Addressing the Physicalist Delirium

Discussions about the possibility of consciousness, free will, spirits, deities, religions and so on, and how these might interact with time travel, the Big Bang, many worlds and so on.

Addressing the Physicalist Delirium

Postby SteveKlinko » Sat Nov 17, 2018 4:34 pm

The Physicalists on this and various other forums complain about three basic statements that I have made. They seem to show an emotionalism in their replies that reveals a hidden frustration with their inability to address the statements in any coherent way. They are getting more and more Delirious. They are self appointed Guardians of the knowledge base of Science but that knowledge base is empty with regard to questions about Consciousness. They will not admit that there is Zero Scientific understanding of Consciousness so they resort to Insults and other Diversionary tactics that only reveal their ignorance. If Science cannot deal with Something then that Something can only be Supernatural or Religious in their way of thinking. They therefore need to make that Something go away rather than trying to study it more and come up with a Scientific Explanation. This necessarily implies that they think that Science has obtained all the knowledge that it will ever obtain. But this is not the Science that I know. I have been taught and expect that Science is discovering New Phenomena all the time. Here are the three statements that annoy the Physicalists to the point of mental breakdown:

1) Science has Zero, I repeat Zero, understanding with regard to Consciousness.
2) Conscious experiences are in a whole different Category of Phenomena than any known Scientific Category of Phenomena.
3) The Conscious experience of Pain can give an Organism or Animal a statistical Evolutionary survival advantage that can affect the Evolution of that Organism or Animal.

As for the first statement, the Physicalists say things like: The Neural Activity IS the Conscious Activity and then they say that Explains it, end of discussion. This is Naïve and Shallow beyond all reasonableness. It isn't even a good Scientific guess. It is Pure Belief. It's so bad I have to think the Physicalists are not really serious when they say things like this but are just messing with me. They think that Measuring Neural Activity IS the same thing as Measuring the Conscious Activity. They are Measuring the Neural Correlates of Conscious experience not the Conscious experience itself. They treat the actual Conscious experience as if it did not even exist. I can not understand how they get to this point in their Physicalist delirium. To perpetuate the Physicalist Belief they must Deny the actual existence of the Conscious experience. The Conscious experience of something like the Redness of Red is a Self Evident reality of the Universe, and they deny it. The Conscious experience of Redness is something that Science cannot Explain. The Self evident reality of it is that it exists only in the Mind. They know the Redness exists in the Mind because they See it too but still they must deny this Self Evident Phenomenon of Consciousness because if it did exist Science would have to Explain it. But Science cannot Explain it at this point in time.

The second statement points out how the Physicalists might come to understand that Science doesn't have any Knowledge of what Conscious experience could be. If Conscious experience could be found to be in any known Category of Scientific Phenomena then Science would have had a lot to say about Consciousness by now. Instead we get Silence. Conscious experience is in a Category all by itself and this new Category of Phenomena has not been integrated into the Scientific knowledge base yet. Science does not know what to do with this Category of Phenomena. Since Science does not know what to do with this Category of Conscious Phenomena the Physicalists say it is Supernatural or Religious. It's neither of these, it's simply not understood yet. Don't be afraid you little Physicalists those scary Conscious experiences will not hurt you.

I think the third statement is completely sensible from even the most basic understanding of Evolutionary mechanisms. The Physicalists completely oppose this statement however. I don't know how they can justify thinking that the Conscious experience of Pain will not actually increase the statistical Evolutionary survival advantage for an Organism or Animal and thus influence Evolutionary outcomes for an Organism or Animal. And it is not just Pain but all the multitudes of other Conscious experiences that exist in the Universe. I suppose the opposition to this is because it admits the existence of Conscious experience which they Deny. So because they have to Deny Conscious experience they must Deny a basic premise of Evolution. They say that Evolutionary literature does not mention Conscious experience so therefore the Conscious experience of Pain cannot influence Evolutionary outcomes. This takes Shallow thinking and fear of what's outside the Box to extremes. I'll go so far as to say that if Evolutionary literature does not take into account Conscious experience then Evolutionary literature needs a Big Update.
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Re: Addressing the Physicalist Delirium

Postby Teragon » Wed Dec 11, 2019 8:59 pm

SteveKlinko wrote:
1) Science has Zero, I repeat Zero, understanding with regard to Consciousness.
2) Conscious experiences are in a whole different Category of Phenomena than any known Scientific Category of Phenomena.


