A Place for Consciousness

by Gregg Rosenberg, read in 2005

ix Four good questions:
....“(1) Why should the intrinsic properties of a physical system be experiential?
....(2) Why do they exist above the level of the microphysical, where large-scale cognitive systems might experience macrolevel intrinsic content?
....(3) Why should they form a unity of the kind we are acquainted with in consciousness? and
....(4) Why should phenomenal content, as the intrinsic content of the physical, correspond so closely to the information structure within the brain?"
10 A terse summary of Rosenberg’s model.
28 Lee Smolin: “…the world is not made of stuff, but of [information] processes.”
38 Information: something an ideal knower could discover.
42 Implication of defining ‘physical’
42 Entailment requires “interpretive and conceptual resources”. Isn’t that equivalent to requiring mind? Why not consider mind to be fundamental. Then you would meet this requirement and you would need nothing else fundamental.
43 Semantics of thought vs. theories. Sounds to me like this makes a good argument for considering thought as primal.
48 Conclusion that formalism must be devoid of meaning.
50 His “entailment” is necessarily based on concepts. Thus I maintain that something like a conscious mind is required for those concepts.
50 It is true that this “treatment” does not require any “new empirical information” but it does require a mind in order to include concepts.
50 He doesn’t define the “one” which “has the concept”.
50 The “ontological innocence of entailment is [not] clear”. What’s missing is the equivalent of a mind which holds the concepts.
67 Definition of ‘possible’. Loosely, ‘possible’ ~ ‘consistent’.
68 Quine is the originator of holism.
71 Quine: Meaning requires all of language and experience.
72 Bell’s Theorem compared to anti-physicalist arguments.
73 Searles: “The background”. I think it is unwarranted to assume that the intuition comes solely from living in the world.
78 “The problem of consciousness is to understand why it exists; and what difference it makes, if any, to the natural order of things.”
78 I agree with Thomas Nagel that our present conceptions maybe radically inadequate”.
89 Rosenberg has the same objection to Shannon’s ‘information’ as I do.
96 “…even if some kind of panexperientialism is true, we should not naively assume that every perceptual or conceptual individual, such as a thermostat or a rock or a film plate, has experiences. Large-scale, enduring, coherent experiencers may be extremely rare.”
96 ‘Panpsychism’ is a misnomer.
110 Rosenberg is worried about legitimate concerns which I think my proposal dispels.
113 Summary argument that fundamental laws probably don’t tie consciousness to cognition. This is consistent with my “PC” view.
115 The unity of consciousness paradox. My answer: there is only one consciousness. The problem is to understand the multiplexing mechanism.
117 “The challenge of unity: A good theory should enable a more precise and clear articulation of what the unity of consciousness is. It should give voice to our unarticulated intuitions in such a way that we recognize them.”
117 A functional system is not a composite system.
117 “Nature does not know about the existence of implicit reference systems against which one can define a functional role for things.” This is an unwarranted assumption I think is false.
117 “…functional explanation cannot provide an explanation of consciousness by itself, perhaps it may still play an essential role in solving certain problems.” Yes. Just as in the radio analogy.
120 He dismisses quantum randomness as a counterexample of causal closure of physics.
121 “How can we explain the peculiar familiarity we have with our own feelings?” My answer: Because “we” are identically one with the only “thing” that can feel.
121 Why is interactionism so implausible? Radio should be equally implausible.
125 “Functional objects are defined relative to a canonical reference system by the causal role they play within that system.” How is that canon established? It seems to me that same consciousness is required either to establish the canon or to notice it and take advantage of it in case it is emergent.
125 How can “semantics” be meaningful without consciousness?
130 3. is a definition. No such thing exists. 3 does not imply 4.
132 “The conceptual scheme that gives meaning to “father” incorporates the idea as a truth-condition.” Is the pun intended?
133 I agree. It takes consciousness to have a pattern.
133 The statement begs questions of the existence of consciousness at several levels: “conceptual”, “questions”, “should”, “meanings”.
138 This statement either assumes that epistemic agents are sets of events or the term “veiled” is undefined in this context.
141 My PC hypothesis answers all 6 listed problems.
143 QM: “a description of coevolving fields”.
144 Two-paragraph summary of QM.
145 Reality as a map which helps us navigate. It needn’t completely represent nature. But since reality=nature, then reality needn’t be complete.
148 “…judgments of cause and effect seem like ways of characterizing certain striking patterns.”
150 EPR, Bell’s Theorem and Alain Aspect
150 Def. of ‘causal significance’.
150 “…causation [is] an operator on a space of possibility.”
150 Causation is analogous to grammar. It directs the flow of constraint. In my view, causation is either PC’s imagination (unconstrained) or PC’s inference (constrained by consistency) or possibly other.
152 “This theory of causal significance, the theory underlying the magic of the Canvas of Causation, will be a theory of symmetric and asymmetric state-constraint between individuals.”
152 This connotation of causal significance as the presence of constraint begs the nested “why” questions. Why does constraint arise for certain states? What is the mechanism? E.g. why can a rook not move diagonally on a chessboard? It is because it is the intention of the player to remain consistent with the rules. The answer, as well as a meaningful interpretation of the question, requires a conscious mind.
153 What “properties”?
153 What does he mean by “character”?
168 His notion of “receptive properties” is sort of like a byte of memory.
168 Def. ‘causal nexus’.
