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Science as we know it can't explain consciousness – but a revolution is coming

Mind is matter

The starting point of philosopher Bertrand Rusell and scientist Arthur Eddington was that physical science doesn't really explain what matter it.

Physics is confined to tell us about the behavior of matter. It can't tell us about the intrinsic nature of matter - what matter is in and of itself. For example, saying that matter has mass and charge, is explaining the behavior of matter.

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Science as we know it can't explain consciousness – but a revolution is coming

Science as we know it can't explain consciousness – but a revolution is coming

https://theconversation.com/science-as-we-know-it-cant-explain-consciousness-but-a-revolution-is-coming-126143

theconversation.com

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Key Ideas

The mystery of consciousness

We have made advances in understanding how the brain works and how it affects human behavior. But no one is able to explain how all this results in feelings, emotions, and experiences.

There is a view that conventional scientific methods will never be able to answer these questions. But an alternative view may provide some insight that may be able to give an understanding.

Consciousness: A unique scientific problem

For much of the 20th century, consciousness was not a serious topic for "serious science." That has changed. The problem of consciousness is a scientific dilemma.

For one, consciousness is unobservable. We know consciousness exists through our immediate awareness of our own feelings and experiences. But you can't look in the head of someone else to see their feelings and experiences.

Using observation for an unobservable issue

When we are dealing with data, we can do experiments to test whether what we observe matches the hypothesis. But we are dealing with the unobservable data of consciousness.

The best scientists can do is to correlate unobservable experiences with observable processes. For example, the feeling of hunger is associated with visible activity in the brain's hypothalamus.

But collecting correlations does not explain why conscious experiences correspond with brain activity.

The wrong framework for understanding consciousness

We should not be surprised that our standard scientific method struggles to deal with consciousness. Modern science was designed to exclude consciousness.

Galileo Galilei, the father of modern science, wanted a purely quantitative science of the physical world, and he proposed that qualities such as colors and smells were outside the domain of science.

As long as we work within this framework, we can only establish a correlation without the ability to provide an explanation.

Mind is matter

The starting point of philosopher Bertrand Rusell and scientist Arthur Eddington was that physical science doesn't really explain what matter it.

Physics is confined to tell us about the behavior of matter. It can't tell us about the intrinsic nature of matter - what matter is in and of itself. For example, saying that matter has mass and charge, is explaining the behavior of matter.

Panpsychism

Panpsychism is the view that consciousness is a fundamental quality of the physical world. The "new" panpsychism is void of the mystical connotations of previous forms of the view. It describes matter from two perspectives.

  • Physical science describes matter "from the outside" in terms of its behavior.
  • Matter "from the inside" comprises of forms of consciousness.

Panpsychism: the most straightforward consciousness theory

Panpsychism is the most straightforward theory of how consciousness fits into our scientific story. The view that mind is matter means that even elementary particles show necessary forms of consciousness.

Consciousness can vary in complexity. The conscious experience of a horse is less than a person. The conscious experience of a rabbit is less than a horse. As organisms become simpler, at a point, consciousness suddenly switches off, or maybe it just fades but never disappears completely.

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Science providing anwers

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Despite the advances in science over the past century, our understanding of nature is still limited. Scientists still don't know what the vast majority of the universe is made up of or how cons...

Mysterian arguments

"Mysterian" thinkers give an important role to biological arguments and analogies.

Late philosopher Jerry Fodor argued that there are bound to be thoughts we are unable to think. Similarly, philosopher Colin McGinn claimed that all minds suffer from "cognitive closure" about particular problems. Just as animals will never understand prime numbers, so human brains are unable to consider some of the world's wonders.

Mysterians and pessimism

Mysterians present the question of cognitive limits in fixed terms: either we can solve a problem, or we will never be able to.

A possibility that eludes mysterians is one of slowly diminishing returns. We keep slowing down, even as we exert more effort, and there is no point where progress becomes impossible.

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Artificial Intelligence: Singularity and Virtual Immortality

Artificial Intelligence: Singularity and Virtual Immortality

The growth of technology and Artificial Intelligence(AI) is on track to provide us with:

  • Singularity: A merging of human intelligence and AI, resulting in Superstro...

Inner Awareness and AI

... or self-awareness is something many scientists and philosophers are discussing. The fact that there is consciousness inside us, is a big problem for those developing AI, as no matter what they do, and how technologically superior the product is, nobody can explain or even fathom the juggernaut of consciousness.

Qualia: Experiencing Sensations

Qualia relates to the raw sensations of experience, like colours, smells, sounds.

It is through our actual experience that we know what something tastes, looks or smells like, and it is not some information already drilled inside our brains on birth. We have to experience sensations to understand them.

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The Mind And The Body

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Neuroscience says our brain has 86 billion neurons, linked in various ways, making trillions of connections. These neuron connections are getting converted into electrical signals, making a network...

Dualism: Ghost In The Machine

The mind-body paradox, also called the mind-body problem by philosophers, can be understood if we take our human mind as a non-physical entity, outside the physical world of the body and the brain itself.

The mind, with all its feelings and experiences, exists as a spiritual phenomenon and controls the body like a drone pilot controls the drone. This view is known as Dualism.

The Materialist Way

Science has done a great job observing, dissecting and manipulating physical materials (matter) and seems to think the materialist method is the best way to go for the mysteries of the brain. It does not take a good view of the dualism theory, where the soul (residing in our brain) controls the body.

The problem is that by only studying the matter, science has always excluded and neglected consciousness.

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