1. To read the 'News in Brief' post for w/c 9th Sept then click here.
    Dismiss Notice

Mind, body and ME

Discussion in 'Neurological/Cognitive: Brain Fog, Concentration' started by boolybooly, Feb 20, 2019.

  1. Jonathan Edwards

    Jonathan Edwards Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    5,244
    Likes Received:
    54,344
    Yes, I pretty much agree with all that.

    I had an interesting conversation not long ago with Vittorio Gallese, who was one of the people who identified 'mirror neurons'. Gale's view has changed since in the sense of coming to think that 'mirroring' is a much more general property of neurocomputation and may in a sense be the default. The has an interesting implication for 'theory of mind' and autism that may suggest the usual theory is a bit backwards.

    It is clear that a lot of very basic perceptual functions depend on high level abstract inferences before even 'raw data' is defined. So we do not see the colour of an object until all sorts of compensatory tricks have been run that modify the colour according to what sort of object the brain thinks it is dealing with. The means that computations relating to moving an arm may well make use of an abstract concept of arms in general rather than specifying 'my arm'. So in a sense the mirror neuron is more basic than a neuron that recognises a movement as mine or hers. It is just a recogniser of an arm movement. If so there may be a case for saying that the autistic person is not so much incapable of recognising behaviour as belonging to someone else as incapable of recognising a movement as being of a generic type that is likely to have the same significance whether here or over there.
     
    TrixieStix, boolybooly and Wonko like this.
  2. Roy S

    Roy S Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    195
    Likes Received:
    1,642
  3. boolybooly

    boolybooly Established Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    383
    Thanks Roy, those are fascinating articles.

    re#3 I am pleased to report a decided aversion to the smell of cat pee! But it makes perfect sense unfortunately and I wonder what human civilisation will be like when we have learned to track down and defeat all the bugs responsible for altering our minds.
     
    Roy S and roller* like this.
  4. TiredSam

    TiredSam Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    6,380
    Likes Received:
    31,052
    Location:
    Germany
    @Wonko I've noticed that whenever I log out of the forum and turn off my computer, you cease to exist.

    I've always wondered - what's that like?
     
    Hutan, Binkie4, Nellie and 4 others like this.
  5. Wonko

    Wonko Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    2,955
    Likes Received:
    21,651
    Location:
    UK
    I have no idea, but it might explain the gaps in my memory.
     
    Hutan, Binkie4, Nellie and 3 others like this.
  6. TiredSam

    TiredSam Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    6,380
    Likes Received:
    31,052
    Location:
    Germany
    I imagine that when you leave the forum, I cease to exist too. We'd better make sure never to be absent from the forum at the same time, otherwise neither of us will exist to bring the other one back and we'll both be trapped in a state of non-existence for eternity. Which is our ultimate fate anyway, but I'd like to enjoy a bit of existence before the inevitable if it's not putting you out in any way.

    Can you remember who joined the forum and brought the other one into existence first? That must have been a singular event.
     
    Nellie, roller*, Trish and 1 other person like this.
  7. boolybooly

    boolybooly Established Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    383
    Poor things. It sounds like a new approach to explore.

    Thanks for sharing your paper by the way, parallel processing makes sense given the 2D input of the retinas and the massively parallel routing afforded by the optic nerve. Such a big energy user, from an ME perspective I think that is why it helps to close eyes when resting.

    Re: mirror neurons, they sound mystical which makes me very cautious about my assumptions, but fascinating nonetheless.

    I wonder if some might have a role in self image? Informing an organism of how their actions might be perceived by other actors, adding a social dimension to the topographical map, as it were, situational awareness.
     
  8. roller*

    roller* Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    218
    Likes Received:
    385
    it seems, the universe is full of rocks. nothing else really.
    perhaps, that gives a clue how it was created - by something like fire, since nothing else could survive this process or emerge (grow) during/by this process
    after a while, bacteria started to thrive...
     
