The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

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Interesting Ian
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The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Interesting Ian » Fri Mar 02, 2007 8:42 pm

Transmission theory holds that rather than the brain producing consciousness that consciousness operates through the brain. Here is a article which very closely parallels my own thoughts on this subject.

http://www.survivalafterdeath.org/artic ... usness.htm

Here are some comments by the skeptic Keith Augustine in his blog:

http://secularoutpost.blogspot.com/2006 ... -does.html

I disagree with a lot of what Augustine says, but before making my own comments I'd be interested in hearing peoples' opinions both on the original article and Augustine's critique.

Thank you.

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Interesting Ian » Sat Mar 03, 2007 7:10 pm

Interesting Ian wrote:Transmission theory holds that rather than the brain producing consciousness that consciousness operates through the brain. Here is a article which very closely parallels my own thoughts on this subject.

http://www.survivalafterdeath.org/artic ... usness.htm

Here are some comments by the skeptic Keith Augustine in his blog:

http://secularoutpost.blogspot.com/2006 ... -does.html

I disagree with a lot of what Augustine says, but before making my own comments I'd be interested in hearing peoples' opinions both on the original article and Augustine's critique.

Thank you.


No one responding? OK here are a few of my comments on Augustine's response. I've also put this response on his blog.

It will take some time to respond to Augustine's comments, but just to say a couple of things here.

I certainly think that "the production theory is the best way to describe the facts of neuroscience". That is to say if we look at the data of neuroscience the production hypothesis most economically explains all the facts. (although as an aside there are many philosophical reasons and much empirical data in the form of anomalous experiences which favour the transmission hypothesis. But I won't address them here. I could perhaps address those in another post if people are interested).

However, contrary to Augustine, it seems to me that the transmission hypothesis also explains all the facts, although this hypothesis is more complex. (as an aside even if Augustine agreed with this he could point out that multiple hypotheses can always be dreamt up to explain any given phenomenon. What should guide the selection of our hypothesis is to choose the hypothesis which most straightforwardly explains the data i.e employ Occam's razor. But I might address this point in another post if people want).

So let's look at the reasons he advances for his assertion that the transmission hypothesis does not explain all the facts.

Augustine

In The Illusion of Immortality, Corliss Lamont directly rebutted the prism analogy, which could easily be modified to cover the organ analogy as well:

"If the human body corresponds to a colored glass ... then the living personality corresponds to the colored light that is the result of the glass.... Now while light in general will continue to exist without the colored glass ... the specific red or blue or yellow rays that the glass produces ... will certainly not persist if the glass [is] destroyed" (p. 104).

Yet Carter does not say a word in reply.


But it does not seem to me to create any difficulties for the transmission hypothesis at all. If there is indeed a "life after death" then what sort of personality would we expect to have in the afterlife realm? A personality such as we tended to have when we were 7 years old? Or as a young adult? Or as an old man/woman? Or as typified when we are drunk? Or suffering from Alzheimer's?

Surely none of them. Indeed what Corliss and Augustine are doing is conflating ones personality with ones self.

But this is the very issue that those who subscribe to the survival hypothesis tend to reject. They believe that we are (substantial) selves and that these selves survive the death of our bodies. Now if we are precisely the same self as when we were 7, or an adult, or drunk etc, then we cannot possibly equate to our personalties since our personalities are in a constant state of change.

Or to put it in more stark terms. If my personality is to be equated with me then planning to go out for the night, get drunk and have a good time would be a complete waste of time since if my personality changes when drunk, then it would not literally be me experiencing these things.

Our intelligence, our interests, our moods etc change throughout our lives. Thus if we are literally the same selves throughout our lives then it follows that we cannot be equated with our personalities (coloured light through the prism). In fact personality traits, whether I am in a good mood, bad mood etc, are properties of the self rather than constituting the self.

Thus if I am the recipient of some good news and am transformed into a good mood as a consequence, I have not ceased to exist to be literally replaced by another person suddenly spontaneously springing into being. No, rather it seems to me that I am the very same self but experiencing different moods!

So I can have different moods, differing interests, a different intelligence, and even a total cessation of consciousness as in deep sleep but yet remain the very same self. This is in complete accordance with our commonsense notion of ourselves.

What Corliss and Augustine are doing is simply begging the question. Those who subscribe to a materialist based metaphysic must, it seems to me, equate the "self" with ones personality. This does indeed create difficulty for the survival hypothesis, but the basic tenets of the materialist metaphysic rules out the notion of a disembodied self in any case! (indeed I would argue any (substantial) self, embodied or disembodied is inconsistent with the hypothesis that mental states are wholly dependent and simply follow brain states).

So in short they are implicitly assuming the materialist notion of a self to claim difficulties for the transmission hypothesis. As those who subscribe to survival would reject such a materialist conception of the self their argument amounts to nothing at all.

Of course Augustine might well have objections to such a notion of a self. I would be happy to address such objections if he mentions them anywhere. But the point is that this point about the coloured light no longer existing without the prism is simply question begging.

Augustine

And what about the simple point Paul Churchland raises in the introduction to his 1984 Matter and Consciousness:

"If there really is a distinct entity [an immaterial soul] in which reasoning, emotion, and consciousness take place, and if that entity is dependent on the brain for nothing more than sensory experiences as input and volitional executions as output [the transmissive hypothesis],



Hold on there, hold on there! Who on earth is saying the transmission hypothesis is saying this? OK both Churchland and Augustine are, but who else? If the transmission hypothesis does state this then I do not subscribe to it. But from what I understand it certainly doesn't. Churchland and Augustine are attacking a strawman.

There clearly is much more of an intimate relationship between the brain and the self than this and I defy these guys to point to anyone advocating the transmission hypothesis who thinks different!

So given that their premise is clearly false then this particular argument cannot have any merit.

Augustine

If the William James' transmissive hypothesis were correct, and the brain essentially only acted as a "transceiver" for consciousness, there is no reason to think that ever increasing mental complexity would require, in step, ever increasing brain complexity. A chimpanzee or a human being can type on a typewriter, but the greater complexity of what the human being types doesn't require any increase in the complexity of their "instrument"--the typewriter. But increasing mental acuity does appear, without exception, to require increasing brain complexity. That observation is precisely the opposite of what one would predict if substance dualism were true, and exactly what we would expect if consciousness was a property of the brain.



This typewriter analogy is incorrect as the state of the brain does have a profound impact on ones emotions, intelligence etc.

I'm sure that Augustine acknowledges this but that this is the precise problem and makes the transmission hypothesis difficult to hold. In other words he's saying it ought to to be a correct analogy even though it isn't. He wants it to be a correct analogy because then the transmission hypothesis would be inconsistent with the fact that our intelligence is correlated with brain complexity. Why in fact shouldn't we be equally intelligent with a very simple brain?

But the problem here is it's a false analogy. But then Augustine will want to ask why it's a false analogy. Why in other words does the brain have such an all invasive influence on mental states if not producing those mental states.

Now I have clarified his position, and understand the problem he has, we can see this whole question is also tied up with the question of why we need brains at all if the brain only modifies consciousness or minds.

The first thing to recognise here is that processes within the brain are akin to any information processing system. As with any such information processing system there are architectural constraints and, whilst the self is "filtered" by the brain (as the transmission hypothesis holds), these serve to limit the self so we only have access to those perceptions that follow the familiar and regular patterns that we associate with the physical world. This then allows us to function proficiently whilst we subsist in this empirical reality.

Now if the self is so "filtered", then clearly the complexity of the brain will have ramifications for the degree to which the self is limited. More complex brains allow further pathways for consciousness to follow and hence might allow more sophisticated thinking to take place.

