Started 7th Apr, 2023

Is consciousness emergent or fundamental? The answer is, "both."

This is because the term "consciousness" is typically presumed to mean that which our selves "internally" experience. Something so large as that is an elaborate composition courtesy of evolution. What makes consciousness unique is feeling. Basic felling is fundamental, preceding minds.

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Consciousness is neither emergent nor fundamental.
See, Panexperiential materialism, Advances in quantum chemistry, 2020.
Stephen David Edwards
University of Zululand
Agreed. We may think of consciousness in all dimensions, interior exterior, vertical, horizontal, height, depth and more. Ken Wilber's model and maps are helpful. Many great physicists and philosophers, from east and west, recognize a broad understanding of consciousness (including sentience, feeling awareness, etc.) as materially fundamental.
Is it possible to have unconscious emotions?
Unconscious emotions are of central importance to psychoanalysis. They do, however, raise conceptual problems. The most pertinent concern is the intuition, shared by Freud, that consciousness is essential to emotion, which makes the idea of unconscious emotion seem paradoxical unless there are physical feelings that make up the consciousness process within the unconscious. see
The crux of the matter is that philosophers and psychologists have defined consciousness as a state of self-awareness, especially in the medical profession. However, this needs to be changed to grasp the roots of consciousness as a science.
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PROJECT: Can consciousness be described by natural science?
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  • Ed GerckEd Gerck
Why artificial consciousness is not a machine learning phenomenon?
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  • R. PoznanskyR. Poznansky
Spatially extended or morphological neural networks show a variety of "edge of chaos" dynamics when simulated, like SOC avalanches (see Hochstetter et al., 2021, Nature Communications). Bursting, for example, is not a dynamic regime for intermittent dendritic spikes (those with varying amplitudes) only in single node networks made up of Hindmarshc-Rose neurons, yet this is the dynamics of the conscious process.
This is because conscious processes are labile but not destructive/ eliminative. An intermittency is a form of chaos. It is not SOC avalanches. Such behavior produces intermittent dynamics and yet no fractality, and without avalanches. This supports our idea that conscious processes are not a neural network phenomenon. Intermittency is a different mode of interaction stemming from multiscalar effects, not network behavior.
In the above paper, we have used quantum analogs (approximate the quantum realm through quantum statistical thermodynamics leading to statistical thermodynamics, without the need for classical analogs or full QM approaches, which results in statistical “washout”) to lay the groundwork for active consciousness in the brain of biological organisms. Analogical reasoning helps produce productive models of biological phenomena, like consciousness.
SOC-self-organizing criticality.
Complexity in Science, Philosophy, and Consciousness: Differences and Importance
56 replies
  • Raphael NeelamkavilRaphael Neelamkavil
Raphael Neelamkavil, Ph.D., Dr. phil.
1. Introduction
With an introductory apology for repeating a few definitions in various arguments here below and justifying the same as necessary for clarity, I begin to differentiate between the foundations of the concept of complexity in the physical sciences and in philosophy. I reach the conclusion as to what in the concept of complexity is problematic, because the complexity in physical and biological processes may not be differentiable in terms of complexity alone.
Thereafter I build a concept much different from complexity for application in the development of brains, minds, consciousness etc. I find it a fine way of saving causation, freedom, the development of the mental, and perhaps even the essential aspects of the human and religious dimension in minds.
Concepts of complexity considered in the sciences are usually taken in general as a matter of our inability to achieve measuremental differentiation between certain layers of measurementally integrated events within a process or set of processes and the same sort of measurementally integrated activities within another process or set of processes.
But here there is an epistemological defect: We do not get every physical event and every aspect of one physical event to measure. We have just a layer of the object’s total events for us to attempt to measure. This is almost always forgotten by any scientist doing complexity science. One tends to generalize the results for the case of the whole object! Complexity in the sciences is not at all a concept exactly of measurement of complexity in one whole physically existent process within itself or a set of processes within themselves.
First, what is termed as complexity in an entity is only the measure of our inability to achieve measurements of that part of a layer of process which has been measured or attempted to be measured. Secondly, always there is a measuremental comparison in the sciences in order to fix the measure of complexity in the aspects that are measured or attempted to measure. This is evidently a wrong sort of concept.
The essential difference here must be sharpened further. As a result of what is said above, the following seems more appropriate. Instead of being a measure of the complexities of one or a set of processes, complexity in science is a concept of the difference between (1) our achieved abilities and inabilities to achieve the measurement of actual complexity of certain levels of one physical process or a set of processes and (2) other types of levels of the extent of our ability and inability to measurement within another process or set of processes. This is strange with respect to the claims being made of complexity of whichever physical process a science considers to measure the complexity.