  9. Wonko

    Wonko Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    2,955
    Likes Received:
    21,651
    Location:
    UK
    Statistically speaking the universe contains no rocks, at least so few rocks that, starting from virtually any point in it, you could spend a very long time looking for any. You'd die long before you found a single rock, although that's partially because most of the universe isn't particularly hospitable to people. Saying its' full of rocks may therefore be slightly inaccurate.

    :rofl::rofl:
     
    Hutan, Nellie and roller* like this.
  10. Jonathan Edwards

    Jonathan Edwards Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    5,244
    Likes Received:
    54,344
    You don't need to look for rocks.
    Everything is action, so the universe rocks.

    :cookie::eek::cookie:
     
    Nellie and roller* like this.
  11. roller*

    roller* Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    218
    Likes Received:
    385
  12. Jonathan Edwards

    Jonathan Edwards Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    5,244
    Likes Received:
    54,344
    Well if it brought back bath salts there must be life on Mars.
     
    Sly Saint likes this.
  13. Michiel Tack

    Michiel Tack Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    1,065
    Likes Received:
    9,935
    Location:
    Belgium
    So it seems like we're both pleading for simplicity. In my view, consciousness is a bodily function of animals that was formed by evolutionary processes, much like noses, insulin production or memory, so nothing special. In your view, it seems to be a primordial force of nature and rocks were conscious of hitting each other for millions of years before life on earth began. I have trouble seeing simplicity in the latter.

    Honestly, that sounds as simple as explaining why rocks don't have noses or insulin production like humans do. I don't understand why consciousness would form an exception to the way we normally explain things. If someone asks: what are noses? You could give a definition, explain its structure, function and evolutionary origin. I would propose to try and do the same thing for consciousness. I think such a study would come to the conclusion that consciousness is related to brain function and that it is present in different forms in other animals. By studying aberrations (e.g. patients with brain damage) and comparing differences, one might better understand what consciousness is, what it requires to function, how it might have formed in the evolutionary process etc. So I find it strange that you see those differences as a complexity you want to do away with. I see those differences as the key to further understanding, as they are in other realms of science. Without such differences, it is nearly impossible to explain something. In your panpsychist worldview it seems almost taboo to say some things have more consciousness than others.

    I don't think these philosophical riddles help much. If you want to know something you need more than experience or awareness, you have to be able to form a thought for example. So that's quite essential in all understanding of the universe. But that doesn't mean that ability to form thought is a primordial force of nature or that rocks can think or that it doesn't make any sense to try to explain the ability to form thoughts etc.

    Ok, but I doubt the owl was still angry at Hoskin when he left, while other animals such as primates seem to have such feelings and experiences. To same is probably true of sadness, remorse, guilt etc. In that sense, I would argue an owl as a more limited form of consciousness.

    My knowledge of birds is limited but the theory predicts that animals with complex social interactions and fluent hierarchies have more consciousness than others. So being in proximity of other animals, like in a herd without much interaction, is not enough. It has to be a situation were mind-reading can be seen as advantageous in evolutionary terms.
     
    BruceInOz likes this.
  14. Diane O'Leary

    Diane O'Leary Established Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    65
    Likes Received:
    732
    Oh holy cow! Step away from the discussion for a few days and look what happens!

    It's really tough for me to comment casually on these debates because I teach this stuff all the time - though, geez this is a pretty high level discussion! IMHO the biggest scientific question of our time is how you get your feelings about, say, your birthday, from a lump of grey goo. This is what Chalmers calls the "hard problem", and I'm with him on that. It seems like you agree with that Jonathan, though I'm not quite sure.

    There are lots of explanations of what's going on in the brain when we feel such and so or think such and so, but none of that actually tells us anything about how we get from the grey stuff to the birthday feeling. This is the great mystery.

    I wish I had more time to think and write about this question. Right now all of my time is devoted to sorting out how medicine has misunderstood mind/body questions. It's like trying to disentangle a great big knot of rubber bands.
     
