Consciousness: An antenna in hyperdimensional matrix

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Gadianton
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Consciousness: An antenna in hyperdimensional matrix

Post by Gadianton »

Yonder on the Internet, a passage by an author is quoted, describing a fictional future discovery about consciousness:
In a stroke of imaginative genius our understanding of consciousness was radically transformed, but in an entirely unexpected way. Critical clues came from diffuse nerve nets and, even more extraordinarily, plant neurobiology. Banished forever was the idea that the brain alone was the seat of consciousness. Rather, it is an ‘antenna’ embedded in a hyperdimensional matrix.
The blog author responds to the quote:
A blog author wrote:A fascinating suggestion, I think, and well worth reflection. Such an idea is at the foundation of a multi-volume book project that I hope, someday, to complete.
Lol! WTF?

The quoted author's exercise grants an instructive glimpse into a common misunderstanding about the problem consciousness.

Ernest Nagel wrote a short essay called "What it's like to be a Bat", which became the definitive statement on the problem of consciousness. Supposing that we learn everything there is to know about the hyperdimensional matrix, how does that tell us anything more than we already would guess about the experience a bat has during echolocation?

Appealing to future physics helps explain what it's like to be a bat the same way proposing a second turtle helps explains how the earth stays in place and doesn't fall.

In a variation, that second turtle could be a spiritual turtle, or a turtle at one with the cosmos, or a turtle consecrated by God himself, and it doesn't help solve the problem. In fact, it's a problem that festers the more it gets scratched. Imagining the experience of a bat was hard enough, but now we've got to imagine what it's like to be an antenna connected to a hyperdimensional matrix. The problem of consciousness gets more severe as the explanations of consciousness go deeper.
FARMS refuted:

"...supporters of Billy Meier still point to the very clear photos of Pleiadian beam ships flying over his farm. They argue that for the photos to be fakes, we have to believe that a one-armed man who had no knowledge of Photoshop or other digital photography programs could have made such realistic photos and films..." -- D. R. Prothero

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Physics Guy
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Re: Consciousness: An antenna in hyperdimensional matrix

Post by Physics Guy »

It could conceivably be that our consciousness does somehow depend on as-yet unknown physics, or on physics that is as yet only somewhat known. People have argued seriously that some kind of quantum coherence throughout or between microtubules might be important. I agree, though, that even if something like this were true it would only push the main question back a step.

To me the problem of consciousness is the problem of understanding how a bunch of atoms and (mainly) electrostatic forces somehow represent me, such that I am some kind of projection of their total configuration, or perhaps a finite-measure subset of their possible configurations. This problem is hard, to the point that I've never seen anything that impressed me much as even a first step toward answering it.

The problem hardly seems like the kind of airtight locked-room mystery that forces one to take supernatural explanations seriously, however. When there's an open door and a trail of bloody footprints leading off into the swamp, you don't start speculating that a ghost killed the victim. Brains are complex things; we know that they have some features somewhat analogous to computers; and we know from computers that simple logical operations on memory registers can produce complex behavior if there are enough of them.

The hypothesis that consciousness is some function of the brain, operating within the game rules of natural law as we now understand them, has certainly not yet been proven. As it stands it's a pathetically vague hypothesis with which no-one should be content; I'm not sure what testable predictions it makes that would allow it to be distinguished empirically from, say, Cartesian dualism. As a shining example of scientific reductionism it's right up there with Aristotle's theory of gravity, which said that things fall because it is their nature to fall. Emergence, yada yada, emergence.

Nevertheless that pathetically inadequate hypothesis remains the obvious default assumption. Nothing speaks against it, not even its own inadequacy, because one would expect it to be very hard to push it further if it were right. How a lump of meat can understand things is bound to be hard to understand, for a lump of meat.

