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solution to the hard problem of consciousness

Besides explaining the (non-absolute) privacy of qualia, Crick and Koch also offer an excellent account of the apparently monadic nature of qualia. Am. 15, 5–18. In other words, the causal effects of the network described above are supposedly identical to the causal effects of our consciousness (that is why we can report most of the aspects of the content of our consciousness). Psychol. 83, 435–450. So, the structure of such set of relationships could be seen as a structure of the corresponding quale. 49–50). Perhaps such device could locate the essential nodes that correspond to the most important unconscious associations of some quale (the ones with the strongest influence on the planning modules). Russellian Monism A Solution to the Hard Problem of Consciousness Philip Goff. (Nagel (1974, p. 440) himself also claims that “[t]he subjective character of the experience of a person deaf and blind from birth is not accessible to me, for example, nor presumably is mine to him.” Similarly, Jackson (1986) argues (and many agree) that a person who spends all her life in a black-and-white environment, even if she is a skilled and well educated neuroscientist, could never know what is it like to see red. One seemingly substantial difference between the views of Pereboom and Crick and Koch is that (Pereboom(2011, p. 14) suggests that phenomenal properties might not actually have any qualitative nature, while Crick and Koch are explicitly realists about qualia and their qualitative nature while denying simply that qualia are fundamentally qualitative. It seems that an idea of a human consciousness that has a structure of a bat’s consciousness is simply inconsistent because the identity of human consciousness depends of its having a structure of human consciousness (at least if we accept the fully structural account of consciousness defended in this paper). An excellent example of that kind of neurobiological description of human beings has been put forward by Crick and Koch (1998), Koch (2004). The hard problem is why is it that all that processing should be accompanied by this movie at all. It is clear that the philosophically relevant ignorance in the theory of Crick and Koch is not scientific ignorance, but an ignorance of individual human beings. Boston: Little, Brown. For example, when I have a visual perception of a red apple, I have a direct epistemic access to many structural features of my visual experience: the size and shape of the perceived apple, for instance. So, the typical framework behind the non-structural view about consciousness would look something like this: Substantial building blocks of consciousness, namely the qualia, are connected by numerous complex relations and forming numerous complex structures. It has been often argued in Wittgensteinian or Quinean fashion that the concept of private object is philosophically highly problematic because absolutely private objects could have no role in language or in any of our theories. It also answers the question of why is there something “it is like to be” conscious: if “qualia are simply those properties that characterize conscious states according to what it is like to have them,” as (Chalmers (2003, p. 135) puts it, then neuroscientifically intelligible structural account of qualia is also neuroscientifically intelligible structural account of why there is something it is like to be conscious. doi: 10.1073/pnas.95.24.14529. Philos. I will argue that we have a good reason to believe that consciousness is in fact analyzable in fully structural terms and that contemporary neuroscience can offer us a partly speculative, but nevertheless plausible idea about the nature and origin of that structural phenomenon. According to Crick and Koch, the structure of such reddish color experience (or the meaning of that experience) is a vast network of unconscious associations of all the countless encounters with red objects in that person’s personal history and of personal histories of her ancestors, embodied in her genes (Crick and Koch, 1998; Koch, 2004, pp. Strawson, G. (2006). Varela, F. J. (2007). However, only a relatively small minority of the proponents of scientific object structuralism believe that structure and relations are actually all there is. Finally, I would like to consider how the framework I have suggested relates to some of the well-known arguments and thought experiments used to illustrate the problematic hardness of the hard problem. To sum up, my strategy is based on a simple idea, a conditional, which I believe to be undeniable: If a phenomenon is analyzable in fully structural terms, then explaining the origin and nature of the structure of that phenomenon amounts to explaining the origin and nature of the phenomenon itself. Why might we need quantum physics to solve the hard problem of consciousness? “Consciousness and its place in nature,” in The Blackwell Guide to Philosophy of Mind, eds S. Stich and F. Warfield (Oxford: Blackwell), 102–142. (A Laconic Exposition of) a method by which the internal compositional features of qualitative experience can be made evident to subjective awareness. What Mary didn’t know. In other words, my aim is to present the theory of Crick and Koch as a coarse and hypothetical but fully structural description of a natural phenomenon that would be recognized at the same time as a description of phenomenal consciousness and a description of certain neural activity. (1988). Also, almost everyone would agree that the composed sound is somehow phenomenally richer than any of its individual overtones and that this richness can be perceived as well before as after one learns to hear the overtones in the composed sound. A fully structural account (in the sense that it does not contain any irreducibly non-structural elements) of consciousness and qualia together with a speculative, but plausible theory of how such structure is actually (identical to) the structure of a certain neural activity pattern is, in my understanding, nothing less than a solution to the hard problem. Quantum entanglement and a metaphysics of relations. The most common ways to introduce the hard problem are intuitively appealing but rather obscure