About
Content
Store
Forum

Rebirth of Reason
War
People
Archives
Objectivism

Post to this threadMark all messages in this thread as readMark all messages in this thread as unreadPage 0Page 1Forward one pageLast Page


Post 0

Wednesday, January 29 - 8:34amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

From the outline, it appears he omitted identity as the third axiom.

 

I wonder why?

 


 

Chapter 1: Foundational Issues
I. The first axiom: existence
II. The second axiom: consciousness
III. Axioms and axiomatic concepts
IV. Five self-evident facts about consciousness 
A. Fact 1. Consciousness involves an object and a subject 
B. Fact 2. The Primacy of Existence 
C. Fact 3. Consciousness is an active process 
D. Fact 4. Consciousness is not reducible to matter 
E. Fact 5. Consciousness has causal efficacy
V. The validity of introspection
VI. The biological nature of consciousness



Post 1

Wednesday, February 5 - 4:52amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Stephen, thanks for the post and the link.  I can hardly wait...

 

Luke, we will just have to read the book and find out.

 

 



Post 2

Wednesday, February 5 - 11:19amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

 

 

Under 'Consciousness' the author placed this subheading:

>>>Fact 4. Consciousness is not reducible to matter <<<

 

As in our present state of knowledge, no, it's not

As in a workable assumption to do neurosci, yes, it must be, imho.

 

Otherwise, the position is called 'property dualism'. This is rather unique for Objectivism, at least as to what one might assume Objectivism to be.

 

Might someone kindly explain, or is this new to everyone?

 

Thx, Eva



Post 3

Wednesday, February 5 - 11:40amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Re: #4:  Consciousness is having current information about reality.  Information is the relation between parts of reality.  Consciousness is not matter but the relation between matter being actively changed by sensors.  It is not just a state, but requires processes of encoding and decoding, such as sensory and actuators in order to work.  Its not just matter but also reality's process of change.  Maybe this author disagrees with me.



Post 4

Wednesday, February 5 - 4:44pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Yes, and thanks, but...

 

Although information-capacity-processing is an excellent way of defining 'consciousness', the text cited ..."not reductable to matter." 

 

Obvioulsly, info-processing involves neuronal activity, yes?

 

 



Post 5

Wednesday, February 5 - 6:55pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Fundamentally any interaction between matter is "information processing", because the interaction results in changed/new relationships between parts of reality.  Yes, neurons are one thing that does such in humans.  The human brain is a powerful computer that consumes lots of energy for the purpose of information processing... operating on sensory, memory, and imagined data from visual, audio, and other sensors.  Surely most of the information about prior important states/events are stored in neurons/neuron connections, and simulating reality and planning are all done with neurons.  And then neurons are used to signal the muscles and other actuators to take action.



Post 6

Wednesday, February 5 - 9:37pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

>>>>Surely most of the information about prior important states/events are stored in neurons/neuron connections<<<<

 

'Most'? What would not be reductable to matter?



Post 7

Thursday, February 6 - 8:41amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Information is the relationship between parts of reality.  There are many parts of reality which are considered the human body other than neurons... such as skin cells, the heart, blood vessles, blood, muscle cells, etc.  I'm saying that its not just neurons that have information within the human body... all of these things do.  Yes it is all matter, but neurons are only a part, so only a part of the information is in neurons.  Surely we agree that neurons and their connectionship relations hold a significant portion of the information that our neural system operates on... but not all, most.

 

For example I have two scars on my left hand's pointing finger.  They are insignificant, but information none-the-less, and their existence does have some insignificant impact on the information that is processsed by my brain.  Even the shape of my neural network has probably been permanently altered due to the scars.  (Given that sensors such as heat and pressure sensors in the skin are part of the neural network).



Post 8

Thursday, February 6 - 9:44pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
I believe that my question was: what part of information would not be reductable to some sort of matter?

Post 9

Friday, February 7 - 4:45amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

It may just be an honest way of admitting that we may not know everything there is to know about consciousness, e.g. there may be some as yet undiscovered "stuff" akin to "The Force" out there that makes consciousness possible.

 

As MEM said, we will just have to read the book when it hits the stores.



Post 10

Friday, February 7 - 6:53amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Luke,

 

Thanks for the response.

 

I do believe that it's an 'honest question' to ask whether or not 'what we don't know' is always reductable to matter.

 

The possible choices woulld seem to be:

    * agnostic

    * yes--just keep looking

    * no--prpoerty dualism.

 

 IMHO, as for having a scientific attitude, only the 'yes' is correct.

 

I would assume as much from Objectivists. Kindly correct me if I am in error.

