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Daniel Dennett’s Darwin Day Delivery

As I mentioned on Pharyngula, I was invited by a philosopher friend to attend the Darwin Day talk by Daniel Dennett, at Framingham State College. The talk, “Darwin and the Evolution of Reasons”, was interesting, and meta-interesting; it not only was a good presentation of memetic evolution, it was a good demonstration of it as well, with successful elements of his earlier talks replicating themselves in this one. (Also, in a vivid display of horizontal meme transfer, I invite any who saw Dennett’s talk to also watch Sue Blackmore’s TED talk, to count the number of similar memes. For those who did not see Dennett, the Blackmore talk will give you the gist of it. No, they are not identical; variety exists among members of this species.)

After the talk (and the exodus of rude students who must have been there only for class credit), Dennett invited questions from the audience. Two (or maybe three; my notes are not clear) questions stood out for me, questions which explored Dennett’s claim that, despite our robots-made-of-robots-made-of-robots bodies, and the unthinking replicant memes infecting our brains, we humans have free will–a free will of the sort worth having. The last questioner asked whether we were actually free moral agents, or whether we were the hosts to parasitic moral memes; Dennett’s reply did not really satisfy me (nor my philosopher friend). Dennett made the analogy (a big part of his talk, too) of eukaryotic cells enjoying the benefits of the combined prokaryotic cells which compose them, and of humans enjoying the benefits of our symbiotic memes. All well and good, as far as that goes, but it seemed a strain to speak of memes as evolving separately, substrate-free, not caring about their human hosts other than as a means to reproduction, and then to turn around and claim that as a portion of our free will!

Perhaps I am misunderstanding him, but I have certainly read enough of his writing to doubt that, and I have read enough to know that Dennett misunderstands some aspects of some areas of my own expertise (which I would go into detail about, but it would rather get in the way of trying to remain an anonymous cuttlefish), so I have no illusion that he is infallible.

In another example of memetic transfer, I offer a replicated song. The structure (and tune, if you are inclined to sing it) are replicated from the original by Joni Mitchell; the first replication by Judy Collins shows that structure, descended with modifications in the chords, can successfully sell. Both versions are beautiful. Mine, less so.
Memes, it seems, are parasites
Inside our minds, so Dennett writes;
Poetic turns, and verbal flights
Evolving in our brains
But then he claims that we are free
To choose among the things we see
It doesn’t fit, it seems to me,
His explanation strains

I’ve looked at memes and at free will
From every way I can, but still
In spite of Dennett’s siren call
I don’t believe we’re free… at all

Memes are things that replicate
At really an astounding rate
From blind selection, they create
A culture that evolves
But now the concept gives me pause
I’ve got to stop and look for flaws
This explanation—might it cause
More problems than it solves?

I’ve looked at memes and at free will
From every way I can, but still
In spite of Dennett’s siren call
I don’t believe we’re free… at all

Love and hate and peace and war
Are memes that were selected for
Dreams and themes you can’t ignore—
Memetic, every one.
It seems the memes are in control
They take the place, they play the role
We used to say required a soul
Now souls are all undone

I’ve looked at memes and at free will
From every way I can, but still
In spite of Dennett’s siren call
I don’t believe we’re free… at all

Comments

  1. says

    Isn’t it queer?
    Are we but hosts?
    Robots of robot machines
    Rid of our ghosts?
    Send in the memes.

    What is it like
    Knowing at all?
    Zombily Bayesing our nerves –
    Store, then recall.
    Are they just memes?
    Send in the memes.

    Easy to claim,
    “Freedom evolves!”
    Making the term we’re defining the thing that it solves,
    Nailing that feeling of agency down to its seat
    Inside a blind
    Theatre of meat.

    Learning is fun.
    Shall I explore?
    Using the memeplex of science
    I can learn more.
    But would these be memes
    Not shared with my teams?
    Perhaps there’s a flaw.

    Memes can be rich:
    Memes everywhere
    Driving the dualist dreams
    Into despair.
    But we’re more than memes
    Though sometimes it seems
    Non-memebots are rare.
    (with apologies to Stephen Sondheim, Daniel Dennett and Sue Blackmore)

  2. says

    The Chinese Room won’t save your “soul”
    Old Searle has dug himself a hole.
    You see, a man within his room
    Need not be produce of a womb
    Since OCR and lines of code
    Could lift that secretarial load.
    The “understanding” must have been
    Performed by Searle’s adept machine.

    Once you see Searle’s dopey drone
    Can lack a brain and flesh and bone
    You’ll see the Chinese Room’s a joke
    That shouldn’t baffle clever folk.
    Alas, the ruse has gained esteem
    And thrives – a most persistent meme -
    In those who can’t complete their weaning
    From outmoded views of meaning.

    My symbol grounding doesn’t mess
    With idle infinite regress -
    No turtles, turtles, all the way,
    No eyes that other eyes survey.
    But every part of how I think -
    Every symbol, every link -
    Finds routes to run to states all real:
    The correlates of how I feel.

  3. says

    Your belief is that the world we sees the world we get
    But I am quite prepared to bet
    That the world itself is nothing like the coloured lusciousness,
    The beauty thats portrayed within the web of time an space
    That gives your soul its place.
    You propose that correlations are consciousness
    When the noumenal correlates are unknown except to instruments.

  4. says

    Oh, where to start? My dearest Thoughts.
    You’ve missed my views completely.
    But many thanks that you replied
    In rhyming verse so sweetly.

    Please read again where I say “real”;
    It’s brain states – networked nerves
    And not some naive notion that
    A mind itself observes.

    For this next chunk I’ve made the choice
    To sluice my views in Seussian voice:

    When the photons from my futon
    Find the focus of my eyes
    They will kick my cones and rods,
    Thus causing signals to arise.

    I cannot span the spectrum
    But my special cells respond
    To their windows on the wavelengths
    From the wondrous world beyond.

    My cortex then combines the cues
    And cottons on to patterns;
    With fancy feature filtering
    The futon form unflattens.

    My nervous networks notice
    Both the novel and mundane,
    Matching models, melding motifs,
    For my memories to retain.

    In my Hebbian web of me-ness
    Not one neuron stands alone:
    Every concept gains its context
    From connections that it’s grown.

    Yet my net of wet connections
    Are not abstract facts that lack
    Any impact, since they’re cinched
    To visceral states from bliss to wrack.

    (Thoughts,
    Lest my verse grow catatonic
    I’ll abandon third paeonic.)

    These mental states I share with mice,
    But does a mouse need “soul”
    To smell the cat and run in fear
    To safety in its hole?

    The cow that you perceive through eyes
    And nose and sense of touch -
    She knows and values her young calf.
    Does she have “soul” as such?

    Or are non-humans all robotic
    Just like John Searle’s room?
    Then what of babes anencephalic?
    “Soul”-less you’d presume?

    I won’t assign the unexplained
    To concepts unexplainable.
    A cogent theory of our minds
    seems now to be attainable.

