On Fri, Jul 12, 2013 at 2:37 PM, <luizfelipecs...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi,
> My name is Luiz Felipe, I am 38 years old, Brazilian, graduated
> in engineering and i am crazy about science and philosophy.

Welcome to the list Luiz.

> Recently, after reading and watching documentaries about general
> relativity and the problem of consciousness, I made
> a structured reflectionon on **a 4 pages "paper" . I' ve
> already referred this "paper" for a science-list(egroups) in
> Brazil , where there are some members with good knowledge of general
> relativity. So far, none of them know how to stand in relation to what I
> wrote.
> Thus, I am sending this "paper" to this list (i already sent this paper to
> Alberto Corona), in order to know if I made any mistake in understanding
> general relativity; specifically on the concepts of block universe and the
> flow of time, and it's consequences.
> Thanks for the attention, and sorry about my english :-) !
> Best Regards!
> Luiz Felipe
> Summary: This study aims to analyze the philosophical (materialists,
> dualists and idealists) explanation of consciousness and its consistency
> with a major current physical theory: General Relativity.
>  *
> *
> *1. Introduction*
> The problem of consciousness today occupies one of the most important
> points to be clarified by philosophy and science. By its nature, there is
> no consensus among both philosophical, as in science, with respect to its
> explanation.
> The main philosophical position today are : materialistic, where
> consciousness is explained as a result of neural processes (is the basis
> for scientific research on consciousness) or as an illusion generated by
> brain processes (deniers); dualistic, which considers consciousness
> independently of matter and which postulates that consciousness is a
> fundamental entity of the universe (as fundamental as space-time and
> matter) and idealist, who believes consciousness as the basis of all
> physical existence.

I think functionalism (or more specifically, computationalism) is the
currently leading theory of mind among cognitive scientists and
philosophers.  It is neither a materialistic, eliminativist, dualist, nor
idealist conception of mind.

>  *2. Theories of Relativity*
> The Special Theory of Relativity “break”s the objective flow of time.
> According Belizário (2001) "The idea is that the" flow "of time is
> different for different observers." With that, according to Einstein
> himself, the distinction between past, present and future is a persistent
> illusion, a illusion, that comes from our perception, which curiously
> depends on our consciousness.
> According Damour (2010) "General relativity has opened the door to an even
> deeper twist of the ordinary concept of time. However, the most popular
> treatments of science have a tendency, when speaking of General Relativity
> (GR), and especially when describing relativistic cosmological models
> (inflation, Big Bang), to use language that suggests that the GR
> reintroduces the notion of temporal flow, which had been abolished in
> Special Relativity.
> Far from it. The GR space-time is as timeless as the Especial Relativity.
> The Big Bang should not be referred as the birth of the universe and its
> creation "ex nihilo" but as one of the possible limits of a strongly
> deformed (and timeless ) block of space-time. "

I agree that relativity requires block time to be consistent.  See
http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/2408/ for a good argument.

>  *3. General Theory of Relativity and the Philosophical Currents of
> Awareness*
> The materialists consider consciousness as a result of neural processes.
> The possibility of consciousness as a result of one or more processes in
> the brain has as an implicit assumption (necessary condition), the physical
> existence of the flow of time. Because if the flow of time does not
> physically exist, then we have no existence of physical processes and,
> consequently, we have no conscious being "produced"; emerging from this
> processes.

I don't think materialism requires block time.  The experience of the flow
of time for any person in the universe would be invariant no matter how
fast time flowed (assuming it does).  Even if it didn't flow at all, that
would not change how people behaved throughout the 4-d existence, and thus
since their behavior is the same, their reports and experiences would
necessarily be the same as well.

> From the above, we can conclude that:
> 1) The "materialistic hypothesis" of consciousness is fully consistent
> with the "*Newtonian Universe."* A universe in construction, where the
> existence of processes is required, and the physical existence of the flow
> of time allows these processes to occur.
>  So, in a *“Newtonian Universe”*, where space and time are absolute, and
> the flow of time is a physical reality, the explanation of consciousness as
> a result of a process, adheres to this reality, but if the flow of time
> doesn’t exist (physically), so we have no processes and therefore we have
> no consciousness being "produced"; emerging from these processes.

If you are not familiar with it, Bruno's Origin of Physical Laws and
Sensations paper (
http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/~marchal/publications/SANE2004MARCHAL.htm ) shows
how consciousness emerges from number relations (which do not change, and
hence are equivalent to a block-time existence).  Bruno is a regular
contributor to this list and will happily answer any questions you have
regarding his theory.