But when the self operates in detachment from the brain, when it is temporarily or permanently disembodied, then its processing is released from the constraining influence of the laws governing the processes within the brain. It will then have access to all other perceptions apart from our everyday perceptions. Those other perceptions will be driven by some other "engine", and the person may seem to be passing through other worlds. This would be broadly consistent with the anecdotal experiences of some out-of-body experiences, especially near-death experiences - and indeed with reportedly channeled descriptions from the dead, as well as with traditional accounts such as those found in the "Tibetan Book of the Dead.

OK, there's lots more to say about Augustine's response but don't have time at the moment.

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Nabarun Ghoshal » Thu Jan 21, 2010 3:45 am

To this theory, we Indians are acquainted since our childhood. According to the ancient Indian literature, particularly the Vedanta (the latest version of which can be found in the writings of Rabindranath Tagore and Swami Vivekananda), the universe is infinite and eternal. The whole of this infinite universe is filled with a consciousness termed as the “Brahma”(pronounce “brohmau”) or the “Paramatma”. A part of this consciousness is converted to the material form, somewhat like conversion of the sea water into iceberg. In due course, this material world eventually goes back to the conscious form. Our body is in the form of a material object and a portion of the universal and eternal consciousness resides within the material body. This portion of the consciousness is called the “Jiwatma”. Actually, I am the Jiwatma i.e. the portion of the universal consciousness who live in this body and use this body. When the body becomes worn out and is no longer usable, I leave this body to get into another body to begin a new life but usually forget the events of my past life. After going through many such re-births, I gradually become conscious about my own entity as a portion of the supreme consciousness and then I develop a desire to go back to it. Then I use my human existence, the supreme of all life forms, to adopt some methods termed the “Yogas” that help me connect myself to the supreme consciousness or the Paramatma. Some of such Yogas are “Karmayoga”, “Gyanayoga”, “Bhaktiyoga” etc. By these methods, I, the Jiwatma, eventually unite myself to Paramatma, the supreme consciousness and am no longer reborn in this sinful world. Thus I achieve “Mokhsa” or “Nirvana”.
This metaphysical thought is so powerful that it has made the people of India almost indifferent to their material existence. They have neglected the development of material knowledge and technology in quest of the mirage named the Paramatma. They have become an easy prey to the exploitation by the ruling class. They are habituated to accept anybody as their ruler. The results are reflected in the easy conquest of this powerful land by the foreign invaders repeatedly in the past. Nowadays, they accept known cheats, thieves, smugglers, hooligans and musclemen as their representatives in the parliament. I warn you against the revival of this theory like an old wine in a new bottle lest the knowledge acquired through these centuries after the European Renaissance will all go in vain and the human society will once again plunge into the quagmire of superstitions and metaphysical thoughts.

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Interesting Ian » Thu Jan 21, 2010 3:42 pm

At last someone has responded to me! After 3 long years of forlorn waiting my patience has at last been rewarded!!

I'm so happy!! :D


Nabarun Ghoshal wrote: I warn you against the revival of this theory like an old wine in a new bottle lest the knowledge acquired through these centuries after the European Renaissance will all go in vain and the human society will once again plunge into the quagmire of superstitions and metaphysical thoughts.


Er . . . no need to worry! Everyone always ignores me anyway!! And in the very few cases where they don't ignore me they haven't a clue what I'm talking about -- or at least so-called sKeptics don't.

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Nabarun Ghoshal » Fri Jan 22, 2010 1:28 am

If you think so, come to India. I bet you will find many more of your species here. Most of them, like yourself, don't know what they are talking about. You will find some of them seriously trying to connect their 'inner consciousness' with the 'universal consciousness' (sometimes under the influence of cannabis or other so called 'entheogens'). You will also find some who themselves do not practice it sincerely but pose as 'Gurus' to attract people and thereby gain some social status. At least you will be given some ears which you are being denied in a country that has long shed metaphysical ideas and has advanced a lot towards truth with the help of a scientific notion.

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Lance Kennedy » Sat Jan 23, 2010 2:15 am

This thread appears to me to be simply a discussion of someone's religious belief. ie. They believe in an afterlife and would like to couch that belief in philiosphic or semi-scientific terms to make the belief seem more credible.

Most skeptics are non believers religiously, as am I.

So what do I think? I think that this is an example of an unnecessary hypothesis. A bit like the superstitious belief called vitalism, that life depends on a kind of vital energy. Science has found no indication of vital energy, nor has it found any indication of a soul that can exist outside the brain.

So this whole theme is totally unnecessary. When evidence exists of a soul outside the brain, then I will take it seriously. Until then, it is just another superstition.

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Interesting Ian » Sat Jan 23, 2010 2:29 am

Lance Kennedy wrote:This thread appears to me to be simply a discussion of someone's religious belief.


My posts have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with religion. I am attacking Keith Augustine's arguments against transmission theory.


ie. They believe in an afterlife



Where did I state this?


and would like to couch that belief in philiosphic or semi-scientific terms to make the belief seem more credible.



Where have I used any scientific or semi-scientific terms? It is purely a philosophical argument.


So what do I think? I think that this is an example of an unnecessary hypothesis.



A hypothesis which explains the facts and which the competing hypothesis doesn't can scarcely be said to be unnecessary.

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Interesting Ian » Sat Jan 23, 2010 2:36 am

Nabarun Ghoshal wrote:If you think so, come to India. I bet you will find many more of your species here. Most of them, like yourself, don't know what they are talking about.


Are you here declaring your support for Keith Augustine's rejection of transmission theory and believe that my arguments against his arguments lack any merit? If so I highly doubt you could justify your stance.

Or are you saying that I have no idea of the ultimate nature of the self and it's relationship to the physical world? Well that's true enough, but I never stated I did.

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Lance Kennedy » Sat Jan 23, 2010 2:47 am

Ian claimed the hypothesis explained the facts.

What facts???

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Interesting Ian » Sat Jan 23, 2010 10:27 am

Lance Kennedy wrote:Ian claimed the hypothesis explained the facts.

What facts???


I wrote those 2 opening posts almost 3 years ago. To quote from an essay regarding the filter/transmission hypothesis I have written since then:

" . . the brain produces consciousness thesis is directly incompatible with all the evidence [5] suggesting that our consciousness survives death. Such evidence includes near-death experiences (NDEs) and the closely related phenomenon deathbed visions, evidence for reincarnation in the form of children’s recollections of previous lives (although not alleged memories retrieved through hypnosis which is much poorer quality evidence), apparitions of a certain type [6], and mediumship. Interested readers might like to visit this page for a list of appropriate references, many of which are available to read online.

http://www.survival-research.net/librar ... index.html



There is also much indirect evidence which tends to suggest the continuation of consciousness after death. The most notable indirect evidence is psi phenomena. Without wishing to argue for it here, it seems to me that the totality of all the evidence suggests that it exists even if the more remarkable demonstrations of such phenomena turn out to have involved trickery. Contradicting our current western understanding of the mind-brain relationship, the existence of such phenomena suggests there is far more to the mind than is implied by regarding consciousness as merely being either a function of the brain or a causally inefficacious by-product of the brain.

Then there is physical phenomena such as, for example, clocks stopping and photographs falling off walls occurring near the time of death. More interestingly these phenomena do not normally occur in the vicinity of the dying person, but rather in the vicinity of someone, located at some distant place, who is emotionally close to the dying person [7].

Much more interestingly there have been reports of a restoration of mental functioning in people immediately prior to death. Indeed there have been scattered reports of people apparently recovering from dementia shortly before death [8]".