If a scientist had a genuine measurement of complexity, one would not have called it complexity. We have no knowledge of a higher or highest complexity to compare a less intense complexity with. In all cases of complexity science, what we have are just comparisons with either more or less intense complexities. This makes the concept of complexity very complex to deal with.
2. Is Complexity Really Irreducible?
On a neutral note, each existent physical process should possess great complexity. How much? We do not know exactly; but we know exactly that it is neither infinite nor zero. This truth is the Wisdom of complexity. Let us call it complexity philosophy. This philosophical concept of complexity within the thing itself (CI) is different from the methodologically measurement-based concept of complexity (CM) in the sciences. In CM, only the measured and measurable parts of complexity are taken into consideration and the rest of the aspects and parts of the existent physical process under consideration are forgotten.
If this were not true, the one who proposes this is bound to prove that all the aspects and parts of the physical process or at least of the little layer of it under measurement are already under any one or more or all measurementally empirical procedures with respect to or in terms of that layer of the process.
To explain the same differently, the grade of complexity in the sciences is the name of the difference (i.e., in terms of ‘more’ or ‘less’) between the grades of difficulty and ease of measuring a specific layer of causal activity within one process and a comparable or non-comparable layer of causal activity in another.
Both must be measured in terms of the phenomena received from them and the data created of them. Naturally, these have been found to be too complex to measure well enough, because we do not directly measure, but instead measure in terms of scales based on other more basic scales, phenomena, and data. But the measure-elements titled infinite-finite-zero are slightly more liberated of the directly empirically bound notions. I anticipate some arguing that even these are empirically bound. I am fully agreed. The standpoint from which I called the former as formed out of directly empirically bound notions is different, that is all.
Both the above (the grades of difficulty and ease of measuring a specific layer of causal activity within one process and a comparable or non-comparable layer of causal activity in another) must be measured in terms of certain modes of physical phenomena and certain scales set for these purposes. But this is not the case about the scale of infinity-finitude-zero, out of which we can eternally choose finitude for the measure of ease and difficulty of measuring a specific layer of causal activity without reference to any other.
The measure-difference between the causal activities is not the complexity, nor is it available to be termed so. Instead, complexity is the difference between (1) the ease and difficulty of measuring the one from within the phenomena issuing from certain layers of the physical process and the data created by us out of the phenomena, and (2) the ease and difficulties of measuring the same in the other.
In any case, this measure-difference of ease and difficulty with respect to the respective layers of the processes can naturally be only of certain layers of activity within the processes, and not of all the layers and kinds of activity in them both. Evidently, in the absence of scale-based comparison, their complexity cannot be termed a high or a low complexity considered within itself. Each such must be compared with at least another such measurementally determined layer/s of process in another system.
3. Extent of Complexity outside and within Complexity
The question arises now as to whether any process under complexity inquiry has other layers of activity arising from within themselves and from within the layers themselves from which directly the phenomena have issued and have generated the data within the bodily, conscious, and cognitive system of the subjects and their instruments.
Here the only possible answer is that there is an infinite number of such layers in any finite-content physical processual entity, and within any layer of a process we can find infinite other sub-layers, and between the layers and sub-layers there are finite causal connections, because every existent has parts that are in Extension and Change.
The infinite number of such complexity layers are each arrangeable in a scale of decremental content-strength in such a way that no finite-content process computes up to infinite content-strength. This does not mean that there are no actual differences between any two processes in the complexity of their layers of activity, or in the total activity in each of them.
Again, what I attempt to suggest here is that the measured complexity of anything or of any layer of anything is just a scale-based comparison of the extent of our capacity to discover all the complexity within one process or layer of process, as compared to the same in another process or layer of process.
4. Possible Generalizations of Complexity
Any generalization of processes in themselves concerning their complexity proper (i.e., the extent of our capacity to discover all the complexity within one process or one layer of activities of a process) must now be concluded to be in possession of only the quantitative qualities that never consist of a specific or fixed scale-based number, because the comparison is on a range-scale of ‘more than’ and ‘less than’.
This generalization is what we may at the most be able to identify regarding the complexity within any specific process without any measuremental comparison with another or many others. Non-measuremental comparison is therefore easier and truer in the general sense; and measuremental comparison is more applicable in cases of technical and technological achievements.
The latter need not be truer than the former, if we accept that what is truer must be more general than specific. Even what is said merely of one processual object must somehow be applicable to anything that is of the same nature as the specific processual object. Otherwise, it cannot be a generalizable truth. For this reason, the former seems to be truer than the latter.
Now there are only three possibilities for the said sort of more general truth on comparative complexity: accepting the infinite-finite-zero values as the only well-decidable values. I have called them the Maximal-Medial-Minimal (MMM) values in my work of 2018, namely, Gravitational Coalescence Paradox and Cosmogenetic Causality in Quantum Astrophysical Cosmology.