Trying to understand that, from what we understand now, feels like staring up at a Himalaya-sized cliff. Folks who argue for coherent microtubules, let alone hyperdimensional matrices, are like people saying, "Dude, you'll never climb up that cliff. Sit over here with us and meditate until we can learn to get up the cliff by levitation." Good for you if you do, levitators. I'm going to stick to my pitons and ropes.

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Chap
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Re: Consciousness: An antenna in hyperdimensional matrix

Post by Chap »

Physics Guy wrote:
Tue Jul 28, 2020 2:00 am
To me the problem of consciousness is the problem of understanding how a bunch of atoms and (mainly) electrostatic forces somehow represent me, such that I am some kind of projection of their total configuration, or perhaps a finite-measure subset of their possible configurations. This problem is hard, to the point that I've never seen anything that impressed me much as even a first step toward answering it.
An answer to 'the problem of consciousness' would be nice, certainly. But before anyone attempts that, it would be really good to have an agreed statement, or even just a clear statement, of what the thing in quote-marks in the previous sentence actually is. I'm not at all sure that this prerequisite has yet been fulfilled. If that's what you mean by a 'first step', I completely agree with you.

We are, I suspect, still in the position described in the Bob Dylan lines:
Something is happening here,
But you don't know what it is.
Do you, Mr Jones?
Zadok:
I did not have a faith crisis. I discovered that the Church was having a truth crisis.
Maksutov:
That's the problem with this supernatural stuff, it doesn't really solve anything. It's a placeholder for ignorance.

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Re: Consciousness: An antenna in hyperdimensional matrix

Post by Physics Guy »

I think part of the problem of consciousness is that it won't be clear what it is until we know more about how it works. So I'm not convinced that defining consciousness is even a good first step.

A bit over twenty-five years ago I was part of a wildly interdisciplinary grad student book-and-journal club devoted to "mind/brain" stuff, and we figured out pretty quickly back then that defining consciousness was a mug's game. Nobody who tried to do it came out looking clever; everything anyone could say was either ridiculously vague or highly dubious. The smartest authors seemed to be the ones who blithely ignored the issue of formal definition, taking it for granted that we would all recognize consciousness when we saw it, and got on with presenting concrete examples. And I still think that's probably the best way to go.

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Hagoth
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Re: Consciousness: An antenna in hyperdimensional matrix

Post by Hagoth »

Wasn't it Locke who speculated that attempts to understand the true nature of the universe might be futile because, even if it's right in front of our noses, the human brain might simply be incapable of comprehending it? Maybe what we call consciousness cannot be understood from the inside, and since our season tickets are to seats on the inside the best we can do is just get on with the business of making fire and watching Simpsons reruns.

Considering what we don't know, It seems like it might be jumping the gun to force the pendulum either entirely to the local chemistry reductionism side or to purely cosmic antenna tuning side. One of the things we know for certain is that nature is not as we perceive it, being mostly empty space and all. It is a fabric of energy fields, and the atoms in your brain are part of that fabric, so I suspect the answer is very weird and possibly too weird to put into language. (by the way anybody here familiar with the DMT experience?)
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moksha
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Re: Consciousness: An antenna in hyperdimensional matrix

Post by moksha »

Banished forever was the idea that the brain alone was the seat of consciousness. Rather, it is an ‘antenna’ embedded in a hyperdimensional matrix.
Not sure they will ever teach that our brains are all nodes in the hyperdimensional matrix at the Ray Noorda School of Osteopathic Medicine in Provo Utah, but it is an interesting idea. Mr. Noorda was a great advocate for interconnectivity and his company Caldera would have actively sought to purchase the hyperdimensional matrix had it come available.
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Doctor CamNC4Me
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Re: Consciousness: An antenna in hyperdimensional matrix

Post by Doctor CamNC4Me »

Is this part of the author's long con to state a few times a year he has 'unfinished manuscipts' and a book in the process of being completed at some point? Do his employers think that's peachy? They must be ok with blogs and ____ on the Internet instead of publishing real books within his a academic discipline.

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