676 thoughts on “Consciousness Cannot Have Evolved

  1. Gregory: Geneticism – perhaps no one here will take that label openly, yet people accepting atheism or agnosticism here promote this ideology widely in conversation.

    But what does that (i.e. “geneticism”) even mean?

    0
  2. CharlieM: We have no other way of knowing the world and everything in it including ourselves through conscious awareness.

    Of what our senses tell us, yes. That’s all we have, the information our senses give us about the external world.

    You say that you can’t explain how the brain makes consciousness.

    Correct.

    Surely this question begins with the assumption that the brain makes consciousness?

    It’s not really an assumption, as I think the only good evidence we have for consciousness existing anywhere is in living organisms with brains, who can communicate to us and tell us that they are conscious.

    Correlation does not prove causation.

    Prove, no. It does indicate a very tight relationship between the two.

    People have had their arms and legs removed, and other bodily organs, and yet they don’t report feeling like they were their arm and the rest of the body was just some “attachment”.

    It seems to be that the person is in the head, and that the rest of it are the “attachments”, not really critically important for their being conscious.

    Consciousness and brain processes are two aspects of a single whole in the same way that thunder and lightning are two aspects of a single phenomenon.

    Yeah I’m afraid this doesn’t make much sense to me because it’s not at all clear in what sense you think consciousness is analogous to the sound of thunder, or the electric discharge in a bolt of lightning. Nor what role the brain plays in that analogy.

    If we were part of a universal, cosmic consciousness how could we ever be aware of this fact?

    That is not for me to answer, but for those who would claim we have good reasons for thinking this is the case. I have no idea what those reasons would be.

    I’m not even sure what the hell it even means to be a “part of” a “universal cosmic consciousness”. It sounds like total gibberish. I am not a part of you, I am me and only me, and you are not a part of me either. I do not have your experiences, I have mine. I also don’t experience being an interstellar molecular cloud, or a hurricane on Jupiter, and I have no experience of being molten rock, or a tree. I have the experience of being a particular human being of flesh and blood, with a head, two eyes, arms, and so on.

    We need something to push against

    In order to do what?

    the awareness of separation, of the feeling that we are in a sense isolated from nature. How could we develop reflective, self awareness without the mirror of the external world?

    I have no idea what you’re talking about. What is this mirror you speak about?

    And what would be the point of our separate sense organs if we could not combine them into a consistent whole?

    I think they evolved to aid in survival and reproduction.

    We do so by using our brains. Our brain processes are the means by which we can unify that which our senses give us as separate.

    I agree with this, that is one of the things our brain does, to unify sensory experience in order to produce a coherent response with adaptive potential. Finally you’re making some sense.

    As Goethe said, “Man himself, using his healthy senses, is the greatest and most exact physical instrument which there can be.”

    That sounds nice. I’m not really sure what is meant by a great and exact physical instrument, and depending on what that means I doubt I agree with it. I can certainly imagine greater and more exact physical instruments than humans.

    0
  3. Neil Rickert,

    Hmm, a little work for you then? Don’t know how to use the internet?

    Come back & show us what you’ve learned about geneticism, Neil.

    0
  4. Gregory: Come back & show us what you’ve learned about geneticism, Neil.

    Okay. So you have explained that it isn’t anything that I need to take seriously. So I won’t bother.

    Honestly, when I asked you for the meaning of a term that you used, I was asking for your meaning. An Internet search is unlikely to give me that.

    0
  5. Neil Rickert: But what does that (i.e. “geneticism”) even mean?

    Wikipedia redirects geneticism to biological determinism, if that helps at all. The underlying idea is that all of our biological characteristics, including psychological characteristics, are genetically determined.

    0
  6. Kantian Naturalist: Wikipedia redirects geneticism to biological determinism, if that helps at all. The underlying idea is that all of our biological characteristics, including psychological characteristics, are genetically determined.

    Thanks. But Gregory often insists on his own peculiar meanings. So this doesn’t really tell me what Gregory was talking about.