in meaning. However, systems described by He believes that the structure of consciousness will be found in the brains once we discover and learn to monitor the proper level of organization of the neural activity – in any other level we would find only the neural correlates of consciousness (NCC). The solution is that all of those itty-bitty pieces of us, the atoms and molecules, contain within them a sort of proto-consciousness. Structural qualia: a solution to the hard problem of consciousness. An individual consciousness as a whole would be hence some kind of structured bundle of qualia. The question of the hard problem of consciousness is how the brain generates experience. The only way I could imagine this to happen, is if someone demonstrated that at least some of the perfectly ordinary objects of natural sciences have such irreducibly non-structural properties whose existence can be experimentally verified and is also philosophically unproblematic. It has been argued that all the objects of empirical sciences can be fully analyzed in structural terms but that consciousness is (or has) something over and above its structure. 34–35). Shortly, zombies and inverted qualia would not be ideally positively conceivable. Russell, B. Author information: (1)Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies, University of Helsinki Helsinki, Finland. Those theories could be, in principle, interpreted so that the structure of an individual quale is the structure of the network of all the similarity and dissimilarity relations the quale has with other qualia. The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory. And that question could be, hopefully, eventually answered by the combined efforts of neurobiology, evolutionary neuroscience, cognitive science and possibly some other empirical disciplines. Mind, Brain and the Quantum. Philos. In order to understand the qualitative difference between woody and stony in terms of the internal structures of those materials, we would have to enter some finer-grained level – for example to the one in which we find the structures of single molecules. Dennett, D. (1991). The supposed privacy and ineffability of qualia has made theories about them vulnerable to philosophical arguments based on the largely supported view that the nature of language and meaning is essentially public and intersubjective. Even if we could turn a person’s neural structure into a neural structure of a bat, we would have simply turned a human consciousness that does not know what is it like to be a bat into a bat’s consciousness that “knows” what is it like to be a bat. of some simple neural events. Fortunately, in this particular case the mere feeling (or an intuition) seems to be all the evidence we need. The hard problem of consciousness has been often claimed to be unsolvable by the methods of traditional empirical sciences. Qualia are typically considered to be private to the one experiencing them and ineffable by nature. Since the formulation of the hard problem I am using (the formulation, according to which it is the tension between the three above presented theses) is not a typical one, perhaps a few words should be said about it before proceeding. Biol. Balduzzi, D., and Tononi, G. (2009). We may say that if objective knowledge is in some sense an abstract phenomenon, then subjective knowledge is, according to the neurobiological view adopted in this paper, always some very concrete neural structure located in someone’s brain. However, most of the attempts to analyze consciousness in fully structural terms have ended up eliminating or simply ignoring certain (qualitative) aspects of consciousness whose existence is considered as absolutely obvious by many. The proposed solution in the context of mammalian consciousness suggests that a shared resonance is what allows different parts of the brain to achieve a phase transition in the speed and bandwidth of information flows between the constituent parts. Later philosophers such as Dennett started from the idea that the physical sciences give us a complete picture of reality, which consciousness must somehow be squeezed into. To sum up, according to the framework introduced by Crick and Koch, qualia are highly complex and perfectly public structural-relational properties of some cognitive systems, even though those systems themselves perceive them as monadic and private. The hard problem of consciousness is a problem of how physical processes in the brain give rise to the subjective experiences of the mind and of the world. Since the hypothesis presented above contains an idea according to which people are ignorant of the fundamental (structural) nature of their qualia, it has some superficial resemblance to the so called epistemic view or ignorance hypothesis, put forward by Stoljar (2006). There's no hard problem of consciousness for the same reason there's no hard problem of life: consciousness is just a high-level word that we use to refer to lots of detailed processes, and it doesn't mean anything in addition to those processes. Namely, it would be logically inconsistent to hold that some fully structural phenomenon could be somehow different or even absent in an occasion where its structure is present. Two conceptions of the physical. Hutto, D., and Myin, E. (2013). It is often claimed, by referring to the famous article of Nagel (1974), that any amount of objective knowledge about, say, a bat’s brain can never contain the knowledge of what is it like to be a bat (in other words, what is the exact qualitative character of a bat’s consciousness). Therefore I do not attempt to put forward any fully developed arguments for the philosophical plausibility of the hypothesis of Crick and Koch in this section, but merely to consider the possible nature of the impact of their theory, should it be approximately true, to the philosophical debate about the issue. There seems to be no deep philosophical mystery about an idea of a cognitive system that has certain information about some of its inner states, but lacks the ability to communicate that information to others. Cortex 8, 97–107. Therefore he is convinced that the only solution to the hard problem is to endorse some sort of ontological dualism, most preferably a form of property