On 17 Jul 2013, at 02:16, Pierz wrote:

I pretty much agree with you Jason. The materialist simply posits that the conciousness of a person (or conscious being) represents a static track through the 4d block universe, misperceived as changing due to something about the way the brain processes. What this account fails to explain however is the moment "now", or rather why I am at this moment now rather than another or all at once. This is the same as saying that it fails to account for subjectivity, because from a purely objective point of view -ie one that does not take into account any observer's experience - there is no problem. From outside of the experience of any individual observer, there are just bodies moving/behaving in space-time. Materialists/scientists are so accustomed to seeing the world from this abstracted perspective that they don't see any particular problem with this elimination of the subject. But in making this move, it has already removed consciousness from the reality it attempts to explain. A true theory of everything would need to explain the mysteries of I- ness (why am I me and not someone else) and now-ness (why am I now rather than somewhen else). The whole conflict between materialists and sundry others who can't accept a purely material world view seems to come down to how comfortable a person is with eliminating the conscious subject's experience from their account of the world. It's not a matter of wishful thinking or stupidity, as some materialists seem to imply - it comes down to a deep suspicion that the manoeuvre to eliminate 'I' and 'now' is philosophically illegitimate. Note that even Bruno's comp does this with time - there is no representation in the model of the 'current moment'


or why there is an illusion of a current moment or of change over time.

Not OK. "current moment" is treated indexically, and thus in the math part with the recursion fixed point theorem. And "why illusion?" is explained in the term of beliefs, knowledge, etc. This is done in AUDA, and is only apparent in UDA, although I might be biased by the familiarity with AUDA (the number interview).

And though I frequently find Craig's Weinberg's ideas woolly and unconvincing, I do agree with him that the qualia are still deeply mysterious in comp, that they arise "for no reason at all" except that we have observed that they exist, so we postulate that they are "somehow" the inside view of a computation.

The qualia are defined by the sensible non communicable truth that machine can access, and they do play a role notably on what experiences get the highest measure, or in accelerating decision procedure. Again, that's in AUDA, and so it needs some more definitions than in UDA.

Comp explains 100% of matter (in principle), and 99, 9998 % or qualia, as it can explains why some part of what is a qualia cannot be explained nor defined (perhaps the raw consciousness, but this is not yet justified and I am far from sure).


On Saturday, July 13, 2013 12:49:20 PM UTC+10, Jason wrote:

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


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. 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.


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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