    0
  7. Neil Rickert,

    Hmm, is it possible to think Neil Rickert, agnostic & sometimes anti-religious Moderator for TSZ, has a vested interest in *NOT SEARCHING* for himself?

    In 10 minutes, I dug up multiple papers addressing “geneticism.” No harm in looking. Just takes a bit of effort & care.

    0
  8. Gregory:
    Of course, without ideas -> ideals, nothing here is really up for discussion, since people mean quite different things.

    Indeed. It seems like Kastrup thinks that “material” means matter and matter alone, since he seems to imagine that physics has abandoned the physical. Whatever that might mean. Also kind of assumes his conclusions from the get go, since he writes about the mind matter problem. A problem that doesn’t exist at all.

    Gregory:
    Materialism – few people here will take that label, though perhaps a few do indeed embrace this outdated, very difficult to maintain nowadays ideology.

    Interesting. As an ideology, surely few would take that label. But maybe some would take it as a conclusion. meaning they haven’t seen any evidence that there’s anything non-“material.” However, since materialism was rebranded as physicalism, perhaps precisely because of the confusion/misconception that Kastrup engages in. So, maybe people would lean towards physicalism. Again, not as ideology, but as a tentative conclusion. I’d be in that camp.

    Gregory:
    Geneticism – perhaps no one here will take that label openly, yet people accepting atheism or agnosticism here promote this ideology widely in conversation.

    If by that you mean believing that everything is in your genes, all the way to what I will have for breakfast, then count me out. Without an interplay with the environment the genes cannot do anything. Can an organism develop without food? Nope. On the other side, can an organism develop without the involved genes? Nope. Etc., etc.

    1+
  9. Gregory: Hmm, is it possible to think Neil Rickert, agnostic & sometimes anti-religious Moderator for TSZ, has a vested interest in *NOT SEARCHING* for himself?

    Meanwhile, Gregory seems to have a vested interest in pretending to communicate, while utterly failing to actually communicate.

    0
  10. Neil’s laziness to even bother doing a search, to even try to learn what it means to others, & how it is used already, reveals a lot about the quality & personality of Moderation at this miserable atheist (skeptical) zone. It’s hard, if not impossible, to teach a person effort & caring!

    0
  11. I’m still curious about this:

    Alan:

    …especially with regard to qualia which. in my view, are far from being established as a coherent category.

    keiths:

    What do you see as incoherent about qualia?

    0
  12. Gregory: The language of “emergence”, however, has its own “dialogue space” that differs from (co-)evolve, (co-)evolving, (co-)evolved, (co-)evolution, (co-)evolutionary, (co-)evolutionizing, (co-)evolutionarily, etc. It’s a more subtle & insightful philosophical language than practising ‘evolutionary’ scientists are usually familiar with, weighed down as they are with just doing science, oftentimes ahead of learning to clearly communicate it with due humility in their own knowledge, and lack of it.

    When I think of consummate communicators with due humility, my thoughts wander to our very own Greg.

    1+
  13. Aw gee, thanks DNA_Jock. Always nice to receive supportive words from natural scientists! = )

    0
  14. keiths : [quoting Alan Fox] …especially with regard to qualia which. in my view, are far from being established as a coherent category.

    I am having a Dunning-Kruger moment and may get round to putting up an OP on the central issue*. But don’t let that stop you from reporting your objections to Kastrup’s ideas about evolution of “consciousness”.

    *ETA may include the concept of cognitive closure (HTBS 🙂 )

    0
  15. Alan,

    But don’t let that stop you from reporting your objections to Kastrup’s ideas about evolution of “consciousness”.

    I haven’t.

    I am having a Dunning-Kruger moment…

    I thought so.

    0
  16. Gregory: Geneticism – perhaps no one here will take that label openly, yet people accepting atheism or agnosticism here promote this ideology widely in conversation.

    Yes here.

    I firmly believe that libertarian free will is encoded in our genes.

    1+
  17. Alan Fox:

    CharlieM: Should you not be asking, “what makes your brain think that thinking activity is not a physical process?”?

    I think “you” covers it. It’s you that thinks and you that goes for a walk. But I also think you are a physical entity. What do you think?