  5. says

    Me Labrador and Me

    As we sit, my best friend and I
    He, panting, knowing cats are chased
    Me, wondering without a thought
    I know we have a common view
    A view that’s true for you

    My mind like your mind
    Rests on a turmoil
    But rested it is space
    Light, simultaneous

    Is this the self same space that hosts my brain?
    Without it I would be less than a dot, pointless

    Cosmology

    The successions of neural states
    Like frames in a film show
    Have nothing within their fates
    To suggest where their pulses go

    As Hermann Weyl, the Nobel Prize winning physicist put it, reality is a: “four-dimensional continuum which is neither “time” nor “space”. Only the consciousness that passes on in one portion of this world experiences the detached piece which comes to meet it and passes behind it, as history, that is, as a process that is going forward in time and takes place in space” (Weyl 1918)

    Observation is the placing of events in a changing time and space.
    Perhaps the plenum of my brain navigates at a quantum pace?
    Perhaps it is a becoming place?
    Who knows? But what is sure
    Is that we need to know much more.

    See
    Consciousness without a cerebral cortex: A challenge for neuroscienceand medicine. Bjorn Merker. 2006http://www.bbsonline.org/Preprints/Merker-03062006/Referees/Merker-03062006_preprint.pdf

  6. says

    I am very impressed by both the content and the form of these responses, not to mention their level of passion.
    My response will take a slightly different fashion—
    Somewhat Ogden Nashian.

    Why is it that when people search for mind, or spirit, or soul
    They look to the parts, and never to the whole?

    They argue, wheedle, cajole, and strain
    To reduce consciousness to some function of the brain.

    Why should I be convinced that there is something in the neural net that creates me
    When I use the terms of consciousness to say my computer hates me?

    We do not learn to label our hunger, our love, or our perception of the color red
    By comparing our neural state to the state of neurons in somebody else’s head.

    It is our vocabulary, not our neurology, that serves as evidence for reified thoughts, memories, images, and qualia,
    et alia.

    But memories do not exist apart from remembering, nor images apart from seeing, nor thoughts apart from thinking
    In the same way that drinks do exist separate from drinking.

    And we learn that this is hunger, this is love, and this is red, through shared vocabulary
    In the language of our parents, teachers, friends, or perhaps the local constabulary.

    This language refers to acts performed in public by people, animals, or even cars or computers
    which serve as our tutors,

    Showing us that “red” is not defined subjectively at all
    But rather as a common feature of this strawberry, that sweater, this stop sign, that fire truck, this apple, and that ball.

    So if you wish to find consciousness, don’t look inside your brain, or worse, inside your mind—
    the answer is not there to find.

    Rather, look to our language, our behavior, and how we learn to put names to what we feel—
    We are conscious because we are social—and unlike the mind, your social environment is real.

  7. says

    @Thoughts: That paper by Bjorn Merker was fine fodder for mind munchers. The section on selection (4.2′s my recollection) framed a physical explanation for your cow-perception questions.

    @Cuttlefish: I agree that social linking is the source of all our thinking and that pressure to cooperate has helped to make our brains inflate. But consciousness still manifests in creatures cut off from the nest. It’s worth the effort sloggin’ to find functions in the noggin.

  8. says

    Phunicular, I hadn’t known
    of children reared up all alone!

    I do agree it’s worth a look, to see what way our neurons cook–but mechanism tells us how we think, and while this earns a “wow”, it does not, can not, show the whole–it’s not what we’d confuse with soul–the “how” an engine burns its gas does not tell how the miles pass–the engine gets us to the store, or to the mountains or the shore, but if we focus on the piston, think of all the stuff we’ve missed on.

    Consciousness is not in our brains, but in behavior, which explains why “correlates of consciousness” is such a scientific mess.

  9. says

    Cuttlefish: Phunicular, I hadn’t known/of children reared up all alone!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_of_Aveyronhttp://www.feralchildren.com/en/index.phpetc.

    There are numerous cases recorded
    But it’s hard to sort facts from the mess
    Of sensational press and the researchers’ guesses.
    (Deliberate contact-free child-raising’s sordid
    But people have tried it, nevertheless.)

    But before we get tangled with ferals
    And the children brought up locked away,
    We must look at the differences in what we say
    With regard definitions, or else risk the perils
    Of arguing nothing all day.

    Cuttlefish: Consciousness is not in our brains, but in behavior, which explains why “correlates of consciousness” is such a scientific mess.

    By your implicit definition a cobber in the sad condition
    of tetrodotoxin paralysis (by our little blue-ringed mate)
    who’s been CPR’d by another (since behavior-less, he’s smothered)
    must not have that thing that you would call a “conscious” state.
    However,there’s reports from such survivors (kept alive by stoic strivers)
    that describe their fully “conscious” state –
    yes, they relate that through the wait while fearing fate they still kept thinking straight.
    Deprived of all behavior, breath reliant on a savior,
    a “consciousness” still manifest when isolated from the nest
    is what mind science works to wrest from studies in its current quest.
    Even if this “consciousness” relies on what culture supplies in order for it to arise,
    it is plain it remains when the brain must abstain from all contact.

    I’m not hunting some ghost-in-machine,
    Nor some destiny locked in a gene,
    Nor behaviour when humans convene,
    But the science of knowing I’ve been.
    So I have to conclude
    that the “consciousness” you’d
    be describing is not what I mean.

  10. says

    Tetrodotoxin and botulism
    Affect the voluntary system
    But! There is a chemical schism
    The “thinking” channels? This stuff missed ‘em!
    You (as most) define “behavior”
    Mostly in what muscles do-
    I’d say signals your brain gave yer
    Muscles, still are part of you.
    Thinking is behavior, surely,
    Not suppressed by drugs like these;
    Thus, your volunteers not purely
    Sans behavior, if you please!
    Just as one may run in place,
    But use one’s running muscles still
    While paralyzed, one’s brain may race
    As one who functions fully will.
    (And yet, a quadriplegic knows
    He feels emotions differently–
    The truth is, such a difference shows
    How global things like love may be.)
    By my explicit definition
    Thinking is behavior, too;
    To follow B. F. Skinner’s tradition,
    Behavior, simply, is what you do.
    If you should try to quash behavior
    With botox, curare, or crystal meth
    You may indeed require a savior–
    “No behavior” equals “death”!

  11. says

    Cuttlefish: By my explicit definition / Thinking is behavior, too; / To follow B. F. Skinner’s tradition, / Behavior, simply, is what you do.

    I wondered if you’d go that way -
    Behavior not put on display.
    Our language strongly parts the two:
    The “what we think” and “what we do”.
    Communications could be clearer
    Finding our positions nearer
    If we flag alternate use
    Of words we choose to state our views.

    But will you stick to Skinner’s scope?
    Intentional acts? Or slippery slope
    To how a thorough scientist
    Defines behavior of a syst-
    em. Heartbeats are a thing we do
    But are these called behavior too?

    Heading back to previous claims,
    With somewhat modified definitional frames.

    Cuttlefish: Consciousness is not in our brains, but in behavior, which explains why “correlates of consciousness” is such a scientific mess.