 

Eva

 

 

 

 

 



Post 11

Friday, February 7 - 7:47amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Objectivism rejects both idealism and materialism.  Here are some passages:

Idealism and Materialism as the Rejection of Basic Axioms

 

Now let us apply the principles we have been discussing to two outstanding falsehoods in the history of metaphysics: idealism and materialism. The idealists—figures such as Plato, Plotinus, Augustine, Hegel—regard reality as a spiritual dimension transcending and controlling the world of nature, which latter is regarded as deficient, ephemeral, imperfect—in any event, as only partly real. Since “spiritual,” in fact, has no meaning other than “pertaining to consciousness,” the content of true reality in this view is invariably some function or form of consciousness (e.g., Plato’s abstractions, Augustine’s God, Hegel’s Ideas). This approach amounts to the primacy of consciousness and thus, as Ayn Rand puts it, to the advocacy of consciousness without existence.

...

This does not mean that Objectivists are materialists. Materialists—men such as Democritus, Hobbes, Marx, Skinner—champion nature but deny the reality or efficacy of consciousness. Consciousness, in this view, is either a myth or a useless byproduct of brain or other motions. In Objectivist terms, this amounts to the advocacy of existence without consciousness. It is the denial of man’s faculty of cognition and therefore of all knowledge.

... 

Materialists sometimes regard the concept of “consciousness” as unscientific on the grounds that it cannot be defined. This overlooks the fact that there cannot be an infinite regress of definitions. All definitions reduce ultimately to certain primary concepts, which can be specified only ostensively; axiomatic concepts necessarily belong to this category. The concept of “matter,” by contrast, is not an axiomatic concept and does require a definition, which it does not yet have; it requires an analytical definition that will integrate the facts of energy, particle theory, and more. To provide such a definition is not, however, the task of philosophy, which makes no specialized study of matter, but of physics. As far as philosophic usage is concerned, “matter” denotes merely the objects of extrospection or, more precisely, that of which all such objects are made. In this usage, the concept of “matter,” like that of “consciousness,” can be specified only ostensively.

Peikoff, Leonard (1993-12-01). Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand (Ayn Rand Library) (Kindle Locations 729-736). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

 

(Edited by Luke Setzer on 2/07, 7:49am)



Post 12

Friday, February 7 - 7:55amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Eva:

 

Re: information as other than matter

 

 

I think we see examples of this all the time, all around us.  You and I discussed 'oscillons' before.   Here is another accessible analog.

 

Imagine a time lapse of yourself from age 1 to age 100, shown in rapid speed.    'You' are not the same matter over the course of those 100 years.   "You" would appear like a process, passing through borrowed matter over short time spans.  "You" are more akin to coherent energy, than matter; your matter preceded 'you',,,,your matter will outlast 'you.'     In fact, even as you live,  your matter is not the same matter over time.    Not the same as, but similar to the example of a long lived oscillon, composed at any time of individual bits of vibrating media, but not uniquely associated with those bits of vibrating media.  

 

Here is another example; a computer.   Fresh from the factory, in a null state, it contains matter.   It's energy state is modified, and it can store information.   It's matter is the same as its factory delivered condition.   Yet, information has been stored within it.    Not only data, but process/code, and if coherently ordered, the data is information.     I am not asserting that is how humans store or process information, just that it is another instance of information as something orthogonal to simple matter.

 

Yes, our brain is composed of neurons and connections, but those exist beyond our death as well; what also exists is energetic coherence, signals, waves, and above all, process, as driven by our unfurling DNA and more. The neurons and connections are media; information is what is containable withing the media, as is, not just information, but processing and process; that, I think, is what life -is-.

 

At any given moment of our life-- as an active, continuing process -- we are more than our matter.   Matter is our medium.   We are more akin to process while we are alive, than medium.   Our medium is still in the casket, long after our process stops.    We are like processes unfurling, using borrowed atoms forged inside of stars long ago, in a Universe that is mostly overwhelmingly Hydrogen.   Self-aware bits of merely borrowed heavy elements, here because we can be here.

 

You are physically not the same matter you were ten years ago.   You have passed through some matter.  And yet, your memories remain, and as well, your ability to both access and process is much better than it was 10 years ago.  

 

I don't think we are simple neural nets, even as we might apply them; what makes us unique, I believe, is our ability to self-weight our own neural nets-- to on the fly choose what our highest neural nets value.    There is a concrete example floating around here, we've discussed it many times, of something called the checkerboard illusion.  http://web.mit.edu/persci/people/adelson/checkershadow_illusion.html       Our changing perception of that illusion is an accessible and concrete exanple of our ability to self-rewire even normally autonomous functioning neural nets inside of us, evidence, to me, of yet higher order willfully reprogrammable neural nets.   We can choose what we value.

