Home > Meeting Topics and Material > Weekly QUEST Discussion Topics Mar 14th

Weekly QUEST Discussion Topics Mar 14th

There are two inter-related topics for this week. On Thursday afternoon we have a call with Prof John Searle and in preparation for that call we want to discuss his position from his paper on the Puzzle of Consciousness – “The implication is that we can never explain to other people the subjective nature of any conscious experience, only its relation to other ones” – we might add it relation to other conscious experience to us. Meaning derives from the linkages among these representations with others spread throughout the cortical system in a vast associational network, similar to a dictionary or a relational database … Chalmers proposes that the introduction of “experience” as a fundamental new feature of the world, relating to the ability of an organism to process information… Despite this irreducibility, detailed and useful theories relate these entities to one another in terms of fundamental laws … As a consequence, scientists introduced electromagnetic charge as a new fundamental entity and studied the associated fundamental laws. Similar reasoning should be applied to consciousness … Where there is a fundamental property, there are fundamental laws. In this case, the laws must relate experience to elements of physical theory. These laws will almost certainly not interfere with those of the physical world; it seems that the latter form a closed system in their own right. Rather the laws will serve as a bridge, specifying how experience depends on underlying physical processes. It is this bridge that will cross the explanatory gap… there is no reason they should not be strongly constrained to account accurately for our own first-person experiences, as well as the evidence from subjects’ reports. If we find a theory that fits the data better than any other theory of equal simplicity, we will have good reason to accept it. Right now we do not have even a single theory that fits the data …
Theory of Consciousness: THE ULTIMATE GOAL of a theory of consciousness is a simple and elegant set of fundamental laws, analogous to the fundamental laws of physics. The principles described above are unlikely to be fundamental, however. Rather they seem to be high-level psychophysical laws, analogous to macroscopic principles in physics such as those of thermodynamics or kinematics. What might the underlying fundamental laws be? No one really knows, …
Example tenet/Laws –
• Consistent/Useful Qualia representation – Structural coherence:

consider the structure present in the conscious experience. The experience of a field of vision, for example, is a constantly changing mosaic of colors, shapes and patterns and as such has a detailed geometric structure. The fact that we can describe this structure, reach out in the direction of many of its components and perform other actions that depend on it suggests that the structure corresponds directly to that of the information made available in the brain through the neural processes of objective awareness…underlying concept as a principle of structural coherence: the structure of conscious experience is mirrored by the structure of information in awareness, and vice versa
• principle of organizational invariance. It holds that physical systems with the same abstract organization will give rise to the same kind of conscious experience, no matter what they are made of …

• Information – We can also find information embodied in conscious experience. The pattern of color patches in a visual field, for example, can be seen as analogous to that of the pixels covering a display screen. Intriguingly, it turns out that we find the same information states embedded in conscious experience and in underlying physical processes in the brain… A NATURAL HYPOTHESIS ensues. Perhaps information, or at least some information, has two basic aspects: a physical one and an experiential one. This hypothesis has the status of a fundamental principle that might underlie the relation between physical processes and experience. Wherever we find conscious experience, it exists as one aspect of an information state, the other aspect of which is embedded in a physical process in the brain …

• We could add the material from the framework of Crick/Koch :

• Conscious of your thoughts – or of the sensory playback of them – imagination quale attached –

• 2.) zombie mode feedforward – bidrectional in the conscious mode? CASE?

• 3.) coalitions – plausible narratives?

• 4.) explicit representations – I think CASE has this? Explicit representation of concepts?

• 5.) high levels first? Rapidly up – might evoke a zombie mode

• 6.) driving / modulating classes

• 7.) snapshots – ‘motion’ painted on them? Are there characteristics in case that are ‘linked’ to other concepts – like motion is to an arbitrary object?

• 8.) what forms of attention – TD/BU? Seems to me CASE has BU only?

• We could add the QUEST tenets – see attached

• We could add the Morsella tenets –

• In accord with the integration consensus, phenomenal states allow information from diverse sources to interact in order to produce adaptive action.

• 2. In contrast to the integration consensus, SIT proposes that there are relatively few kinds of information that require conscious interaction, because many kinds of information can interact unconsciously.

• 3. Phenomenal states are required for the outputs of different supramodular response systems to interact. These systems are agentic, multimodal, information-processing structures defined, not in terms of their sensory inputs, but in terms of their concerns

• 4. Interactive processes occurring among modules within response systems can be unconscious, but interactive processes across systems require conscious processing.

• 5. As predicted by PRISM, in contrast to unconscious systems and processes, the response tendencies of response systems may conflict with skeletal muscle plans.

• 6. As described by the notion of chronic engagement, the outputs of the response systems incessantly modulate the phenomenal field, regardless of whether there is conflict.

• 7. Without phenomenal states, the outputs of the different systems would be encapsulated and incapable of collectively influencing action.

• We could add the Ramachandran tenets –

• Continuity – unbroken thread (with ‘feeling’ of past, present and future) – cohesive narrative (non-causal – time is a quale)

• Unity – diversity of sensory data BUT ‘experiences’, memories, beliefs and thoughts are experienced as one person – as a unity

• Embodiment – mind is embodied and body is embedded, ‘feel’ anchored in our body (idea that you can’t model a priori all that will be encountered and form sensory experiences will take)

• Sense of free will – ‘feel’ in charge of our actions, I can wiggle my finger (recently thinking link sets may offset a lot of what appears to be free will)

• Reflection – ‘aware’ of itself (places ‘self’ in world model)

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