172 “Receptivity itself acts as the causal connection. Nature needs no other ontological grounding for the causal connection.” I think this can be interpreted as, The will of PC is the causal connection.
172 The possibility of a hierarchy of natural individuals.
175 How does Rosenberg propose that “relations of intrinsic compatibility, inclusion, and exclusion” get established? Or “placed”?
175 “placement” has the effect” Isn’t that causation at a more fundamental level?
177 Locke’s reasoning for the completeness of God.
178 Def. ‘natural individual’. Consistent with my view except that I say upward receptivity requires conscious attention while downward receptivity does not. To me, receptivity is analogous to radio reception.
188 Doesn’t the introduction of a “causal law” beg the question? What actually causes or enforces the restriction?
192 Summary of Rosenberg’s view of causation. Q: What constitutes the “space of possibility”? How is the “multiple constraint satisfaction problem posed? How do the constraints actually operate – i.e. what is the mechanism?
192 Oscillation.
194 The two kinds of determination are sort of like my upward and downward information.
205 Typo? In 2. shouldn’t “i” be “s”?
203 Emergence of irreducible effective properties.
205 The issue of the objective existence of possibility space (see 192). I think this is the same problem as the existence of a memory substrate in my hierarchical scheme.
207 “If possibilities were only fictions, then causal realism would be false. If causal realism were false, then, as argued against the Humean, there likely could be no unified world, and we could have no knowledge of the world. Therefore, causal realism is true, possibilities are not mere fictions, and actualism is false. Causation is an operator on a space of real possibilities.”
207 “The attempt to more deeply understand nature’s connection to its metaphysical background of possibility presents a rich vein of puzzles. In the end, one cannot pretend to understand the natural world fully without recognizing and understanding its relations to its seemingly nonnatural background of possibility.”
207 Rosenberg invites speculation – I’ll take him up on it.
215 Brian Cantwell Smith: “Distance is what there is no action at.”
218 Definitions of 12 concepts of the Theory of Causal Significance.
235 I Disagree. The essence depends on the intentions of the players. The properties and relations just help them keep track of the game’s status.
235 These “circular systems” are each essentially an implementation of a memory device for use by intentional player(s).
236 Yes! These are the levels of existence in my “transfer of omniscience”.
236 I think this is the problem of a memory mechanism for PC.
238 Consciousness is the perfect candidate as a carrier of physics.
240 Differences between human and PC’s consciousnesses.
241 “Experiencing itself carries receptivity.” “The Central Thesis: Things in the world are natural individuals if, and only if, they are capable of experiencing phenomenal individuals.” I think a better approach would be to think of natural individuals to be vehicles capable of being driven by another natural individual. Bulldozers seem to cause physical effects.
243 This seems to be a form of dualism.
244 Level zero individuals cannot experience.
245 Top level individuals do not experience.
246 “Experiential property ? Receptivity
..... Phenomenal qualities ? Effective properties
..... Experiencing of qualities ? Reception of effective constraint
..... Experiential nexus ? Causal nexus”
247 “…the causal nexus has three aspects: its effective dispositions, its receptive dispositions, and the carriers of this nomic content.”
247 “Physical theory specifies some constraints between the effective states of the basic natural individuals by describing the nomic regularities that hold between their instantiations.” … and Dr. Dick has derived those constraints from consistency.
248 Rosenberg’s hypothesis implies that consciousness developed along with the biological germ line for each organism beginning with a rudimentary capability of experiencing present at the origin of life forms. This sounds physicalist to me.
256 I think the labels are wrong in the diagram.
260 “How does the intimacy of acquaintance license the uttering of sentences?” Good question!
266 “specific structure of receptive connections” -- Sounds like a radio.
268 An explanation for 3 dimensions.
269 Summary of the case for receptivity.
269 Receptivity seems to me to be equivalent to “the ability to know”.
270 Good itemized list of features of receptivity. All seem to apply equally to PC.
273 It seems that music from a radio qualifies as “strongly emergent”.
274 The receptive carrier is not a persistent self.
276 Individuals as signaling devices.
276 the “structure of quality families” reachable by “operations” sounds like my dimensional level structure.
275 Many typos in this example.
281 “Consistency” may be the driving requirement of nature.
281 Rosenberg rules out Cartesian interactionism.
282 A construal of The Consciousness Hypothesis that seems consistent with my idea of mind-as-music: brain-as-radio.
284 Rosenberg’s view of the problem with Newtonian thought: that causation is physically specific rather than metaphysically general.
284 Ways in which Rosenberg’s theory is consistent with physics.
285 Rosenberg’s theory begs the question of the origin and cause of the set of rules, Lambda, which provide the constraints.
285 Natural individuals contain an information structure.
289 Temporal dimension as a construct.
289 The flow of time is in consciousness only.
289 “It would seem an odd dodge for a Liberal Naturalist championing the reduction of space and time to relations of causal significance to say that the flow of time is in experience but not in the physical world.” The problem is solved if there is only one experiencer.
289 Rosenberg’s S-time sounds exactly like my “cosmic time”, and I-time like my “Einstein time”, if you assume only a single experiencer.
295 Typo. I think MHz should be Hz.
299 “The duality of causal power is its division into effective constraints and the reception of these constraints.”

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