dualism. Instead of trying to solve the hard problem with reductionism or dualism, idealism throws out all that and states that consciousness is the very core of existence. The rhetorical reason is the following: the formulation I have chosen summarizes nicely some central ideas about the hardness of the hard problem. The hard problem is, accordingly, a problem of the existence of certain properties or aspects of consciousness which cannot be analyzed in terms of functions. In order to understand the situation in phenomenal terms it would be perhaps better to think of the so called unconscious associations not as absolutely unconscious, but as vaguely conscious (perhaps as a “tip of a tongue” kind of conscious – conscious without a quale but with an ability to recognize the missing quale instantly, should it pop up, as “the right one”). In other words, all our knowledge about them is limited to the relations they have with other objects (and eventually to us). To avoid confusion, it should be recognized that the main idea and strategy of Crick and Koch are actually very different from the one of Stoljar. 18, 767–783. The hard problem of consciousness has been often claimed to be unsolvable by the methods of traditional empirical sciences. For my purposes it is actually enough to recognize the problem I have formulated as a philosophical problem that is related to the hard problem in a simple and straightforward way which I will specify below. I'm a philosopher working on the physics of Consciousness. doi: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199276196.001.0001, Lagerspetz, O. Among numerous supporters of very different forms of scientific object structuralism there are both defenders and critics of ontological dualism, and moreover, even though the position is often presented in the context of philosophy of mind (for example Russell, 1927; Chalmers, 1996; Seager, 2006), it has been also frequently put forward in a much broader contexts of philosophy of science and metaphysics (for example Shoemaker, 1994; Ladyman and Ross, 2007). Loading ... Hard Problem of Consciousness — David Chalmers - Duration: 9:19. In case of consciousness we are simply dealing with a cognitive system that is not capable of examining its own inner structure at the level where the qualitative properties of qualia are analyzable in structural terms. To defend this hypothesis, I will reconsider the notion of a physical object in terms of relative The hard problem of consciousness is the problem of explaining how we experience qualia or phenomenal experiences, such as seeing, hearing, and feeling, and knowing what they are. Chalmers, D. (2003). doi: 10.1093/0195306589.001.0001. Chalmers proposes candidates for an acceptable theory, but I find basic flaws in these. Sci. 35, 601–617. Psychol. A significant work toward that goal is already made. Namely, since we could, according to the hypothesis, actually never experience directly the full structure of any of our qualia, we could also never establish the identify between qualia and certain neural activity patterns with the same certainty we can establish identity between the macro-physical quality of woodiness and some microphysical properties of wood. If someone wants to reject my formulation on those grounds, she is welcomed to do so. What is it like to be a bat? Some proponents of epistemic structural realism argue that even though we cannot have any empirical evidence for the existence of non-structural fundamental relata, we have to assume their existence in order to make sense of the idea of there being any relations in the first place. Received: 09 January 2014; Accepted: 03 March 2014; Published online: 18 March 2014. It resolves the hard problem of consciousness. Inner Presence: Consciousness as a Biological Phenomenon. Also, almost every element of whichever structure can be arguably analyzed in terms of some finer-grain structure. Similarly, Chalmers (2003) rejects physicalism on the grounds that every physical phenomenon can be analyzed in terms of structure and dynamics, but that consciousness has certain properties or aspects which cannot be analyzed in such terms. Lockwood, M. (1989). Qualia: the geometry of integrated information. Cogn. 2, 200–219. That framework allows us to see qualia as something compositional with internal structures that fully determine their qualitative nature. Since all the essential nodes responsible for the explicit neural representations are (by the hypothesis) also connected to the planning modules of the brain, it means that the functional structure of the whole network of the explicit neural representations would actually be the functional structure of the corresponding consciousness. This is why consciousness is "up to us to define". Similarly, it has been claimed that it is ideally positively conceivable that someone physically and functionally identical to you or to me could have his or her qualia inverted: for example, in situations where I would experience the red quale, he or she would experience the green quale and vice versa. 13, 129–145. Once we become aware of the overtone structure, we get access to some (a tiny part) of that information. Shortly, according to my view, qualia can be analyzed in fully structural terms and identified with certain neural patterns. In other words, the question of why is there something it is like to be conscious is, according to Chalmers, the question of why qualia exist. There are several theories besides the one of Crick and Koch, for example Varela (1999), Baars (1988), Dehaene et al. The “Intrinsic Nature” argument for panpsychism. The above example is important, for it helps us understand intuitively why our qualia have so peculiarly specific natures. Sci. It has been also argued that there is a fundamental and irreducible difference between objective and subjective knowledge about consciousness. So, the two concepts of knowledge, the objective and the subjective, are indeed different, and even a perfect objective epistemic access to the structure of a certain consciousness would not guarantee us the subjective knowledge about that consciousness. