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Thread: Panpsychism, a mathematical explanation for consciousness

  1. #31
    Forums Member trusolo's Avatar
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    Coming back to mathematical modeling, if one assigns mini consciousness to building blocks then we have to assigns rules of interaction between them. Then there is also the question of where and how integration of different inputs takes place.

    To use a buddhist set of terminology how does eye-consciousness interact with smell, taste, or touch consciousness? Does it have to or if you are eating an apple, each one deposits its input somewhere, it is integrated there and a processed, packaged, and integrated output is felt as experience of eating an apple.

    Sometimes in endeavors of mathematical modeling unusual or extreme situations tell us more than the so called normal situation. For example, there is a fascinating neurological condition called synesthesia where sense perceptions are sort of “cross-connected” one sense experience gives rise to a perception of other senses. For example, some people “see” music or letters or words appear as colors etc. I wonder if eventually we have to explain such “abnormalities”, if it constrains the model we can come up with.

    http://https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synesthesia

    I find this condition particularly fascinating because it has the potential to unravel how our brain and consciousness works.

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    @trusolo, I find examples of the kind you give really interesting for studying the brain. I read about one guy who literally saw cartoon characters everywhere. When asked about whether he could see one now, he said that Bugs Bunny was sitting on the guy's lap. Another person in hospital was often found on the floor. Turns out he didn't recognise his arm any more and thought it was someone else's so kept throwing it out of bed. Unsurprisingly his body kept following. For Buddhist practice, how wonderful to use this kind of thing to explore what we think we know of the world, and to let go of our assumptions of what ourselves and the world are like.

    Mathematics and science take me into counter-intuitive knowledge about the world in a kind of Zen koan way. We can show both mathematically and practically the process of quantum tunneling (another area that people have used to describe what goes on in the brain) where it's impossible for a particle to go through a barrier, yet because there is a possibility it will be found there (in the quantum world), it will actually be found on the other side for a given measure of possibilities. A logically impossible act, but there it is in real life. Trying to get your head round such a things is, for me, akin to a koan.

    So if we do have a mathematical model for the building blocks of consciousness which, counter intuitively, arise from matter which is not alive I will not have any problem with incorporating it into my practice, as well as changing my view of reality as it is described by the science. I once came across an old book which described mathematical transformations of faces, before computers could do it quite easily. It started with a grid on a human face and was able to transform it into any animal's face by mathematically changing the grid but using the same coordinates for the human face. Essentially, we are the same shape.

  3. #33
    Forums Member trusolo's Avatar
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    @philg Agreed. I am sure some day there will be a good synthesis of scientific and spiritual approaches. Regarding the example of synesthesia I gave - it is now believed to be far more common than previously thought. Its diagnosis relies on self reporting and it is under-reported primarily because it is mostly harmless, not a result of any injury. People who have it realize quite late that others don’t perceive the world the same way and by then they have adapted. It is interesting because it is not the result of traumatic head injury so it is not a random event that has damaged the brain in any way. I did not know of the vast variety of unusual neurological conditions including the ones you mentioned until I read the following three books:
    1) Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat by Oliver Sacks
    2) The man who tasted shapes by Richard Cytowic
    3) Phantoms in the Brain by V. S. Ramachandran

    You bring up a good example of quantum tunneling. Sir Roger Penrose has quantum physics (actually superseding it) as the basis for his theory of consciousness.
    http://http://nautil.us/issue/47/con...es-not-compute

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    @trusolo. I seem to have spent most of my adult life reading Sir Roger's ideas. I particularly like his idea one time of the universe being a perpetual series of big bangs, where everything eventually succumbs to a heat sink, which in turn gets colder and colder until eventually reaching absolute zero, where no movement or time happens, at which point it all starts again with the next big bang. The V. S. Ramachandran book was quite an eye opener too, and should be required reading for anyone who is meditating as a Buddhist and wants to work on letting go of their view of the world. It makes it so much easier when we realise that most of what we experience is a construct of the brain. It may be based on the data coming in, but at least 90% of what we experience is a picture show.

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