December 21, 2017 at 12:49 pm #1230
According to a BBC news report I watched a recent poll has revealed that approximately half of the people living in the UK believe in some form of life after death, and 1 in 4 believe in angels.
I wonder how this compares with the beliefs of people on utterz?
I believe in life after death. for the record and that by accepting Jesus free gift (It doesn’t hurt accepting it as it doesn’t cost you anything) you will live forever.
- This topic was modified 7 months ago by utterz.
December 21, 2017 at 12:50 pm #1231
Well I believe in life after my death, it just won’t be mine.
December 21, 2017 at 12:50 pm #1232
December 21, 2017 at 12:51 pm #1233
We do know. There is no possible mechanism by which consciousness can continue when the brain dies. Sorry to shatter your hopes for eternal life and everything, but why on earth would you want that?
December 21, 2017 at 12:52 pm #1234
That doesn’t mean we ‘know’. There are thousands of testimonies, plenty watchable online, from people who claim to have seen heaven or hell during near death experiences, many of which describe very similar things.
December 21, 2017 at 12:54 pm #1235
The notion of life after death is a poisonous one, because it makes people less motivated to make the most of actual life – and at its worst, encourages the idea that it can be OK to make others suffer, as long as it increases their chances of being better off in the afterlife.
Actual life is a wonderful thing, rich in possibilities and experiences. Enjoy it the best you can, and try to help other people do so too!
December 21, 2017 at 12:56 pm #1236
I don’t know about ‘is’ a poisonous one, but it can be, definitely. A fellow Forest School class member was/is a devout Christian, and feels really blessed by God for her lucky life, and gives thanks each day and feels greatful, so I can see how it’s not all bad if people are religious. As an ex Catholic, I couldn’t be happier to not be one anymore, but there you go, for some people certain religions can work for them. I think I’d have stopped believing whichever religion my Mum had instilled in us, in taking after my Dad. I don’t/can’t mind if religion genuinely enhances life for some people if it doesn’t encourage them to be harmful to anybody else.
December 21, 2017 at 12:57 pm #1238
Yes we know that once the brain is dead and the electrons stop dancing it’s game over.
Its odds on that all the people who think they have seen the other side have had a hallucination or a dream and it’s that well documented that we all know about the light etc and that will influence the dream.
But is there more to life than electrons dancing in your head?
I don’t know, you don’t know, no one knows until it happens to them and if it does happen they are not in a place where they can tell others about it.
December 21, 2017 at 12:59 pm #1239
I do know. I know that my living brain generates my consciousness and that there is nothing supernatural that carries on after the brain is dead on exactly the same basis that I know all the other facts I know about the world. It’s consistent with everything I know about the world, and I didn’t have to make it up as thing that there are no reasons to believe.
I’m going going to Greece in a few weeks. I’m going to book a flight, because everything I know about the world tells me that I can’t teleport myself there by pure will alone. That belief is based on consistency with everything I know about the world. That’s what makes it true, rather than made up. I could make up the belief that when I get up on the morning on my holiday, I will suddenly be able to teleport myself to Greece by pure will alone, but I know that that’s wrong because it’s inconsistent with everything I know about the world. There is no reason to believe it is true. This is the character of anything that’s made up and isn’t true, and it’s the character of belief in anything supernatural: it’s inconsistent with everything we know about the world.
December 21, 2017 at 12:59 pm #1240
All I know is that existence is just too weird to be taken at face value. Something else is at play I’m convinced of it.
December 21, 2017 at 1:01 pm #1241
December 21, 2017 at 1:02 pm #1242
The idea of reincarnation is even sillier. Especially when asking Western converts to some Eastern philosophy or religion claiming reincarnation who they were in a previous life the answer will always be something like Buddha, Genghis Khan, or some Romanov princess. The answer is never Jenny the Pox Ridden Prostitute (forgot where I stole that example from).
Even funnier is when the options for rebirth includes animals. Sorry, no tigers or horses on offer for you, Sir. Statistically almost every human is going to be recycled as some plancton crustacean, midge, or nematode. Count yourself lucky if you make it to mouse status!
