Here, I'm not so much interested in Dennett's ideas on consciousness as I am in his ideas concerning privileged access.

 

I like the opening idea that there is the folk-belief among people that everyone is an expert on their own consciousness. After all, they have a direct relationship with their own consciousness, and this, thereby, makes them an expert on consciousness.

 

I'm not all that impressed with this talk -- not that it's not good -- but he really only presents one piece of evidence, and we are lead to the inference that we don't know our own minds only indirectly through that evidence. I was hoping for something a bit stronger.

 

I like though how he incorporates real time thought experiments into his work.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjbWr3ODbAo&feature=player_embe...

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Hmm, this seems like it is primarily addressed to Tom. I won't try to answer it for him.

Edward - Yes indeedy kelamunster. The cognitive unconscious is our hidden master and to suppose otherwise is the height of hubris.


Kela - I think though that the thing about the issue of "inner access" is the contention that it is somehow or other "more" direct than other modes.

I have a speculative explanation as to why this might be so. Take, for example, the Cartesian meditation that discovers a direct access to consciousness. I personally think that this is actually a perfectly legitimate example of what should be called intuition; this is to say, it is legitimate to say that we do in fact know directly that we are presently aware at this time, though there is nothing, really, special about it. However, and here is where the problems start, there is really not much more than this that can be "directly intuited" in this [phenomenological "space"and when we think there is, we can run into potential problems when the meaning of "intuition" changes. I'm not sure if this is clear or not.

In other words, 1. the onus is on the "inner access" account to show that the inner access to the contents of one's consciousness is somehow more direct than other modes of knowing, which is the usual claim; 2. there appears to be a confusion or an ambivalence or equivocation as to what we mean by "intuition" such that feelings get lumped in with actual intuition and then the former are given a priority status of "directness

 

The cognitive unconscious is inevitably tagged to performative acts and its thoughts. Beyond performative acts there is the cognitive unconditional, which ought to  allow us to be aware of the cognitive unconscious (or what it is assumed to be). Iam not saying this is some transcendental stuff yet, its that there is something obviously going on in the absence of performative acts. So isn’t energy harnessed, access ?

Complexity in the  cognitive unconscious is natural given the range of events an organism has to process (what the mind) has to process on an immediate level. Successive complexity processing requires a basic structure of complexity, which is what I refer to as embedded structures of consciousness, which in itself is organismic. This successive  processing, is on an immediate level  and an inability here to be successive to the cognitive unconscious is in my view, a serious imbalance - the idea of the hidden master - mastery is subject to availability, I suggest. as Gebser says, the fatal consequences of the digression of evolution?

Not just about being conscious of the pathways of the cognitive unconscious, but also about the function of these pathways in a physiological/neurological sense – which is to say prior structures to be activated , to be able to process successively. So they need to be nourished in different ways – how best to do this is the role of cognitive science and science and technology in general isn’t it? A very different situation from not being able to access more of consciousness-a context consequential to the need to feed prior structures-to deal with the greater need for consciousness here and now.

On another note embedded structures indicate how the organism is technology, that consciousness is mechanical .

And maybe a possible symmetry to Annemarie mols view  - Thus, Mol comes to argue that the concept of the staging of social identity, may be applied to the realm of objects, too. In socio-material practices in the hospital, the argument then goes, not just subjects, but objects too, are performed, staged, or, as Mol prefers to put it, “enacted.”an enacted paradigm that is inclusive. a sort of alinear primeval post structuralism ? – loosely speaking . not new agey :)

 

 

Conscious awareness has a size in that it is comparably smaller in scope than the cognitive unconscious. And I'm not suggesting that the latter is infinite in scope either. So I'm not understanding how this itty bitty piece of conscious awareness is infinite in scope, which seems to be your claim? Unless I'm misunderstanding?
An interesting overview of quantum mysticism.

Sam Harris in a blog post on free will. I know, “classical”: 

“And the indeterminacy specific to quantum mechanics offers no foothold. Even if our brains were quantum computers, the brains of chimps, dogs, and mice would be quantum computers as well. (I don’t know of anyone who believes that these animals have free will.) And quantum effects are unlikely to be biologically salient in any case. They do drive evolution, as high-energy particles like cosmic rays cause point mutations in DNA, and the behavior of such particles passing through the nucleus of a cell is governed by the laws of quantum mechanics. (Evolution, therefore, seems unpredictable in principle.) But most neuroscientists do not view the brain as a quantum computer. Again, even if we knew that human consciousness depended upon quantum processes, it is pure hand-waving to suggest that quantum indeterminacy renders the concept of free will scientifically intelligible.” 

And this post on quantum consciousness, wherein the author distinguishes between an effective and a fundamental theory. The former, like we’ve pointed out in this tread, might not be “true” in any empirical sense yet be useful, like the example of beings on other planes of existence referenced earlier. Fundamental theories like quantum mechanics are experimentally valid and the trouble happens when the effectors start using QM to support their arguments. He cites as an example the debate with Harris and Chopra, discussed on the forum here. (This can also happen though when experts in one field, say QM, extend their findings into philosophical realms wherein they are far less adept, perhaps even with the likes of Bohr and his philosophical speculations.)