And of course contrariwise the filter/transmission hypothesis is compatible with all this evidence.

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Paul » Sat Jan 23, 2010 4:43 pm

Interesting Ian wrote:
the brain produces consciousness thesis is directly incompatible with all the evidence [5] suggesting that our consciousness survives death.


The term “consciousness” is a word often used in everyday speech to describe being awake and aware – responsive to the environment, in contrast to being asleep or in a coma. The medical dictionary describes
1. the state of being conscious.
2. subjective awareness of the aspects of cognitive processing and the content of the mind.
3. the current totality of experience of which an individual or group is aware at any time.
4. the conscious.


If you are not wakeful, you are “unconscious”. So “unconsciousness” is the term used to designate the state in which there is no processing of information, either from the environment or the self. You are unconscious when you sleep or when you are in a coma. But when you are alert, you process information in the environment and you adaptively respond to stimuli. This is “consciousness. humans spend a large amount of time in a state of consciousness, interacting with objects and persons, talking, walking, or coherently thinking, without monitoring these behaviors. as human beings we must have implicit awareness of our body to navigate in the environment.To believe consciousness survives death is credulous

Such evidence includes near-death experiences (NDEs) and the closely related phenomenon deathbed visions, evidence for reincarnation in the form of children’s recollections of previous lives (although not alleged memories retrieved through hypnosis which is much poorer quality evidence), apparitions of a certain type [6], and mediumship.


Can you provide the evidence. using observations, data, hypotheses, testing, and theories, which are the formal parts of the scientific method showing us or using empirical evidence, logical reasonsing (rationalism each in turn. All we have at this point is, because you said so. So it must be true.

There is also much indirect evidence which tends to suggest the continuation of consciousness after death


Indirect evidence is no more then an unsubstantiated rumor, at the very least is circumstantial evidence: Evidence providing only a basis for inference about the fact in dispute. And when used to describe consciousness after death is credulous. Pseudoscience jargon.

Then there is physical phenomena such as, for example, clocks stopping and photographs falling off walls occurring near the time of death. More interestingly these phenomena do not normally occur in the vicinity of the dying person, but rather in the vicinity of someone, located at some distant place, who is emotionally close to the dying person [7].


Did anyone look at the alternatives of the phenomena. Clocks stop for many reasons. Nothing paranormal there. A poorly hung picture will at some point fall. There is no scientific evidence supporting such abilities of apparent phenomena. A coincidence does not prove a relationship but related events which may be expected to have a higher index of coincidence. From a statistical perspective, coincidences are inevitable and often less remarkable than they may appear intuitively.
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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Lance Kennedy » Sat Jan 23, 2010 7:15 pm

Ian

I ask again. What facts?
You have supplied none. The near death experience is very common among those who are not near death. It can be induced with certain drugs, and those aviators who carry out a test into anoxia often experience it. The evidence strongly suggests that the NDE is simply a response of the human brain to reduced oxygen levels.
http://www.springerlink.com/content/r84076474j5g4q47/

Evidence for psi is zip. You may be aware of the James Randi prize. For over 20 years, he offered to pay $US one million to anyone who could demonstrate under controlled conditions any psi ability whatever. A few charlatons tried to scam this money. Randi, though, is a professional magician and knows all the tricks, so that did not work. A bunch of others, who are simply a bit self-deluded, and believed they had psychic abilities, tried for the prize. However, they had no abilities and could not win it. If you are also self-deluded and believe you have psi abilities, why not give it a go?
http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/1m-challenge.html

And as Paul said, a clock falling off a wall is simply a clock falling off a wall. These things are often given false importance by those who want to believe. Selective perception and selective memory are both brought into play. Until genuine objective empirical testing shows something significant, these are meaningless statements. Religious icons for the irrational who want to believe.

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby xouper » Sat Jan 23, 2010 8:03 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:You may be aware of the James Randi prize.

Ian knows all about Randi's million dollars. Ian has been a regular on the JREF forum for many years and has heard all the arguments against his position. More than once. If your objective in this discussion is to disabuse Ian of his notions, you are wasting your time (or worse, setting yourself up for unnecessary frustration) as many before you have already discovered the hard way. But if you enjoy the conversation with Ian for its own sake, then I suspect Ian will be happy to provide an endless supply of paranormal things to talk about.

To answer your question about facts, Ian does not have any of the kind you are looking for. He knows it, I know it, a bazillion other people know it, and now you know it.

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Lance Kennedy » Sat Jan 23, 2010 9:36 pm

Thanks for the heads up, zouper.

I really do not want to get into a long, involved discussion with someone who religiously holds onto irrational beliefs. Perhaps this is a good time for me to bow out, having made my point.

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Interesting Ian » Sat Jan 23, 2010 11:55 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:Thanks for the heads up, zouper.

I really do not want to get into a long, involved discussion with someone who religiously holds onto irrational beliefs. Perhaps this is a good time for me to bow out, having made my point.


There's been a lot of posts today. I normally tend to be rather busy at the weekends so I hope you and others will forgive me if I delay any substantive responses untill Monday.

Suffice to say that I definitely do not wish to hold any irrational beliefs. Actually I don't know if "beliefs" accurately characterises my position. I'm absolutely certain that psi exists, but the issue of "life after death" is altogether more murky. At an emotional level it seems absurd to suppose that at the point of my death I will continue to exist and "enter" and experience some other reality. I feel (and I emphasis feel) that my consciousness will stop forevermore when my body ceases functioning. But intellectually I think the totality of reason and evidence strongly suggests otherwise.

If you could explain to me how my "beliefs" are irrational it would be much appreciated. However it is of no avail if -- like Paul -- you simply suppose reductive materialism accurately characterises the nature of reality and consciousness. I don't wish to go into details here, but to suppose that consciousness is one and the very same thing as information, function, or behaviour or indeed is an illusion (depending on what flavour of reductive materialism holds the most appeal) is by definition false. There are physical events in the world on the one hand, and conscious experiences on the other. To say they are one and the same is entirely vacuous.

That one may bring into existence the other I grant you. Thus brains -- or more accurately brain processes -- might bring into being consciousness. And the fact that our mental states are affected by our brain states suggests on the face of it that brains create minds (to put it simplistically). Hence the transmission/filter hypothesis, Augustine critique, and my critique of his critique which is what this thread was supposed to be all about.
Last edited by Interesting Ian on Sun Jan 24, 2010 12:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Interesting Ian » Sat Jan 23, 2010 11:58 pm

Just in case anyone is interested here is the essay I wrote regarding the filter/transmission hypothesis that I wrote after my first 2 posts on this thread:

http://existenceandreality.blogspot.com/

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Nabarun Ghoshal » Sun Jan 24, 2010 9:22 pm

It seems that many superstitious, irrational thinkers are taking this website for a ride. They are the most regular posters and are disturbing the very purpose of this site by propagating their baseless ideas. I joined this site to gain some knowledge by interacting with rational thinkers but within four days I am becoming tired to see pointless debates between believers and non-believers. Isn't there a criteria for writing something in this forum? Those who ridicule Skeptics by calling them "skeptics", should be sent out of the forum of Skeptics. There are many religious forums, forums of astrologers, charlatans, soothsayers etc. They may join any such and leave this forum for rational thinkers.

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Interesting Ian » Sun Jan 24, 2010 10:12 pm

Nabarun Ghoshal wrote:It seems that many superstitious, irrational thinkers are taking this website for a ride.



Too right! It's jus' impossible to have an intelligent rational debate with sKeptics. :(

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Chachacha » Sun Jan 24, 2010 10:20 pm

Interesting Ian wrote:
Nabarun Ghoshal wrote:It seems that many superstitious, irrational thinkers are taking this website for a ride.