    Yes I am in respect to the structure of my body. My structure is composed of the flow of material through my body (comparable to the ship of Theseus). My form however is a product of ethereal life forces. These forces are strong in youth and become weaker as we pass a specific age. Compare the fresh soft form of an infant to a stiff arthritic nonagenarian with wrinkled sagging skin.

    0
  18. Rumraket:

    CharlieM: It is not the physical processes in my brain that have given rise to my writing this post, it is through my thinking activity. The physical processes are the means by which I make my thoughts known but they are not the creator of their content.

    Prove it.

    Well I’ll do my best to demonstrate what I mean.
    My thoughts that I wrote down in that post were stimulated by reading Neil’s post. I could see what he had written and due to past life experiences I could form an understanding of what he said. I know that my senses and nervous system were involved in this process but that knowledge is incidental, I could have understood his words without needing to know about my physiological make up.

    I began to think about what he said. This would have been correlated with some brain activity but we cannot make a causal link between the two.

    Meanwhile I was making decisions. I could have ignored his post, I could have read it and left it at that, or I could have taken it further and written my own post. I chose the latter. Do you think my decision was an act of free will or was it determined?

    Once I had decided to reply I began to put together chains of thoughts in many different directions. I can trace my thinking processes here and understand how they link together. What would cause the brain to be active in a way that linked these thoughts? It is my will to think that makes the connections not brain activity. To demonstrate this imagine I am posting and want to add something that I had read and I want to give the original author credit. For the life of me I cannot think who wrote it, so I concentrate, rack my memory, and eventually I remember the source. My brain is not interrogating itself, or one unspecified area of it deciding to interrogate another area. It is I myself through an act of will who has decided to put the effort in to bring to mind the source.

    If you think it is the opposite to what I say why not just sit back and let your brain get on with it?

    0
  19. Neil Rickert:

    CharlieM: Modern natural science, in accordance with its whole being, cannot believe in the ideal character of knowledge.

    More Steiner nonsense.

    Thank you for your opinion, but that is not an argument about what he said in the quote
    Here is another part of that quote:

    It is of course entirely obvious that the successive stages of the brain process have their source in organic metabolism, even though the brain process itself is the bearer of those thought-configurations. But the reason as to why the second thought follows from the first: this I do not find within this metabolism, but do indeed find within the logical thought-connection.

    Do you have any opinion on this other that it is more Steiner nonsense?

    0
  20. newton:

    CharlieM: I’m not isolating it, I am putting it in the context of my conscious awareness. I have immediate awareness of my thinking. I would never be aware that there was a brain inside my skull unless I had been given this knowledge from external sources.

    Can you have an awareness of the “ I” in “ I have immediate awareness” without knowledge from external sources?

    No. And this is why being physical beings with a sense of separation from the external world is so important. Without this we could not become self-conscious individuals. It takes time to develop self-awareness but as an individual I do have immediate awareness that I have generated my thinking.

    0
  21. Gregory: to Neil Rickert,

    Agreed, Steiner is largely nonsense with his “scientific spirituality”…

    The Steiner quote Neil was referring to came from a book he had written while editing Goethe’s scientific writings at the Goethe and Sciller Archives. This was before he began to develop his anthroposophical “woo”.

    0
  22. Corneel:

    CharlieM: And with that you immediately begin your epistemological enquiry with the assumption – thinking requires a brain. How did you come to that conclusion?

    It follows from the observation that brain damage and neurodegenerative diseases negatively impact cognitive abilities, including rational thinking. There is some consensus about this thing, you know.

    Damage a fuse box in your car enough to create open circuits will negatively impact its ability to function in specific ways. Does this mean that the fuse box causes the functions affected?

    0
  23. Corneel:

    CharlieM: But if we are going to start somewhere we should try to eliminate all prior assumptions whether or not in the end they turn out to be justified.

    You are in the habit of using “we” when you mean “you lot”.

    I mean “we” as in those of us who are interested in epistemology. Are you saying that I am not interested in this?

    Dare I suggest you take your own advice and accept that some people are seeking a physical basis for consciousness?

