Dear David, (see below.. I left your original text here... ===================================================== > 4) Belief in 'magical emergence' .... qualitative novelty of a kind > utterly unrelated to the componentry.
Hi Colin I think there's a link here with the dialogue in the 'Asifism' thread between Bruno and me. I've been reading Galen Strawson's "Consciousness and its place in Nature", which has re-ignited some of the old hoo-hah over 'panpsychism', with the usual attendant embarrassment and name-calling. It motivated me to try to unpack the basic semantic components that are difficult to pin down in these debates, and for this reason tend to lead to mutual incomprehension. Strawson refers to the 'magical emergence' you mention, and what is in his view (and mine) the disanalogy of 'emergent' accounts of consciousness with, say, how 'liquidity' supervenes on molecular behaviour. So I started from the question: what would have to be the case at the 'component' level for such 'emergence' to make sense (and I'm aiming at the semantics here, not 'ultimate truth', whatever that might be). My answer is simply that for 'sensing' and 'acting' to 'emerge' (i.e. supervene on) some lower level, that lower level must itself 'sense' and 'act' (or 'grasp', a word that can carry the meaning of both). What sense does it make to say that, for example, sub-atomic particles, strings, or even Bruno's numbers, 'grasp' each other? Well, semantically, the alternative would be that they would shun and ignore each other, and we wouldn't get very far on that basis. They clearly seem to relate according to certain 'rules', but we're not so naive (are we?) as to suppose that these are actually 'laws' handily supplied from some 'external' domain. Since we're talking 'primitives here', then such relating, such mutual 'grasping', must just *be*. There's nothing wrong conceptually here, we always need an axiomatic base, the question is simply where to situate it, and semantically IMO the buck stops here or somewhere closely adjacent. The cool thing about this is, that if we start from such primitive 'grasping', then higher-level emergent forms of full sense-action can now emerge organically by (now entirely valid) analogy with purely action-related accounts such as liquidity, or for that matter, the emergence of living behaviour from 'dead matter'. And the obvious complexity of the relation between, say quantum mechanics and, say, the life cycle of the sphex wasp, should alert us to an equivalent complexity in the relationship between primitive 'grasp' and its fully qualitative (read: participatory) emergents - so please let's have no (oh-so-embarrassing) 'conscious electrons' here. Further, it shows us in what way 'software consciousness' is disanalogous with the evolved kind. A computer, or a rock for that matter, is of course also a natural emergent from primitive grasping, and this brings with it sense-action, but in the case of these objects more action than sense at the emergent level. The software level of description, however, is merely an imputation, supplied externally (i.e. by us) and imposed as an interpretation (one of infinitely many) on the fundamental grasped relations of the substrate components. By contrast, the brain (and here comes the research programme) must have evolved (crucially) to deploy a supremely complex set of 'mirroring' processes that is (per evolution) genuinely emergent from the primitive 'grasp' of the component level. >From this comes (possibly) the coolest consequence of these semantics: our intrinsic 'grasp' of our own motivation (i.e. will, whether 'free' or not), our participative qualitative modalities, the relation of our suffering to subsequent action, and so forth, emerge as indeed 'something like' the primitive roots from which they inherit these characteristics. This is *real* emergence, not magical, and at one stroke demolishes epiphenomenalism, zombies, uploading fantasies and all the other illusory consequences of confusing the 'external world' (i.e. a projection) with the participatory one in which we are included. =========================================== Methinks you 'get it'. You are far more eloquent than I am, but we talk of the same thing.. Liquidity is to H2O as <<<???>>> is to consciousness (qualia) where I identify <<<???>>> as a "necessary primitive" and comment that 'computation' or 'information' or 'complexity' have only the vaguest of an arm waving grip on any claim to such a specific role. Such is the 'magical emergence' genre. I have a viable candidate for the 'necessary primitive' of the kind you seek. Note that regardless of what anyone's suggestion for such a thing might be, the process of declaring it valid must arise in the form of (as you intuit above) an axiom. That is, it must come in the form of a statement such as X = "It is a fundamental principle of the natural world that <<< such and such a thing>> is the ultimate necessary primitive state of affairs that must be the case for consciousness to a) deliver a faculty of observation at all and then b) for biological delivery that, when observing its own processes delivering observation, looks like brain material when that it is happening and NOT when it isn't" This is the generic form of the kind of 'fundamental principle' that Chalmers called for in his 1996 book. You cannot escape the reality of some form of X, regardless of <<<such and such a thing>>. In terms of X: liquidity is to H2O as The property X is to consciousness (qualia) Such a statement, in one fell swoop, eliminates the circularity/self-fulfilment of the magical emergence kind...that which I have been at pains to point out (dialog with Russel) is inherent at multiple levels in the 'computationalist' or 'eliminativist' or 'functionalist' or 'representationalist' flavours of magical emergence. A principle of the kind X must exist or we wouldn't be having this discussion. There is no way to characterise explanation through magical emergence that enables empirical testing. Not even in principle. They are impotent at all prediction. You adopt the position and the whole job is done and is a matter of belief = NOT SCIENCE. Remaining at the 'meta' level of general discussion of statements of the kind X, we can make a couple of important observations: 1) X must be consistent with all empirical (neuroscience/cognitive) evidence. 2) X must at least in principle be able to make verifiable novel predictions of the natural world critically dependent on X being the case. If it cannot do this then it is not viable. If it can make even ONE then it is a better proposition than magical emergence. Note there is a unique character to X that is unlike anything science has ever encountered. Direct evidence for X is not any specific observation. It is the cause of the mere possibility of any observation at all. As I have said in previous posts.... "that which is seen (contents of consciousness) is our traditional demanded source of explicit scientific evidence. However..."Seeing" (any observation/consciousness at all) is intrinsic/implicit evidence of the existence of circumstances that necessarily exist or no explicit observation would exist. Every explicit act of scientific observation also delivers implicit evidence of an ability to observe. In other words evidence of the lack of qualia is the failure to observe. The only third party verifyable circumstance where failure to observe can be counted as evidence is in the failure of the scientific act. Hence my insistence that science and the scientific act be the evidentiary circumstances of a viable empirical science directed at proving X. Other than this strangeness (scientists themselves are evidence), the process is just like any other scientific process. Business as usual. If Galen Strawson is setting fire to the magical emergence camp....GOOD! I have an X proposition that delivers what looks like panpsychism, but isn't actually....well... if X is a principle that applies universally (something that exists at all spatial scales... inherent in the whole universe) and is intrinsic, logically unavoidable and implicit...then does that count as panpsychism? I don't know. Frankly I don't care!...X is a member of the class "Law of Physics". Where it fits philosophically is someone else's problem. Not such characterisation has any impact on the empirical work... and I am fiendishly empirical to the bitter end... Before I re-deliver my X... I'd like to leave the discussion at the META-X level (about any X or about all possible Xs)....over to you.... cheers colin hales --~--~---------~--~----~------------~-------~--~----~ You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Everything List" group. 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