The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory

by: David J. Chalmers, read in 2002

5 The requirements for a Theory of Consciousness. Compare this to a theory of operation of a radio.
39 I think phenomenal conscious experience is a counterexample to the def. of Logical Supervenience
39 No: Not identical, one koala might be operating "in the dark" without conscious experience and the other with conscious experience. The angels might be the "experiencers".
40 How can we be sure our world has no living ectoplasm?
43 Reductive explanation doesn't require reduction or a high level theory
44 Explanation of 'explanation'
46 Def. of 'cognitive model'
46 Why consciousness can't be explained functionally
48 Logical supervenience = reductive explainability
85 Mysterious fact: I am Paul Martin
86 Consciousness and causation linked??
106 The problems of explaining consciousness exactly parallel those of a radio
109 Vitalism
118 An appeal for a new Physics
119 Compare Penrose's approach to an analogous approach to explaining radio
120 Ubiquity of consciousness suggests an evolutionary reason for it
138 Communicable=explainable as "what is it like" after experience.
142, 373, 252 Typos
150 Quantum indeterminacy: a small amount is all the room you need
153 The problem of underlying substance. Imagine the difficulty of a VR player trying to learn about the computer memory and CPU which are the underlying substance of his virtual reality while in VR mode.
154 Some matter might be mind
155 Berkeley's idealism requires an observer - not quite right
155 Russell's neutral monism - "intrinsic natures" sounds like my upward info; "exxtrinsic relations" like my downward info.
156 Disagree: It seems quantum randomness is a good bet to survive
156 Disagree: Failure of cognitive science = good bet: it only deals w/ "easy problems"
157 Phenomenal causation via quantum uncertainty - Eccles
157 Disagree: Eccles' idea doesn't imply a generally testable case. The word 'entirely' used here is too strong. It could be that a minuscule subset are deliberately controlled e.g. key chemical reactions in the origination and mutation of life forms and in the exercise of volition in brains.
157 Disagree: It is natural to expect the behavior to be different, and it is! The behavior of a car being driven is "different in kind" from a moving, driverless car. Similarly, animal behavior is "different in kind" from mineral behavior, or even plant behavior.
158 Disagree: Psychons must have phenomenal properties by definition. Start with the fact that phenomenalism exists. Define psychons as carriers or aspects of it. Then any "story" invokes phenomenal properties.
158 Disagree: Can't "subtract" without re-opening the gap
158 Disagree: Psychons not the seat but the agent. e.g. radio waves are not the seat of music
158 Disagree: Not irrelevant; needed to explain free will volition
158 Disagree: His dismissal of interactionism misses the point. You must start with the existence of experience. After all, that's all we really know exists.
161 Disagree: Premise 4. - see 150
161-162 Good summary of logical positions: mine is vi Interactionist Dualism
163 "Current evidence suggests..." What evidence suggests causal gaps of quantum indeterminacy will likely be closed?
163 "nobody has an idea of how any physics could do this." Challenge: Imagine new Physics which entails consciousness (CTMU)
163 I disagree with his "deepest reason" to reject vi. e.g. You can't coherently subtract the role (causal component) of a JPL-based human operator of a Martian rover and yield the same rover behavior.
163 "We can coherently imagine subtracting the phenomenal component,..." No. Cars with, and without, drivers behave fundamentally differently.
163 "the fact that these properties are phenomenal can play no essential role..." No! Teleology may be at work.
163 "Either way, the dynamics is all we need..." Not so if consciousness were primal.
163 I disagree with "explanatory irrelevance" If consciousness were primal with teleological intent, then such an explanation would definitely be relevant.
163 "structure and dynamics does not add up to phenomenology." It might. Primal consciousness can yield structure and dynamics, thus physics. Assume only consciousness. Then structure and dynamics can both be imagined. Q.E.D.
167 Maybe not everyone is conscious, or at least in the same way
171 Wouldn't a teleological explanation work better for the origins of consciousness?
177 I don't see the paradox. It seems he is getting at the notion of knowing.
183 Elitzur agrees with me, in particular that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is false.
184 Android design
185 Could a machine or an algorithm wonder?
186 "Thinking" androids are inconceivable without a conscious designer, I think.
195 A causal account of our knowledge of consciousness is unnecessary