    And so I’m guessing you have no beef
    With Dennett’s heterophenomenological brief
    For using all the evidence -
    The measurements,
    And subjective word,
    Not only third person reports -
    Lest we distort
    Or miss the mental behavior of the brain
    We wish to explain.

    Looking further back in our conversation,
    I see we can further relieve Thoughts’ symbol grounding consternation.

    Cuttlefish: They argue, wheedle, cajole, and strain / To reduce consciousness to some function of the brain. / Why should I be convinced that there is something in the neural net that creates me / When I use the terms of consciousness to say my computer hates me?

    It seems to me we both agree
    On computational models of the mind.
    I’m open too, to try the view
    That culture wrote the software of mankind.

    I must confess Aristotle’s regress
    I broke by tying symbols back to feelings,
    But Cuttlefish, you’ve made me wish
    I’d seen a ground of culture as appealing.

    I note it seems free-floating memes
    Can terminate the meaning of a meaning
    In thoughts of old that gained a hold
    And stuck around through evolution’s screening.

    So some thoughts root in culture’s fruit
    And some thoughts ground their meanings in sensations.
    A Cartesian soul need not fill this role
    For a person with Mysterian temptations.

    (Philosophical aside:
    If a man speaks in a forest clearing
    And there’s no wife within hearing
    Is he still wrong?)

  12. says

    We gaze at stars in a dark sky
    Likes lights on a firmament
    Nothing moving in the warm air
    Nothing moving..
    Is Darkness
    Surrounding us
    Nothingness?

    What behaviour did this blackness indulge
    That it might itself divulge?
    Did it walk out of the sky
    And strike you in your naked eye?

    —————

    (All experience is physical
    But need not be dynamical
    It could be geometrical
    Or even quantum physical
    ).

    —————

    Gilbert Ryle knew that every conscious thinker ought
    To preface each and every thought
    With the thought that sought that thought
    He realised this was such a mess
    He called it Ryle’s Regress
    But Descartes knew that thoughts arise
    Unbidden, as the brain’s surprise

    So Ryle and his pupil Dennett say regress denies the mind
    But Berkeley points out that mind is of a passive kind
    Certainly our inner speech
    Is no conscious creation
    Its origins are out of reach
    Of conscious contemplation
    Each word appears made by machine
    By neural automation
    So inner speech is not your being

    ———–

    Perhaps behaviour ends in feelings
    But what feels a feeling?
    How much would you feel in no time at all?
    Why is time revealing
    If someone is kind or cruel?
    How do you hear a whole word?
    Do you extend in time like space,
    Are feelings in a space-time place,
    Or is experience absurd?

  13. says

    Thoughts: But Descartes knew that thoughts arise / Unbidden, as the brain’s surprise

    Please, just walk away, René.
    Your quotes are obsolete today.
    For what you knew about our brains
    (Like maggots sourced from food-remains
    In Aristotle’s “History”)
    Was just your guess at mystery.

    And Berkeley too, a clever guy,
    Lived in a time when armchair-phi
    Was all the rage. Put that to bed.
    He had no tools to scan a head.

    Thoughts: So Ryle and his pupil Dennett say regress denies the mind

    Dear Thoughts, read closer. Then you’ll find
    That Ryle did not deny the mind.
    He merely noted that the split
    Of mind and body didn’t fit.
    (To say, by using modern tools,
    That blood is made of molecules
    Would not in any way deny
    That humans have a blood supply!)
    But one denial he can boast:
    He kicked out an unhelpful ghost.

    Empiricism’s great to claim
    (And “New” just forms a different name)
    But for your title to make sense
    You must address the evidence
    Accrued in bulk these last ten years
    From science opening new frontiers.

  14. says

    I see you resort
    To the pejorative retort,
    Attacking Descartes for being old
    And even Ryle is left in the cold

    Yes, fMRI shows that imagining is like vision
    And inner speech like speech and audition
    So the brain maketh mind
    But what has it made?
    What matter, what space
    And where is it laid?
    How do you hear a whole word or see the space of darkness?

    Consider this:

    We have experience
    That experience is simultaneous things
    Simultaneous things are a space
    Physicalism means all things are physical
    Therefore experience is a real physical space-time

    Where is it?

    Or are you a mystical materialist?

  15. says

    Thoughts: Attacking Descartes for being old.

    If I asked you to write of a photon in flight
    And Newtonian ways you extolled,
    Were I then to invite you to get your sums right,
    Am I wrong to regard Newton “old”?

    I’ve respect for Descartes. Yes I know he was smart
    But there’s things that he couldn’t have known.
    Will you tie your self back to René’s knowledge lack
    By denying our knowledge has grown?

    Thoughts: That experience is simultaneous things

    I’m the first to concede that at very high speed
    Our concept of simultaneity
    Within different frames leads to different claims.
    It’s a mind-screwing jolt for the laity.

    My vision proceeds at mere chemical speeds
    And my neurons all share the one frame.
    If they were to part (in a big bang-like fart)
    My “experience” would not be the same.

    Thoughts: Physicalism means all things are physical / Therefore experience is a real physical space-time / Where is it? / Or are you a mystical materialist?

    You seem discontented at sense represented
    By interconnections of cells.
    I don’t find it tragic when facts replace magic
    It’s all about breaking the spells.

    I think you’d do well to try Eric Kandel,
    Ramachandran, Dan Dennett, and Pinker,
    E.T.Jaynes, then some rubies in Cosmides and Tooby
    Before you unravel the thinker.

  16. says

    Tendon reflex
    Righting reflex
    Reaction times
    Driving cars without thinking
    Walking home after drinking
    Hating limes

    All these can be done
    By my digital brain
    But true observation
    Smooth sight without grain
    Without superposition
    In dreams and sensation
    Is another thing again

    Brain maketh mind
    But according to Zeh
    The QM point of mind might make brain
    As a collapse of wave again and again
    Who’s to say?

    Dennett and the rest
    Rouse the rabble
    But surely they jest
    When they dabble
    In problems that afflict all philosophy

    Dennett (1999) says:
    “A curious anachronism found in many but not all of these reactionaries is that to the extent that they hold out any hope at all of solution to the problem (or problems) of consciousness, they speculate that it will come not from biology or cognitive science, but from–of all things!–physics”

    And so displays
    A total failure to realise that the problem of conscious observation is a global problem that affects the entire corpus of philosophy and natural science and will not be answered by his Newtonian prejudices. The philosophy of change, space, time, matter and causality are all affected by the final resolution of the problem of the nature of the conscious observer.

    Dennett, D. (1999). “The Zombic Hunch: Extinction of an Intuition?”, Royal Institute of Philosophy Millennial Lecture http://ase.tufts.edu/cogstud/papers/zombic.htm

    Zeh, H. D. (1979). Quantum Theory and Time Assymetry. Foundations of Physics, Vol 9, pp 803-818 (1979).http://xxx.lanl.gov/PS_cache/quant-ph/pdf/0307/0307013.pdf

  17. says

    I missed that you had said
    How we see the colour red:

    Phuncicular:
    “My vision proceeds at mere chemical speeds
    And my neurons all share the one frame.
    If they were to part (in a big bang-like fart)
    My “experience” would not be the same.

