Friday, September 22, 2017

675: From Cell to Self...

In the discussion after the previous lecture Gemma brought an article to our attention about looking into our brain made easier.
Can we see consciousness? The picture behind me shows you in what way we can. We can register brain activity in different stages of intensity.
If we use the common sense definition of the term, which I formulated in a previous lecture,
"consciousness" refers to those states of sentience and awareness that typically begin when we awake from a dreamless sleep 
and continue until we go to sleep again, or fall into a coma or die or otherwise become "unconscious." (J. Searle)
the answer is no. We have to look at the behaviour and responses of the person involved to say “she is conscious”.
Looking into our brain has become easier in the sense that we now have equipment, which can show what neurons and dendrites are connected.
Yet, I don’t believe that this approach ever will explain, how consciousness comes into being. It only shows what parts  of the brain are related to a state of consciousness.
We have taken our stand, that consciousness is a biological phenomenon, just like digestion or photosynthesis.
We have to look in a completely different direction. This came to my attention when I reada new book by the biochemist Nick Lane: “The Vital Question” (2015, 2016)
The title of the Introduction is: “Why is life the way it is ?” And this is not a philosophical question for him but a biological one.
This is how the introduction begins:
There is a black hole at the heart of biology. Bluntly put, we do not know why life is the way it is.
 All complex life on earth shares a common ancestor, a cell that arose from simple bacterial progenitors on just one occasion in 4 billion years.
Was this a freak accident, or did other 'experiments' in the evolution of complexity fail? We don't know. 
We do know that this common ancestor was already a very complex cell. It had more or less the same sophistication as one of your cells, 
and it passed this great complexity on not just to you and me but to all its descendants, from trees to bees. 
I challenge you to look at one of your own cells down a microscope and distinguish it from the cells of a mushroom. 
They are practically identical. I don't live much like a mushroom, so why are my cells so similar?” end quote-
Reading something like this, I find pretty exciting. It all begins with the cell and in that cell with the mitochondria. They are the tiny engines that produce energy.
The brain cell is specialised, because it not only produces energy to live, but can also send electronic messages along the nerve paths.
I once felt this myself. When one day my dentist applied  anesthesia, I felt an tiny electric shock. I guess  his needle had touched my nerve itself.
All this confirms for my John Searle’s conclusion, that consciousness is a biological process and that this process of energy in Homo Sapiens leads to consciousness and self-awareness.
Thank you for your attention…^_^

The Discussion

[13:26] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman.
[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:27] herman Bergson: I am lagging all the time....
[13:27] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): why only in homo sapiens and not in other species?
[13:27] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): if cells are the same
[13:27] herman Bergson: we just don’t know
[13:27] Ciska Riverstone: yes - it needs something in addition to make a cell mutate
[13:28] Ciska Riverstone: if the cell itself can think
[13:28] Ciska Riverstone: any life form might have a consciousness in that biological sense
[13:28] Ciska Riverstone: that starts with bacteria
[13:28] herman Bergson: any is maybe to much but yes....many
[13:29] CB Axel: I doubt that consciousness and self-awareness starts in the cell. I think it's how the cells get arranged to form a brain that does it.
[13:29] herman Bergson: and we do not know where in the chain consciousness begins to emerge
[13:29] Ciska Riverstone: so your theses is anything has a certain consciousness and this is the consciousness we discuss?
[13:29] herman Bergson: It starts in the interaction of all cells of the brain
[13:30] herman Bergson: I don’t mean to say that an individual cell has consciousness
[13:30] Ciska Riverstone: I too think that there must be something to start this process  cb
[13:30] Ciska Riverstone: ok
[13:30] CB Axel: But even trees seem to sense danger and can even communicate the presence of danger to other trees.
[13:30] CB Axel: Is that consciousness?
[13:30] herman Bergson: well consciousness implies awareness of pain and fear for instance.....
[13:31] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): yes true CB
[13:31] Ciska Riverstone: ok - that kind of consciousness is there for animals then too for example
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed, can plants feel and be aware in some way?
[13:31] CB Axel: They seem to be able to.
[13:31] herman Bergson: yes CB, but that is not necessarily a conscious act of a tree
[13:32] Ciska Riverstone: so where do we draw the line?
[13:32] CB Axel: True, Herman.
[13:32] Ciska Riverstone: for me a plant is aware
[13:32] Ciska Riverstone: (so far)
[13:33] herman Bergson: But many animals can be regarded as conscious beings
[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah

[Discussion interrupted due to computer failure…]

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

674: Welcome to The Chinese Room......