196 Unwarranted assumption of the plurality of "we".
196 Access to consciousness is not mediated
208 Does conscious experience cause material reality?
223 Not so "directly". Consider random-dot 3D p[ictures. Physical structure of dots is 2D. The upward info embedded in the downward info (pixels) adds structure that is not physical. (see top of 288)
225 Is 'awareness' 'knowing'?
235 What neuroscience can explain: communicable features
245 If awareness => consciousness, then computers should be conscious
248 "conscious experience arises from the fine-grained functional organization." I disagree: Radio reception cannot occur if "fine grained functionalism" doesn't include transmission. It's OK if you include the fine-grained functional organization of the radio station and the EM radiation along with that of the radio whose music you are trying to explain.
249 I can't believe that consciousness can arise either from a physical system or from a functional organization.
251 Synaptic connections may not be fine-grained enough; dimers in microtubules may do it.
253 The gradual parts replacement scenario is not plausible. You can't thus change a radio to a CD player
259 A real possibility! Beings massively mistaken about their own conscious experiences.
281 Bateson's def. of 'information'. I ask, to whom or to what does it make a difference?
If to sentience, then upward information; if to physicality, then downward information.
282 "Information is a difference that can make a difference in transmission." I say it can make a difference via transmission.
282 MacKay: "Info. is as info. does". Me: Yes, upward or downward.
282 The role of transmission
284 Disagree: We find info. content in pure thought w/ no physical counterpart; There are physical states in uninhabited galaxies w/ no phenomenal counterpart.
284 whenever we find an information space realized phenomenally, we find the same information space realized physically." This may be true for perceived info, but not in general. e.g. math concepts or 3D random dot structures.
285 Duality of info may imply deep duality in reality
286 Upward and downward info??
286 Physical realization: How is persistence of thought achieved in the mind of God?
286 IMHO downward info is reified; upward info is not. (Physically, that is)
286 Info may be more primitive than mass or charge. (IMHO)
287 "relational" is to "combinatorial" as "upward" is to "downward"
288 Yes. God may be surprised at emergent patterns of his thoughts.
289 IMHO Judgements are produced by the recognition of emergent patterns in part, maybe, by blurring granularity as in Moire or interference patterns
291 Disagree that an AI system would seem to be conscious to itself. It's a mojor leap to assume the system would sense any "seeming". Moreover, this entire scenario requires an outside designer, and there is no reason the design couldn't have included awareness of the physical perception processes (p. 290) and even the complete design itself.
291 "This immediate access to brute differences leads to judgments..." Non sequitur.
292 If info. is key, then why not transmission also? (Shannon's diagram)
292 If radio component voltage states carry the music, perhaps these voltage states are responsible for the music itself. No it is the composer, musicians, instruments, and performance.
292 What does he mean by "realize"? Suddenly became aware? or create reality?
292 No, that is deceptive: music "cohere[s] very nicely" with electronic states.
300 Chalmers: The "experiencer" known as me is a specific brain subsystem
301 The role of amplification of control information
301 "I am not certain of what the relevant constraining criterion should be.,... My suggestion for constraining information leading to experience: Upward info informs higher level systems (thermostat informs heating syhstem, eyes inform driver of a car, etc.). Consciousness is present if and only if this upward info or a representation of it, reach to the very top of the hierarchy and informs God. No experience results from downward info.
301 My answers to his metaphysical questions: How do we understand the ontology of the double-aspect view of information?" by God/thought duality. Information spaces and states should be taken seriously as useful constructs of the thoughts of God and also as ontologically fundamental to physical structures. Information is half of the duality. Physical and phenomenal are not primary. God and thoughts are primary.
302 Interesting, ambiguous, and consistent connotations of "realize"!
303 My extension to "the world as pure information": The "world" (physical) is pure thought. Thoughts may contain downward info, informing physical behavior, and upward info, surprising emergent patterns informing the one consciousness. There may be other thoughts which are not info. in either sense.