December 21, 2017 at 1:04 pm #1243
And can anyone categorically state that we have reached a full and final understanding about all things metaphysical?
Who knows what discoveries might happen tomorrow or next week or in 1000 years time.
December 21, 2017 at 1:05 pm #1244
It depends whether you are seeking the truth or a theory that will make you happy.
If you are seeking the truth then rationally you should adopt the most likely theory. Whether it is ‘optimistic’ or not should be irrelevant.
If two people come out of a locked room after tossing a fair coin 20 times and one says every toss came up heads and the other says there was at least one tail then one theory is considerably more likely than the other. Same with life after death. Billions and billions of people have died, there’s plenty of evidence about what happens to bodies after death, we have no memory of anything before we were born, therefore the theory that our consciousness stops after death is overwhelmingly more likely.
December 21, 2017 at 1:06 pm #1245
I know that with a population the size of the UK the distribution should be normal but I’d still be intrigued to see how the mean and median stack up on this and, more pertinently, where the angel believers would lie on the bell curve.
I’m not sure they’d all be on the left – there are some pretty smart people out there who have faith. The follow up question in the survey would surely have to be: ‘do you mean like real angels with wings that are human but can fly and have haloes’?
December 21, 2017 at 1:07 pm #1246
We have absolutely no idea what consciousness (our ‘Soul’) is, or what causes it.
So if we don’t know that, how can we have any idea what happens when the body it lives in, dies?
(That’s probably more thinking out loud, than having any relevance to the question haha)
I think I’ve personally come to terms with the fact we have absolutely no clue whatsoever, and we probably never will. So why dwell on it?
If there’s something after, I’m sure I’ll find out about it when it happens.
If there isn’t, I’ll have had one hell of a time here!
December 21, 2017 at 1:08 pm #1247
Consciousness is not fully explained yet. There are theories galore but none are experimentally proven and despite bold claims that XYZ explain it, until a system is made with XYZ and exhibits consciousness, it remains unproven.
There’s no fundamental reason yet known why a consciousness can’t be shunted or cloned from a brain to another substrate, although the engineering side of such an effort is utterly unimaginable with current technology. 20,000 years from now?
In a wider sense, the death of a brain is not inevitable either. Aging is ‘simply’ an accumulation of effects and not a fundamental property of the lowest biological levels of our construction.
December 21, 2017 at 1:09 pm #1248
Personally I feel we do not talk about death enough. People are generally fearful of the unknown, and death is the great unknown. Therefore life after death is one way for those who fear death to cope and for the bereaved to cope.
I would think that climbing is generally an activity of younger people, they will not have given death too much thought. So they could be rather dismissive of such thoughts.
However as people get into their 60s, 70s, 80s and the big day approaches, possibly more believe in something.
Personally I believe in something, maybe God it maybe a great essence it maybe re-incarnation, I will find out one day. It costs me nothing, hurts no one else and when I have faced death, has given me comfort.
But I will tell you something, whatever is out there, I do not want to die to get there 😉
December 21, 2017 at 1:10 pm #1249
I wouldn’t call it the great unknown. I believe it will be no different than having a General Anesthetic or going to sleep. You are not aware that it’s happened, and because it’s permanent you have no memory of it, so you don’t “find out” anything. I have no fear of it for this reason. I am aware as I get older that the likelihood of it occurring sooner rather than later increases, but I don’t let it worry me.
The really traumatic event is the death of a relative or close friend, but it’s those of us who are left who suffer, they don’t.
December 21, 2017 at 1:12 pm #1250
How we deal with these issues is very personal and really one has to find what works for yourself.
If it is an untimely death such as a suicide or a child, very difficult. However with a person whose time you could say has come. I try to use Stoic philosophy, which would say that to grieve is selfish and you would have been better not to have known the deceased in the first place. So I try and think of how lucky I have been to know that person. Its not that easy though.
December 21, 2017 at 1:12 pm #1251
isn’t it more plausible that death might occur at different moments in a bandwidth of universes within a multiverse where consciousness persists till the final outcome in all can only be extinction? Do we exist in a single universe or does consciousness include leaks from suffficiently related streams?