    “I ask for no magic
    Just a simple theory
    To be blind to the problem is tragic
    Perhaps you can see it more clearly

    And tell me exactly:
    What is the physical transformation from nerve impulses in a mass of neurons to phenomenal experience? (ie: how does a set of membrane depolarisations become the space in experience that is a slab of blackness in a dark night?).

  18. says

    Thoughts: But true observation / Smooth sight without grain / Without superposition / In dreams and sensation / Is another thing again

    Experiments agree our peripheral vision
    Lacks color – it’s testing that tells.
    Yet we think that we see with an even precision -
    Delusion computed by cells.
    What leads you to think that smooth image deception
    Falls out of the reach of a brain?
    How the Mind Works, S. Pinker, makes photon reception
    To 2.5-D less arcane. *
    Having done my fair share of clean image construction
    From grainy and noisy reality
    I can see no great scare stopping model production
    In the links of vast neuron plurality.

    * Pinker, S. (1997) How the Mind Works, Chapter 4: The Mind’s Eye.

    Thoughts: Dennett and the rest / Rouse the rabble / But surely they jest / When they dabble / In problems that afflict all philosophy

    Your philosophy can never grow
    Until you work out what to throw.
    The symbol grounding problem’s grounded;
    How can it be that you’re still hounded?
    And “quantum” magic you opine
    (Like Penrose back in ’89)B
    ut studies show our brain parts work
    Without a hint of QM Turk.

    Thoughts: And so displays / A total failure to realise that the problem of conscious observation is a global problem that affects the entire corpus of philosophy and natural science…

    Dennett shows a total failure to fall for misconceived impasses.Lots of problems still persist from skipping neuroscience classes.

    Thoughts (in yet another post that finally strains my ability to versify): And tell me exactly: / What is the physical transformation from nerve impulses in a mass of neurons to phenomenal experience? (ie: how does a set of membrane depolarisations become the space in experience that is a slab of blackness in a dark night?).

    Of course you’re aware that the qualia problem’s unsolved (and might remain so), so why do you think that the current lack of an answer could somehow support your anti-Dennett stance? QM provides absolutely no help there. Any proposed hitherto-unobserved physical science will have problems connecting measurable quantities with experience in exactly the same way current science does.

    Dennett dissolves part of the qualia issue by showing that nobody can consistently define what they mean by qualia, and points out how most of the perceived problem is illusory*. He does at least propose an experimental methodology for further investigation.

    *Dennett, D. (2005) Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness

    If you’d like to see a demolition of zombies and property dualism, try Zombies! Zombies?. I can’t look a p-zombie in the face after digesting Yudkowsky’s analysis.

  19. says

    (in yet another post that finally strains my ability to versify)

    Lemme give it a shot.

    The nature of your question presupposes your position;
    The “phenomenal” you’re after is an artifact of word;
    Descartes approached the problem in a dualist tradition—
    With the progress of neurology, that view is now absurd.
    A photon is reflected from a stimulus that’s distal;
    Through the pupil, lens, and humors to the retina it goes,
    Where a rod or cone transduces it, to fire like a pistol
    To bipolar cells and ganglia, as everybody knows.
    At the level of the retina, already there are features
    Which are processed by the structures that we call the visual fields;
    Light is processed very differently by different sorts of creatures
    So that information useful to their situation yields.
    Now a signal (or “potential”) shoots along the optic neuron
    Then through processing in parallel in many different ways
    Such as color, edges, faces, on and on and more obscure on—
    Read some Sacks or Ramachandran if you can, one of these days.
    From occipital to temporal, and on up to the frontal
    Back and forth, with constant feedback, now the signal makes its way
    With perhaps a verbal output, though the answer that you want’ll
    Still elude you, cos you’re looking for a view that’s had its day.
    The majority of processing is out of our awareness
    (And “the feeling of awareness” has its processing as well!)
    We cannot feel the process, just results, and so in fairness
    Introspection as a method simply doesn’t work that well.
    At no point in the process is “an image” there for viewing,
    Nor a “self” to view the image, which is really no surprise;
    To demand an explanation for what you think we are doing
    Is equivalent to asking how the sun can truly rise!
    A perceptual illusion doesn’t mean that something’s missing—
    What it means is merely something isn’t what it seemed at first
    There’s no need to be Cartesian now, unless we’re reminiscing,
    And there’s nothing there but trouble in the bubble we have burst.

  20. says

    Cuttlefish: Lemme give it a shot.

    Thanks Cuttlefish. I shouldn’t write
    At 1am – the dead of night.
    It’s great to see how Cuttle-sense
    Can fill the gaps with eloquence.

    Zeh: 5. THE PHYSICAL EVENT OF OBSERVATIONA phenomenon is “observed” when an observer becomes aware of it. Thisrequires the observed system to affect the ultimate observer system, which is known to be localized in the brain and probably in the cerebral cortex.

    This was no time for sleep;
    This was no time to eat;
    There were comments to write
    Using metrical feet.

    All that old, old, old phi -
    All that phi had to die.

    We shoveled the verses;
    Thoughts shoveled them back,
    Until out of the blue came a Quantum Attack.

    It was Little Cat Zeh, a dualist dealer
    And out of his hat he extracted
        A Wheeler!

    Zeh implied "Let's make space for a god of the gaps:
    All things that my Wheeler observes must collapse!"

    You see, if we grant this wild Wheeler admission
    And let his conceit go, then superposition
    Descends on all universe parts unobserved
    And keeps all their possible presents preserved.

    "Oh no!" I said, "Cuttle, please fetch me a mop.
    This anthropocentric conceit has to stop!"

    I called up a friend who'd seen all this before
    And told him the problem…

    Copernicus swore.

  21. says

    Dennett defeated

    In nineteen ninety eight
    Dennett makes his big mistake
    He shifts qualia from what is there
    To the ‘judgement of events’
    This shift is hardly fair
    And out of hand prevents
    Discussion of qualia where
    Philosophers have their care
    A problem is not solved by redefinition
    And Dennett descends to base erudition

    In nineteen ninety two
    In his opus magnus true
    He says the brain of man
    Has no cutaneous rabbit
    Or phi illusions other than
    Outside the body and habit

    But in twenty oh six
    Blankenburg and Larsen proved
    The rabbit’s in the brain
    And the lights are on again
    Dennett is disproved
    The mind has played no tricks
    The brain models illusion
    And mind sees its profusion
    And perceptual filling in
    Is the new neuroscience scene

    So you see Dennett’s thesis lies in tatters on the ground
    But still infects young minds from the books that lie around

    References

    Daniel C Dennett. (1988). Quining Qualia. in A. Marcel and E. Bisiach, eds, Consciousness in Modern Science, Oxford University Press 1988. Reprinted in W. Lycan, ed., Mind and Cognition: A Reader, MIT Press, 1990, A. Goldman, ed. Readings in Philosophy and Cognitive Science, MIT Press, 1993. http://ase.tufts.edu/cogstud/papers/quinqual.htm

    In this paper Dennett: "The infallibilist line on qualia treats them as properties of one's experience one cannot in principle misdiscover, and this is a mysterious doctrine (at least as mysterious as papal infal libility) unless we shift the emphasis a little and treat qualia as logical constructs out of subjects' qualia-judgments: a subject's experience has the quale F if and only if the subject judges his experience to have quale F.". This is the basis for his subsequent work.