  15. obeat

    obeat Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    453
    Likes Received:
    2,932
    @Diane O'Leary Keep going. It's not just ME patients who will benefit, but most other illnesses as well. Medicine has spent 30 years avoiding the difficult physiological research that is needed to understand fatigue.
     
  16. Jonathan Edwards

    Jonathan Edwards Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    5,244
    Likes Received:
    54,344
    OK, but if that is your view of consciousness it does not relate to the topic of this thread introduced by boolybooly, which was 'the body mind duality at a philosphical level'. If all you mean is brain function then I quite agree that it is nothing special in comparison to insulin production. It is the physiology of another organ.

    I realise that there are a few disciplines and debate channels in which consciousness is viewed in this way, rather like 'intelligence', including a large chunk of the AI sector. However, in medicine and in philosophy and for most people in ordinary life it means something different. In simple terms, when you do not throw a drowning migrant back into the sea, it is not because their brain is functioning but because you think somewhere in side them there are feelings like hopes and fears like your own. Careful analysis may prove this to be an irrational sentimentality but it is the basis for all human social interaction. Most of us would be happy to throw a robot back into the sea, despite its processor functioning. And robots are capable of monitoring their 'selves' in functional terms.

    This is the crucial bit. It is very much the exception. The problem is that consciousness deals with being aware of a world, or a self. And being aware is about a sense of red or a sense of size or a sense of isolation. None of these things have any explanations in physics because physics only deals with dynamic relations described mathematically. It makes no statements at all about the taste of cheddar cheese. Specifically, physics tells us nothing about what entity could be 'aware'.

    Unfortunately, the common line of thought is like that of David Chalmers, to say that sensations and feelings are outside physics and need to be seen as part of some new fundamental 'force' or something. But Arthur Eddington pointed out, as did Bertrand Russell, that the is putting things back to front.

    The way I tend to look at it is like this. A physics equation X = f(y,z) is a way of saying that the sensations an observer will get under certain time and place conditions X are given by a function of mathematical physical dynamic variables y and z. In order to make this a purely mathematical equation we have developed ways of calibrating our sensations in terms of standard situations where y and z are fixed. Red is the sensation you will get if the eye is preferentially exposed to 650nm EM radiation.

    This calibration allows us to cancel out a crucial set of rules that so far we know nothing of - what internal dynamic events within the brain are needed to get a sense of red? The calibration allows us to build a mathematical structure for all events outside our brain that defines in great detail all the rules of causal relation while using the internal triggering of red as a measuring instrument without knowing anything about the rules for triggering red inside. We can even build a mathematical structure for events in brains looked at using microscopes or scanners.

    So conscious awareness is always part of physics as the 'left hand side of the equation' but it does not appear anywhere in the mathematical structure because it is calibrated out. It has to be calibrated out because we have no way so far of working out the internal rules. There are also serious questions about what form those rules could possibly take. It might even be that they cannot be expressed mathematically because maths ultimately derives from external dynamics.

    So the problem is hideously difficult, and the great philosophers have known this since the first writing of people like Parmenides.

    But it is not actually, Diane (@Diane O'Leary), the Hard Problem. David's Hard Problem reflects a failure to take on board what Eddington had said. There is no mystery in sensations arising from 'inert matter'. Modern physics, and in fact a lot of seventeenth century physics, realises that there is no such thing as 'matter' in the intuitive sense. There is no surprise in the fact that a sense of grey squishy stuff can come from what looks like grey squishy stuff. Our intuitive idea of matter, whether grey and squishy or rock hard is built out of our sensations. Physics is not about that. It is about the abstracted mathematical rules of causal interaction we can find in the world - divorced from 'being like anything'.