That is of course contingent on the many worlds not being hippy mumbo-jumbo
December 21, 2017 at 1:14 pm #1252
@scraymary Consciousness is an emergent property that you see gradually appearing throughout evolution as organisms and especially their nervous systems become more and more complex. It is immanent to the individual organisms, implemented in its brain, and disappears when that brain is destroyed. There is no evidence whatsoever that there exists any external input that could influence a conscious mind but would otherwise not be detectable (your “leaks”).
Conversely, you can alter perceptions and moods simply by electrically stimulating the brain. The brain is also sufficiently plastic that you can gain some form of active control over normally subconscious layers. Hence, the perception of personal communication with a deity during deep, meditative prayer his “real”, inasmuch as the same brain regions are activated during an actual communication. Stimulate these regions electrically, and you can also make the proband hear voices. This happens quite a few layers of processing removed from the input through our ears!
Such effects are obviously to be expected, as we cannot operate directly on our sensory input, but require a filtered and interpreted mental image of the world surrounding us. Of course, any information processing system delivering this image can be fooled, either from without or, more pertinently for this discussion, from within.
What I find more fascinating is whether a sufficiently complex, parallel computer running in silico, that would copy the interactions between all neurons of a human brain and would change these interactions according to activity, would be or become conscious.
My tentative, materialist answer would be yes, almost by definition.
December 21, 2017 at 1:14 pm #1253
Well we are all talking from the perspective of insignificant apes evolved to avoid being eaten by lions on an insignificant planet in an insignificant solar system in an insignificant galaxy. I’d find it very surprising if we could understand everything or didn’t find some stuff weird.
December 21, 2017 at 1:16 pm #1254
The bits of long dead star it is made from will go on to have new lives after my death. My genes might also as will my thoughts, ideas and creations for a while at least in the memories of others and the things I’ll leave behind. That’ll do me just fine once the electro-chemical reactions in my head are done doing what they do. Each individual organism gets one life to live and enjoy or endure but life itself is a process, one ultimately dependent upon death for its fabulous creativity.
December 21, 2017 at 1:17 pm #1255
@ted thanks for taking the trouble to make such an interesting reply. to reply to your last point first I think if you are going to mimic emotions there is some possibility of a mimic of consciousness emerging as I am fairly convinced that self awareness springs in good part from emotions, almost by definition (movement from) refer to a centre affected by a stimulus, a change in mental state as a result of sensing the impact on a “me” at the centre point, whose displacement magnitude and direction then forms a stimulus to and enhances what should be an appropriate response. If we found out how this works in biology and therefore created an artificial analogue rather than a software mimic then perhaps self awareness could indeed emerge.
My thought was that if “many worlds” is a reality we don’t yet know or even imagine the proper relationship between matter which may be wholly or mostly in our reality and those many worlds. The reason I put this idea is that there have been situations throughout my life where additional information has come available, not often in a useful way, to me that is not explainable in everyday terms (eg subconscious absorption of information in advance). I don’t believe in magic or fantasy stuff and I’ve been long looking for an explanation that might lie in physics rather than anything supernatural.
December 21, 2017 at 2:00 pm #1281
@scarymary It is almost impossible to formally test and exclude such many worlds / backchannel communications ideas.
However, to me this concept seems more apt as a subject of fun speculation, like in the film Interstellar: If there were other universes that were in some way interacting with hours, I would primarily expect large scale, universe level effects reflecting interactions between the universes as such (e.g. laws of physics breaking down above some distance scale) to be more likely than interactions between consciousnesses on some arbitrary planets orbiting insignificant sister suns.
The likelihood that such experiences are generated within our brains seems much higher. We even know that we experience the temporal order of making a decision, and the triggering of the according motor response the wrong way around: Quite clearly, the activation of the motor centres precedes our becoming aware of the different hierarchies of our brain having agreed on a course of action. We just make up the idea that our consciousness drives our actions most of the times, when it actually is a rare exception.
Because we live in a world obeying a causal structure, we build mental narratives that follow the same rules. This is e.g. why we apply agency to natural events: We hear thunder, assume that someone made the thunder, and imply a thunder god.