True. Science, as it is accepted today, can only ever obtain how-knowledge. It is formulated in mathematical language, which can describe relationships between things, how things behave, interact and evolve, but is incapable, even in principle, to obtain knowledge about qualia and the nature of things, which is actually the deeper level of knowledge. Consciousness is the only thing we have direct access to - it is the only thing that we can recognize as real without any doubt. How-knowledge, on the other hand, depends on thoughts and can only obtain model status. Ideally, it is self-consistent, but ultimately it is grounded on assumptions that are either circular, or cannot be proven by its own means. Still it's good to have it.

It would be important to build our scientific understanding on the most certain things, which are all aspects of conscious experience. So scientistis would have to go "inward" first, which means getting in touch with the reality of direct experience rather then perceiving everything through the glasses of cultural conditioning, believe systems, prejudice, emotions and ego-defense mechanisms. The problem is that the metaphysical paradigm of materialism and rationalism forbids to even consider that. This paradigm is in no way based on the scientific evidence. The assumption that there is an unconscious universe out there can never be verified or falsified - not even in principle. The assumption that conscious experience is unreal is even clearly wrong. Ironically, if materialists were to follow their own dogma consequently, they'd have to question it, as it consists of thoughts, which consist of consciousness. Which is generally a good thing to do. Thoughts are real, but not necessarily true, which is a big difference. So materialism and rationalism are not scientific theories or testable hypotheses, but pure believes, which frames all the how-knowledge that we have and forces most of us to deny everything that should be obvious, but is impossible according to the paradigm. The implications are not just abstract, but it turns the situation completely inside out: The world doesn't reside within consciousness anymore, but consciousness appears localized in an external world and this puts us into a metaphysical crisis on the level of our personal lives, even if we distract ourselves from it through entertainment and consumption. I still cannot explain to myself, what's to point of all this self-deception and how it could maintain itself even among the most intelligent and scientifically-minded people.

SteveKlinko wrote:
3) The Conscious experience of Pain can give an Organism or Animal a statistical Evolutionary survival advantage that can affect the Evolution of that Organism or Animal.


I disagree with that one. A robot doesn't need consciousness in order to do its best. This would be a confusion of experiential and behavioural level, which you critized above. I think, consciousness is redundant for explaining evolution on the how-level, except that the whole process of evolution doesn't make any sense without it.
What is deep in our world is superficial in higher dimensions.
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Re: Addressing the Physicalist Delirium

Postby quickfur » Mon Apr 27, 2020 11:00 pm

It's not unknown that Science today (I write it with capital S to distinguish it from real science, with lowercase s) has become a faith-based institution where your research better conform to whatever the current accepted dogma is, otherwise you'll be outcast as what amounts to a heretic, lose your research grants, be unable to publish, and basically be forced to either acquiesce to the dogma or choose another career. Even though for the most part scientific advances are evidence-based, there remains a core of inviolate beliefs that cannot be questioned because The Consensus says so. The ideal that science is supposed to be 100% evidence based is, in practice, not quite so. History has proven again and again that many true ideas were rejected at first, and those who dared to propose them were derided and even actively persecuted just like religionists deride whom they perceive to be heretics. It took a huge amount of risk, boldness, and stubbornness on the part of the researchers, and not a small amount of circumstantial advantage (like having supporting funding from an independent source to keep them going when everyone else is rejecting them) before the new ideas were accepted as actually correct.

