for providing mass on the same kind of evidence — the Higgs model successfully predicted what was found in the LHC experiment.

  44. 44. Tom Clark says:

    Arnold:

    “the progressive patterns of autaptic-cell activity in retinoid space ARE (constitute) our qualia.”

    It’s this identity claim that I and others have trouble with, since subjective painfulness, a phenomenal quality available only to the experiencing subject, doesn’t seem on the face of it to be a property of publicly observable patterns of autaptic-cell activity, which involve no qualities. We agree about the correlation between the NCC and C, but not about their identity. But we’ve ended up at this point many times before.

  45. 45. Arnold Trehub says:

    Arnold: “… the progressive patterns of autaptic-cell activity in retinoid space ARE (constitute) our qualia.”

    Tom: “It’s this identity claim that I and others have trouble with…”

    As I noted in my chapter “A Foundation for the Scientific Study of Consciousness”, there can be no *formal* identity claimed between 1pp qualia and 3pp autaptic-cell activity in retinoid space because 1pp *descriptions* and 3pp *descriptions* are in separate *descriptive domains*, an epistemological problem. Yet dual-aspect physical monism justifies the claim that 1pp (subjective) qualia can be *constituted* by 3pp (objective) patterns of autaptic-cell activity in retinoid space. The subjective and the objective are just two different aspects of the same underlying physical reality. It carries a more nuanced understanding of identity. And it is pragmatically supported by a record of successful prediction.

  46. 46. Tom Clark says:

    Arnold:

    “there can be no *formal* identity claimed between 1pp qualia and 3pp autaptic-cell activity in retinoid space because 1pp *descriptions* and 3pp *descriptions* are in separate *descriptive domains*, an epistemological problem.”

    Yes, we discussed this at length in comments at http://www.consciousentities.com/?p=1532#comments

    The way I see it, the prima facie differences between private subjective experience and public objects like brains can’t be finessed by appeal to the difference between first and third person perspectives. First person descriptions refer to qualitative states (my pain), while third person descriptions refer to the NC of such states (the NC of my pain). The NC can’t be an *aspect* of an underlying physical reality since it *is* that reality in toto. If the subjective were an aspect of physical reality, it would be accessible from a 3rd person perspective, but it isn’t. This suggests to me it’s a strictly subjective, private reality running in parallel with what the brain does. Strange, perhaps, but not supernatural and with some logical and empirical support from considerations having to do with representation, http://www.naturalism.org/appearance.htm#part3

  47. 47. Vicente says:

    Arnold,

    Why should we believe this? Because we can now successfully predict, on the basis of the retinoid model, many different kinds of conscious phenomena that were previously inexplicable/unpredictable. We accept the existence of the Higgs boson and its unique field for providing mass on the same kind of evidence — the Higgs model successfully predicted what was found in the LHC experiment.

    Not at all. Actually the analogy is even formally wrong.

    If you are equating qualia with the particle, then what you should measure are the effects caused by qualia, and predicted by a model, and not the effects of the retinoid cells predicted by your model. In which case, you would be equating the Higgs boson with the retinoid space, and not with qualia. So what you are saying is that your experiment shows the existence of a retinoid space, based on the “reported” phenomenal experience induced by the visual stimulus set up. There is still a big difference, which is that the retinoid system should be (theoretically) identified by anatomical and histological techniques also, something that has no equivalent in particle physics. LHC has nothing to do with SMTT.

  48. 48. Arnold Trehub says:

    Tom: “First person descriptions refer to qualitative states (my pain), while third person descriptions refer to the NC of such states (the NC of my pain). The NC can’t be an *aspect* of an underlying physical reality since it *is* that reality in toto [1]. If the subjective were an aspect of physical reality, it would be accessible from a 3rd person perspective [2], but it isn’t.

    1. Since we have no direct access to nature’s underlying physical reality, we can’t possibly be justified in claiming that any NC “*is* that reality in toto”.