    I do accept that some people are seeking this. And this is precisely why it cannot be assumed at the beginning of their search.

    0
  24. Corneel:

    CharlieM: I’m not isolating it, I am putting it in the context of my conscious awareness. I have immediate awareness of my thinking. I would never be aware that there was a brain inside my skull unless I had been given this knowledge from external sources.

    No, you are not “putting it in context”. This, what you are doing here, is attempting to isolate the process of thinking from your physical self.

    No. I accept that it is only through my physical development that I am able to think. But now that I have attained the form of human consciousness that has allowed me to do this I can begin to ask epistemological questions. What is the first thing I can say about this process? It is that I have thought of a question. What is this question? Something such as, “How do I gain knowledge of the world?” From this will follow questions about physical senses, neurons, qualia and such like. Thinking is at the very beginning of my enquiry.

    0
  25. Alan Fox:

    CharlieM: I would never be aware that there was a brain inside my skull unless I had been given this knowledge from external sources.

    Raised in isolation I suspect you would not think much at all. Thinking that we are aware of is draped around a linguistic core that we learn by social interaction.

    Yes I agree. I too have come to the conclusion that we could never achieve self-consciousness and the thinking that goes with it if we had been raised in isolation.

    And regarding a connection between brains and what brains do, there’s plenty of evidence that brain injury results in impaired thinking.

    ETA ninja’d by Corneel

    And answered above.

    0
  26. phoodoo:
    CharlieM,

    I think that is a good way of putting it.

    Thanks.

    As I see it his view on consciousness is that there is cosmic consciousness and individual consciousness. The relation between the two he likens to the relationship between a whirlpool and the whole body of water. The former being a localised instance of the latter.

    It should also be pointed out that being conscious does not need to entail being subsequently aware of our having been conscious. For example I was conscious as a baby but I have no lasting memory of this consciousness.

    0
  27. newton:

    Neil Rickert: If you are looking at bacteria as conscious, then the word that you want is “homeostasis”.

    Not necessarily, just going with the definition , from linked article, of different forms of state-consciousness and Alan’s example.

    Perhaps Kastrup would say that they have consciousness of sorts but no retained memory of this consciousness.

    0
  28. Alan:

    What have I missed? Don’t be shy – quote yourself!

    Your attempt at changing the subject is noted.

    0
  29. keiths: Your attempt at changing the subject is noted.

    Bizarre! I’ve looked through your comments on this thread and I can’t see one where you have followed through on this:

    I’ll leave my objections for the comment thread.

    I would have thought that was the subject. You accused me of trolling, remember. Come on Keiths, you used to be sharper than this.

    0
  30. CharlieM:

    As I see it his view on consciousness is that there is cosmic consciousness and individual consciousness. The relation between the two he likens to the relationship between a whirlpool and the whole body of water. The former being a localised instance of the latter.

    What causes the “whirlpool”, and why does individual consciousness associate itself with some objects but not others? Why are humans conscious as a whole rather than having conscious thumbs, elbows, spleens, etc.?

    0
  31. CharlieM: Damage a fuse box in your car enough to create open circuits will negatively impact its ability to function in specific ways. Does this mean that the fuse box causes the functions affected?

    Where did I say that a brain “causes” thinking? I said that a brain is required for thinking.

    To state in terms of your metaphor: Yes, a car definitely requires a functional fuse box in order for you to be able to drive it.

    CharlieM: Thinking is at the very beginning of my enquiry.

    So you keep saying. But that, in itself, is not a very informative observation. Why do you keep treating it as some sort of magnificent revelation?

    You started driving so that means you don’t need a car?

    0
  32. CharlieM: Do you have any opinion on this other that it is more Steiner nonsense?

    Still mostly nonsense. Steiner probably feels good about saying it, and you feel good about repeating it. But it doesn’t actually say anything.

    0
  33. Here’s a quick argument against the usefulness of qualia.

    Suppose the Devil puts me and my zombie twin in a room and says “one of you has qualia and the other is a zombie. You need to figure out which is which!”