 

In that example , what we value is usually always pattern recognition over gray scale value.   But we can willfully choose.  What I mean by this is, the first time you see that illusion, most people can only see the squares A and B as being different shades of gray.   But after we understand the illusion, it is often difficult to see the same squares as anything but the same shade of gray.  This concrete example is a very accessible personal experiment to the machine inside of us, as well as the insight into the willful nature of that machine.    As well, the lesson of this example is, we can understand it, and in understanding it, willfully re-weight a portion of our visual processing system that normally functions almost completely autonymously; we don't usually consciously process such images, we simply look at them and comprehend them with our preset bias towards pattern recognition over gray scale.

 

If we can choose what to value at that level, then we can choose what to value at higher levels of abstraction as well.

 

regards,

Fred

 



Post 13

Friday, February 7 - 8:55amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

I am an idealist and a materialist at the same time.

 

Idealist: All fully self consistent systems exist, but do not interact.  The reality we are a part of is a fully self consistent system.

 

Materialist: Our reality is an incredibly vast set of constituents that continually interact through time following a particular mathematical equation, each individually changing in properties such as position, velocity, and angular velocity.

 

Fred: In our reality its been consistently shown that structure (including which types of materials/building blocks) is what defines/makes fuction.  We may change in which atoms our bodies are made of, but to a large extent we maintain lots of the same structure through time.  Not to say our structure does not change at all... for example our brains for example build lots of new structures through our life.  A structure is also information: a set of relationships between parts of reality.



Post 14

Friday, February 7 - 10:17amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Dean:

 

I see elements of all that.  But the structure from matter model is kind of like a view of us as machines that get powered; when we are no longer powered, the machine that is us -- the wiring, the structure, still exists as wiring, structure.   The machine decays, we fade away.

 

I see another element, other than pure matter, and that is, process.   DNA isn't just DNA, as in, cold blueprint for structure; there is an element of time involved, of gradient, in this case, rate of change with respect to time; epigenetics, or, that which regulates the processing/expression of that which is encoded in our genes; epigenetics isn't one of those new age things, it is a legitimate area of biological research, entirely consistent with the observation in the universe that gradient drives everything, including and especially life.   The essense of DNA is structure/medium but the essense of epigeneitcs is regulation of process/expression.  We as living things are like process unfurling.  The process unfurls through the machinery.  The machinery is constructed(processed)from borrowed bits of material(heavy elements beyond Hydrogen)as regulated by epigenetics.   Epigenetics is like an overlayer on top of our DNA makeup.    So, we could completely decode our DNA sequences, and still not have the most important piece of the picture-- that which regulates the processing of our DNA.   Our material DNA is only a part of that.

 

We can say, that's just a material overlayer to another material layer, DNA.  So it is still structure.   But it is not static; it includes the element of time, whereas structure itself does not necessarily include the element of time.   Process is how energy is used to manipulate matter, but process -- especially our process -- is not limited by the material world as it is.   Our process can purely imagine.   All that we imagine is not real.  Not all that we can imagine can be real.  But some of what we imagine(as limited by Bacon) can be realized, as new configurations of the material world.    That is a result of what we value, and what we value can be chosen.   A Newtonian view asserts that those choices were set in stone billions of years ago, that the future is as written in stone as the past.  Not proven, maybe not even provable, so moot.   It is an assertion some make.   I think there is plenty of objective evidence that we can choose what we value, and those chosen values drive our processing.

 

Our process ... the continuation of other processes which creatred us ... meander to the future, uncovering what can be, limited only by what can be, not what is.   It is what happens in the universe, because it can happen in the universe.  Including us.

 

The material configuration of the future does not exist yet, although all the material of the future does.    Said another way, we have the same mass and energy available to us as the Neanderthals(George Gilder, "Wealth is Essentially Knowledge"); the primary difference is process over time creating new configurations of both mass and energy.   If all was simple structure, then nothing has changed in the world.   Process is what we do until we no longer do, and that is more than our structure.   Our structure is the medium through which our process unfurls.   Perhaps unfurls is the wrong word; that implies our process is all rolled up, and all that is left is for it to unroll, an act set in stone long ago.   I don't believe that, but that is an act of faith either way.

 

If it unfurls, IMO, I think it unfurls in a totally unpredictable fashion, analogous to Wolfram's incalculable complexity from simple rules/NKS.   If that is the case, it is indistinguishable from free will, and the issue is moot. 