    Dennett, D. and Kinsbourne, M. (1992) Time and the Observer: the Where and When of Consciousness in the Brain. (1992) Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 15, 183-247, 1992. Reprinted in The Philosopher's Annual, Grim, Mar and Williams, eds., vol. XV-1992, 1994, pp. 23-68; Noel Sheehy and Tony Chapman, eds., Cognitive Science, Vol. I, Elgar, 1995, pp.210-274.http://ase.tufts.edu/cogstud/papers/time&obs.htm

    Blankenburg, F., Ruff, C.C., Deichmann, R., Rees, G. and Driver, J. (2006) The cutaneous rabbit illusion affects human primary sensory cortex somatotopically, PLoS Biol 2006;4(3):e69.

    Larsen, A., Madsen, K.H., Lund, T.E., and Bundesen, C. (2006). Images of Illusory Motion in Primary Visual Cortex. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. 2006;18:1174-1180.

    ———————————–

    Cuttlefish says:“A perceptual illusion doesn’t mean that something’s missing—What it means is merely something isn’t what it seemed at firstThere’s no need to be Cartesian now, unless we’re reminiscing,And there’s nothing there but trouble in the bubble we have burst.”

    But as you will see above here again
    It is Dennett’s bubble that has burst
    Illusions are brain activity at first
    And your mind is the product of brain
    The brain fills in the gaps
    With topological maps
    A point two to point five second delay
    Allows the brain to have its say
    But leaves the mind behind the times
    As Libet’s passive observer

    Which brings us to Tegmark and Zeh
    Decoherence sinks
    The conscious mind that thinks
    As Ryle had already assayed.
    But passive observation
    Is not contemplation
    And Tegmark’s sums dont apply
    Perhaps mind’s the preferred basis
    As Barrett seems to espy

    Epilogue

    If observation is a space
    And it is made by brains
    Then hypotheses must be in place
    For how pulses give rise to pains

    Scientists observe the world
    They measure, describe and look
    They wait for data to be unfurled
    And do not just read a book

    They describe what they see
    Then make hypotheses explicit
    They do not use school cosmology
    To simply dismiss it
    They operate empirically
    This mind, this simultaneous space, this time is thine
    Do not treat it unphysically

    references
    Barrett (2005) The Preferred-Basis Problem and the Quantum Mechanics of Everything. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science Advance Access published online on May 16, 2005
    The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, doi:10.1093/bjps/axi114

  22. says

    Thoughts,
    In your haste to leave Dan dead,
    To find some fault in what he’s said,
    You’ve claimed “The mind has played no tricks”
    In sensing where the rabbit kicks.
    I don’t think Dennett would agree.
    Look carefully. I think you’ll find
    You’ve just declared your PSC*
    Is not part of your mind!

    You’ve sung that Chinese Room refrain
    By carving off one slice of brain
    To push a subtle “conscious part”
    To just beyond our art.

    * Primary Somatosensory Cortex

    (Life is busy. By and by
    I’ll find the time for more reply.)

  23. says

    It frustrates me a bit, to find
    This parsing out of “what is mind”
    Seems always, always to have missed
    That I am no reductionist!
    I am no fool; I won’t deny
    The brain’s importance. Ah, but I
    Would argue that is just one part,
    But so’s the gut, and so’s the heart.
    There is no brain that acts alone—
    At least, not any I have known.
    The consciousness phenomena
    Are everyday and common—a
    Description of one’s life, it seems,
    Both wide awake and in our dreams.
    The consciousness we must explain
    Is product of much more than brain!
    A wider scope, and not more narrow,
    Serves as target for our arrow.

    (Explanations claiming “quantum”?
    We don’t need, and much less want ‘em;
    The level that we need—behavior—
    Is not quantum; it can’t save yer
    Theory, just because it’s hard
    To fathom. We can disregard
    The quantum stuff as misconstrued
    By several leaps of magnitude.)

    The consciousness vocabulary
    Isn’t technical or scary;
    Rather, it’s the common tongue
    We learned while we were very young;
    We’re taught our anger, love, and pride
    By people with no view inside.
    To their thoughts we were likewise blind,
    And yet we learned to label “mind”.
    But how to learn what makes up “red”
    Without a view from head to head?
    Or hunger, sadness, even pain
    Without a window to the brain?
    We learn the things that make us us
    Through public, common stimulus;
    There is no disembodied “blue”,
    But things we learned to call that hue;
    When looking at your “mind” today,
    Reflect on how it got that way;
    The learning that took many years,
    Not mere arrangement of the gears.

    So much of mental mystery
    Reveals itself in history,
    Which, if we choose to disregard,
    Makes consciousness appear the “Hard
    Problem”, as Chalmers so labeled,
    A lofty problem, nearly fabled.
    It’s “hard” because it asks to find
    Physical cause for mental mind.
    (The answer I would give—surprise!—
    Is one the question plain denies,
    As if rotation of the earth
    Could not explain the eastern birth
    And western death of each day’s sun
    As well as Phoebus’s chariot run.)
    Our language speaks of mental stuff;
    For many, that would seem enough,
    And “images” and “memories”
    And reified ideas like these
    Are what we’re challenged to explain
    A task which we’d pursue in vain
    Like capturing a unicorn
    Or finding where a gryphon’s born.

    Reductionist neurologists
    By now have plenty on their lists
    Explaining this or that or these
    In all the detail that you please
    Reducing Y to lots of X
    Can simplify or make complex,
    But if you’re simply changing levels,
    Such “explanation” just bedevils.
    The problem, if it’s there to find
    Is solved in how we learn our mind.
    It won’t be found in EEG’s
    Or PET scans, CAT scans, none of these—
    Oh, yes, we’ll learn some awesome stuff,
    But, at that level? Not enough.
    “Physical mind” is not just contradiction—
    It’s sending us all on a chase for a fiction!

  24. says

    What we are we are
    And already we know
    What it is to be

    Dennett mocks it as “folk psychology”

    I cannot reduce what is with my descriptive science
    All I make is models
    But I can tell you this
    You’ll not model me
    With any FET or tranny!

  25. says

    Thoughts: I cannot reduce what is with my descriptive science / All I make is models / But I can tell you this / You’ll not model me / With any FET or tranny!

    Argumentum ad consequentiam seems unwieldy and hollow
    To shield one’s self-image from a pill one can’t swallow.

  26. says

    Thoughts:
    What we are we are
    And already we know
    What it is to be

    Dennett mocks it as “folk psychology”

    I have no eyes to look behind
    And view my brain, much less my mind;
    I cannot know your thoughts, and you
    Are blind to what I’m thinking, too.
    These are the facts; we can’t deny
    We have no working “inner eye”
    Nor any form of ESP;
    Your thoughts cannot be seen by me.