He points out that Chopra’s claim that QM physicists agree, for example, that “all things in the universe are interconnected and that a conscious observer is necessary” is spurious. While some obviously do many do not, and that:

“It is not the mainstream belief. Most physicists believe that these fundamental quantum mechanical concepts break down on their own above a certain point, which Chopra seems to be completely unaware of. (The majority consensus among physicists is a principle called decoherence, where the quantum behaviors collapse when a system reaches a certain level of complexity ... so quantum principles just don't apply to systems larger than an atom or so.)”

QM seems hardly applicable to the entire universe, consciousness and everything. He goes on:

“Quantum consciousness"…is the idea that the mental processes of consciousness cannot be explained by normal information processing science. Instead, consciousness may actually be the product of information processed by quantum information theory, and mimic the operation of quantum computers. Two intriguing discussions of this subject are being carried out across the blogosphere - one on the Huffington Post by information theorist Ervin Laszlo and the other on NPR's 13.7 by biologist Stuart Kauffman. These discussions are much more precise, without quite the level of ‘woo-woo’ that Deepak Chopra goes into…. Since quantum consciousness is still such an early subject, everyone who talks about the subject is stepping a bit outside of their areas of certainty ... so it, too, will likely remain quite muddled as well. As Sam Harris points out when Chopra brings up Roger Penrose (one of the originators of the idea of quantum consciousness), the idea has more detractors than could fill the hall they're speaking in.”

I guess all the detractors, even within QM, must be classical physicists in drag unbeknownst to themselves, as they are not consciously aware of their philosophical underpinnings?

Also see this forum thread.

 

 

 

Edward, don't you think these posts about quantum physics might be more appropriate in Tom's quantum thread, or elsewhere?   

Kela:  In other words, 1. the onus is on the "inner access" account to show that the inner access to the contents of one's consciousness is somehow more direct than other modes of knowing, which is the usual claim; 2. there appears to be a confusion or an ambivalence or equivocation as to what we mean by "intuition" such that feelings get lumped in with actual intuition and then the former are given a priority status of "directness."


I may not be entirely clear (still!) on the nature of this argument, so I beg your indulgence, but does the issue of "privileged access" have to do specifically with the directness of one's "access" to one's own consciousness (versus the indirectness of someone else's access to the contents of your consciousness); or does it have to do with a broader claim regarding types of knowledge in general (e.g., 1st-person knowledge -- intuitions, feelings, insights -- being more 'direct,' and therefore more reliable, than 3rd-person knowledge in general)?


It seems you're suggesting both arguments are involved, or at least they frequently come together.  Regarding the former, I generally agree with Varela's position (as outlined in the paper I linked):  I do think 1st-person knowledge involves a kind of 'directness,' but do not believe this necessarily entails privileged (exclusive) access to the contents-in-themselves (the very notion of which seems to presuppose a representationalist model of perception, which I reject).  It does seem fair to me make a qualitative distinction between types of perspectives involved (with degrees of 'directness' suggested by the terms, first-, second-, and third-person):  I can be 'aware of' my own first-person, 'lived' experience more 'directly' than another person, who must infer it about me (by interacting with me, 2p; or examining certain objective 'indicators' of experience, such as brain activity, 3p).  But this does not mean I have exclusive or privileged access to the contents of my consciousness or my cognitive processes, such that I am the only authority on what is going on for me subjectively.  As Dennett and others have demonstrated, our self-reports can be shown to be subject to self-deception and confabulation, so in the study of human consciousness, approaching it from multiple perspectives (1st and 3rd person methods, with 2p mediation where appropriate) is recommended.


Regarding the second claim, as I have interpreted it (that 1p knowledge, because it is 'relatively' more direct, is therefore more reliable), that just doesn't seem to hold water to me.


What do you think?

 

kela:  I think the point I would make here though is that we should not assume that "meditators" will be, or are, less susceptible simply because they "meditate," as if that automatically provided some kind of inoculation.  Still, I am open to the possibility that they may be and would like to see some studies done in this direction. But again, I don't think we should simply assume this, and I think it may be a little premature to claim that "their perception has been trained in a way" that they have such a skill, and take your inclusion of the term "might" as indicating that this is still only a possibility. (Am I softening my position?) Anyway, I don't like apriori claims coming from either direction; I'd like to see the results of some actual rigorous studies, first.


I agree with this.  Which is one reason I've valued Varela's work: he's arguing for just this sort of multi-pronged study.

Edward, don't you think these posts about quantum physics might be more appropriate in Tom's quantum thread, or elsewhere?  

I think they are relevant here, since I'm trying to establish that quantum consciousness is a form of privileged access. And there is quite a bit of debate about that in the referenced material.

Another sample is this from the SEP entry on consciousness, the section on quantum theories. For example, would this excerpt be an example of privileged access to the nature of reality? 

“Others have taken quantum mechanics to indicate that consciousness is an absolutely fundamental property of physical reality, one that needs to be brought in at the very most basic level (Stapp 1993).” 