 

regards,

Fred

 

 

(Edited by Fred Bartlett on 2/08, 9:51am)



Post 15

Friday, February 7 - 10:31amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Fred, I agree about the process.  I guess I didn't emphasize it enough when I said "In our reality its been consistently shown that structure...".  The "in our reality" part was meant to imply that reality continually changes through its process of interactions between parts...  and the structure of the parts defines how such parts change/interact with other things, but only in the context of our reality's process of change.

 

"I don't believe that, but that is an act of faith either way."   "If that is the case, it is indistinguishable from free will, and the issue is moot."  I would argue that having non-causal events would be a contradiction with having a fully self consistent system.  But at the meta level, given that our reality is so rediculously vast/complex... practically it is indistinguishable and effectively is what arises to what we call "free will".

 

Random : Unpredictable causal event

Free Will : Causal unpredictable choice

 

(Edited by Dean Michael Gores on 2/07, 10:43am)



Sanction: 6, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 6, No Sanction: 0
Post 16

Saturday, February 8 - 4:26amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Re #11 'Luke':

 

First, we can all agree with Rand that it's foolish to say 'only matter' and/or 'only thought'. We all realize that the existential world we live in consists of both.

 

So much is our agreement spot-on  that her judgment of all those other philosophers as cited is either simply wrong or out of date. Plato understood the material world (famously, 'stasi phanomen'), and Marx's class consciousness' is a solid marker as to how consciousness effects outcome.

 

It's more or less, then,  a question of starting point--'which side of the mountain'--or orientation, rather than an essential belief of one basic quality. Modern texts reflect this, including the one that Peikhoff read with Sidney Hook back in the early 50's...

 

The key word is 'reductable', which crosses the line from lived, daily use of 'consciousness' to that of science. Here, Peikhoff is wrong in suggesting that philosohical questions do not bend into science.

 

In other words, as used, 'consciousness possesses a meaning that implies 'something beyond our present understanding of cause'. Toss in 'reductable' and you're saying. 'ultimately, is there anything that's caused that isn't material?'

 

Here, you must choose, yes or no. Science say's 'no' because that's what science is about. 

 

Indeed, sounding 'philosophical' is to more or less ignore science. But doing philosohy is another  matter. that's why ther's tons of books out there call ed "philosophy of science' . Peikhoff, PhD, should lnow that.

 

Eva



Post 17

Saturday, February 8 - 5:39amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Eva, you need to take some time from this forum to read the Peikoff book cover to cover or listen to the audio book.  He can "explain" things better than we can.  Please update your profile to "Extended" to list what you have read so far so we can direct you to resources rather than just answer questions better answered by the core literature.



Post 18

Saturday, February 8 - 9:39amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Dean:

 

Random : Unpredictable causal event

Free Will : Causal unpredictable choice

 

That clarifies the difference perfectly.   We can choose what we value, even if the mechanism of that is strongly neural net based(value as, literally, a weighting applied to a hierarchy of neural nets.)    And, there is nothing I've ever read which seems to limit the human brain to a simple pyramidal hierarchy of neural nets, low level to high level;  I'd imagine it more like a network of hierarchies, with the function of some to orthogonally drive the weighting of others.   Through that mechanism, we choose what to value, and over time, even our choices are subject to change, based on access to new information, new stimulus, new knowledge, new experience, and sufficient time to process what we have learned since the last time we made a choice, coupled with the choice to ponder those choices..   

 

We choose what we value; that is what makes Free Will  "causal and unpredictable.'      If at its root the machinery is simply the interlocked weightings of self-programmable neural nets choosing to weight/value -- to tune -- other reasoning neural nets, that is still free will.

 

The phrase "to value" is literally what occurs in a neural network... to weight some lower level inputs differently than others in constructing an output signal, which itself might be a weighted input into another neural net.

 

To me, the checkerboard illusion example is a concrete accessible experiment demonstrating this aspect of how our brains work, at least on the level of visual processing.   But it is at a 'high enough" level of abstraction that not only can we run our own self experiments with our own machinery, but we can weigh and measure and understand the results, which are:  we choose what we value, and we can consciously choose to alter what we choose to value, based on new information.

 

regards,

Fred 

 

 



Post 19

Saturday, February 8 - 9:57amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

What is a much more interesting question is, from what source the desire to nullify the concept of Free Will?

 

Where does that desire come from?

 

I wish it was only a historical question.    I could readily accept that it was a historical cul de sac; what is much more difficult to accept, in modern times, is that so many have not backed the Hell out of the cul de sac.  That is the interesting question, the source of its persistence.

 

regards,

Fred



Post to this threadPage 0Page 1Forward one pageLast Page
User ID Password reminder or create a free account.