    2. This is just the point. The subjective, as an aspect of physical reality, is accessible *from the 3rd-person perspective* as the pattern of activity of autaptic neurons in retinoid space. This is the *theoretical model*. In science we do not decide the validity of a theoretical model by pure reason (contra philosophy?). Evidence trumps intuition.

  49. 49. Arnold Trehub says:

    Vicente: “If you are equating qualia with the [Higgs] particle, then what you should measure are the effects caused by qualia, and predicted by a model, and not the effects of the retinoid cells predicted by your model.”

    I am *not* “equating” *qualia* with the Higgs particle. I am “equating” the neuronal structure and dynamics of the *retinoid system* with the Higgs particle. Just as the theoretical properties of the Higgs particle cause a predicted pattern of collision-particle tracks in the LHC experiment, so do the theoretical properties of the retinoid system cause a
    predicted pattern of qualia in the SMTT experiment.

    Vicente: “There is still a big difference, which is that the retinoid system should be (theoretically) identified by anatomical and histological techniques also, something that has no equivalent in particle physics.”

    I do *not* claim that theoretical neuroscience is equivalent to particle physics. What I claim is that the scientific grounds for claiming the validity of the retinoid model are no different in principle from the grounds for claiming the validity of the Higgs boson model.

  50. 50. Tom Clark says:

    Arnold:

    “1. Since we have no direct access to nature’s underlying physical reality…”

    Is this a scientific, empirical claim I wonder, or philosophical (“pure reason”)? Trick question! There’s no hard and fast border demarcating these disciplines, if you ask me.

    “2. …The subjective, as an aspect of physical reality, is accessible *from the 3rd-person perspective* as the pattern of activity of autaptic neurons in retinoid space.”

    You say you’re accessing the subjective, but I’d say you’re accessing the *physical correlate* of the subjective. The subjective isn’t accessible from outside the experiencing subject, that’s what defines it as subjective. To say the subjective is an aspect of the physical seems to offer a type of naturalistic unity, but doesn’t seem explanatory or illuminating, at least to me. But it seems we’re destined to differ on this.

  51. 51. Vicente says:

    Arnold,

    In fact, theories and models can only be proven wrong or insufficient by providing evidence against them. Popper’s falsifiability principle always applies.

    To make your testing procedure equivalent to experiments in physics, you need to predict a PHYSICAL effect resulting from the retinoid system activity, induced by any stimuli you consider appropriate.

    The LHC experiment could have been (and probably have been) carried out in a completely automatic autonomous mode, and software could have analysed the results and determined that the Higgs Boson was responsible the traces. This is impossible in the SMTT experiment, where you need two people at least, to “tell” what’s going on, because the results of the experiment are only revealed to them. Everybody can have a look at the data produced by the LHC.

    The SMTT is fine. All optical illusions are explained in this way, like when you exhaust some neurons by over stimulation producing funny effects (which, by the way, can’t be measured).
    I do not say that your procedure is not good to support the retinoid model to a large extent, but it is conceptually and essentially very different from experiments in physics.

    And, I am sorry to say but this one is outraging:

    It carries a more nuanced understanding of identity

    Identity allows no nuances: A = A first axiom of logic.

    Identity = *exact* likeness

    Now, tell me in those autaptic neurons what is identical to the phenomenal experience. Could you tell which parts, or combination of parts, in the neuronal network is responsible to each “part” of the phenomenal experience. For example, that dopamine molecule in one synapse from neuron 3 to 4, accounts (I mean IS) for the one of one “phenomenal pixel” in the image of this textbox that I have in my mind. Or how does this “IS” work, element by element, in average…. You can provide an explanation as nuanced as necessary. Dual aspect monism is stating the obvious, there is 1ppp and a 3ppp correlated (just that, not equal), but explaining nothing.

    Arnold, I agree that appealing to supernatural features helps nothing, but it is evident that something more is needed, and the supernatural becomes natural when the boundaries of the natural are broaden, by adding new knowledge.

    Then, to prove that the retinoid system is responsible for the half-moon effect, is not to prove that it is responsible for consciousness.

