Susan Blackmore Conversations on Consciusness, OUP 2005 

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I ponder quantum uncertainty  I look ahead to the next conversation with Stuart Hameroff who considers consciousness to be quantum coherence in the microtubules of the brain. I think too of other physics. We talk of mass and time  etc but do we really know what they are? They are just mathematical entities. We must eventually get a mathematical theory of consciousness? 

Consciousness Quantum Effects and also meditation

I have been going on about the potential effects of Quantum Mechanics on consciousness. Here are some crucial sentences from a very exciting paragraph from the Sue Blackmore conversation with Stuart Hameroff concerning quantum effects on consciousness. 

Sue:

Then what do you think happens to consciousness after death? Stuart:

When the quantum coherence in the microtubules is lost ….quantum information leaks out…….the quantum information….doesnt completely dissipate, but hangs together because of quantum entanglement. ….And because the universe at the Plank level is non-local, it exists holographically, indefinitely. Is this the soul? Why not? 

…………….

I have also been interested in meditation associations. Here a sample from a conversation with Stephen LaBerge who has worked significantly with lucid dreams. 

Sue:

This implies that if we have these related kinds of illusion and you can wake up in a dream and say ‘Oh, but now I realize it’s a dream,’ you might be able to wake up in waking life in the same way- and have lucid living

Stephen:

Yes certainly. The religious, esoteric, religious traditions of enlightenment talk about that exactly, and lucid dreaming seems to be one of the best metaphors for what that enlightenment would be like.  

Meditation

Susan Blackmore Conversations on Consciusness, OUP 2005 

There is an interesting chapter for the conversation with Thomas Metzinger. This deals with aspects of meditation and alerts to ramifications of consciousnes research on modes of media enetrtainment and the split in the world between metaphysical cultures and the western scientific ones.

 

 

Free Will Again

I have just been reading the conversation between Sue Blackmore (the collector of converstaions) and Susan Greenfield. Susan Greenfield was/is a Professor of Pharmacology with, currently,  interests in Anaesthesia and  Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. They are discussing free will and the assumption that it does not exist. 

Susan has said:

……what do you do with criminal justice system? For example, if no one has free will it means that no one should be in prison. 

Sue has replied:

No it doesn’t because although you get rid of retribution you would still put people in prison in order to provide a deterrent for other people and in order to keep really dangerous ones off the streets – so some of the system would survive.  

…………….. I find this conversation quite extraordinary. If we do not have free will we cannot blame criminals but also we have no control over deciding on the criminal justice system.  As far as I am concerned the absence of  free will means that the universe unfolds, our neurons fire away, and we discover what the criminal code is and our sense of blame just arises from the neuronal activity . It is a kind of drama in which the audience is actually flowing along with it.  As I sit typing this it is part of the unfolding. If many people were persuaded in this unfolding that there was no free will, and the unfolding continued with a depressed population, which faded away to extinction as a result, that would be the drama continuing to unfold. I like the logic of no free will. However , of course , whilst living normal life and not thinking such thoughts, it does seem a strange mystery. When I am walking along a road with my wife, and a car driving far too fast passes by, we discuss the absurdity of such driving, as if it mattered. We discuss the absurdity of Bush and Blair and how wrong their way of thinking is.We talk to the dog and think what a fine specimen of an animal he is and how superior he is to any other dogs we know. And so on and so forth.  So why, if we have no control, do we bother? But we do simply because it all unfolds….. 

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Consciousness

January 3, 2007

Reading

I have been reading

 

  • R.Penrose, The Road to Reality
  • D.Bohm, Quantum Theory
  • M.Frayne, The Human Touch
  • S.Blackmore, Conversations on Consciousness
  • B.Shine, The Infinite Mind

and am soon to read

  • R.Dawkins, The God Delusion

 

The Penrose has had to be, after an initial detailed start, a high level first view and I await the time to study it in much more depth taking on board every mathematical aspect. This should keep me going for a long time, I suspect.

 

The Bohm has put me back into a state of basic understanding of Quantum Theory that I once had back around 1963 at the end of my degree.

 

Frayne surprised me, in that, starting discussing the human  relationship with the world through the use of words, the discussions took the reader into the realm of consciousness. This book too will need a second study.  I have thus been led  into thinking more about consciousness with some very interesting reading currently from Blackmore’s book.

 

The book by Shine has exposed me to the approach of a medium to this field.