303 "Info. is all there is". Not quite; where is consciousness?
303 Chalmers agrees.
304 Physical reality = thoughts in the mind of God solves this problem that way
305 Good summary of a general theory!
305 Chalmers' "inside and outside" = my "upward and downward"
305 How to explain macroscopic phenomena? With my Martian rover scenario
306 "on the face of it, our conscious experience does not seem to be any sort of sum.." It's not. It is fundamental.
306 My picture of hyperdimensional levels solves this problem of "room"
306 Alas, poor Ockham
306 The case for a hierarchical view: a hierarchy of grounding levels seems natural.
307 "we lack an accurate conceptrion..." Big time! Low level --> high level may be as complex as football game --> telecast
307 My car/driver example is "smooth" and easy to understand
307 "For example, it could simply be a law..." The psycho-physical laws could embody "realization" in both senses. The laws would simply be rules of logic (i.e. consistency). The "realization" works two ways: 1) upward when consequential relationships are attended to by the "one", and 2) downward when the relationships force necessary causation in other relationships. Thus "realization" in the two senses: sudden awareness and make real.
307 I think I have solved "the hardest problem" of my "Russellian view"
308 "One of the difficulties..." Rather than being directed by constraints how about being directed by the vast suggestions from VR and other analogies (radio), OBE etc, Seth etc. religions, scriptures, altered states etc. etc.
308-9 My answers to his open questions... 1. "...why is it realized one way rather than another?" Consistency and arbitrary choice. "Do we need to add further laws," No, but we may. "...postulate contingent 'constants,' to settle this matter?" Yes. 2. "Is the character...settled...?" No. We need to view this question in the context of "levels of drivers". At each level the perception will be vastly different, and the illusion of experience (i.e. the illusion that experience happens at that level) will be different due to severe constraints on knowledge at that level. The one real experience, however, would be settled. "Is something...the only way...?" There are many different ways. 3. "Can this extension be made?" Yes. (See answer above concerning levels). 4."What sort of formal structure is best...?" Mathematics. "What sort of topological spaces...?" Hyper-complex ones at least. "How can we best capture the full structure?" Analogy: football game/telecast. "Should the modified...?" No. Only the "ground" should be acknowledged as being hyper-complex. 5. "How...can one account for the unity...?" It comes for free. "I suspect that the answer involves the way...the...information is processed..." OK. But I see it more as the recognition of emergent patterns (e.g. Mandelbrot set, or 3D-dot pictures). "But just how to cash this out is unclear." God is limited and frequently surprised. 6. "What , exactly, are the criteria that determine which information in the brain corresponds to my experiences?" His use of "my" is ambiguous. There are levels of illusory "experiencers" with different information corresponding to different levels. "Is there a particular causal pathway...that is relevant?" Yes, the level structure. Consider cars and drivers. "Presumably something like direct availability..." Yes, at each level in the hierarchy.
313 "Could an appropriately programmed computer truly possess a mind?" No. It would need the "radio-like" functions to achieve direct communication with God.
333 Stafford's Theorem and a consistent info. space are sufficient
333 QM implements the psycho-physical link, Consciousness is fundamental
334 QM is related to observership and experience
348 The central question of QM; my view answers the question
350 Consciousness arises from computational implementation? I don't think so.
352 Speculations - all consistent with my hierarchy of drivers
353 "Why did I end up here?" me: you chose it
353 The determinate flow of identity is an illusion
356 Everett: "There is vastly more in the world than we are ever aware of" Yes!
356 My scenario has all three interpretations: Wigner, Bohm, and Everett

Analogy to illuminate relationships among "the one", upward info, downward info, causality, laws, realization (upward), realization (downward), consciousness/ground duality.

A software virus creator, reports of the virus' spread, the bits in the code as the propagate, computer & software implementation, computer & software architecture, awareness by author of the virus' effects, virus infestation & spread, author/world of electronic devices
"devices" capable of "understanding" upward info on the way up the hierarchy, could be the "observers" of QM.

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