    Your claim—that we can know ourselves—
    Is countered by the miles of shelves
    Of self-help books. Our knowledge hides
    From where you tell us it resides!
    If we could simply take a look
    Inside our minds, why need a book?
    We’d never ask “How do I feel?
    Could this be love? Could it be real?”

    If God or Science offered me
    Some cranial transparency
    So you could see my every thought—
    The change of mind; the urge I fought,
    The censored comment never spoken,
    Secret kept and promise broken—
    What fabled treasures! Wondrous finds,
    If we could read each other’s minds!

    But we cannot. Make no mistake,
    Our skulls and minds are both opaque
    We do, instead, what we can do;
    We read the things in public view
    We see the song, the poem, the kiss;
    Infer from these that love is this.
    In turn, each element we find
    We sum, and call the total “mind”.

    If I could see inside my head,
    (A place where angels fear to tread)
    And see how thinking really works,
    The jumble of selected quirks
    And if (what wonders “if” can do!)
    I saw inside your thinking too
    I think that I should never see
    What now makes up philosophy.

  27. says

    An eloquent testimony
    On the impossibility
    Of virtual reality
    It would be true if it were not the case
    That virtual realities are a commonplace

    Even the simplest servo has reference states
    And detailed maps are used inside
    The depths of any system that navigates
    The GPS becomes a pale aside
    As the mapper computates

    Our experience is unlike the world itself
    The object is not as it appears
    The geometry is not as it seems
    The content is encoded
    Hallucinations and dreams occur
    We imagine, we have inner speech
    Yet against all observation
    The materialist avers
    That the object that he only knows,
    Through senses narrow sensitivity,
    Is the object in itself
    And yet the red object is not red,
    Red is reflected
    The retina has responded
    It is not heavy,
    It is the muscles that are stretched
    It is not odorous,
    It is the nose is stimulated
    It is not coarse,
    It is the skin that is scratched
    It is not consoling
    That is remembrance
    It does not hurt
    That is pain

    There is not even reason to reject
    The observation of our brain
    If from school cosmology we refrain
    Over time we will perfect
    A theory to explain
    The self observation that we detect

    Those who believe that only the object of sense exists
    Have some strange agenda that persists
    Past any reason

    But note this clearly
    Science is about relations
    It never has the essence of a thing
    So your fears that explanations
    Will reduction bring
    Are unfounded remonstrations
    The number two
    Can be two of anything
    It is only when two’s in you
    That you understand the thing

  28. says

    It seems to me philosophers have somewhat been seduced
    By the metaphor of storage, and conclusions it implies.
    The self, itself, it promises, is something that’s produced
    Via information transfer in that blob behind our eyes.
    All too often this assumption underlies their exploration;
    The conclusions that it leads to seem a normal path to follow
    But inherent in the metaphor is one sort of explanation;
    By removing those assumptions, it’s a tougher bite to swallow.
    If the structure of the person helps to form what’s introspected
    (And the social and environmental atmosphere as well)
    Then feelings, thoughts, or memories just cannot be dissected
    From the person as a whole, as information one could tell.
    “Ah, but that’s just further information”, I have seen in practice,
    When I try this explanation—and I want to pull my hair—
    You could stuff it in, of course, but it’s like sitting on a cactus:
    Just because it can be sat on, doesn’t mean the thing’s a chair.

  29. says

    A model of time like cards in a deck
    Is a recursion lurking
    You end up by saying “oh what the heck”
    And explanation’s wanting

    But time is not parallel planes
    Of three dimensional stasis
    Time is also time for a change
    That new theory chases

    If time does exist
    Then the world perdures
    I do not just persist
    Even though my memory endures

    But I am no simple Sider stage
    Time is not a positive dimension
    And to see this 2D page
    Needs geometric manipulation

    You are not an answer endlessly chasing a question
    Both question and answer in time extend
    To solve the recursing confusion
    And to see the past does not portend
    Any more than that space and time depend
    On each other in a continuum
    And that time is a negative dimension*

    It is amazing to the likes of me
    That people ignore time extended.
    In the twenty first century
    Its time we no longer pretended
    That only the “now” is “it”
    When time like space can divide
    The quantum double slit”

    Just further information”
    Is a transfer from sight to site
    But somewhere this motion
    May undergo respite
    Perhaps a brain can be self aware
    And bathed in its own trans-temporal light
    Perhaps not
    But to brazenly declare
    That experience is impossible
    Or is simply “what is”
    Is an attachment to the cosmological
    To nineteenth century material bliss

    * Following Weyl’s usage, time is a negative dimension because Pythagoras’ theorem for time is
    h^2 = r^2 MINUS T^2
    (where T=ct)

    See:Attosecond double slit experiment
    (Double slit in time)
    http://prola.aps.org/abstract/PRL/v95/i4/e040401

    Is there an alternative to the block universe view?
    http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/archive/00002408/

    Wikibook on Special Relativity:
    http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Special_Relativity

  30. says

    Quantum computing abhors decoherence;
    It’s there with no conscious observer to see.
    Still there are mystics with stubborn adherence
    To quantum descriptions that need me or thee.

    Puzzles abound at the limits of science:
    Mysterious cans full of worms to mislead.
    Why mix up disparate cans in defiance
    Of reason, experiment, logic or need?

    Mind in behavior and cells and potentials
    Is yielding a torrent of useful results.
    Clutching at yet unexplored non-essentials
    Works better for book-deals and starting new cults.

  31. says

    You might be amused
    If the basics of physics
    Could be perused

    Some people are trying to bring modern science education up to date, its now over a century behind the times for 18 year olds.
    See:
    Ogborn, K. and Taylor, E.F. (2005). Quantum Physics explains Newton’s lawsof motion. Physics education. 40(1) 26-34.

    Taylor in particular is making a considerable effort in this direction http://www.eftaylor.com/leastaction.html

    People don’t realise that even magnetism and kinetic energy (ie: the whole of dynamics) are relativistic effects at ordinary velocities Special Relativity and magnetism.

  32. says

    Thoughts, I’ve no problems with quantum mechanics;
    Equations don’t give me cold sweats or mild panics.
    It’s mystics like Zeh to whom I object
    With their quantumly conscious observer effect.

  33. says

    It is probably time to leave this page
    When the founder of modern decoherence theory,
    A notable sage,
    Is mocked for being culty and dreary
    It is no surprise that certainty
    Is the currency
    Of the computer age
    It could still be eighteen ninety nine philosophically

  34. says

    Thoughts,
    If you want to criticize
    Attempts to philosophize
    You’ll then have to agree
    Your appeals to authority
    Would be more at home BCE.

    Philosophers, both old and new,
    Find evidence convincing too.
    I pointed you to recent finds
    That decoherence needs no minds.

    I’m sorry that old QM pioneers
    Included myths that stood too many years.
    It’s time to cease unquestioning reliance
    On theories that have now been dropped by science.

    Suggested reading: Quantum Physics Revealed As Non-Mysterious

  35. says

    Your reference:
    http://www.overcomingbias.com/2008/05/projection.html

    “The appearance of “probability” in deterministic amplitude evolutions, as we now know, is due to decoherence. Each time a photon was blocked, some other you saw it go through. Each time a photon went through, some other you saw it blocked.”