Even if we now know better, for a long time this was certainly the more adaptive strategy than assuming by default that a branch cracks just so, not because a bear might be sneaking up on you, and getting eaten.
Combining the tendency of our brains to get timing wrong (especially during post-processing of the input and the commitment of episodal information to long term memory, also called dreaming), and our tendency to construct narratives, seems to me a natural and unavoidable way to generate “supernatural” experiences.
We are very good at fooling ourselves!
Anyway, with this I am out of here, I will be hitting the motorway a day early to avoid the holiday rush tomorrow.
Merry Christmas, everyone,
- This reply was modified 7 months ago by ted.
December 21, 2017 at 2:03 pm #1283
Personally, the total absence of any known mechanism for retaining consciousness after death, coupled with the total absence of first hand reports of life after death (that cannot be explained using already well understood phenomena), is to me a pretty good indication that there is no such thing.
December 21, 2017 at 2:05 pm #1284
@scarymary emotions are a subset of qualia, and there’s nothing special about the subset. The scientific (“hard”) problem of consciousness is explaining any qualia at all: there’s nothing special about the feeling of shame or joy or anger compared to the raw sensation of seeing the redness of red, or hearing the sound of a violin, or feeling the pain of stubbing your toe. They all present exactly the same problem: how does the pattern of neural firing associated with the mental state give rise to the conscious sensation? We know that it does, but we have no theory how.
This is such a hard problem that some of the cutting edge theories just choose to side-step it completely and pretend that consciousness doesn’t exist! Have a look at “attention schema theory” (some good stuff on YouTube) which is really clever, but totally ignores the question, for a start.
December 21, 2017 at 6:41 pm #1335
“Well, there’s a fairly good reason if we assume that consciousness is an emergent property of the electrical activity in the brain at a given time. To reproduce a brain’s electrical state there’s a pretty good chance you would need to reproduce the electro-chemical state of the ions that cause neurons to fire (or not), and complete information about a particle’s state is forbidden to an observer via the laws of quantum mechanics – and unlike consciousness, we understand those pretty well.”
The chances that quantum information about those ions affect the firing of ion channels seems pretty remote, let alone complete quantum information. Ion activated ion channels respond probabilistically to individual ions – but to individuals drawn from a background number locally of hundreds all in constant thermodynamic motion. Classical statistical mechanics can probably explain their firing perfectly well.
Stepping back – you can suppress ion channel activity with some membrane affecting drugs. Consciousness goes away. Restore it by flushing the drugs or increased atmospheric pressure (they work by shifting some membrane analogue of the triple point that affects ion channel behaviour) and tada – consciousness comes back. So the individual ions aren’t storing information on the structure of the consciousness, just participating in running it.
December 21, 2017 at 6:43 pm #1336
“What I find more fascinating is whether a sufficiently complex, parallel computer running in silico, that would copy the interactions between all neurons of a human brain and would change these interactions according to activity, would be or become conscious.”
@ted To me, this is the litmus test to definitely prove that consciousness emerges from a hyper connected biological neural network. Until this is observed to happen there is no proof to the theories that consciousness is some sort of emergent thing.
Another way of phrasing it is “is conscious computable?”. For if a brain simulated on a classical computer can gain consciousness, then by definition a program can be written for a Universal Turing Machine that is conscious.
I don’t think that consciousness is purely computable. I have a hunch that the various sources of randomness at macroscopic and microscopic scales are harnessed by consciousness, and true randomness is not computable (arising from quantum effects, but it in itself being non trivially quantum). This would resolve problems around some of the less computable aspects of consciousness such as inspiration and Godel’s incompleteness Theorem.
Doesn’t mean a computer is unable to become conscious, just that it needs high quality randomness to do so. Put a person into sensory deprivation removing all external inputs and they rapidly go bananas.
December 21, 2017 at 6:44 pm #1337
@erick That was Penrose’s thesis, though as I recall it didn’t get much traction and to my mind at least he wasn’t particularly persuasive. That said, he’s a fairly smart cookie and I wouldn’t want to bet against him, even though other equally smart cookies thought he was talking bollocks.