This goes to Balder’s questions about what privileged access entails, just a claim to privilege of one’s own consciousness and/or whether this leads to claims that such also provides “evidence” for the nature of reality, since consciousness IS that reality and I have access to it, here and now.

Theurj:  I think they are relevant here, since I'm trying to establish that quantum consciousness is a form of privileged access. And there is quite a bit of debate about that in the referenced material.

 

Okay.  I'll be interested to hear what Tom has to say about privileged access and quantum consciousness, then.  (I must say, though, that I don't think it's fair to equate what Tom has been saying with Chopra's much-less-thought-out or philosophically astute quantum mishmash, or to refer to "quantum consciousness" as if there were only one basic quantum-influenced theory of such, when in fact there are many, some flimsy and some more compelling.)


Regarding this:


"...(The majority consensus among physicists is a principle called decoherence, where the quantum behaviors collapse when a system reaches a certain level of complexity ... so quantum principles just don't apply to systems larger than an atom or so.)”

QM seems hardly applicable to the entire universe, consciousness and everything.


-- I recall reading an article several years ago, discussing an experiment by a European physicist interested in demonstrating conclusively that quantum principles do not apply beyond the micro level (therefore countering the challenge quantum theory supposedly poses to classical / realist models of the universe).  The scientist argued that, if his experiment failed, then he would be forced to take quantum implications seriously at the macro level as well.  The experiment did fail, and he remarked that his experimental efforts indeed were compelling him to accept a quantum view of the macro-world after all, but was nevertheless still reluctant to really digest that...  


I'll have to see if I can locate that article.  It was interesting.  In my own layman's understanding, I recall that quantum decoherence is widely posited, but no one has ever been able to demonstrate just "where" the classical world begins and the quantum one ends (calling into question that dualism).

 

Theurj:  Another sample is this from the SEP entry on consciousness, the section on quantum theories. For example, would this excerpt be an example of privileged access to the nature of reality?


“Others have taken quantum mechanics to indicate that consciousness is an absolutely fundamental property of physical reality, one that needs to be brought in at the very most basic level (Stapp 1993).”


This goes to Balder’s questions about what privileged access entails, just a claim to privilege of one’s own consciousness and/or whether this leads to claims that such also provides “evidence” for the nature of reality, since consciousness IS that reality and I have access to it, here and now.


Yes, this is interesting.  What would you say, Ed, about such things as matter and energy?  Are we justified in calling them fundamental properties of reality, or should we just avoid such language altogether?

Balder and Tom, thanks for playing along. I ask because I'm genuinely interested in the responses because I don't have answers, just questions. And doubts. I in no way meant to equate Tom's view with Chopra's, just providing the latter as one extreme of the quantum consciousness argument. But even the more nuanced and sophisticated arguments for it are not “fact” but purely speculative, because I agree with Tom that no one even knows what energy is. I don't know. But matter and energy are much more likely candidates for something “fundamental,” there is much more consensus with physicists about that than about consciousness as a candidate. Or equating the latter with said energy.

 

As to what form of action does not occur in a quantum manner, didn't I just quote someone who said the majority of physicists agree that the quantum does not manifest about the level of the atom? Again, because the majority say so doesn't make it necessarily true. Perhaps Bohr was ahead of the curve. Genius usually is. Still, it would appear it is not an established fact that the quantum is active in the macro world, and the argument that “it just happens to be true” is more evidence of a claim to privileged access.

 

And what we do know about conscious awareness, at least as far as measurable veracity, is that there is a huge difference between “insentient” matter and biological lifeforms. I know, how can conscious experience grow out of insentient matter? Just because I might know that either is no “reason” to jump to conclusions that consciousness must have been there in the first place. What I do know is the point I've been trying to make here: That to make such claims are versions of privileged access. Which is not to say that if we admit that our arguments are per se fallacious. Just that we are making metaphysical claims, and a major focus here is the postmetaphysical.

So again we come to interpretation. The wiki on interpretations of quantum mechanics offers some alternatives to Tom's “just the way it is.” For example the many worlds view:

 

“There is no (indeterministic and irreversible) wavefunction collapse associated with measurement. The phenomena associated with measurement are claimed to be explained by decoherence, which occurs when states interact with the environment producing entanglement, repeatedly splitting the universe into mutually unobservable alternate histories—distinct universes within a greater multiverse.”

 

Another version of the above is the many minds theory:

 

“The many-minds interpretation of quantum mechanics extends the many-worlds interpretation by proposing that the distinction between worlds should be made at the level of the mind of an individual observer.”

 

Both of which seem pertinent to the relational view, one that seems more akin to an enacted worldspace of progressively more comprehensive interpretations:

 

“The essential idea behind relational quantum mechanics, following the precedent of special relativity, is that different observers may give different accounts of the same series of events.... Consequently, if quantum mechanics is to be a complete theory, relational quantum mechanics argues that the notion of 'state' * describes not the observed system itself, but the relationship, or correlation, between the system and its observer(s).”

 

* Kennilingual stage?

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