Too right! It's jus' impossible to have an intelligent rational debate with sKeptics. :(



There are all different perceptions of "intelligence" so I'll leave that alone, but as far as it being impossible to have a rational debate with skeptics, I don't agree, and the evidence supports that. However, irrational beliefs do not open the door to rational debate, with skeptics or anyone else, because there is no way to have a rational debate about irrational beliefs or posings.

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby xouper » Mon Jan 25, 2010 2:06 am

Nabarun Ghoshal wrote:It seems that many superstitious, irrational thinkers are taking this website for a ride. They are the most regular posters and are disturbing the very purpose of this site by propagating their baseless ideas. I joined this site to gain some knowledge by interacting with rational thinkers but within four days I am becoming tired to see pointless debates between believers and non-believers. Isn't there a criteria for writing something in this forum? Those who ridicule Skeptics by calling them "skeptics", should be sent out of the forum of Skeptics. There are many religious forums, forums of astrologers, charlatans, soothsayers etc. They may join any such and leave this forum for rational thinkers.

I know how you feel.

The solution that works for me -- and not just here but any forum -- is that I skip over the stuff that I have no interest in reading. Most forums, including this one, have an "ignore" feature that aids in skipping past uninteresting stuff. That still leaves a reasonable amount worth reading and discussing. Just my opinion, of course.

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Interesting Ian » Mon Jan 25, 2010 2:22 am

Paul wrote:You are unconscious when you sleep or when you are in a coma. But when you are alert, you process information in the environment and you adaptively respond to stimuli. This is “consciousness.



I am unconscious when I sleep? Not when I dream I ain't. And perhaps I dream throughout my sleep.

But let's not get sidetracked. To say that processing information and behaviour is consciousness is to subscribe to reductive materialism. Note that this is very different from saying that the processing of information causes or brings about consciousness -- here consciousness is distinct from its physical substrate even though its existence is entirely generated by physical processes.

But if you really are holding that reductive materialism is correct then by definition a disembodied existence is logically impossible. In which case there would be no purpose to this thread at all since the transmission hypothesis is then logically ruled out.

The argument is about this: skeptics claim that there cannot possibly be any "life after death" as changes to ones brain state brings about changes to ones psychological states. This is most starkly illustrated when we consider Alzheimers patients or the case of Phineas Gage etc.

Now although I think this is a very powerful argument, unlike most skeptics I do not believe it proves that the self or consciousness is entirely a creation of the brain. It makes a compelling argument, yes. But it does not seem to me to prove it. This is where the transmission/filter hypothesis comes in. It appears to explain the mind/brain correlations as effectively as the "brain produces consciousness" hypothesis. Keith Augustine disagrees and provides his reasons which I quote and link to in my first 2 posts (I think). I disagree with his critique and I give my reasons why in my second post.

So that's what this thread is supposed to be about. But subsequent posts bear no relationship whatsoever to my 2 opening posts!


humans spend a large amount of time in a state of consciousness, interacting with objects and persons, talking, walking, or coherently thinking, without monitoring these behaviors. as human beings we must have implicit awareness of our body to navigate in the environment.To believe consciousness survives death is credulous



That doesn't follow does it. To navigate my environment I merely need to seem to be at a particular location and have the ability to will it so that I appear to be at a differing location. I don't need to have a body, I merely need to appear to be located somewhere.


Such evidence includes near-death experiences (NDEs) and the closely related phenomenon deathbed visions, evidence for reincarnation in the form of children’s recollections of previous lives (although not alleged memories retrieved through hypnosis which is much poorer quality evidence), apparitions of a certain type [6], and mediumship.


Can you provide the evidence. using observations, data, hypotheses, testing, and theories, which are the formal parts of the scientific method showing us or using empirical evidence, logical reasonsing (rationalism each in turn. All we have at this point is, because you said so. So it must be true.



What do you mean provide the evidence? Are you denying that people undergo NDEs, deathbed visions, see apparitions?

There is also much indirect evidence which tends to suggest the continuation of consciousness after death


Indirect evidence is no more then an unsubstantiated rumor, at the very least is circumstantial evidence: Evidence providing only a basis for inference about the fact in dispute. And when used to describe consciousness after death is credulous. Pseudoscience jargon.



We have had certain characteristic phenomena labelled paranormal reported throughout human history and across almost all cultures. We've had all the field investigations which suggest something interesting is occurring. We've had the more formal experimental studies that parapsychology has carried out, some of which yield positive results, some negative.

Given all this evidence the pertinent question here to ask is why should anyone deny it? They deny it because they implicitly suppose a certain metaphysical interpretation of reality is correct; namely some sort of materialist mechanistic metaphysic.

That would be fine if there were any compelling reasons to subscribe to such a metaphysic. But there isn't and I defy anyone to provide one.

Then there is physical phenomena such as, for example, clocks stopping and photographs falling off walls occurring near the time of death. More interestingly these phenomena do not normally occur in the vicinity of the dying person, but rather in the vicinity of someone, located at some distant place, who is emotionally close to the dying person [7].


Did anyone look at the alternatives of the phenomena. Clocks stop for many reasons. Nothing paranormal there. A poorly hung picture will at some point fall.



Oh come on! This is all desperate stuff. Just face it, the world is vastly more mysterious and interesting than your impoverished metaphysic implies.

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Interesting Ian » Mon Jan 25, 2010 2:23 am

xouper wrote:I know how you feel.

The solution that works for me -- and not just here but any forum -- is that I skip over the stuff that I have no interest in reading. Most forums, including this one, have an "ignore" feature that aids in skipping past uninteresting stuff. That still leaves a reasonable amount worth reading and discussing. Just my opinion, of course.


You have me on ignore xouper?

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby xouper » Mon Jan 25, 2010 3:16 am

Interesting Ian wrote:You have me on ignore xouper?

No. Nor do I automatically skip past everything you post.

I was just trying to be helpful in suggesting that on any forum there will always be posts that someone is not interested in reading, and that rather than give up on the whole forum, maybe it's a reasonable compromise to just skip past those posts you don't want to read. Occasionally it's not quite that simple, but in general, that works for me.

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Interesting Ian » Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:39 am

You can do an MSc degree in Parapsychology!

http://wwwm.coventry.ac.uk/ptshortcpd/p ... itemID=151

That's something I'd really like to do.

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Nabarun Ghoshal » Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:22 am

Xouper wrote
I know how you feel.

The solution that works for me -- and not just here but any forum -- is that I skip over the stuff that I have no interest in reading. Most forums, including this one, have an "ignore" feature that aids in skipping past uninteresting stuff. That still leaves a reasonable amount worth reading and discussing. Just my opinion, of course.


Thank you so much Xouper for taking my problem seriously and sympathetically. It is not that I am not interested in these subjects, but I like to have materialistic discussions about them. I am happy to have many such from rational thinkers like you and others in this forum. Only a few, whom I mistook as rational thinkers and took with due seriousness, seem to live in their metaphysical world and trying to penetrate into the real world with their unfounded thoughts. I shall take your advice and shall ignore these few persons and let them enjoy their delusions without any further interventions from my side.