December 21, 2017 at 6:44 pm #1338
I’d argue that there is something different in kind. Presence or absence of light or a pattern in the light that represents a recognised object is a mechanical process with no “emergent” component. Responding internally with a liking or fear of what is perceived implies knowledge of an effect on the perceiver, as opposed to a direct action response triggered in a simpler organism. “this affects me And I am afraid, I feel fear in my stomach etc – Turn and Run!!!!” rather than “A.B + C.D.E = Activate(locomotory response(speed=fast,direction=away))
December 21, 2017 at 6:47 pm #1339
@frog Sounds to me like the difference between a conscious (with emotions) creature compared to a non-conscious machine. A non-conscious machine (or “zombie”) can detect an object through sensors that register light reflected from it. It can then process that information to create an appropriate response, all without generating any internal, subjective experience of seeing the object. You could also have a conscious creature that didn’t feel any emotion, but it did consciously experience seeing the object and knew that it was responding to it. The emotion isn’t fundamental to this, it’s having *any* conscious experience at all, accompanied or not by emotion that’s the fundamental nut that needs to be cracked. Emotions are whistles and bells added to the conscious experience to generate more sophisticated behaviours than would happen without that facility. They’re an evolutionary invention that must have come about long after consciousness first arrived.
I’m guessing here obviously, but a crab might be the type of thing that sees, and has an experience of responding to stimuli, but its nervous system might not be up to the job of feeling emotions. Or perhaps they’re deeply emotional, but you get the idea. I don’t however think that they’re not conscious at all, just purely mechanical (although they could be!).
December 21, 2017 at 8:14 pm #1366
I think Penrose says something like:
Consciousness is not computational (insert compelling evidence about maths and stuff here) so we need something weird/non classical involved to fit in the gap. We also don’t understand the collapse of the wavefunction. Let’s fill the gap with that (insert a maybe compelling thing about exactly where in the neuron the quantum effects manifest).
He’s still into it, but as far as I know no one else is.
Above is a fairly similar thing: consciousness is non computational. Randomness is non computational. So maybe consciousness is something to do with randomness?
December 22, 2017 at 10:32 am #1418
I went to see Penrose about this nine years ago, because it has quite a lot in common with a philosophical theory of mine … still ongoing. Very interesting it was too. (But of course I can’t discuss it – far, far too big a subject to natter about on the internet, when other, current work presses.) I was quite amused by your last sentence: x = z, y = z, therefore x (probably) = y. I can’t remember now what logical fallacy that’s called . But I’ll stick my neck right out and say that ‘randomness’ can’t possibly have anything to do with consciousness in any meaningfully useful sense.
December 22, 2017 at 10:34 am #1419
“I think Penrose says something like:
Consciousness is not computational (insert compelling evidence about maths and stuff here) so we need something weird/non classical involved to fit in the gap. We also don’t understand the collapse of the wavefunction. Let’s fill the gap with that (insert a maybe compelling thing about exactly where in the neuron the quantum effects manifest).”
Yup, pretty much.
“Above is a fairly similar thing: consciousness is non computational. Randomness is non computational. So maybe consciousness is something to do with randomness?”
I wouldn’t say it’s “fairly similar” – we have copious evidence of stochastic effects in biology, and almost no evidence of non trivial quantum effects in biology (there are some very specific ones being found). Almost everything that’s been discovered about non trivial quantum stuff suggests it’s almost impossible to build most of it in a biological cell. Conversely we are learning that randomness is harnessed by all sorts of biological phenomena at basically every scale.
It’s certainly a massive supposition for me to say that randomness may be a key component of consciousness but I like to think it’s not across a gulf of credibility compared to the Penrose OR theory.
A more bounded question and I think an entirely valid one is “how does the presence of randomness affect biological information processing”.
