On 13 Sep 2005, at 11:17, georgelburgess wrote (to Lee?) :
I tend to think that consciousness is related to an instinctive (automated) ability to bet or anticipate on a reality. Somehow consciousness is unconscious science, beginning usually with the discovery of the planet MAMMY and the planet DADDY. Its role is that it makes possible to highly complex entity to build an efficacious high level description of a world-view, and this makes possible for that complex entity to make decision with incomplete knowledge and many (anj infinity) default assumptions. The net result is a self-speeding up ability relatively to the most probable (comp-)history. I think this has been made indispensable for self-locomotion, if only to anticipate possible (but not actual) collisions with the anticipated neighborhood.
Now this makes consciousness quite close to the logician notion of consistency (more or less equivalent with the existence of logician "models" or "mathematical realities". It can be shown that a machine can speed up itself by infering its consistency. The first to see this is Godel, in his "lenght of proof" paper you can find in the bible by Davis 1965:
DAVIS M. (ed.), 1965, The Undecidable, Raven Press, Hewlett, New York.
If you read Hobson physiological theory of dreams, they are reasons to think that the trigger of that anticipating phenomenon could be associate with the cerebral stem, the cortex would do the anticipation and the claustrum would integrate it and makes coherent the available information. But since one or two years I am accumulating evidence, mainly through the "placebo effect" that similar anticipation could already be implemented at the chemical level.
Here is the last paper I found, in the journal of neuroscience of this week:
Endogenous Opiates and the Placebo Effect(*)
Now, some materialist could take the theory of consciousness, I have sketched above, as a theory which does not need anything non-physical. But I would like to insist that this is not the case. If we really take seriously such an explanation of consciousness, then, looking at the detail, it makes the notion of "matter" very hard. I will not develop this here, but it is the entire content of a "theorem in theoretical cognitive science" I got, and allude to in many posts (see my url or the everything mailing list:
Nevertheless, note that this theory of consciousness is locally very coherent with Darwinism. It is obvious that an ability to genuinely anticipate the probable neighborhood will enhance survival, especially for moving animals. It is just provably incoherent with the idea of some temporal or dynamical substance.
Self-consciousness appears logically after consciousness, when the entity begin to bet on a stable distinction between itself and the neighborhood. This helps for better avoidance of the possible collision.
(*)Jon-Kar Zubieta, Joshua A. Bueller, Lisa R. Jackson, David J. Scott, Yanjun Xu, Robert A. Koeppe, Thomas E. Nichols, and Christian S. Stohler
(see pages 7754-7762)
Much to the chagrin of drug designers and sometimes to the benefit of patients, placebos can have powerful effects on medical management. This week, Zubieta et al. add to the evidence that the placebo effect on the subjective assessment of pain involves the endogenous opioid system. During a pain challenge, volunteer subjects were given an intravenous injection that they were led to believe might have analgesic properties. The painful stimulus, the infusion of a few milliliters of hypertonic saline into a jaw muscle, was adjusted to maintain constant pain intensity and to prevent tissue swelling. The authors used positron emission tomography in combination with a µ-opioid receptor-selective radiotracer to examine the brain regions activated and the contribution of µ-opioid receptors. The placebo induced activation in the rostral anterior cingulate, dorsolateral frontal cortex, insular cortex, and nucleus accumbens in parallel with lower ratings of pain intensity.