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby rrichar911 » Thu Jan 28, 2010 5:03 am

I have never heard a convencing explination of the mechanics of consciousness. Therefore it is an open question.
What really intrest me is whether God had any choice in the creation of the universe ~ Albert Einstein

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Interesting Ian » Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:59 am

Talking about NDEs this guy called Dr. Kevin Nelson is convinced that NDEs are not a gateway to an afterlife and indeed are akin to a dream.

http://www.skeptiko.com/kevin-nelson-sk ... -accounts/

My response is as follows:

The assertion that survival is an extraordinary claim is only remotely plausible if we assume some sort of materialist metaphysic. But as I have argued extensively in many places, reductive materialism necessarily has to leave out the existence of consciousness. Non-reductive materialism has to deny that we have free will. And all materialist positions have to deny that consciousness is a mental substance i.e it has to deny the commonsensical notion that we are selves enduring through time.

So, in short, in order to claim that surviving the death of our bodies is an extraordinary claim he has to provide formidable arguments which entail that some sort of materialist metaphysic accurately characterises reality. But I would suggest that this is as impossible task -- least of all for a non-philosopher to be able to provide them.

Unless there are some knock down arguments demonstrating that NDEs are not of some external reality, then surely the best people to judge this question are the people who actually undergo these experiences. And I think that at least for those who have undergone deep NDEs they are unanimous in their conclusion that they did actually perceive an afterlife realm -- in other words that the experience was real. So the question here is why does Dr Nelson think he knows better than they do? This is not to say they cannot be mistaken, but skeptics bear the burden of proof (in contrast to what Dr Nelson claims).

Dr Nelson asserts we know how the brain brings about consciousness. If this is so then he knows the impossible. The physical world is exclusively characterised in terms of structure and dynamics. Consciousness is characterised in terms of qualia (used in the broadest possible sense). One cannot derive qualia from structure and dynamics. But I'm not going to reinvent the wheel here (yet again!). He needs to read someone like David Chalmers.

Of course this by no means entails that consciousness is not a creation of the brain. But if it is it has to be taken as a brute fact. Consciousness simply resides outside the scope of science. Indeed from a scientific perspective it doesn't exist at all! The best we can do is correlate third person observations of the processes occurring in the brain with first person reports.

Originally submitted here:
http://forum.mind-energy.net/skeptiko-p ... per-2.html

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby tkrawforQ3Kn4 » Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:11 am

rrichar911 wrote:I have never heard a convencing explination of the mechanics of consciousness. Therefore it is an open question.

I agree, what i would like to see however is someone who could turn an existing linear silicon chip in on itself, remove all the leads except for four of them (a lithium collector, a hydrogen stabilizer, terrulium regulator and a geranium or indium discriminator) and fill the resulting cavity with a superconductive silicon based collodial suspension in nano strucures of potassium, lithium, cobalt, nckel, copper, gold, or silver.

and dissolve in that collidial suspension argon, krypton, xenon or radon.

That's AI.
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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby JO 753 » Fri Feb 12, 2010 11:00 am

Nabarun Ghoshal wrote: At least you will be given some ears which you are being denied in a country that has long shed metaphysical ideas and has advanced a lot towards truth with the help of a scientific notion.


HAHAHA!

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby JO 753 » Fri Feb 12, 2010 11:35 am

I think I see your general dilema, Ian.

Its eazy to propoze that our consciousness iz purely the rezult uv the workingz uv trillionz uv neural connectionz, especially wen stopping any substantial portion uv them rezults in a corresponding reduction or loss uv mental abilitiez. But wut about the odd events, unaccountable talents, etc. that simply do not lend themselvez to scientific scrutiny?

I believe the simple material explanation failz to account for life in general. There iz an undeniable difference between inanimate matter and living creaturez.

Take the most complex machine ever made and compare it to a mosquito.

The machine will do nothing that wuznt intentionaly or accidently bilt and programmed into it. Unless it haz been specificly equiped to do so, it will blithely rest az you destroy it. It haz no motivation.

A mosquito, in stark contrast, with its hundred or so neuronz, will strive with cunning and evil persistence to suck your blood. Judging by its actionz, survival iz only an intermediate consideration, since it wll dodge a crushing slap only to return again and again until it haz that drop uv blood. Where duz this motivation rezide?

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Harry_rr » Sun Jul 18, 2010 10:18 pm

All we have done is make consciousness more complex by claiming it manifests itself through one's brain. That is basically saying consciousness only exists when it has a brain as a host. So when the brain dies, the host dies, and consciousness is reduced to what it was before the brain came alive. It is simpler to say consciousness results from brain activity. Shutdown brain activity, and consciousness ceases. In other words, get a knock in the head where you get knocked out. That stops much of the brain activity where you stop thinking, just like before you were born. Now, stop all brain activity by killing and decomposing the brain, and that allows the consciousness to continue? I think not!

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Epiphileon » Thu Jul 29, 2010 6:39 pm

 Hello Ian, I'm completely new here, don't even know what the skeptics society is yet. My entire interpretation of reality though rests on natural science, which by default depends on healthy skepticism.
Off Topic
Interesting Ian wrote:If you could explain to me how my "beliefs" are irrational it would be much appreciated.


Well I can do that, however it is from my own perspective. I have this thing I call an Authority of Information Scale. On this scale 0 corresponds with the statement, “I believe”, meaning I have absolutely no support for this notion, it's just a nice idea, if there is any reason behind it, it is fast and loose with no reliance on critical thinking, or empirical evidence. I have at least one such notion, but as a rule I try to avoid holding any ideas with zero authority. Oh yea, I consider something not based on reason to be, by definition irrational.


BTW this link http://www.survivalafterdeath.org/artic ... usness.htm immediately redirects to this link http://www.sadinnow.com/
Is this supposed to be an argument for the existence of life after death? If so I see no legitimate argument at all only a summation of beliefs propagated by social organization structures that for a brief moment in time, were evolutionarily stable strategies.

There is a big problem I'm having throughout this discussion, and that is with with the arbitrary definitions of consciousness that are being used. For one thing I do not think (I know contrary to common usage) consciousness is merely being awake, alligators are sometimes awake, do they have what you mean by consciousness? It seems to me that the intended connotation of the word in the context of this thread is to represent the concept of the “I of Mind”. If this is so, then I have problems with much of the assumptions being made of the characteristics of this phenomenon.

I suspect that there is general agreement among participants in this discussion that evolution occurred, if that is the case then I would like to know at what point in the evolutionary history the transmission hypothesis marks as its genesis.
Interesting Ian wrote:...if you suppose reductive materialism accurately characterizes the nature of reality and consciousness. I don't wish to go into details here, but to suppose that consciousness is one and the very same thing as information, function, or behaviour or indeed is an illusion (depending on what flavour of reductive materialism holds the most appeal) is by definition false.  There are physical events in the world on the one hand, and conscious experiences on the other.  To say they are one and the same is entirely vacuous.


What do you mean, are you saying that conscious experience is not a physical event?(yes I did read the paragraph after the quoted one, but it did not clear it up for me.) I'm of the opinion that if not here, then in general it seems that the transmission hypothesis is, at the very least, asserting that consciousness is not a physical event purely brought into existence by the physiology of the brain, nor that it is within that activity that all experience occurs. To maintain that point of view, I would not say is completely vacuous, as that would be offensive, but I would say it is at least, not a completely informed position.

There is a book that was published in 1977 titled “The Mindful Brain”http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?tid=7535&ttype=2it is the book that I am convinced will some day be recognized as the beginning of the end for any sort of external causations for the production and experience of consciousness. I will be bringing up the main ideas of this work in a future thread, but suffice it to say here that there is an entirely plausible case for the complete physicality of consciousness. I would say that given this, there is no question of life after death, the brain stops, consciousness stops.
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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Interesting Ian » Thu Jul 29, 2010 7:35 pm

Hi,

It seems my original post was made 3.5 years ago. I certainly never linked to the page it goes to now. Most probably I linked to Chris Carters thoughts on this subject.

http://www.parapsychologyandtheskeptics ... usness.pdf

But simply read what I put myself:

http://existenceandreality.blogspot.com/


Epiphileon wrote: Hello Ian, I'm completely new here, don't even know what the skeptics society is yet. My entire interpretation of reality though rests on natural science, which by default depends on healthy skepticism.
Off Topic
Interesting Ian wrote:If you could explain to me how my "beliefs" are irrational it would be much appreciated.