An emergent phenomena on a computational matrix is still bound to be computable. So the real question to be nailed down is “is consciousness computable?”. If it isn’t, by definition there is something more that we don’t yet understand. Which isn’t surprising because we don’t yet fully understand the functioning of the non-hyperconnected and presumably non-conscious 302 cell nerve ring in a C. Elegans worm despite significant efforts to do exactly that. So forgive me if I take proclamations about how consciousness must work in a human brain (with a billion times more cells and a trillion times more connections) with a pinch of salt. As Poindexter would note, we don’t even know what we don’t know yet.
December 22, 2017 at 10:38 am #1420
“An emergent phenomena on a computational matrix is still bound to be computable. So the real question to be nailed down is “is consciousness computable?”. If it isn’t, by definition there is something more that we don’t yet understand.”
@scarymary It’s certainly something we don’t understand: there are no theories to explain it. The stuff I’ve seen by Penrose, Tononi, Granziano etc doesn’t appear to converge towards anything, although it’s all fascinating!
I’m struggling to get my head around the computational or not question. On the one hand, I don’t see any reason to think that consciousness comes about as a result of computation, and I was convinced by Penrose’s argument that it cannot. On the other hand, it seems to me that if you did manage to represent a conscious being’s nervous system synapse for synapse computationally, then it seems impossible that this representation wouldn’t be conscious. Does that mean it *is* computational…?
“Which isn’t surprising because we don’t yet fully understand the functioning of the non-hyperconnected and presumably non-conscious 302 cell nerve ring in a C. Elegans worm despite significant efforts to do exactly that. So forgive me if I take proclamations about how consciousness must work in a human brain (with a billion times more cells and a trillion times more connections) with a pinch of salt.”
Too right – but there aren’t many of those proclomations around. However, from what we *do* know, that consciousness is *somehow* generated by the firing of neurons in the brain, we can quickly rule out life after death!
December 22, 2017 at 10:39 am #1421
“I’m struggling to get my head around the computational or not question. On the one hand, I don’t see any reason to think that consciousness comes about as a result of computation,”
The absolute angle for this is that if consciousness comes about purely as a result of classical mechanics (atoms and electrons moving and interacting in a regime where quantum uncertainty and entanglement don’t matter) then that system could be simulated perfectly by a sufficiently large computer. The behaviour of all the classical particles is nothing but the solution to the complete set of coupled partial differential equations describing the forces acting on them and their inertia. The solution could be computed on a microprocessor – or by reality doing its thing. Either way you’re just taking some initial conditions and calculating future ones with a bunch of coupled PDEs. I’ve yet to see an equation think “why am I in this head looking out?” – apart from the potential Godel’s incompleteness business this subjective self awareness is hard to understand in the reduced-to-absurdity maths/computable approach. (It’s emergent, init?)
“and I was convinced by Penrose’s argument that it cannot. On the other hand, it seems to me that if you did manage to represent a conscious being’s nervous system synapse for synapse computationally, then it seems impossible that this representation wouldn’t be conscious. Does that mean it *is* computational…?”
That would have to mean it is computational, and that there would almost certainly be a more efficient approach than simulating the neurones.
“Too right – but there aren’t many of those proclomations around. However, from what we *do* know, that consciousness is *somehow* generated by the firing of neurons in the brain, we can quickly rule out life after death!”
I have a slightly different take – suppress certain ion channels and consciousness goes away along with that neuronal firing, restore it and it comes back. That basically proves neuronal firing is required for consciousness to exist (or for self-awareness of it to exist, if you want to go down that rabbit hole…) but it doesn’t prove that they generate it.
There are many other signalling networks in the brain apart from neurones and they all hetrodyne and interlink. Even local depletion of oxygen in part of the brain’s vasculature by hard thinking in that area has consequences that ripple out to affect other systems and areas. Whilst none of the other systems approach the complexity of the neural system, I think that the total complexity scales non linearly with the number of differently connected (diffusion, vasculature, neuronal bits etc) systems that interlink. My hunch is that it’s going to be more involved than just the neuronal component. I hope to live long enough to find out – right or wrong!
Mind you whilst I think it’s more complicated than synapses, I also think that if it’s simulated then it will support consciousness, but the implication that I am computable sits uneasy with me.
I agree on the life after death part – for the forseable future anyhow.