    Saunders points out that:

    “Zeh is engaged in a polemic against those who see in the decoherent historiesapproach a one-history solution of the problem of measurement, with no appealto Everett’ ideas. In fact he endorses a radical version of relativism, based onthe dynamical decoherence theory, save in the crucial respect that he appealsto the common-sense notion of change. But now he is not about to say any-thing about probability: given that we have a “dynamically independent wavepacket” let us suppose the packet divides in two, with unequal amplitudes. Thiscorresponds to a bifurcating history with unequal relations in norm. In whatsense is ”…..” more likely to go one way or the other, and what is ”…..”? ”
    “Time, Quantum Mechanics, and Decoherence”, Synthese, 102, 235-66 (1995)

    Remember that history is multiple
    As well as the future

    The interesting problem here is what makes “you”.
    Suppose you were trying to recall a name
    And on the basis of retrieving it again
    Some person would be pleased or blue
    How many synapses does such a recall require?
    If the name is on the tip of your tongue,
    how many quanta must expire
    Before the offending deed is done?
    A few or even one to release a tongue’s tip?
    A universe might change on such a slip

    And where do you go when such an event occurs?
    Time exists so a life thread is divided
    When one event your life prefers
    To the other thats provided

    But what is this temporal thread?
    But the basis that hosts decoherence
    As through history we tread
    But without classical Minkowski time
    There is no appearance
    Of events that lead to another or that will
    Make a difference between the fleeting and the still
    And as our minds contain nothing but the past
    Is it this thread of mind that makes our local world at last?

    Remember that history is multiple
    As well as the future and at each instant might be made anew
    If the thread of time did not exist in you

  36. says

    Although it’s true, the quirks of quarks
    Are what we find when we reduce
    The laws of rocks, of tuning forks,
    Of cats, of cars, of orange juice,
    The truth is, if I know the quirks
    Of quarks, and qualms of quantum states
    They don’t tell how my pencil works
    Or what to do with roller skates.
    If (knock on wood) my car should stall
    And leave me stranded in a panic
    There’s many folks whom I could call,
    But none of them a quantum mechanic.
    Explosive oxidation of
    The hydrocarbon molecules
    Is many many leaps above
    The quantum tale of fossil fuels;
    If, at my car, some stranger spoke
    Of many-worlds hypotheses
    Instead of just: “your fuel pump’s broke”
    He might as well speak Japanese.
    Indeed, if one is told a tale
    Of how an engine burns its gas,
    Of how exhaust comes out the tail,
    Of how they make the windshield glass,
    Of shock absorbers, front disc brakes,
    All sorts of automotive prattle
    It would not tell which road one takes
    From Albuquerque to Seattle—
    Which, if that was what one needs,
    Is how the answer should be phrased;
    Reductionism here impedes,
    And only leaves ones eyeballs glazed.

    The actions of a single nerve
    Or even of a given piece
    Of one, we clearly may observe—
    Say, neurotransmitter release—
    Where ACH or dopamine
    Released in the synaptic cleft
    By vesicles, which we have seen,
    A process at which cells are deft;
    The process may be understood
    At many different levels, such
    As cell, or body, or a good
    Example of a chemist’s touch;
    An organ’s function, or perhaps
    A function in some social act—
    Each level different, each one maps
    A different view of one same truth.
    The quantum level cannot say
    The others now do not exist;
    Reducing won’t explain away
    A higher explanation’s gist.
    Your quantum invocation means
    You simply wish our current views
    Left something there behind the scenes—
    Some agent, with the power to choose.
    Alas, there’s nothing there to find;
    This entity does not exist
    No moral agent, causal mind
    That all of science must have missed.
    The science shows no secret curse,
    No need to travel back in time
    To save Cartesian minds—and worse,
    We’ve done it, once again, in rhyme.

  37. says

    “Of quarks, and qualms of quantum states
    They don’t tell how my pencil works
    Or what to do with roller skates.”

    Well they do tell exactly this
    The graphite’s gentle slip
    Is an act of quantum bliss
    And without Minkowski no skate may trip

    Elegant Windmills were made
    Before young Newton raised his spade!
    But if you wish to comprehend
    When babies become beings
    Or a man should meet his end
    You must go beyond what seems

    Change without observers cannot be explained
    But again the materialist complains
    That such problems are immaterial
    As if change were simply ethereal

    The quantum basis state is mighty strange
    But the die hard materialist avows
    That explanations of how this is arranged
    Are philosopher’s holy cows

    The Chinese Room and regress
    Are widely accepted queries
    But materialists digress
    “There are no other cosmologies
    but those that we were taught in school
    So belief in mind is the belief of a fool”

    I can make a Turing machine
    From ball bearings on a belt
    This machine can be seen
    To copy computations dealt
    By any PC or organic brain
    So the poor functionalist must make the claim
    that a steel ball is quite the same
    As the materialist’s brain

    All I say is this:
    There is an empirical experience that we call mind
    And a cosmology that makes you dismiss anything of the kind
    This placing theory above observation is hubris
    And the claim that this belief is “scientific”
    Is nothing short of plain horrific!

  38. says

    “Well they do tell exactly this
    The graphite’s gentle slip
    Is an act of quantum bliss
    And without Minkowski no skate may trip”

    The graphite’s slip is just the same,
    With this view thrust upon it,
    If I should merely sign my name
    Or write a quantum sonnet!

    Your answer serves to illustrate
    My problem with your view:
    I think that answers should relate
    To questions—how ‘bout you?

    To speak in terms of “gentle slip”
    Describes the graphite’s flaking,
    But not the path my pencil’s tip
    Across the page is making.

    Description of the finest kind
    Is still not explanation;
    Not pencil tips, and not the mind—
    That’s misinterpretation!

    You act as if reducing mind
    To quantum-level laws
    Allowed a person thus to find
    A true internal cause!

    But this, of course, is not the case—
    One only finds description!
    (A simple fact, which you must face
    And not have a conniption.)

    Our explanations, grounded in
    The world that we can see,
    Are where we fruitfully begin
    To find what mind must be.

    (I also see, parenthetically,
    A view that you ascribe to me
    That does not sound like mine at all
    A strawman, rather, built to fall–
    In searching my views for contradiction,
    Please have a care not to tilt at a fiction!)

  39. says

    Thoughts: “There is an empirical experience that we call mind /
    And a cosmology that makes you dismiss anything of the kind”

    Mind exists. It deserves explanation,
    Not a stream of obtuse obfuscation.
    All the dualist tries
    To hide minds in the skies
    Have resulted in fact-free frustration.

    Thoughts: “Change without observers cannot be explained”
    Thoughts: “This placing theory above observation is hubris”

    Thoughts, I have already noted
    That QM works not how you’ve quoted.
    You’re looking for gaps
    Such as conscious collapse,
    But reality’s already voted.

    The guys doing quantum encryptions
    Use ego-free QM descriptions.
    A snoop with no brain
    Still upsets the code train.
    Mind-myths leave these guys in conniptions.