  52. 52. Arnold Trehub says:

    Vicente: “To make your testing procedure equivalent to experiments in physics, you need to predict a PHYSICAL effect resulting from the retinoid system activity, induced by any stimuli you consider appropriate.”

    Are you claiming that when the activity of the retinoid system in the SMTT experiment causes the subject to say “I see a triangle”, it is not a PHYSICAL effect? It seems obvious to me that this is a predicted physical effect. Furthermore, the pattern of settings of the oscillation controller made by the subject is another predicted physical effect resulting from retinoid system activity.

    Vicente: “Identity allows no nuances: A = A first axiom of logic.
    Identity = *exact* likeness”

    1. Identity in this sense is a formal concept. I have explicitly said that there can be no formal identity between objective and subjective descriptions.

    2. While your idea of identity is justified in formal systems, I challenge you to give an example of strict identity in nature. Even self-identity is suspect in the context of entropy.

    Vicente: “Dual aspect monism is stating the obvious, there is 1ppp and a 3ppp correlated (just that, not equal), but explaining nothing.”

    Dual-aspect monism is not an explanation; it is a metaphysical stance. Simple mathematical correlation between 1pp events and 3 pp events can NOT explain subjectivity. I have stressed this many times. What is needed are models of brain mechanisms that can generate biophysical ANALOGS of subjective/conscious experience (my bridging principle). This gives us an exemplar of “what it is like”, and this is what the retinoid model of consciousness does.

  53. 53. Vicente says:

    Arnold,

    The neurons firing in the retinoid system or any physical effect derived from it are the physical result, and what you would have to measure and quantify.

    The equivalent physical experiment is:

    1. To describe/model the anatomical and histological structure, as well as the physiology and I/O pathways of the retinoid system.

    2. To predict some measurable activity patterns induced by a controlled stimulus.

    3. To apply the stimulus.

    4. To measure the activity patterns themselves(if possible), and check the prediction.

    And here physic ends.

    5. Besides, the subject can tell you what he is seeing as additional valuable information, beyond the physical scope of the experiment.

    All experiments in physics end in step 4, no 5 is needed. Physical, and biophysical systems, except for the brain, need no reporting.

    I’ll take your challenge, and since you seem to be keen on particles, there you have your example, all Higgs bosons are identical, all electrons, protons, photons with the same energy, atoms in the same state, etc… are absolutely identical among them (as particles of a kind). So it seems that nature is build with different kinds of bricks, but bricks of each kind are all identical.

    N elements of any class are identical when it is not possible to differentiate among them (quantum vision of particles). To me, phenomenal experiences and neurons firing look very different, and they don’t belong to same class in any sense. Even more, I don’t see how to relate the properties/features of each of them.

    Yes, I am also very much interested in learning biophysical ANALOGS of subjective conscious experience, they constitute a very useful information to progress in the understanding of this question. I guess that we could have another exhausting debate on the acceptable meanings for ANALOG in that statement.

    I am sorry, I don’t understand your last sentence.

  54. 54. Arnold Trehub says:

    Vicente: “4. To measure the activity patterns themselves(if possible), and check the prediction.
    And here physic ends.”

    Don’t you see that “check the prediction” demands a public report of agreement on what was *consciously experienced* by N physicists to confirm the result? This is an essential part of the LHC experiment (the physics).

    Re the identity among all Higgs bosons, you claim identity arbitrarily on the basis of theory, not on the basis of direct knowledge of all aspects of a real Higgs particle.

    Think of the subject in the SMTT experiment as the biological equivalent of the Large Hadron Collider.

  55. 55. Andy says:

    “That suggests that consciousness does indeed build up gradually out of nothing, doesn’t it?”

    I agree. Nonpanpsychists refer to this “gradual from nothing,” but it’s not rational. Something can build up gradually from an asymptotic never-zero, but what does it even mean for something to develop gradually from nothing? Nonpanpsychisms must account for the process in which subjective experience is sparked by some particular physical parameters.

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