December 22, 2017 at 10:40 am #1422
@erick Even under classical assumptions you run into the problem of not having perfect knowledge of the initial states. And as we know from non linear dynamics (I’m assuming these PDEs will almost certainly be non-linear), the solutions are extremely sensitive to those states – is consciousness as a ‘solution’ of a set of nonlinear PDEs also fragile? An especially strange attractor?
The presence of quantum uncertainty does not in itself preclude simulation – Feynman observed that the evolution of quantum systems can be simulated by a classical computer – just not very efficiently. To do that, you need a quantum computer.
December 22, 2017 at 10:41 am #1423
“….apart from the potential Godel’s incompleteness business this subjective self awareness is hard to understand in the reduced-to-absurdity maths/computable approach. (It’s emergent, init?)”
This is where Penrose’s argument lost me. I Understand the theorems, having studied them after University, but couldn’t quite see the connection he was making to non-computability. It’s likely I don’t understand the theorems to the same degree as Penrose, but I wasn’t the only one to be of that opinion.
December 22, 2017 at 11:37 am #1454
Mostly I don’t care and try to make the most of the only life I am aware of/
December 22, 2017 at 1:36 pm #3204
All the above being said there is the difficulty with “conscious” as opposed to “self-aware” which I prefer. At the top end of creatures we know of would be the primates and us, and I suspect that the spectrum of self-awareness begins with anything with an emotion response -perhaps that is blurry at the bottom but a learning brain that has developed any ability to conceptualise (not necessarily with any theory of mind) might begin to conceptualise what it has learnt from its ability to literally feel emption and then start associating that with a central cursor, “me”, the crosshairs against which emotion measures the effect of a new or remembered piece of information on that self.
Fascinating stuff but yes I’m speculating
December 22, 2017 at 1:37 pm #3205
[quote quote=3204]All the above being said there is the difficulty with “conscious” as opposed to “self-aware” which I prefer. At the top end of creatures we know of would be the primates and us, and I suspect that the spectrum of self-awareness begins with anything with an emotion response -perhaps that is blurry at the bottom but a learning brain that has developed any ability to conceptualise (not necessarily with any theory of mind) might begin to conceptualise what it has learnt from its ability to literally feel emption and then start associating that with a central cursor, “me”, the crosshairs against which emotion measures the effect of a new or remembered piece of information on that self.
Seems a bit presumptuous to think, it’s only man and apes that might be self-aware. How do we know what whales and dolphins can know or feel?
December 22, 2017 at 1:39 pm #3206
Seems a bit presumptuous to think, it’s only man and apes that might be self-aware. How do we know what whales and dolphins can know or feel?
I suggested that we were top of the spectrum of animals of which we we knew – self-aware and with a theory of mind which may also be evident in others at that end of the spectrum. At the lower edge I was allowing for self-awareness in a more “feeling” less “thinking” form and all stations in between. Below the bottom edge would be creatures with no internally generated “feeling” of their reaction to external stimuli or information.
P.s I like how there is a quote button now on utterz makes things a lot better to read.
- This reply was modified 7 months ago by joe.
December 22, 2017 at 1:41 pm #3208
what that amounts to is actually the possibility of a much greater range of creatures that we should allow as self-aware and perhaps that we should think of in some way a sentient.
December 22, 2017 at 1:47 pm #3233
Let me chime in guys…
@adam Even under classical assumptions you run into the problem of not having perfect knowledge of the initial states.
If you actually try to do it, yes. But this is an experimental problem not a fundametal one. A big problem, for sure, but the fact remains a classical consciousness must fundamentally be computable by that reasoning. Not practically by our imaginations but theoretically.
And as we know from non linear dynamics (I’m assuming these PDEs will almost certainly be non-linear), the solutions are extremely sensitive to those states – is consciousness as a ‘solution’ of a set of nonlinear PDEs also fragile?
It doesn’t seem to be, does it? Biology is choc full of negative feedback systems. You can achieve stable, Turing complete computation within highly non-linear reaction diffusion systems for example.
An especially strange attractor?
