[ExI] Fwd: New article: EM Field Theory of Consciousness

Jason Resch jasonresch at gmail.com
Fri Jun 17 20:34:41 UTC 2022

On Fri, Jun 17, 2022, 3:22 PM Stathis Papaioannou via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> On Sat, 18 Jun 2022 at 00:39, Jason Resch via extropy-chat <
> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>> If epiphenomenalism were true we wouldn't have access to reliably talk
>> about our inner states of consciousness, our feelings, our awareness, etc.
>> The author of "epiphenomenal qualia", Frank Jackson, which introduced the
>> thought experiment of Mary the color scientist, later had this epiphany
>> leading him to reject his original conclusion that qualia were
>> epiphenomenal:
>> FJ: “Epiphenomenalism was unbelievable, and indeed that was a
>> consideration that eventually made me change my mind.”
>> Interviewer: “So why did you change your mind?”
>> FJ: “Well, the biggest factor was the picture of myself writing
>> ‘epiphenomenal qualia’, but not being caused to write ‘epiphenomenal
>> qualia’ by qualia. I said in ‘epiphenomenal qualia’ that you had to be an
>> epiphenomenalist about qualia, and what that meant was that qualia didn’t
>> change the words that came out of my mouth or the movements of my pen on
>> pieces of paper, so that meant that when I gave the talk defending
>> ‘epiphenomenal qualia’, when I wrote the paper defending ‘epiphenomenal
>> qualia’, the qualia weren’t causing the talk and they weren’t causing the
>> writing, and I just decided this was sort of unbelievable.”
>> [...]
>> “It was the picture of myself writing the paper, uncaused by the qualia..
>> I said that I can’t believe this. And I came to think that was the triumph
>> of philosophical cleverness over common sense.”
> Qualia are epiphenomenal if the physical world is causally closed. So when
> Jackson writes his paper, the movement of his hand is entirely explained by
> the observable physical forces on the hand. If he has qualia, they cannot
> have any separate causal efficacy of their own, because if they did to an
> observer it would look like the hand was moving contrary to the laws of
> physics, due to some magical force.

I disagree that the causal closure of physics necessarily means qualia are
epiphenomenal. Consider the multiple levels involved, as Roger Sperry
explains in his 1966 paper "Mind, Brain, and Humanist Values" where he asks
"who pushes whom around inside the cranium":

“I am going to align myself in a counterstand, along with that
approximately 0.1 per cent mentalist minority, in support of a hypothetical
brain model in which consciousness and mental forces generally are given
their due representation as important features in the chain of control.
These appear as active operational forces and dynamic properties that
interact with and upon the physiological machinery. Any model or
description that leaves out conscious forces, according to this view, is
bound to be pretty sadly incomplete and unsatisfactory. The conscious mind
in this scheme, far from being put aside and dispensed with as an
"inconsequential byproduct," "epiphenomenon," or "inner aspect," as is the
customary treatment these days, gets located, instead, front and center,
directly in the midst of the causal interplay of cerebral mechanisms.

Mental forces in this particular scheme are put in the driver's seat, as it
were. They give the orders and they push and haul around the physiology and
physicochemical processes as much as or more than the latter control them.
This is a scheme that puts mind back in its old post, over matter, in a
sense-not under, outside, or beside it. It's a scheme that idealizes ideas
and ideals over physico-chemical interactions, nerve impulse traffic-or
DNA. It's a brain model in which conscious, mental, psychic forces are
recognized to be the crowning achievement of some five hundred million
years or more of evolution.”

“To put it very simply, it becomes a question largely of who pushes whom
around in the population of causal forces that occupy the cranium. There
exists within the human cranium a whole world of diverse causal forces;
what is more, there are forces within forces within forces, as in no other
cubic half-foot of universe that we know. At the lowermost levels in this
system are those local aggregates of subnuclear particles confined within
the neutrons and protons of their respective atomic nuclei. These
individuals, of course, don't have very much to say about what goes on in
the affairs of the brain. Like the atomic nucleus and its associated
electrons, thes ubnuclear and other atomic elements are "moleculebound" for
the most part, and get hauled and pushed around by the larger spatial and
configurational forces of the whole molecule.

Similarly the molecular elements in the brain are themselves pretty well
bound up, moved, and ordered about by the enveloping properties of the
cells within which they are located. Along with their internal atomic and
subnuclear parts, the brain molecules are obliged tos ubmit to a course of
activity in time and space that is determined very largely by the overall
dynamic and spatial properties of the whole brain cell as an entity. Even
the brain cells, however, with their long fibers and impulse conducting
elements, do not have very much to say either about when or in what time
pattern, for example, they are going to fire their messages. The firing
orders come from a higher command.”

“In short, if one climbs upward through the chain of command within the
brain, one finds at the very top those overall organizational forces and
dynamic properties of the large patterns of cerebral excitation that
constitute the mental or psychic phenomena.”

“Near the apex of this compound command system in the brain we find ideas.
In the brain model proposed here, the causal potency of an idea, or an
ideal, becomes just as real as that of a molecule, a cell, or a nerve
impulse. Ideas cause ideas and help evolve new ideas. They interact with
each other and with other mental forces in the same brain, in neighboring
brains, and in distant, foreign brains. And they also interact with real
consequence upon the external surroundings to produce in toto an explosive
advance in evolution on this globe far beyond anything known before,
including the emergence of the living cell.”


