Various Aspects of Consciousness (Part 2) from Administrator's blog

About Consciousness (by Peter Hankins): Abstract: I run a blog entitled “Conscious Entities” at which is devoted to short discussions of some of the major thinkers and theories about consciousness. This paper is a small collection of my writings on consciousness which the editor of JCER very kindly selected to appear here. The first section illustrates the wide range of different ways in which people have defined consciousness. The second section sets out my personal diagnosis of the problem - which in fact I have called ‘3½ Problems’ – those of qualia, intentionality, moral responsibility, and relevance (with relevance and intentionality overlapping a bit, hence the ½). The third section sets out my answers which, perhaps disappointingly, is called ‘1½ Answers’. The last section briefly introduces my blog Conscious Entities.

The Philosophy of Mysticism: Perennialism and Constructivism (by Randolph T Dible II)

Abstract: The encountering of the experiencer or observer—transcendental subjectivity itself—at the foundation of the world leads inevitably to the recognition of pure objectivity as ultimate reality (which can be taken as its ultimate deconstruction, analogous to the apophatic or via negativa), from which objects derive their value, weight, significance, meaning or objectivity. In this way, pure objectivity can be seen as the supra-self-evident Axiological Axiom, so to speak, even Unconditional Love, in romantic terms. This axiology (value theory) has a structure inverse to the relationship between transcendental subjectivity as the radical unity of pure self-reference and on the other hand, the world of forms, as mere traces (representations, indications) of the unique, original “first distinction” Spencer-Brown speaks of at the foundation of his calculus. That is, all forms (i.e., distinctions, differences) would reduce to being the first distinction, also known as the marked state, which I call penultimate reality (pure self-reference or transcendental subjectivity: the Spirit which animates us), except that forms are complimentary to their content, which is their objectivity or value, which would reduce to the unmarked state or ultimate reality. It is the incongruity of form (thoughts; Whitehead’s “negative prehensions”) and value (feelings; Whitehead’s “positive prehensions,” or my notion of objectivity, meaning and qualia; in short, the non-formal aspects of experience) that holds forms open and keeps them from absolute reduction. This accounts for the brute, concrete persistence of the “functional illusion”-- to use a term from Dzogchen Buddhism-- of the world. Thus this system has an axiology of metaphysical objectivity grounded on the ideal of pure objectivity as the source of all value, meaning and significance, itself the very fecundity of profundity, which is the motive of drawing the distinction in the first place.

Conscious Control of an Electron (by Ronald Bryan)

Abstract: I consider the possibility that the electron, not a human observer, precipitates the collapse of the electron's wavefunction when it is detected. This would seem to endow the electronic wavefunction with an elementary consciousness. If so, then perhaps a human consciousness could interact with the electronic consciousness to flip its spin. I propose an experiment to test this possibility, namely one in which the electron is the single valence electron of a magnesium ion immersed in a 50-gauss magnetic field. A dye laser shines on the ion and is tuned to bring about laser induced fluorescence (LIF) at a wavelength of 280 nm. The LIF is so strong that if the ion were shining in the visible range, it could be seen with the naked eye. Instead it is shining in the near ultra-violet, and a photomultiplier is used to detect the light. If a person can now lower the electron's energy minutely, then this will flip the electron's spin and the LIF will cease. If the person can succeed in flipping the electron's spin once again by raising its energy, then LIF is restored. By initiating LIF for long and short periods, such a person could send a lengthy International Morse Code message which could be read by anyone observing the ion’s output. We would see if a person succeeding in this task could send a message from increasingly distant points. If so, then the person's control could not be mediated by any fields currently known to physicists: electromagnetic, weak, strong, and gravitational. We would hypothesize a new kind of controlling field which does not weaken with distance, nor be attenuated by obstructions. Such a field might mediate distant healing and remote viewing. It might be identified with Chinese qi. We hypothesize that this conjectured field propagates in higher dimensional space-time to avoid obstructions, and converges on the target to avoid weakening. In this space, the field might travel faster than light does in the lower four dimensions of space and time.

Representational Qualia Theory (by Brent Allsop)

Abstract: I believe there is one theory that deserves much more press than it is receiving. This is a representational theory where there is, what I call a “spirit world” produced by our brain, made of phenomenal “qualia” (singular quale) that is everything we consciously know. There doesn’t seem to be any popular books or articles on consciousness that even consider anything like this theory, nor any of its implications. Given that representational theories of consciousness have been around since Descartes and before it’s surprising to me that at least something like this doesn’t receive more consideration.

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