Seen from this viewpoint, everything physically existent has great processual-structural complexity, and this is neither infinite nor zero, but merely finite – and impossible to calculate exactly or even at any satisfactory exactitude within a pre-set scale, because (1) the layers of a process that we attempt to compute is but a mere portion of the process as such, (2) each part of each layer has an infinite number of near-infinitesimal parts, and (3) we are not in a position to get at much depths and breadths into all of these at any time.
Hence, the two rationally insufficient conclusions are:
(1) The narrowly empirical-phenomenologically measuremental, thus empirically partially objective, and simultaneously empirically sufficiently subjective amount of complexity (i.e., the extent of our capacity and incapacity to discover all the complexity) in any process by use of a scale-level comparison of two or more processes.
(2) The complexity of entities without having to speak about their existence in every part in Extension-Change and the consequently evident Universal Causality.
These are the empirically highly insulated, physical-ontologically insufficiently realistic sort of concept of complexity that the sciences entertain and can entertain. Note that this does not contradict or decry technological successes by use of scientific truths. But claiming them to be higher truths on complexity than philosophical truths is unjustifiable.
Now the following question is clearly answerable. What is meant by the amount of complexity that any existent physical process can have in itself? The only possible answer would be that of MMM, i.e., that the complexity within any specific thing is not a comparative affair within the world, but only determinable by comparing the complexity in physical processes with that in the infinitely active and infinitely stable Entity (if it exists) and the lack of complexity in the zero-activity and zero-stability sort of pure vacuum. It can also be made based on a pre-set or conventionalized arithmetic scale, but such cannot give the highest possible truth probability, even if it is called “scientific”.
MMM is the most realistic generalization beyond the various limit possibilities of scale-controlled quantities of our incapacity to determine the amount of complexity in any layer of processes, and without incurring exact numbers, qualifications, etc. The moment a clear measuremental comparison and pinning up the quantity is settled for, it becomes a mere scientific statement without the generality that the MMM realism offers.
Nonetheless, measuremental studies have their relevance in respect of their effects in specific technological and technical circumstances. But it must be remembered that the application of such notions is not directly onto the whole reality of the object set/s or to Reality-in-total, but instead, only to certain layers of the object set/s. Truths at that level do not have long life, as is clear from the history of the sciences and the philosophies that have constantly attempted to limit philosophy with the methods of the sciences.
5. Defining Complexity Closely
Consider any existent process in the cosmos. It is in a state of finite activity. Every part of a finite-content process has activity in every one of its near-infinitesimal parts. This state of having activity within is complexity. In general, this is the concept of complexity. It is not merely the extent of our inability to measure the complexity in anything in an empirical manner.
Every process taken in itself has a finite number of smaller, finite, parts. The parts spoken of here are completely processual. Nothing remains in existence if a part of it is without Extension or without Change. An existent part with finite Extension and Change together is a unit process when the cause part and the effect part are considered as the aspects or parts of the part in question.
Every part of a part has parts making every part capable of being a unit process and in possession of inner movements of extended parts, all of which are in process. This is what I term complexity. Everything in the cosmos is complex. We cannot determine the level of complexity beyond the generalized claim that complexity is normally limited within infinite or finite or zero, and that physical and biological processes in the cosmos come within the finitude-limit.
Hereby is suggested also the necessity of combining the philosophical truth about complexity and the scientific concept of the same for augmentation of theoretical and empirical-scientific achievements in the future. While determining scientifically the various natures and qualities of complexity, chaos, threshold states, etc. in a manner not connected to the philosophical concept of it based on the MMM method of commitment access to values of content and their major pertinents, then, scientific research will remain at an elementary level – although the present theoretical, experimental, and technological successes may have been unimaginably grand. Empirical advancement must be based on the theoretical.
Constant effort to differentiate anything from anything else strongly, by making differentiations between two or more processes and the procedures around them, is very much part of scientific research. In the procedural thrust and stress related to these, the science of complexity (and all other sciences, sub-sciences, etc.) suffer from the lack of ontological commitment to the existence of the processes in Extension-Change and Universal Causality.
The merely scientific attitude is due to a stark deficit of the most general and deepest possible Categories that can pertain to them, especially to Extension-Change and Universal Causality. Without these, the scientist will tend to work with isolated and specifically determined causal processes and identify the rest as non-causal, statistically causal, or a-causal!
6. Complexity in Consciousness
The above discussion shows that the common concept of complexity is not the foundation on which biological evolution, growth of consciousness, etc. can directly be based. I have plans to suggest a new concept.
(1) Gravitational Coalescence Paradox and Cosmogenetic Causality in Quantum Astrophysical Cosmology, 647 pp., Berlin, 2018.