> Jason
>> On Fri, Jun 17, 2022, 10:27 AM William Flynn Wallace via extropy-chat <
>> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>>> I can't say that I understand your reply fully.  All behavior,
>>> intelligent or not, comes from your unconscious mind.  Maybe I don't
>>> understand epiphenomenal as well as I think I do.
>>> I do understand this:  : a secondary mental phenomenon that is caused
>>> by and accompanies a physical phenomenon but has no causal influence itself. Like
>>> seeing tuba notes in color.  bill w
>>> On Fri, Jun 17, 2022 at 8:48 AM Stathis Papaioannou via extropy-chat <
>>> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>>>> On Fri, 17 Jun 2022 at 23:01, William Flynn Wallace via extropy-chat <
>>>> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>>>>> OTOH - it could be that our conscious mind is like God looking down on
>>>>> us and observing our behavior - meaning that the conscious has no role in
>>>>> our behavior at all - it is superfluous - epiphenomenal.  So if that is
>>>>> true, trying to make robots conscious is a waste of time.  No advantage to
>>>>> it.  It has programs that monitor all output like our conscious mind  .
>>>>>  All is done by our unconscious and the conscious is just an observer.  No
>>>>> free will, but we don't need it - our unconscious (which is really
>>>>> conscious of all inputs) does all the work.
>>>> If consciousness is epiphenomenal, it isn’t an optional extra. It is a
>>>> side-effect of intelligent behaviour.
>>>> bill w
>>>>> On Fri, Jun 17, 2022 at 2:13 AM Colin Hales via extropy-chat <
>>>>> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>>>>>> Hi,
>>>>>> This is to let you know of the arrival of this publication:
>>>>>> Hales, C.G., and Ericson, M.L. (2022). Electromagnetism’s Bridge
>>>>>> Across the Explanatory Gap: How a Neuroscience/Physics Collaboration
>>>>>> delivers Explanation into all Theories of Consciousness. Frontiers in Human
>>>>>> Neuroscience 16.
>>>>>> https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2022.836046/full
>>>>>> https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2022.836046/full#supplementary-material
>>>>>> This is the full and final argument.
>>>>>> Note that on page 9 there is a brief discussion of a new kind of
>>>>>> chip. That is the one I am building at unimelb. AGI because it can't be
>>>>>> anything else. Actual artificial neurons (no general-purpose computing, no
>>>>>> software, no models, no programming). Bottom line line: put the signalling
>>>>>> physics of the brain in in natural form, naturally interacting, naturally
>>>>>> adapting on the chips, NOT the physics of a general purpose computer.
>>>>>> The abstract is below. Overall:
>>>>>> 1) all theories of consciousness are actually EM field theories.
>>>>>> 2) bringing explanation of the 1st person perspective requires an
>>>>>> epistemic upgrade to the standard model of particle physics.
>>>>>> Turns out that to properly cover all the bases needed 22 pages and an
>>>>>> 8 page supplementary. Sorry about that.
>>>>>> Interesting times.
>>>>>> cheers,
>>>>>> Colin
>>>>>> ==========================================
>>>>>> A productive, informative three decades of correlates of phenomenal
>>>>>> consciousness (P-Consciousness) have delivered valuable knowledge while
>>>>>> simultaneously locating us in a unique and unprecedented explanatory
>>>>>> cul-de-sac. Observational correlates are demonstrated to be intrinsically
>>>>>> very unlikely to explain or lead to a fundamental principle underlying the
>>>>>> strongly emergent 1st-person-perspective (1PP) invisibly stowed away inside
>>>>>> them. That lack is now solidly evidenced in practice. To escape our
>>>>>> explanatory impasse, this article focuses on fundamental physics (the
>>>>>> standard model of particle physics), which brings to light a foundational
>>>>>> argument for how the brain is an essentially electromagnetic (EM) field
>>>>>> object from the atomic level up. That is, our multitude of correlates of
>>>>>> P-Consciousness are actually descriptions of specific EM field behaviors
>>>>>> that are posed (hypothesized) as “the right” correlate by a particular
>>>>>> theory of consciousness. Because of this, our 30 years of empirical
>>>>>> progress can be reinterpreted as, in effect, the delivery of a large body
>>>>>> of evidence that the standard model’s EM quadrant can deliver a 1PP. That
>>>>>> is, all theories of consciousness are, in the end, merely recipes that
>>>>>> select a particular subset of the totality of EM field expression that is
>>>>>> brain tissue. With a universal convergence on EM, the science of
>>>>>> P-Consciousness becomes a collaborative effort between neuroscience and
>>>>>> physics. The collaboration acts in pursuit of a unified explanation
>>>>>> applicable to all theories of consciousness while remaining mindful that
>>>>>> the process still contains no real explanation as to why or how EM fields
>>>>>> deliver a 1PP. The apparent continued lack of explanation is, however,
>>>>>> different: this time, the way forward is opened through its direct
>>>>>> connection to fundamental physics. This is the first result (Part I). Part
>>>>>> II posits, in general terms, a structural (epistemic) add-on/upgrade to the
>>>>>> standard model that has the potential to deliver the missing route to an
>>>>>> explanation of how subjectivity is delivered through EM fields. The revised
>>>>>> standard model, under the neuroscience/physics collaboration, intimately
>>>>>> integrates with the existing “correlates of-” paradigm, which acts as its
>>>>>> source of empirical evidence. No existing theory of consciousness is lost
>>>>>> or invalidated.
>>>>>> _______________________________________________
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>>>>> _______________________________________________
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>>>> --
>>>> Stathis Papaioannou
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> --
> Stathis Papaioannou
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