 

Intelligent Design

I have, too, recently been reading in the press about Intelligent Design and have begun to realise that I need to understand what this argument is about. I look forward to Dawkins on this.

 

My first thoughts follow, but bearing in mind that I have not read significantly about the topic.

 

It seems that there are some areas in Darwinian Evolution Theory for which a full argument cannot be found to explain. I have no problem with this and it becomes exciting that new developments or adjustments might be forthcoming.

 

Assuming that such areas of theory weakness do exist, ID seems to suggest that there should exist some conscious entities which have and do adjust the process from outside. I doubt that one could prove that such entities could not exist

 

Such outside entities seem also to arise in discussions on the existence of the universe. Again one can hardly prove that such things should not exist and being part of the  collection of things which exist we should be able to look forward to experiments to discover the properties of these entities, as yet another  set of phenomena in physics.

 

The trouble here, though,  is that investigation seems to stop her,e with the labelling of these things as gods . Why this should be so I don’t know. These entities are postulates and a curiosity of science and inquisitiveness would force investigation through experiment.

 

I would feel the same frustration if the ID designers marked a point at which study stopped.

 

Consciousness

The Blackmore book seems a good way of picking up current ideas on the topic through the recorded, and only lightly edited, conversations with a variety of experts.

 

A fascinating aspect is the great development of experiment and data collection that has recently taken place. A fruitful technique seems to be based on binocular rivalry. Each eye is exposed to a different image and it is found that only one can be experienced at a time. There is seemingly a means of separation between neuronal activity for conscious and subconscious effects. Using advanced brain observation techniques enables a close view of neurons active under conscious and unconscious states.

 

Suggestions are made by some that consciousness is just the state of certain neuron sets being active. I find this, personally, a fine idea – consciousness is just the state of activity of neurons deeply interconnected with other parts of the brain network.

 

It has also been suggested that consciousness is just another fundamental measurable of physics like mass, space, time, etc

 

Free Will is of course a topic in such discussions. Blackmore herself is happy to dispense with this.

 

On the whole I too feel comfortable with this view and must see life as mechanisms running onward and generating consciousness as they go, which one enjoys, or otherwise,  as they happen.

 

I get the impression that the study of consciousness awaits now much more experiment to correlate neuron behaviour with conscious experience and these will then help development of more detailed theories which can then predict and hence be testable.

 

As physics continues to develop with a variety of stuffs – space, time, mass, strings, consciousness, etc – the attempt will presumably be to use fewer and fewer stuffs. It does seem though, that there will always be some final stuff which can be used to explain all, except this stuff  itself.

 

What a wonderful mystery. As I walked the other day under a grey winter  sky, through leafless woods with the dog, what an amazing oddity! Neurons firing in my head, fewer perhaps in the dog’s head, none in the trees perhaps, all surrounded by space stuff and time stuff and mass stuff and consciousness stuff. How urtterly exciting and how feeble the idea of an-end-of-the- argument god.

 

Quantum Effects

I have considerable fascination for the possibility of quantum effects. The associated  uncertainty and ideas of quantum entanglement must be useful. I imagine a brain, with quantum processes, and associate that with free particles which interact with it, and through entanglement carry, in some way, knowledge of the brain’s  state throughout the whole universe!

 

How might quantum uncertainty relate to the unfolding of the life processes in which we discard free will?

 

Meditation

I look forward to discussions in the Blackmore book on meditation.

Relativity

January 3, 2007

qf_xyz2.gifqf_xyz1.gif

Geometric Algebra

January 2, 2007

Over recent years I became interested in Clifford Algebra and this led me to material by Leo Dorst and Stephen Mann on Geometric Algebra. In the latter case the thrust being the scope for global computational algorithms for geometric objects.

In this weblog I plan to expose my growing understanding of GA in a set of fundamental and not very sophisticated observations.

Clifford Algebra introduction that I have used in teaching.

http://members.aol.com:/stuangsam/geoalg/clifford1/clifford1.html

Geometric Algebra 1

An umbrella for scalar and vector prduct in 2D

http://members.aol.com:/stuangsam/geoalg/ga1/ga1.html

Geometric Algebra 2

3D and Reflection

http://members.aol.com:/stuangsam/geoalg/ga2/ga2.html

Geometric Algebra 3

Planes and their Dual

http://members.aol.com:/stuangsam/geoalg/ga3/ga3.html

Geometric Algebra 4

Rotations

http://members.aol.com:/stuangsam/geoalg/ga4/ga4.html