Well I can do that, however it is from my own perspective. I have this thing I call an Authority of Information Scale. On this scale 0 corresponds with the statement, “I believe”, meaning I have absolutely no support for this notion, it's just a nice idea, if there is any reason behind it, it is fast and loose with no reliance on critical thinking, or empirical evidence. I have at least one such notion, but as a rule I try to avoid holding any ideas with zero authority. Oh yea, I consider something not based on reason to be, by definition irrational.




There is a confusion here. When I say I believe something it is certainly not intended by me to suggest there are no rational reasons for that belief!

Is this supposed to be an argument for the existence of life after death?



I really can't remember. Isn't it similar to my essay in that it is questioning that alzheimers, the Phineas Gage case and other apparent dependencies of mind on brain constitutes proof that brain produces conscious? It is highly suggestive evidence but fails to constitute actual proof. And there are many observations and much evidence that can be cited which run counter to the production theory. But I don't want to reinvent the wheel here. Just read my essay.



There is a big problem I'm having throughout this discussion, and that is with with the arbitrary definitions of consciousness that are being used. For one thing I do not think (I know contrary to common usage) consciousness is merely being awake, alligators are sometimes awake, do they have what you mean by consciousness? It seems to me that the intended connotation of the word in the context of this thread is to represent the concept of the “I of Mind”. If this is so, then I have problems with much of the assumptions being made of the characteristics of this phenomenon.



Well I assume alligators are conscious! I think Descartes suggestion that non-human animals are not conscious to be extraordinarily implausible.

It seems to me that consciousness cannot be defined. Like all conscious experiences eg the experience of blueness, the experience of cramp etc, none of these can be defined. We basically have to take it on faith that other people have similar experiences to us!

I suspect that there is general agreement among participants in this discussion that evolution occurred, if that is the case then I would like to know at what point in the evolutionary history the transmission hypothesis marks as its genesis.


At the same moment as consciousness. And I would assume something like insects are conscious, but whether something like plants are? Who knows. Certainly think alligators are conscious though!


Interesting Ian wrote:...if you suppose reductive materialism accurately characterizes the nature of reality and consciousness. I don't wish to go into details here, but to suppose that consciousness is one and the very same thing as information, function, or behaviour or indeed is an illusion (depending on what flavour of reductive materialism holds the most appeal) is by definition false.  There are physical events in the world on the one hand, and conscious experiences on the other.  To say they are one and the same is entirely vacuous.


What do you mean, are you saying that conscious experience is not a physical event?(yes I did read the paragraph after the quoted one, but it did not clear it up for me.)



Well there are tables, chairs, stars etc on one hand, and consciousness and its experiences on the other. What label we put consciousness under is not important. What is important is that consciousness is quite distinct from any physical events.


I'm of the opinion that if not here, then in general it seems that the transmission hypothesis is, at the very least, asserting that consciousness is not a physical event purely brought into existence by the physiology of the brain, nor that it is within that activity that all experience occurs. To maintain that point of view, I would not say is completely vacuous, as that would be offensive, but I would say it is at least, not a completely informed position.



Well I've been thinking and reading about this for the past 40 years. If you have any fresh thinking or arguments to bring to the table then don't be shy in expressing them. However I don't take kindly to the insinuation that I'm not understanding something without you being able to back up your allegation.

There is a book that was published in 1977 titled “The Mindful Brain”http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?tid=7535&ttype=2it is the book that I am convinced will some day be recognized as the beginning of the end for any sort of external causations for the production and experience of consciousness. I will be bringing up the main ideas of this work in a future thread, but suffice it to say here that there is an entirely plausible case for the complete physicality of consciousness. I would say that given this, there is no question of life after death, the brain stops, consciousness stops.


No no no no.

I don't want people to vaguely point to books which they feel vindicates their position. You may paraphrase their arguments, but you do need to provide arguments.

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Martin Brock » Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:41 pm

The view that the mind is existentially dependent on the organism and on nothing else is compatible with all the normal facts, and is positively suggested by them, though they do not necessitate it. And it is the simplest possible view to take.

Agreed. I take it for granted. I'd like to have an immortal soul as much as the next man, but I can't take it for granted, because the wishful thinking theory explains it well enough, and nothing else explains it well at all. Let's face it. We're mortal. If not, show me.
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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Interesting Ian » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:12 am

Martin Brock wrote:
The view that the mind is existentially dependent on the organism and on nothing else is compatible with all the normal facts, and is positively suggested by them, though they do not necessitate it. And it is the simplest possible view to take.

Agreed. I take it for granted. I'd like to have an immortal soul as much as the next man, but I can't take it for granted, because the wishful thinking theory explains it well enough, and nothing else explains it well at all. Let's face it. We're mortal. If not, show me.


The "wishful thinking theory" holds as a prerequisite that the extinction hypothesis (our consciousness ends when we die) is the more reasonable position for a rational person to hold. Thus any propensity to differ from this reasonable position is a consequence of "wishful thinking".

However it has not in fact been established that the extinction hypothesis is the more reasonable position to hold.

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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Epiphileon » Fri Jul 30, 2010 2:21 am

Interesting Ian wrote:But simply read what I put myself:
http://existenceandreality.blogspot.com/

I'll get back to this. First I'd like to explain this answer of mine.
Interesting Ian wrote:If you could explain to me how my "beliefs" are irrational it would be much appreciated.

]
Epiphileon wrote:Well I can do that, however it is from my own perspective. I have this thing I call an Authority of Information Scale. On this scale 0 corresponds with the statement, “I believe”, meaning I have absolutely no support for this notion, it's just a nice idea, if there is any reason behind it, it is fast and loose with no reliance on critical thinking, or empirical evidence. I have at least one such notion, but as a rule I try to avoid holding any ideas with zero authority. Oh yea, I consider something not based on reason to be, by definition irrational.[/offtopic]

Interesting Ian wrote:There is a confusion here. When I say I believe something it is certainly not intended by me to suggest there are no rational reasons for that belief!


I did qualify this as being from my perspective, and I was merely pointing out that from some peoples perspective "belief" is equivalent to faith, or to considering something as known with no burden of proof at all. I did not mean to say your argument was irrational. After all constructing an argument of any kind requires reason, the point of dialog in argument is to determine the soundness of the reason.
Interesting Ian wrote:I really can't remember. Isn't it similar to my essay in that it is questioning that alzheimers, the Phineas Gage case and other apparent dependencies of mind on brain constitutes proof that brain produces conscious? It is highly suggestive evidence but fails to constitute actual proof. And there are many observations and much evidence that can be cited which run counter to the production theory. But I don't want to reinvent the wheel here. Just read my essay.

There is a big problem I'm having throughout this discussion, and that is with with the arbitrary definitions of consciousness that are being used. For one thing I do not think (I know contrary to common usage) consciousness is merely being awake, alligators are sometimes awake, do they have what you mean by consciousness? It seems to me that the intended connotation of the word in the context of this thread is to represent the concept of the “I of Mind”. If this is so, then I have problems with much of the assumptions being made of the characteristics of this phenomenon.

