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Asmodeus
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17 Jul 2010, 2:00 pm

Exclavius wrote:
Robdemanc wrote:
I think consciousness is something we will never understand completely. Because if we did it would be a contradiction. The very act of understanding our consciousness will extend that consciousness, so we would then need to understand that we understand our consciousness.......and so on. (or something like that perhaps)


I see where you're coming from... But I'm going to an analogy here to help explain a tidbit.

1. You know.
2. I know that you know
3. You know that I know that you know
4. I know that you know that I know that you know.
5. You know that I know that you know that I know that you know.

There is no redundancy in that line of reasoning until you hit #5.

So, what you're saying about consciousness expanding once it's it understood, and thus needing to be re-understood, that is COMPLETELY true. But it is not an infinite regress. It does end.

It is in fact this problems:
1. I understand (all humans, all primates, many other animals)
2. I understand that I understand (almost every human, likely no other animal)
3. I understand that I understand that I understand. (maybe a very few humans)
(4 would be the beginning of redundancy, imo, here)

And this is the entry point to where I see free will emerging.
Hitting that point where further understanding does not increases knowledge is the point where control begins.

Taking an old religious concept "To know someone's true name is to have control over them"
and actually, I think this topic could well be the origin of that statement, as I see a lot of reason to believe that most religions' god's as being symbolic of the then "unobtainable understanding of the inner self" even if it was considered then to be external... what they are describing is the "self" the ultimate in consciousness... the path free will... which was implied to be evil... (Adam & Eve, tree of knowledge, gaining free will from eating of it... etc etc.)

I can understand your problem with memetics, Asmodeus. It's hard to accept because there is no physical meme... per se. Though I do see it is a physical thing, that actually exists.

A computer analogy would be that Hardware is physical, and software isn't.
but the software once entered does become a series of 1's and 0's as an electrical charge.. so it is real and physical. Just as ideas/memes are in our brains. And that is why Dawkin's virus analogy to the meme is so apt.

The core of what i'm saying has another implication of free will that I haven't mentioned.
Free will is not, nor will it ever be, something that someone can be born with.
It is only something that they can achieve by deep inner thought and learning.

Dang, I gotta get ready for work, hopefully I'll post more on this tonight.

I just don't readily adopt the memetic explanation because it can't be tested. We could both come up with memetic explanations of any number of things, and it would get us no further than (already discarded) Freudian notions (in the search toward an evidence-based explanation of consciousness), and they'd all be different. I've yet to see memetics come up with predictions, and though I'd like to use it as a tool to understand consciousness, probably by proxy to testable ideas, it doesn't currently seem to hold any more scientific weight than mysticism.

Is there any means of testing it, making it predict, or if failing those, logically fit with parts of reality in a strict manner (ie not open to interpretation, solid unto itself)?



greenblue
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17 Jul 2010, 4:42 pm

skafather84 wrote:
I just go with solipsism. When in doubt: I'm the only thing that's really real.

That's not true, I'm the only one who is real, the rest of you may be chatbots on this virtual reality created from my mind.


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Exclavius
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17 Jul 2010, 5:51 pm

Asmodeus wrote:
I just don't readily adopt the memetic explanation because it can't be tested. We could both come up with memetic explanations of any number of things, and it would get us no further than (already discarded) Freudian notions (in the search toward an evidence-based explanation of consciousness), and they'd all be different. I've yet to see memetics come up with predictions, and though I'd like to use it as a tool to understand consciousness, probably by proxy to testable ideas, it doesn't currently seem to hold any more scientific weight than mysticism.

Is there any means of testing it, making it predict, or if failing those, logically fit with parts of reality in a strict manner (ie not open to interpretation, solid unto itself)?


I'm gonna get quite a bit off topic here, but as I share your fascination with the concept of "self" and "consciousness" I feel impelled to defend memetics a bit here, as it is the most useful tool I've yet found in understanding the concepts. Evo-Psych and Soc-bio just don't cut it, and tend to create more questions than they answer.

As far as testing it, for the most part it would take way too long to run the test, without many generations to do it.
Though, it would require far less generations to test than say evolution.

Yet, there are theoretical reasons it cannot be completely tested, because the direction, as in evolution is not fixed, it is random.

I think any testing that can come of it will be anecdotal. There will be illustrations where changes do follow the way that memeticists predict.

Here's one example, which I hope doesn't insult some people, because it's not intended to.
Homosexuality will essentially disappear from humanity... And faster where there is a) more horizontal transmission of memes (ie, peer to peer, as opposed to parent to offspring) and b) where freedom of choice is seen as a virtue as opposed to a vice. and c) There is a genetic basis to one's propensity for homosexuality
Here's the memetic reasoning for it:
IF homosexuality is a genetic mutation that evolution has not yet managed to fix (due to memetic driving) which is my contention (as well as Susan Blackmore's) Then, because the memes present in society today do not make it a death sentence to practice it, so there will be memetic pressure to bring people "out of the closet" and live fulfilling homosexual lives. This will radically reduce the number of children born to homosexual parents, thus reducing the prevalence of the contributing gene in the gene pool. It would also predict that this decline will be more substantial in the male population than in the female population.