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0931349100, Esfeld, M. (2004). Present-time consciousness. His position is sometimes referred to as causal essentialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press. J. Philos. If you look at the brain from the outside you see this extraordinary machine – an organ consisting of 84 billion neurons that fire in synchrony with each other. In this paper, I select three of the most influential theories of consciousness based on a literature survey, and ask whether their respective theoretical solutions to the Hard Problem are supported by empirical evidence from research on visual consciousness, and more broadly whether empirical evidence favours the any of these approaches. Arguably, the structure of such bundle could in principle turn out to be identical with a structure of a certain pattern of neural activity, which would be in principle accessible by methods of future neuroscience (even Chalmers, 1995, 2003, believes that the structure of consciousness is identical with some informational structure in our brains), but the qualitative properties of qualia could not. But Russell and Eddington start from the observation that while physics may be great at telling us what matter does, it doesn’t really tell us what it is. Oxford: Blackwell. I will argue that the threat of dualism can be avoided and the hard problem can be solved by accepting the first and the third theses while rejecting the second one. Those groups of neurons can be also called essential nodes (Koch, 2004, pp. Only that some of it – ie the stuff in brains – involves consciousness. Similarly, according to Balduzzi and Tononi (2009), each individual quale is a certain “shape” in a qualia space – a shape that embodies certain set of informational relationships. One of the main reasons for such systematic co-occurrences is, according to the hypothesis, the fact that all the essential nodes responsible for explicit representations are directly connected to the planning modules of the brain (the prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortices, in particular), where their projections can easily affect the behavior of the subject (Koch, 2004, p. 245). It is the problem of explaining why there is “something it is like” for a subject in conscious experience, why conscious mental states “light up” and directly appear to the subject. 13, 3–31. So it seems that the two views are actually in a substantial agreement, but I prefer qualia-realistic terminology of Crick and Koch for rhetorical reasons: we are so impressed by the undeniable and vivid presence of the qualia because qualia do exist and we have an immediate and direct cognitive access to them, although we do not have an immediate and direct cognitive access to their internal structures. And once that feeling is removed by the exercise described above, the corresponding belief should be abandoned as well. Conscious. As mentioned earlier, the approach of Crick and Koch is very naturalistic and rather unphilosophical. PLoS Comput. The peculiar phrase “embodied in her genes” means simply that not all the unconscious associations are formed during a person’s lifetime as a result of her interaction with the environment, but that some of them are innate: programmed by the evolution, so to speak. Namely, they hold that the existence of our immediate conscious experience is known to us directly and that we can also “see” that our consciousness is something over and above its structure – it is arguably something that has a structure, not something that merely is a structure. What is interesting is that once a person has learned to recognize the individual overtones of the sound, she also, in a sense, understands why the ensemble of these overtones sounds the way it does. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. In other words, they argue that there could be no relations without some fundamental relata (for example Esfeld, 2004). Two strategies are used to review the many efforts to solve (or resolve or dissolve) the Hard Problem. It seems rather obvious that if qualia can be analyzed fully in structural terms (as networks of unconscious associations) and if the structures of qualia are implemented by some patterns of neural activity, then any creature that is physically identical to a conscious human being would also have the exact same qualia as she does. We may hope that one day the entire structure of consciousness will be discovered in some patterns of neural activity and that the community of neuroscientists will then have a chance to study it. I am not going to speculate why he does not, but I think it is important to notice that even though the views of Pereboom and Crick and Koch are, as far as I can tell, fully compatible, the theory of Crick and Koch is much more experimental and naturalistic in spirit and much less philosophical. Of course, it should be recognized that the view I have proposed here is far from forced upon us by the evidence. According to my proposal, which is based mainly on the work of Francis Crick and Christof Koch (Crick and Koch, 1998; Koch, 2004), the components of qualia are unconscious associations and the structures of qualia are the structures of networks of these unconscious associations. Psychol., 18 March 2014 One of these, weak reductionism, is the view that while there is an epistemic hard problem of consciousness that will not be solved directly by scientific progress, this is due to our conceptualization, not an ontological gap. The Journal of consciousness is beginning to emerge generates experience Co. Ladyman,,... Follow many important metaphysical facts, including the non-physical nature of objects of natural sciences the conscious:! Over and above its structure and relations are actually all there is a legitimate formulation of the of. 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Cognitive tasks, J., Ross, D., and Myin, E. ( 2013 ) patterns. Claimed to be unsolvable by the methods of traditional empirical sciences discuss the question the... Not denying the obvious fact that structural patterns in nature, as mentioned earlier, the position stresses. ) and Professor Martine Nida-Rümelin ( a dualist ) along to serve as an alternative voice rather than.... Could achieve that goal is already made in meaning especially debunking arguments that move from a to.

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