    Think back thirteen billions of years
    Before consciousness ever appears -
    Do you think the first pair
    To become self-aware
    Could collapse all events in arrears?

    If so, then encryption is busted,
    Using QM that’s not mind-adjusted.
    Must we all be retrained
    Since theories that reigned
    Fifty years ago have to be trusted?

    Sorry, QM is not that mysterious.
    Your need to update is now serious
    To further your aims.
    Just restating old claims
    Makes comments sound glib and imperious.

    Thoughts, do you really still believe that consciousness is a required part of quantum mechanics, despite the recent evidence? Or do you have some other recent evidence to resuscitate the idea? Or are you clinging to a convoluted non-disprovable interpretation that adds as much to QM as the Omphalos hypothesis added to discussions of origins?

  40. says

    Please explain, I both of you entreat
    How we see the world simultaneously
    Although this is an impossible feat,
    forbidden by relativity
    If seeing is where particles meet

    Explain if you will
    How if there is but the present instant
    We can know anything at all
    When for no time at all nothing is extant

    As for the preferred basis of the quantum
    There is a problem there
    Thinking of this problem is not wanton
    And the anthropic existence of observers now
    Can be invoked to explain how
    The world occurred that we love and share*

    But most of all explain
    how change occurs
    Without assuming change again

    What is quite certain
    Is that Dennett’s strong AI
    Interpretation
    Of the nature of you and I
    Is reductionist beyond imagination
    It reduces explanation
    To the science of a century past
    Has no predictive power at last
    And simply rejects observation

    How can “Brights” say that:
    Mind is not a problem because it does not exist
    Single channel Turing tapes are not a problem, ask any emergentist
    Preferred basis is not a problem, ask any pet physicist
    Change is not a problem we’ll just not think of this
    Time is not a problem – for any closet presentist
    Regress is not a problem denying mind dismisses this
    Deny, deny, deny dismiss
    Is that the route to intellectual bliss?

    There is an empirical experience that we call mind
    And a cosmology that makes you dismiss anything of the kind
    My plea is simply
    To avoid cosmological conformity
    And study mind scientifically

    * I would propose that it is the geometrical form of our universe, a form that allows point observers, that has selected our particular universe.

  41. says

    Thoughts: “Please explain, I both of you entreat / How we see the world simultaneously / Although this is an impossible feat, / forbidden by relativity / If seeing is where particles meet”

    You might as well ask me why elephants fly,
    And if their ears pop on ascent.
    The answer is simple: however they try,
    An elephant’s earthbound – 100 percent.

    The things that you say are forbidden are not.
    You’re making stuff up as you go.
    On others’ opinions you’re cloying a clot
    In the hope that confusion continues to grow.

    It’s clear when I’ve pointed in previous verse
    To the reasons your mind-myths don’t wash
    That you’ve taken no heed – you restate the obverse.
    You have stuff in your head you’re unwilling to quash.

    Thoughts: if you’ll either acknowledge that consciousness isn’t required in a quantum description, or explain how you resolve it with current quantum encryption technology, this discussion could continue in a rational form. If you’re planning to merely deny any recent evidence, there’s no point proceeding.

  42. says

    I have never claimed,
    Unlike yourself or Dennett
    That all can be explained
    Thats not my tenet

    I hoped my faltering verse
    Would open your eyes
    And lead to the obverse
    That it is no surprise
    That Newtonian concepts you will find
    Are insufficient to explain mind

    On your QM point both many minds and universes
    Have the same Predictions
    For quantum encryptions

    Many universes has a brain
    That splits at instants
    And can explain
    QM decoherence

    In fact I am puzzled why you ask
    About qm encryption at all
    It is an Everettian task
    And does not cast a pall
    Over any part of our discussion

    My point was solely
    How Zeh and Zurek's theory
    Is not wholly explanatory

    Indeed, it opens up a whole new zone
    Of preferred basis discussions
    That philosophers will hone
    And weigh for repercussions

    I do not understand how you believe
    That decoherence theory has solved
    Or even how it might relieve
    The view that has evolved
    That Everrett's idea
    Needs some sort of selection
    To reach theoretical perfection

    The observer does not create the world
    But as Zeh and others after say
    It may select the world thats unfurled
    Or be part of the mix
    That makes the basis matrix
    We do not know
    We must not deny or just dismiss
    To maintain our Newtonian bliss

    My point throughout is that mind
    Involves many problems in philosophy
    It is not simply a problem of the computing kind
    Solved by Dennett's simplicity

    I do not know the answers I say
    You say you do
    But the problems dont go away

    See

    "The preferred basis problem is arguably a more serious problem for a splitting-worlds reading of Everett. In order to explain our determinate measurement records, the theory requires one to choose a preferred basis so that observers have determinate records (or determinate experiences) in each term of the quantum-mechanical state as expressed in this basis. "http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qm-everett/ (2007)

    "..Zurek's argument does not show how Schrodinger dynamics, by itself, picks out a preferred set of projection operators that sum to unity"
    Stapp, Henry P. (2002) The basis problem in many-worlds theories. The Canadian Journal of Physics .http://209.85.229.132/search?q=cache:0bfFzjLoc94J:www-physics.lbl.gov/~stapp/p%257Fbp.%257F%257F%251B%255BD%251B%255BD%251B%255BD%251B%255BD%251B%255BD%251B%255BD%251B%255BD%251B%255BD%251B%255BD%251B%255BD%257F%257F%257F%257F%257F%257F+The+basis+problem+in+many-worlds+theories&cd=7&hl=en

    On a physical metatheory of consciousnesshttp://www.arxiv.org/pdf/quant-ph/0010042

  43. says

    “You’re making stuff up as you go.
    On others’ opinions you’re cloying a clot”

    Well thanks,
    But you never answered any question nor referenced any statement.
    I must stop this now before I become fully insulted!

  44. says

    Me: “You’re making stuff up as you go. / On others’ opinions you’re cloying a clot”

    Thoughts: “Well thanks, / But you never answered any question nor referenced any statement. / I must stop this now before I become fully insulted!”

    Sorry, I should have been more specific. I was referring to your claim:
    “How can “Brights” say that: / Mind is not a problem because it does not exist”

    Which is a strawman you’ve erected to help you launch into a chorus of “Deny, deny, deny dismiss / Is that the route to intellectual bliss?”

    It’s the same erroneous claim you made earlier when you said:”So Ryle and his pupil Dennett say regress denies the mind”.

    To which I replied “Dear Thoughts, read closer. Then you’ll find / That Ryle did not deny the mind. / He merely noted that the split / Of mind and body didn’t fit.”

    If you continue to misrepresent opposing arguments, you’ll never understand them.

    I was also explicitly referring to “How we see the world simultaneously / Although this is an impossible feat, / forbidden by relativity / If seeing is where particles meet”

    That claim of an “impossible feat” is, as I say, “just making stuff up”. There is no contradiction implicit in what we perceive (via our known-to-be-approximate senses) as simultaneous and the concepts of relativity. If you’re not just imagining problems, please provide some support for your incredible claims.

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