Blackmore does have a chapter or section on ways that could be used to "test" memetics, granted it's not like measuring distances and calculating mass changes and such.. it's much more subjective due to the fact that although replicator memes do have sufficient "fidelity, fecundity & longevity" the trade-off between fidelity and fecundity have been drastically shifted in favour of fecundity, at the expense of fidelity, compared to something such as say, biological evolution. Scientific memes still boast great fidelity though, as most are contained more in digital or digital-like mediums such as books, computers etc. social memes are purely analogue and thus lack in fidelity... And thus are far more prone to variation and mutation.

Sadly, my copy of "the Meme Machine" is out on loan to a friend at the moment, so I can grab citations and some of the ways she suggested to test it.

Memetics can shed light on things that Socio-biology and evolutionary psychology can't touch. I do not claim that that makes it real, because religion used to falsely hold that claim on science. Even if one is not able to accept it as real, it is still a very good explanatory tool.
But... even Newton's laws are not "real" they are just explanatory tools, that help us understand general relativity, which in turn is also not real, and just explanatory tools to help us understand whatever we replace it with.

To be able to better grasp, and better accept Memetics, it does help if one is familiar with emergence theory.

Another way to approach proof, would be by proxy.
If you can't test the reality and existence of a meme... you CAN test for the effect of memetic driving (of genetic evolution) Genetic changes are testable.

You can look at changes in humans over evolutionary time frames, and how ideas preceded changes in physiology.

Regarding your comment on the analogy to mysticism. I do understand where you come from on this one. However there is a difference, for the most part mysticism is just evoked without a sub-explanation. Memetics, when invoked, doesn't suffice, it still needs the description of the process by which it works. Mysticism by nature denies the ability to make that sub-explanation.

I think i'll close this post here, and go back on topic with another post. I apologize to anyone who resents this diversion.



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17 Jul 2010, 7:18 pm

Okay, more on Robdemanc's comments about consciousness never being able to be fully understood.

By understanding we change what we know.
By understanding that we understand things... (ie, we gain "consciousness") the very nature of workings of the brain that understands is changed.

What exactly IS that change that occurs?
Well, what it is, is the "emergence of consciousness" from the complexity of that which allows us to understand it... as well as that which we understand.
It is simply a property of the understanding.

But what happens when we Understand how we understand that we understand things?
That TOO creates a change in what we know as consciousness, as well as the brain that understand and understands that it understands.
What is THIS? This is the "emergence of free will" This, isn't hardwired, as I said in my last on-topic post, it's learned.
If we know HOW we understand things, we can then change our understanding.
Thus we can change the way in which our brain understands a given external stimulus.
By changing the understanding we control what our internal reactions to the external stimulus would be.

Thus as I've said in a much earlier, we cannot decide to commit murder. We can only decide to be the kind of person who WOULD commit murder.

In reality, this is kinda like "free will light" or "Primitive Free Will" or "Indirect Free Will"

Direct or Full free will may or may not emerge from free will, just as free will [emerged/is emerging/will emerge] from consciousness. I don't see the process by which this could happen though, but I am open to possibility. I am pretty sure it would require "memetic driving" of the genes to accomplish it. That is to say that the brain would have to change radically.... And this "primitive free will" would have to become hard wired into our brains... Which I don't see possible...

The question at this point, is can anything emerge from free will?
If so, then Robdemanc is right, than "consciousness is something that we will never understand" because understanding changes it.
This isn't much different than Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. Observation changes the object of observation. It's almost a converse of the law. Maybe I'll coin it to the Robdemanc-Exclavius' Principle? :oops:
"Understanding changes observer, thus understanding oneself is an infinite progress"
We can understand consciousness as it is now. But we cannot understand what that understanding will do it consciousness until after it has happened.

I want to thank you Robdemanc for what you said... It was a concept that I had not considered until now. And it is a concept that I feel has to be included in any theory of the issue. It's integral to anything involving Emergence Theory.

My concern though, and I suspect Asmodeus' as well, is what is our consciousness as it is now?
Who and What are we? How are we what we are? Is who we are just a property of what we are? My answer to the last is yes... but that that property takes on a life of it's own... just as the first, and simplest ideas that mankind ever spread took on a life of their own.
To me, the concept of "life" needs to be redefined.
I think that there need to be classes to what we refer to as life. And by classifying it as such, humans DO become "special" as much as I hate to use that word, because right now, they and a small handful of other earth-life forms are a life on the second tier. Symbiotic life of a factor 1. We live in symbiosis with a living set of ideas or meme-life.

The third ... Symbiotic life of a factor 2.... I don't think I'm there yet. I don't think any mankind is there yet, save for perhaps some of the greatest Zen Masters who may only be there without realizing that they are.

I believe that on the day that I can "at will purge all cognitive dissonance resultant from an idea which I reject" that I can say I possess free will, and have reached SLF2. Humans can resolve dissonance, but it takes years for serious issues. And it usually takes external stimulus to bring it about, either by psychoanalysis, drugs, or social interaction. Free Will, if it has emerged, in my opinion would mean that such tasks were near instantaneous. Developing coping mechanisms COULD be considered a form of free will, at an even lower level than what I'm discussing here. Those techniques do allow us to change the way we react to stimulus by affecting changes in the internal apparatus.