(2) Physics without Metaphysics? Categories of Second Generation Scientific Ontology, 386 pp., Frankfurt, 2015.
(3) Causal Ubiquity in Quantum Physics: A Superluminal and Local-Causal Physical Ontology, 361 pp., Frankfurt, 2014.
(4) Essential Cosmology and Philosophy for All: Gravitational Coalescence Cosmology, 92 pp., KDP Amazon, 2022, 2nd Edition.
(5) Essenzielle Kosmologie und Philosophie für alle: Gravitational-Koaleszenz-Kosmologie, 104 pp., KDP Amazon, 2022, 1st Edition.
Interested in a PhD position in Neuroscience @ University of Verona (Italy)?
1 answer
  • Mirta FiorioMirta Fiorio
Three-year Ph.D. positions in Neuroscience available @ University of Verona (Italy) for 2 projects
Supervisor: Mirta Fiorio
1. Ph.D. position for the project “The cognitive-motor interplay in a virtual reality environment
The project will investigate the neuro-cognitive mechanisms of the bidirectional link between movement and cognition (mainly attention and expectation) in a virtual reality environment. Neurophysiological techniques (TMS and EEG) will be used to tackle the underlying neural networks. The project will provide basic knowledge necessary to develop ad-hoc cognitive training for improving motor functions in the elderly population.
2. Ph.D. position for the project “Markers of physical and cognitive fatigue in healthy and pathological conditions
The project will search for potential markers of physical and cognitive fatigue in healthy and clinical populations. Sensory attenuation will be considered as a first potential marker, and a combined TMS-EEG approach will be used to tackle the neural network involved. On a theoretical level, the project will allow developing a predictive coding framework for fatigue. The project will also provide basic knowledge necessary for the development of strategies useful to prevent and reduce fatigue in clinical conditions (like Parkinson’s disease and functional neurological disorder), in which this symptom may interfere with the quality of life.
For both projects, ideal candidates would have a background or strong interest in cognitive neuroscience, cognitive sciences, movement sciences, or computational neuroscience; prior experience in data collection; knowledge of neurophysiological techniques and computer programming, preferably in Matlab; fluency in English.
Deadline for applications: 6th July 2023
Is Ledoux wrong about the experience of emotions in animals?
15 replies
  • Kilian MellerKilian Meller
I read both their respective popular science books, but given their reputations, I still felt it was appropriate to ask the following somewhat low resolution question.
It seems to me that Ledoux proposes that animals, including mammals, do not experience anything, and are ultimately, in consciousness terms, no more than plants or indeed stones.
I am utterly shocked by his book and I don't feel like his theoretical explanations warrant this conclusion at all. And his reliance on Occam's razor seems unconvincing to me. Similarly, his idea that we tend to anthropomorphise on the basis of heuristics, and often wrongly, does not convince me. Yes, when I See the headlights of a car, it looks a bit human, and a bit cute. But it is not comparable to the deep intuition I feel that animals share with us conscious and deeply felt emotions.
For Ledoux it seems that consciousness, or how DAmasio would put it, knowing that you're feeling, is a product of a post-hoc, slow process exclusive to humans.
I then went on to read DAmasio's The Feeling of What Happens. If I understand him correctly he locates the emergence of consciousness in its primary form somewhat earlier in evolution, and to him it is more causally relevant to the survival of a large scope of species than it is to Ledoux. However, even DAmasio does not seem to be convinced that animals have the knowing of feeling, which to him seems to require a representation of a first person agent.
I am sorry if this sketch is rather flawed and crude, but I am very interested in your perspective.
I personally want to bolster my hopes by adding that some scientists believe that there is truth to be gained from an experiental basis, and not all truths can be derived theoretical. This is consistent with the ideas of intution, which seems to calculate endlessly more variables than our reasoning-explicit can, and give us a vague but potent output.
In my case, this output tells me : When a dog wags its tail and looks at me lovingly or expectantly, or when a cat stretches and purrs, I Can feel, as Ricky Gervais once said in a profound tone of voice, that "It'S. not. true.".. And that relieves me.
It is relieving because animals to me are beings that keep me sane. Their simplicity and emotionality (apparent), their loyalty, and the magic they exude. And also I can trust them more than humans. They evoke in me a kind of unconditional type of love and affection that few other things can. And I am guessing that this is infinitely valuable to humanity.
So, for various reasons, I think this question is hugely important to determine, even when we stay aware of the limitations that notions related to the measurement of Qualia etc impose on us.
My question is if there are good arguments to maintain that mammals are consciously experiencing their emotions, and not as fading prototypes, but in all their glory. And what your position is on this hugely important question. Most important of course, the implications for animal wellfare and the unfolding sensitivisation process regarding their well-being.
MY references here are Anxious by Ledoux and The Feeling of What Happens by Damasio.

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