The current Scientific Establishment is such that in order to make any real progress, you must conduct Research, and to conduct Research you must receive Funding, but to receive Funding you must hold Approved Views because nobody wants to fund what The Consensus has condemned as crackpot, pseudo-scientific, or whatever the current favorite label is. Without Funding, you cannot do research, or even if you can, you can never Publish, because no respectable journal would dare publish something that The Consensus will reject, because then they would lose their Reputation and therefore, their readership, their livelihood. On the flip side, research that confirms the current popular theory will be generated in large volumes: it is easier to start your career along an Approved Path, because it's easier to receive Funding, easier to Publish, and therefore a large amount of Confirming Research will be published which strengthens the current popular theory, which in turns colors the views of the Editors, who gatekeep the journals. It's a vicious feedback cycle that amplifies human bias into an establishment that affirms itself and rejects contrary evidence and ideas that might undermine its status.

Real advances come not from this kind of self-serving confirming research, but from contrary ideas that are perceived as "crazy", "wild", "pseudoscientific", etc., that after a long fight against the establishment turn out to be true after all.
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Re: Addressing the Physicalist Delirium

Postby steelpillow » Wed Jun 07, 2023 9:06 am

I agree with the OP here.

The physicalists tend to be positivists (e.g. Stephen Hawking). They refuse anything that cannot in principle be observed and measured. But that presupposes you already have a conscious observer. Moreover, the principle of positivism is just another such assumption; it too can be neither observed au naturel or measured. The fact that our personal stream of conscious experiences is the raw material from which we construct our ideas of physicalism and positivism, is also a fine irony.

On evolution, it is something of a tautology that every feature of the brain is honed to give it the best chance of survival; brains lacking such features tend to die out. Pain is just one of many such features. To argue sensibly against your observation would require careful explanation as to why pain is present in spite of Darwinian evolution, rather than because of it. For example, talking of robots shows a confusion between survival of the individual doing their best and survival of the species which evolves to be the best.
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Re: Addressing the Physicalist Delirium

Postby wendy » Thu Jun 08, 2023 7:43 am

It has been 'Metaphysics' (ie the book appended to the Physics books') for a long time, and i suppose it is still so.

Physicists are still looking at the fine grain of the universe. We still don't understand what makes gravity works. Instead we have competing models of the GR/SR theories, verses Gravito-EM theory. In short, Physic still used the blind watch maker model, partly because various intrests might push a sight watchmaker as proof of this god or that. There is no working data that is repeatable, that the soul survives after death, etc. To be sure, there is date here, but we can not recreate the circumstances to prove it.

In the sense that 'life' is not an experimentally repeatable process, it is not science. But this does not mean that animals and plants might have emotions etc. There are people who are atuned to these things, and levels of communitation exist. It is more due to some misshapen belief that people can only see 'dumb animals', but people talk of 'animal whisperes', the levels of communications are not shared at a general language level like that of foreigners. It's a matter of believing that communication is happening.

However, this does not stop critical thought on the matter. Wm Poundstone's book "The recursive universe" deals with Conway's life, which is known exactly at finite level, and yet provides a vibrant ecosystem of life forms higher up. Then based on that life has a finite and similar number of intevals, we have books like 'Secret of the Gods', which applies life-like intervals to every organised structure. But not much is repeatable, and does not fall under science.
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Re: Addressing the Physicalist Delirium

Postby steelpillow » Thu Feb 29, 2024 12:44 pm

The fundamental issue is that science treats an "observation" as an objective physical record of some event. Other scientists may then make their own physical records and compare them. But there is no objective physical record of a subjective experience, there are only subjective descriptions. This makes it inaccessible to science. David Chalmers has famously labelled this "The Hard Problem" in the theory of mind.
There are many things science cannot see, such as Higgs bosons; we infer their existence by correlating physical records of other things.
We can do the same for consciousness, by correlating those subjective reports of inner experience, following up on where they do or do not occur. For example science can say that it is not the nerve signals themselves, but rather the patterns of signalling, the meanings of the signals, which are associated with consciousness.
Modern neuroscience is showing that even quite high levels of cognitive understanding take place at the unconscious level and our conscious minds tend to get informed of things after the event, rather like an executive dashboard on the MD's computer. A typical example of this is the way that signals for sound, vision and touch get processed out of sync, and then assembled into a unified experience before appearing in our consciousness.
It is not the physical brain which is conscious, but only certain of the information flowing within it.
At this point, science must grind to a halt and leave the subjective qualities of that information as inaccessible as ever,
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