Will those who acquire free will (which presumably will be those who have a higher propensity genetically to be able and likely to achieve that level) be either a) more likely to reproduce; or b) more likely to be copied by others? The first provides a direct genetic evolutionary path to take over the gene pool, that later takes the memetic approach to driving evolution to the same ends.
There are definite advantages, memetically and biologically to having the ability to understand, communicate that understanding so that others will understand it, and to having an awareness that you exist (consciousness)
I don't know that I can actually see a biological advantage to free will.
Any minor memetic advantages to free will are outweighed by more strong disadvantages. I don't see anything further emerging... at least not in the environment in which we now live.
That environment WILL change though, either by destruction or expansion. What then?

Again i'm off-topic, though it's hard to stay on topic when my own fascination with this topic is so wide-spread.
At least I'm not going into Penrose's theory of Quantum Consciousness.



Asmodeus
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18 Jul 2010, 11:54 am

Exclavius wrote:
Okay, more on Robdemanc's comments about consciousness never being able to be fully understood.

By understanding we change what we know.
By understanding that we understand things... (ie, we gain "consciousness") the very nature of workings of the brain that understands is changed.

What exactly IS that change that occurs?
Well, what it is, is the "emergence of consciousness" from the complexity of that which allows us to understand it... as well as that which we understand.
It is simply a property of the understanding.

But what happens when we Understand how we understand that we understand things?
That TOO creates a change in what we know as consciousness, as well as the brain that understand and understands that it understands.
What is THIS? This is the "emergence of free will" This, isn't hardwired, as I said in my last on-topic post, it's learned.
If we know HOW we understand things, we can then change our understanding.
Thus we can change the way in which our brain understands a given external stimulus.
By changing the understanding we control what our internal reactions to the external stimulus would be.

Thus as I've said in a much earlier, we cannot decide to commit murder. We can only decide to be the kind of person who WOULD commit murder.

In reality, this is kinda like "free will light" or "Primitive Free Will" or "Indirect Free Will"

I suppose you could call it that, in the sense that people have come to call it free will, even though regardless of it's complexity or how much it "recurs back on itself", it is still completely determined by initial conditions, and if one was able to analyse with enough resources, you could predict what a person was going to do, invariably, just like an engine or similar, only more complex.

Exclavius wrote:
Direct or Full free will may or may not emerge from free will, just as free will [emerged/is emerging/will emerge] from consciousness. I don't see the process by which this could happen though, but I am open to possibility. I am pretty sure it would require "memetic driving" of the genes to accomplish it. That is to say that the brain would have to change radically.... And this "primitive free will" would have to become hard wired into our brains... Which I don't see possible...

This is where assumptions begin to be made. I don't believe this could happen (and realise the irony of this being where I am adding my own, but I'll continue :) ).

Being self-aware does not translate into breaking the laws of physics that control what we are made of and how it progresses through time, nor does it lead to a point where they can be broken. However, I believe one has dominion over lower dimensions (and this is as close as I could get, even though it involves practically "becoming god" lol)

Consider this. We can use objects; we have limited control over a 3 dimensional body, and through it other 3d objects, in the context of moving through the 4th dimension. If we go up a dimension (somehow, and if we can generalise like this to dimensions), we would view time as a static object, or set of objects, and may feasibly be able to manipulate them, without the constraints of (our) physics. However in this condition we would then simply be subject to another set of physical laws, and so still would not have free will.

But that's how Heisenberg comes into this. By theorising in this manner we're artificially putting ourselves in this situation, does that enable us to break out of these rules, or is it still leave us within our deterministic frame, only in posession of a better understanding of it?

In regard to the homosexuality example, this is precisely what the intpretation problem I described is. Although your explanation works within the rules of the theory, so does the explanation that family/reproduction memes will simply mutate to adjust to the change in environment, namely:

Homosexuality becomes socially acceptable,
Homosexuals, as any other citizen, may wish to care for children when they come of age. (homosexuality genes and those that govern parenthood are unrelated)
This is no different to other citizens that cannot normally conceive (failed reproductive organs, etc.)
Therefore homosexuality stops having any effect on gene transmission, and homosexuals either have a surrogate parent or mix genes (sperm-sperm/egg-egg/cell-cell IVF).

There. I think in regard to horizontal transmission of moral and ethical memes, this would fit, even though it's the opposite of the explanation you gave.

You're talking about evolutionary (and memetic evolutionary) advantages to having free will. I'm saying it doesn't exist in the first place, regardless. It's a ghost in the machine thing, a construction to attempt to understand, not a trait. Though consciousness does exist, as I attest by experiencing it, though it cannot yet be evidenced or reproduced using evidence.

Defend memetics. I am undecided, I have used it as a lense sometimes, but do not yet use it as a tool to discover new phenomena, and I'd like to as soon as I see it fit for that purpose.


I believe to go further into memetics, a further, seperate thread should be made to explore it, as not to dilue this thread out of interest in the subject, though I welcome more memetic explanations that relate to consciousness.