>  2) If we accept the premise that the GR is correct about the lack of the
> flow of time, then all philosophical position that hypothesize
> consciousness as a result of one or more neural processes, should be
> compulsorily incorrect, because it is premised on a reality incompatible
> with the reality described by GR.

I think the assumption that a process requires preceding states of that
process to cease to exist may be in error.

>  In this case, we have only two hypotheses to explain the phenomenon of
> consciousness. The idealistic and dualistic (discussed below).
And functionalist.

> The dualistic hypothesis of David Chalemrs consider consciousness as a
> basic entity, wich does not interfere in the matter.
> Occam's Razor warns us not to multiply entities of a model than is
> necessary. However, since GR (assuming, as a premise, that the GR is
> correct about the lack of the flow of time, and about the "Block Universe")
> explains the material universe, but is not sufficient to explain the
> conscious experience (which allows us to experience the flow of time), it
> becomes legitimate to postulate another entity, so that we can have a model
> that can deal not only with the description in the third person of our
> physical universe, but also with own first-person experience (awareness),
> which leads to the perception of time flow.
I agree that our brain generates the experience of the flow of time.  There
are even several cases of brain damaged people who are unable to experience
motion: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akinetopsia

> Thus, if we postulate that consciousness is another fundamental entity in
> our universe, which may, through an unknown mechanism, interacting with the
> "Einstein Universe " without interfering in it, we have as a result, a
> hypothesis of awareness that is compatible with the reality described by
> GR, which also explains why we perceive the flow of time and changes along
> the "Block Universe".

Any three dimensional evolving unvierse can be considered as a four
dimensional static universe, without making any difference to the people
inside the universe.  I think block time may be a red herring in trying to
derive any conclusions about consciousness.

> In this case, we can think of consciousness and its relation to the "Block
> Universe", similar to a video game, game, and set the HD plus Reader. Just
> as the game exists as a whole, together with the HD, and its sequencing is
> the result of the interaction of the reader with HD, we can consider that
> the spacetime contains the whole of our history (and in a sense, our
> immortality), and assume that the illusion of the flow of time refers to
> the stream of consciousness "through" space-time, this flow allows us to
> experience our story sequentially and always forward in time.

The direction of our experience through time is explained by the arrow of
time.  Useful work can only be accomplished in one direction of the arrow
of time, and storing bits requires energy according to the Von
Neumann-Landauer limit (
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landauer%27s_principle )

> This modified Chalmers Hypotheses maintains compatibility with the GR: how
> we have to give up totally, our free will, compatibility with GR is assured
> since all our past, present and future are already determined.
>  Sean Carroll, in a article “The Flow of Time” says that *“Modern physics
> suggests that we can look at the entire history of the universe as a single
> four-dimensional thing. That includes our own personal path through it,
> which defines our **world line <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_line>**
> . This seemingly conflicts with our intuitive idea that we exist at a
> moment, and move through time. Of course there is no real conflict — just
> two different ways of looking at the same thing. There is a
> four-dimensional universe that includes all of our world line, from birth
> to death, once and for all; and each moment along that world line defines
> an instantaneous person with the perception that they are growing older,
> advancing through time.”*
> Notice that i don’t deny Seans claim (in what I am proposing), that every
> time we are aware of the "present moment" plus "moments earlier" The
> problem is: what makes us walk through these moments, so we constantly forward
> in time.
> His argument doesn’t  addresses this question, and brings another problem:
> as he considers the existence of instantaneous awareness, consciousness -
> through a "materialist" explanation – is no longer the result of a brain
> process, and become a state. Because even with nothing happening (impulses
> coming and going), consciousness is still there. Even with frozen time!
> But if the illusion of time flow of time is the result of the flow of
> consciousness through a “frozen” space-time, them we can satisfactory
> explain the instantaneous awareness, and our movement forward in time.
What if each conscious state is also stuck in each present moment?  Then
there may be no flow of either time or consciousness.

>  *Conclusion*
> Whereas, as a premise, that the GR is correct about the physics lack of
> flow of time, then the whole “materialist” explanation of consciousness is
> necessarily wrong, due to incompatibility between the physical reality in
> which it’s need to be in order to be correct, and the reality described by
> GR.

Although I disagree with materialism I do not see block time as an
insurmountable problem for materialism.

>  The price to pay to have an dualistic explanation for consciousness is
> the total absence of free will.
I do not see how free will evaporates just because one chooses to view an
evolving 3 dimensional structure as a static 4 dimensional structure.
Especially if you already considered the evolution of that 3d structure to
be deterministic.  See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compatibilism

I hope I did not overwhelm you with things to read.  I find your ideas
interesting and look forward future discussions with you.


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