Well I assume alligators are conscious! I think Descartes suggestion that non-human animals are not conscious to be extraordinarily implausible. It seems to me that consciousness cannot be defined. Like all conscious experiences eg the experience of blueness, the experience of cramp etc, none of these can be defined. We basically have to take it on faith that other people have similar experiences to us!


So then it would seem to me that you would argue that alligators are capable of the concept, cogito ergo sum?
Alligators no doubt have a perception of the world that we would call experience, however that is not in anyway equivalent to experiencing the experience. As I said in my previous post, it seemed to me the connotation of the word consciousness as it was being used in this thread was referring to the "I of Mind". As you stated in your essay this unchanging experience of self, and you cited it as a reason that consciousness could not be a product of mind/brain. You are also, it seems, under the impression that the modern neuroscience theories of consciousness are based only on the effects of trauma on the brain. This is not at all the case. I do not have time to reinvent the wheel here, but will try to convey the basic ideas in conclusion to this reply.

Epiphileon wrote:
I suspect that there is general agreement among participants in this discussion that evolution occurred, if that is the case then I would like to know at what point in the evolutionary history the transmission hypothesis marks as its genesis.

Interesting Ian wrote:At the same moment as consciousness.

I don't understand this answer, obviously the transmission hypothesis first proposed by a modern human, I was asking at what point in evolutionary history consciousness first showed up. You can ignore this point though since if you think insects are conscious, and wish to maintain that position this dialog is pointless.[/quote]

Interesting Ian wrote:...if you suppose reductive materialism accurately characterizes the nature of reality and consciousness. I don't wish to go into details here, but to suppose that consciousness is one and the very same thing as information, function, or behaviour or indeed is an illusion (depending on what flavour of reductive materialism holds the most appeal) is by definition false.  There are physical events in the world on the one hand, and conscious experiences on the other.  To say they are one and the same is entirely vacuous.

Epiphileon wrote:What do you mean, are you saying that conscious experience is not a physical event?(yes I did read the paragraph after the quoted one, but it did not clear it up for me.)

Interesting Ian wrote:Well there are tables, chairs, stars etc on one hand, and consciousness and its experiences on the other. What label we put consciousness under is not important. What is important is that consciousness is quite distinct from any physical events.

Epiphileon wrote: I'm of the opinion that if not here, then in general it seems that the transmission hypothesis is, at the very least, asserting that consciousness is not a physical event purely brought into existence by the physiology of the brain, nor that it is within that activity that all experience occurs. To maintain that point of view, I would not say is completely vacuous, as that would be offensive, but I would say it is at least, not a completely informed position.

Interesting Ian wrote:Well I've been thinking and reading about this for the past 40 years. If you have any fresh thinking or arguments to bring to the table then don't be shy in expressing them. However I don't take kindly to the insinuation that I'm not understanding something without you being able to back up your allegation.

Then we have about the same amount of time invested in it. I am surprised that someone willing to state someone else's position as vacuous would be so easily offended. Further I made no insinuation of not understanding, I said "not completely informed", and then referenced a book with information concerning an explanation of just how one could produce consciousness soley on the basis of neurophysiology.
There is a book that was published in 1977 titled “The Mindful Brain”http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?tid=7535&ttype=2it is the book that I am convinced will some day be recognized as the beginning of the end for any sort of external causations for the production and experience of consciousness. I will be bringing up the main ideas of this work in a future thread, but suffice it to say here that there is an entirely plausible case for the complete physicality of consciousness. I would say that given this, there is no question of life after death, the brain stops, consciousness stops.

Interesting Ian wrote:No no no no.

I don't want people to vaguely point to books which they feel vindicates their position. You may paraphrase their arguments, but you do need to provide arguments.

I believe I provided a link to the book at MIT press that included an introduction that may have proved useful.
I have absolutely no feeling that I need to vindicate my position, it is based in a solid understanding of modern neuroscience. You stated in your original post that "I would be interested in hearing peoples opinions." it seems to me more like your attempting to vindicate your position.
Be that as it may, here is a rough explanation of the basic idea of the physiology from which consciousness can be generated. This is an answer I posted on another forum to the question of consciousness as brain activity.

Someone else had responded that it was at a certain level of cortical complexity that allowed for consciousness, I quoted that and then replied.....
It is this “certain level of complexity” that since I first glimpsed it, has been the most astounding, breathtakingly beautiful, and elegant phenomenon that, I am convinced, I will ever know of. What I'm speaking of is both the fine neuro-cytoarchatecture , and cortical organization of higher brain functions, as described by Vernon Mountcastle. It is upon his work that Gerald Edelman proposed the first plausible theory for consciousness being possible solely on the basis of wetware. Edelmans' work is absolutely fascinating, and by necessity is at least one level of observation, and I suspect at times, two levels of observation above Mountcastle's. I think Edelman may actually understand the eureka moment, I can not yet say with any reasonable confidence. I do know however that his work is built upon Mountcasltes, and Mountcastles understanding of the wetware is solid.

As I understand it Mountcastle begins with a structure he calls the Local Neural Circuit (LNC), which is composed of roughly two to three hundred neurons, arranged in columnar fashion. The specific construction of these LNCs varies, and any specific LNC is identifiable to, and largely predominates areas of the brain, nuclei, responsible for specific tasks. This constitutes a nested system.

A further word on neurons, LNCs and their operation, although the analogy of the brain to a computer is largely invalid, it seems to me useful to think of synaptic signaling as the bits, and the signal constituted by the overall pattern of energy on an LNC as the bytes in the codification scheme that results in mind. So now keeping in mind that an energized LNC, represents a 3 dimensionally encoded pattern of energy,

So every nuclei of the brain has it's own type of LNC; however, every nuclei of the brain sends out branches of its particular type of LNC to every other nuclei of the brain (a distributed system), and the signal on that branch of LNCs is subject to transforms imposed by other brain areas, then the resultant modified signal returns to its origin and is capable of effecting the processing going on there.
Phasic Reentrant Signaling, in a Nested, Distributed System, utilizing 3-dimensionally encoded energy fields to produce a four dimensional codification scheme.

Absolutely stunning.

It is upon this system that Edelman shows how consciousness can be produced, the argument for this however is quite intensive. It first requires an appreciation of just how it is that we have an experience of the world to begin with, on the top of the sensory input being somehow built into an inter-cranial virtual reality, there must be a system of recognition circuits for that. It would be well beyond my ability to present all the details of this model, I learned the basics over 25 years ago. As far as existent, known organisms capable of experiencing the "I" of mind, I am convinced that most of what is called humankind has consciousness, I have deep suspicions about certain aquatic mammals, outside of that I would say extremely unlikely, there is just not the circuitry for it.
One final point, from an evolutionary perspective, consciousness is the latest ability added to the brain, emotions, cognition, and personality are all there below, and before consciousness. This view also firmly places consciousness in the realm of evolved abilities, generated in and by the brain. There is no need to call up an exceedingly more complex solution.
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rrichar911
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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby rrichar911 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 9:45 pm

Interesting Ian

I have a hunch the theory is correct.

http://www.quantumconsciousness.org/pen ... rchOR.html

Quote:
The view that the mind is existentially dependent on the organism and on nothing else is compatible with all the normal facts, and is positively suggested by them, though they do not necessitate it. And it is the simplest possible view to take.

No it's not, see above link.
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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Epiphileon » Sat Jul 31, 2010 1:27 pm

rrichar911 wrote:Interesting Ian

I have a hunch the theory is correct.

http://www.quantumconsciousness.org/pen ... rchOR.html

Quote:
The view that the mind is existentially dependent on the organism and on nothing else is compatible with all the normal facts, and is positively suggested by them, though they do not necessitate it. And it is the simplest possible view to take.