    Of course Zombie Kantian Naturalist will do everything I do, and behave identically to me — including everything that I think and say. I assert that I have qualia and that he’s the zombie. But ZKN says the exact same thing about me. How do I know that he’s wrong and I’m right? Every bit of evidence I can appeal to to justify my claim, he can also appeal to in asserting his. We’re at a stalemate.

    And then it dawns on me — how do I know that I’m not the zombie after all? After all, maybe there’s some ultra-special ineffable property that non-zombies have in their conscious experience that I don’t have. How would I know? If I’m the zombie, then conscious experience isn’t what I have — that would require some additional special property that I cannot conceptualize or imagine. And in that case it would be impossible for me to understand what it would be like to not be a zombie.

    ZKN comes to the same realization — maybe he’s the zombie, but how could he know?

    We now come to a meta-stalemate now: both of us realizing that each of us could either possess or lack a property that we cannot conceptualize or imagine, and with no way of determining which.

    At this point, both of us (being mostly rational, and equally rational) have no choice but to throw up our hands and decide that the Devil’s challenge cannot be met, even in principle.

    In other words, it’s not possible for us to determine whether or not we have qualia. Once we allow for states that are logically separate from all possible functional structures, we allow for states that are logically separate from all possible methods of verification. (This is the point of Dennett’s criticism of Chalmers.)

    1+
  34. CharlieM:

    I think “you” covers it. It’s you that thinks and you that goes for a walk. But I also think you are a physical entity. What do you think?

    Yes I am in respect to the structure of my body. My structure is composed of the flow of material through my body (comparable to the ship of Theseus).

    We agree so far. Even though much of the materiel we consist of turns over quite rapidly, you remain you (though “you” is not fixed, either.).

    My form however is a product of ethereal life forces. These forces are strong in youth and become weaker as we pass a specific age. Compare the fresh soft form of an infant to a stiff arthritic nonagenarian with wrinkled sagging skin.

    Your analogy is poetic but not convincing.

    0
  35. newton: Can you have an awareness of the “ I” in “ I have immediate awareness” without knowledge from external sources?

    That’s backwards. We know about external sources by virtue of “knowing” about ourselves. But I put that “knowing” in quotes, because it might not be conscious knowledge.

    0
  36. KN,

    Proponents of qualia are unlikely to be moved by that argument. After all, part of the definition of a zombie is that its special status cannot be determined from inside the physical world, because the information processing it performs is identical to that of the corresponding non-zombie.

    The real question is whether zombies are metaphysically possible, not whether they are detectable.

    0
  37. keiths: The real question is whether zombies are metaphysically possible

    The real question is, if they are indistinguishable from not-zombies, how can any useful conclusions be drawn?

    0
  38. No one is proposing the study of zombies in the lab.

    Their usefulness is in raising the question behind the hard problem: what is it that causes certain kinds of information processing to be accompanied by subjective awareness instead of occurring “in the dark”?

    0
  39. Neil Rickert: However, it seems appropriate to point out to CharlieM that his arguments are not persuading anybody.

    So even if they are not persuasive, are they logically thought out?

    0
  40. keiths:
    No one is proposing the study of zombies in the lab.

    Their usefulness is in raising the question behind the hard problem:what is it that causes certain kinds of information processing to be accompanied by subjective awareness instead of occurring “in the dark”?

    But there is no hard problem. Comes back to what Bernardo Kastrup means when he uses the word “consciousness”.

    0
  41. Alan,

    But there is no hard problem.

    Are you bluffing again, or can you explain why you think so?

    Comes back to what Bernardo Kastrup means when he uses the word “consciousness”.

    As noted earlier, those of us who made it past the first three sentences of Kastrup’s essay know the answer to that.

    Why can’t you be bothered to read (or at least skim) it?

    0
  42. keiths: Are you bluffing again, or can you explain why you think so?

    Because pzombies aren’t distinguishable from non-zombies.

    0
  43. keiths: Do you understand what the hard problem is?

    There isn’t a “hard” problem of “consciousness”. Chalmers is wrong on this and Dennett right, in my view.

    0
  44. Do you know what philosophers mean by “the hard problem”? What makes you think it doesn’t exist?

    0

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.