    And since physical matter is by definition all those goings on that determine the patterns of sensations for observers there is absolutely no surprise that sensations for observers arise in physical matter - that is by definition going to be the case. There is no explanatory gap. The really hard bit is in finding the rules of correspondence of physical causal relations and specific 'qualia'.
     
    TrixieStix likes this.
  17. Jonathan Edwards

    Jonathan Edwards Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    5,244
    Likes Received:
    54,344
    I am just saying that forming a thought is physical interaction, but that we do not know which physical interactions correspond to which thoughts. I am not suggesting a new primordial force like David Chalmers. That is a category mistake - effectively looking for thoughts on the right hand side of the equation when they are by definition the left hand side.

    But what is the measure of 'more consciousness'. It seems all you are suggesting is that they are programmed to have more social interaction. Which seems very likely.
     
  18. roller*

    roller* Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    218
    Likes Received:
    385
    there is hypnosis.

    random ppl then say and act as if the razor foam is delicious ice cream.

    its believed, repeated, and they act accordingly.

    they should at least show signs of
    - lying (by sweating e.g...)
    - doubts in some way
    - disagreement

    nope, those in hypnosis fully comply with what they got told.
    against common believe and experience?

    (at least when it comes to ice cream. other things (killing, harming) seem different)
     
  19. Michiel Tack

    Michiel Tack Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    1,065
    Likes Received:
    9,935
    Location:
    Belgium
    I wouldn't worry about that too much. We don't fully know how simple computation works in our brain. So it seems like a bit soon to say consciousness is a mystery or something that physics can't explain.

    I think one can already study consciousness when and in which forms it manifests itself in other animals, in people with brain damage or in the sleep-wake cycle of healthy persons. One can already research what its use is and how it could have evolved.

    I'm not excited about philosophical theories about the metaphysics of consciousness and experience. I think we will learn more about it by studying simple forms of awareness like how bees know how to communicate and locate food sources or the AI of computers. By building up that knowledge, I suspect scientists will come to a better understanding of what consciousness is. Don't think that philosophical speculations about the substance of consciousness will be of much use to that.

    Ok, but physics doesn't say anything about good or bad either. Philosophers have turned that experience into cosmic proportions as well. Most humans have thought that our ethical notion of good and bad is not something our brain developed to help survival, but a force of nature which was there since the beginning of time and which manifests itself in all sorts of natural events.

    I hope you agree with me that that isn't true. Good or bad is just something monkey brains developed to further their social interactions in evolutionary terms. We know it is present in different and more rudimentary forms in other animals and by studying those different forms we can learn more about it. I think something similar is true for consciousness. To me, discussions about the nature or substance of consciousness seem similar to discussions about whether the bad in the world is singular or not.

    By consciousness, I mean to be aware of things, to have feelings, to experience a coherent self etc. I have goats and chickens and when I look at the goats they seem to have more consciousness, as in the definition above, than chickens. And plants seem to have even less, if any consciousness. So I suspect that there's a biological cause for these differences. And like most biological causes there will probably be an explanation for it in evolutionary terms that makes sense to us.

    Don't know about this. If it's a complex robot I think that people would already be confused and think about it of having a consciousness. Look for example at this robot dog being kicked at 0.50 in the video. I already feel sorry for the robot, like he's being picked at.

     
    Hutan, BruceInOz and roller* like this.
  20. roller*

    roller* Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    218
    Likes Received:
    385
    i also feel sorry for the robot. i never felt (that) sorry for a car.
    perhaps, it has to do with the way "a thing" moves ?

    there was a test with a coat hanger (turned robot), that would give food to the dog.
    dog soon showed all affection, acceptance, admiration to the coat hanger as with his human owner. (when i remember right).

    would be interesting to see, if they also start wagging tail, and showing admiration when a food bucket rolls in. or if they then just try to wrestle it down.

    the robot is big.
    it doesnt stumble like a robot/machine.
    it behaves quite "human".
    that may be perceived as "one of us" ?
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2019

Share This Page