A very interesting way to think about it. A first step would be to wonder about the order of magnitude of the number of dimensions needed for the minimally dimensioned PDE version of a human consciousness. Lots. That’s my best answer…
The presence of quantum uncertainty does not in itself preclude simulation – Feynman observed that the evolution of quantum systems can be simulated by a classical computer – just not very efficiently.
Yes, we can simulate a quantum system but we can’t ‘compute’ the output – it isn’t pre-determined by the initial conditions, there is no equation set mapping one to the other, no pre-determination. Instead, each time it’s simulated there’s a different outcome, and this depends on random events, themselves decided in simulation by ‘random’ numbers.
So these simulations depend upon high quality random numbers, and these cannot be computed (or somewhat equivalently) found in classical mechanics. True random numbers come only from quantum sources. Current state of the art tends to be classical thermal noise in resistors (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RdRand ) but that’s predictable/computable (in theory) unlike randomness in QM.
Then again, pilot wave theory is making a resurgence with the implication that all of quantum mechanics is itself emergent from underlying classical mechanical particles and fields. So that would take any quantum consciousness back to the same point as a classical consciousness – namely that it is computible, that there is no free will and that everything that was, that is and that will be was totally predetermined by the state of the universe at the moment of its creation.
December 22, 2017 at 6:20 pm #3267
@nerdkid Crowd Science do a couple of podcasts that explore life after death. Basically there is no evidence. They do however present evidence and mechanisms for near death experiences. This includes actual experiments to verify out of body experiences. Worth a listen for those interested
December 22, 2017 at 6:22 pm #3268
[quote quote=1230]According to a BBC news report I watched a recent poll has revealed that approximately half of the people living in the UK believe in some form of life after death, and 1 in 4 believe in angels.
I wonder how this compares with the beliefs of people on utterz?
I believe in life after death. for the record and that by accepting Jesus free gift (It doesn’t hurt accepting it as it doesn’t cost you anything) you will live forever.[/quote]
It’s interesting to see the debate that your post has generated, especially the scientific arguments against there being a life after death.
The many billions of people who are religious would almost certainly disagree with the science based approach which is certainly a minority viewpoint in numbers of people terms.
Perhaps there are some things in this world, or the next, that science cannot explain.
Personally I think that there is something after death but then I also believe that God made the world in under a week.
December 23, 2017 at 10:49 am #3274
@nerdkid When you experience powerful and life-changing states of mind through meditations or by the words of some wise person,koan or chemical then seeing pure consciousness as a cold logical process becomes both true and false.
It is of course obviously true in the physical sense but when you experience these altered states a new reality manifests which cannot be described properly in words as it is experiential, a knowing,a feeling of being in truth,seeing everything at once, to feel reality as if for the first time.
You cannot describe the feelings the completeness the insights and overwhelming power of love and compassion for the world and everything in it whilst also knowing that through all the suffering and pain that everything is ok,fleeting.
You feel your heart as a river of love that is streaming from you and connected to everything, you are love, there is no person, no god , no life,no death, no age,no time,no male, no female, no duality.
how can these mind blowing feelings which cannot be described but can only be experience be just some cold mechanism of the brain?
I know these descriptions sound cliched but altered states of reality must be experienced and only then can you know what they are and when you do experience this it becomes much harder to say that there is not a spiritual world.
These states are not like dreaming whilst asleep or your imagination or subconscious they are separate realities that feel more real and in tune with life than the everyday, they are precious and contain the essence of life.
This applies to ego-death and out of the body experiences as well which are common in these altered states and were there not cases where people have died and later described accurately what happened in the hospital emergency room after they had died?
I am a materialist through and through but having gained many experiences in these altered states since i was young has shown me that no matter how hard i try to tell myself there is only the material i KNOW that there is more as i have experienced it
December 28, 2017 at 4:12 pm #3493
Heaven is for real. No more pain, no more sadness and an eternity with God. If there is no God or no Heaven, our lives would be meaningless. There would be no purpose living.
December 28, 2017 at 4:18 pm #3494
You do not need evidence you need faith. Thus, that is why there is Faith… to believe in something that cannot be seen with the physical eyes.
Heb 11:1 (NIV) Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
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