No it's not, see above link.


I thought I recognized that link, the first time someone referenced that in a discussion on consciousness, I scanned it and dismissed it on the basis of being able to reject some of the claims of what modern neuroscience has to say about consciousness. Now that it has been referenced again I am making the effort to read it completely; however, I think there may be an easier path to assessing the plausibility of transmission theory.

How is it that transmission theory represents a simpler solution? Currently, to my mind, it seems immeasurably more complex. Here are some questions I would ask of this hypothesis.
What is doing the transmission?
Where did it come from, that is, by what mechanisms did it evolve?
Why would it be that the nervous system would evolve to be a receptor for the transmission?
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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby rrichar911 » Sun Aug 01, 2010 5:43 am

Epiphileon

First off quantum mechanics is something we do not as yet fully understand and still debate. Learned people still hold conflicting opinions.

QM exists in what is called configuration space, which is a name given to distinguish that space from "normal" space , i.e. the space 3 dimensions and time that we exist in. What configuration space is, we don't know.

But many scientist believe that for reality to exist as we know it, requires consciousness or observation to collapse the wave function from configuration space into "real" space. i.e. to become a physical object. That is the original Copenhagen interpretation.

The EPR Einstein Polaski Rosen experiment demonstrates that once entangled quantum states communicate instantly across any distance. Virtual particles "pop" out of the quantum vacuum in open space.

Inside the brain, an entangled quantum wave could communicate with its twin anywhere in the universe instantly. The question would be, can a quantum wave inside the brain become entangled?

Rodger Penrose in his book The Emperors New Mind, demonstrates that classical computational methods cannot produce a "machine" the becomes self aware, and thus quantum phenomena is a likely candidate.

If the Copenhagen interpretation is correct, to collapse the wave function, into space--time, or in this case communicate with the physical brain, requires consciousness. Since consciousness as demonstrated by Rodger cannot be produced by the physical brain as it is restricted to the classical computational realm, then it is the wave function that is aware of itself, i.e. is self clasping. Once it makes the transition from quantum state to physical reality, it then can interact with the physical brain. i.e. tell it to move your right arm, talk, walk, etc.

Everything on the physical side is deterministic, the cause and effect relationship applies, and thus logic applies. Everything on the quantum side is non-deterministic, and thus free will applies. If the quantum realm did not exist, we would in essence be robots bound to strict computational decisions, i.e. run the program and out comes the result as a computer does.

Where did it come from, that is, by what mechanisms did it evolve?


I assume you mean the quantum state? Consider the EPR experiment. In a realm where communication is instant across any distance, there is no time. To have a beginning you have to have time. For with out time one thing cannot proceed another. There is no cause and effect, one thing cannot come from a previous thing, there thus can not be any evolution. There is no change and thus no growth.

If consciousness does exist in the quantum state, it could not evolve with out the physical to interact with.
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Re: The transmission theory of the mind/body relationship

Postby Epiphileon » Sun Aug 01, 2010 2:03 pm

rrichar911 wrote:Epiphileon

First off quantum mechanics is something we do not as yet fully understand and still debate. Learned people still hold conflicting opinions.
QM exists in what is called configuration space, which is a name given to distinguish that space from "normal" space , i.e. the space 3 dimensions and time that we exist in. What configuration space is, we don't know.
Thank you for responding your reply makes aspects of the argument clearer.
But many scientist believe that for reality to exist as we know it, requires consciousness or observation to collapse the wave function from configuration space into "real" space. i.e. to become a physical object. That is the original Copenhagen interpretation.
I was unaware that a significant number of physicists or cosmologists still gave this notion any credibility, these fields fascinate me and I do commonly watch documentaries and have read a number of books akin to Hawking's "A Brief History of Time". I do not recall ever having read any of the formal arguments against this interpretation; however I do recall issues with the problem of the observer, and the famous two slot experiment. This is a fascinating aspect of quantum mechanics, however generalizing it to all of "what is", I think would pose some significant problems, not the least of which would be the necessity of a steady state universe. or else a meta-entity, that existed in order for there to be an observer when wave forms were collapsing in order to form the first "stuff" of the universe.

The EPR Einstein Polaski Rosen experiment demonstrates that once entangled quantum states communicate instantly across any distance. Virtual particles "pop" out of the quantum vacuum in open space.

Inside the brain, an entangled quantum wave could communicate with its twin anywhere in the universe instantly. The question would be, can a quantum wave inside the brain become entangled?
This does seem to present the necessity of a type of the infinite regression philosophers used to insist made a production theory of consciousness impossible; however at a quantum level.

Rodger Penrose in his book The Emperors New Mind, demonstrates that classical computational methods cannot produce a "machine" the becomes self aware, and thus quantum phenomena is a likely candidate.
What does he regard as "classical computational methods", I'm fairly certain that they will not include phasic reentrant signaling, in a nested, distributed system. Besides who said consciousness, or any other central nervous system activity, other than mathematics, was dependent on computation? This seems again to be an overextension of the brain/computer analogy.
I figured out after a while that one of the reasons I'm having such a hard time reading his paper is the number of assertions he makes about neuroscience, that neuroscientists do not acknowledge, or have acknowledged and resolved. Despite having my academic career aborted by an unexpected divorce, neuroscience was my field and I have maintained as much currency as I could, particularly in the area of consciousness.There is in fact an existent plausible theory for the production of consciousness from neurophysiology. The most prominent investigator in the field is Gerald Edelman. I referenced "The Mindful Brain" earlier as the breakthrough work in the area, that was published in 1978, the most recent explanation of his work I've read is "The Remembered Present". http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/jocn.1990.2.4.385?journalCode=jocn I am still working on how to communicate an explanatory synopsis of this theory, it is not easy as it rests atop other theories of increasing complexity, starting with psychophysics and the production of the perceptual world, we each have as a inner-cranial virtual reality.


If the Copenhagen interpretation is correct, to collapse the wave function, into space--time, or in this case communicate with the physical brain, requires consciousness. Since consciousness as demonstrated by Rodger cannot be produced by the physical brain as it is restricted to the classical computational realm, then it is the wave function that is aware of itself, i.e. is self clasping. Once it makes the transition from quantum state to physical reality, it then can interact with the physical brain. i.e. tell it to move your right arm, talk, walk, etc.
What!? Individual quantum event capable of carrying sufficient information to cause many more orders of magnitude complex behaviors? That is just not possible. Something else must be meant here,

Everything on the physical side is deterministic, the cause and effect relationship applies, and thus logic applies. Everything on the quantum side is non-deterministic, and thus free will applies. If the quantum realm did not exist, we would in essence be robots bound to strict computational decisions, i.e. run the program and out comes the result as a computer does.
This is a topic for another discussion however the non-existence of freewill does not at all necessitate the above conclusion, and again is an erroneous application of the brain/computer analogy. But in the context of this discussion I would assert, even strongly assert that the brain/computer analogy must be discarded, it is entirely invalid.

Where did it come from, that is, by what mechanisms did it evolve?


I assume you mean the quantum state?
No, I meant consciousness, what is it that is transmitting it. (I'm thinking I missed something here)
Consider the EPR experiment. In a realm where communication is instant across any distance, there is no time. To have a beginning you have to have time. For with out time one thing cannot proceed another. There is no cause and effect, one thing cannot come from a previous thing, there thus can not be any evolution. There is no change and thus no growth.
If consciousness does exist in the quantum state, it could not evolve with out the physical to interact with.
I'm sorry I do not get this, it seems to me you're saying we can't exist.
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