As I mentioned previously, many people still think that the brain is a digital computer and that the conscious mind is a computer program, 
though mercifully this view is much less widespread than it was a decade ago. Construed in this way, the mind is to the brain as software is to hardware.
The most famous proof, that the mind is just a computer program is of course HAL - 9000 in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssee”
OK, our computer technology is not yet advanced enough, but with the help of the programming language PROLOG , for instance, we already can create sophisticated expert systems.
"The Myth of the Computer," was the title of the article by John Searle in The New York Review of Books, April 29, 1982 (!), that came with a refutation of this Artificial Intelligence claim
HAL was born in 1968. So, the SF dreams about computers with a mind was already around. Searle showed, that such a computer was doomed to stay science fiction.
A computer is by definition a device that manipulates formal symbols. These are usually described as zeros and ones. 
Computation, so defined, is a purely syntactical set of operations, in the sense that the only features of the symbols that matter for the implementation of the program are the formal or syntactical features.
But we know from our own experience that the mind has something more going on in it than the manipulation of formal symbols; minds have contents. 
For example, when we are thinking in English, the English words going through our minds are not just uninterpreted formal symbols; rather, we know what they mean. For us the words have a meaning, or semantics.
In Searle’s own words: “I have illustrated this point with a simple thought experiment. Imagine that you carry out the steps in a program for answering questions in a language you do not understand. 
I do not understand Chinese, so I imagine that I am locked in a room with a lot of boxes of Chinese symbols (the database), 
I get small bunches of Chinese symbols passed to me (questions in Chinese), and I look up in a rule book (the program) what I am supposed to do. 
I perform certain operations on the symbols in accordance with the rules (that is, I carry out the steps in the program) and give back small bunches of symbols  answers to the questions) to those outside the room. 
I am the computer implementing a program for answering questions in Chinese, but all the same I do not understand a word of Chinese. 
And this is the point: if I do not understand Chinese solely on the basis of implementing a computer program for understanding Chinese, 
then neither does any other digital computer solely on that basis, because no digital computer has anything I do not have. (…)
The Chinese Room Argument-as it has come to be called-has a simple three-step structure:
1. Programs are entirely syntactical.
2. Minds have a semantics.
3. Syntax is not the same as, nor by itself sufficient for, semantics.
Therefore programs are not minds.”
Step 2 says it all: when we think in words or other symbols we have to know what those words and symbols mean. That is why I can think in English but not in Chinese
Our mind has more than uninterpreted formal symbols running through it; it has mental contents or semantic contents, which means, it is more than just like a computer program.
Thank you for your attention… ^_^

Main Sources:
MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995
John Searle: The Mystery of Consciousness (1997)
Antonio Damasio: Self comes to Mind (2010) Bruin/F. Jongepier/ Maargt: IK, Filosofie van het Zelf (2017)

 The Discussion

[13:20] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman
[13:21] herman Bergson: Reread a few lines if you like....
[13:21] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): very true herman, a computer can not make sense of anything it does, it just blindly follow instructions
[13:21] herman Bergson: Indeed Bejiita
[13:22] herman Bergson: and on a syntactic level
[13:22] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): maybe we have to be careful with the instructions for a computer
[13:22] herman Bergson: why so, Beertje?
[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and what is more, a computer dont even understand lava, python ect, it only "understands" a set of maybee around 100 basic instructions and all programming languages have to be translated into those specific instructions for the cpu to get anything
[13:23] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): who knows what a computer can do in the future?
[13:23] Ciska Riverstone: because the computer takes it "literally"
[13:23] herman Bergson: we do, for we construct it ourselves
[13:23] Ciska Riverstone: it shows us basically where we not conscious yet on how we do things...
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): this is java translated into the base code the cpu understands
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:24] herman Bergson: A computer understands rules...independent of the language used....
[13:24] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): sceptical we will solve this issue as always ... without more questions than answers
[13:24] herman Bergson: I think I disagree, Gemma...
[13:25] herman Bergson: The question is....can a computer as we know it have a mind...
[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and no matter the programming language we use, the cpu will always perform the same set of these base instructions for an equal task in each language or the output would be different
[13:25] herman Bergson: the answer is no...
[13:25] herman Bergson: In deed Bejiita
[13:26] herman Bergson: Let me give you a simple example....
[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): it is no smarter then a light switch, it just channels electricity around itself to turn 1 into 0 and vice versa using so called logic gates
[13:26] herman Bergson: You all know Google Translate...
[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed
[13:26] herman Bergson: Then you all know that is often produces a complete nonsense translation
[13:27] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): ha, yes
[13:27] Zorba (code2.hax): The apparent intelligence in the computer is the algorithm that the human created and runs in the machine.
[13:27] herman Bergson: That is because the program applies only rules
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): very true, cause there is no way a computer can understand grammatics
[13:28] herman Bergson: no it understands gammatics doesn't understand the MEANING of the words
[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): for a computer the word jack can be as much headphone jack as a hydraulic jack in any translation because it can not understand the meaning of the text around the word
[13:28] Ciska Riverstone: it lacks... experience?
[13:29] herman Bergson: It lacks the ability to see contexts which are based on content
[13:29] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): more than that
[13:29] Zorba (code2.hax): The computer makes associations among symbols according to how the instructions given it parse and use those symbols, all the while understanding nothing in and of itself.
[13:29] Zorba (code2.hax) nods
[13:29] herman Bergson: Indeed Zorba...a perfect Chinese Room is Google Translate
[13:29] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and so when dranslating english into for ex swedish can give text like anslut hörlurarna till hörlursdomkraften instead of hörlursuttaget, when faced with the text plug headphones into the jack
[13:30] Zorba (code2.hax) nods
[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): it cant see the difference
[13:30] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): nor can I Bejiita :)))
[13:30] herman Bergson: because it uses only rules and not meanings to translate, Bejiita
[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): domkraft = hydraulic jack
[13:30] CB Axel: So I computer doesn't know jack...
[13:31] Zorba (code2.hax): :D
[13:31] CB Axel: *so a
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): it translates word for word and just picks any existing one and jack have as i get it maybe 20 meanings at least
[13:31] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): wil this be the end to the discussion about computers and consciousness and self????? I hope
[13:31] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): right cb
[13:31] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:31] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:31] herman Bergson smiles
[13:31] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): that is a saying
[13:32] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): not knowing jack
[13:32] herman Bergson: No now begins....
[13:32] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ohoh
[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed as we can see the mind is way different from a computer
[13:32] CB Axel: Yes. Not knowing jack is an American expression.
[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but it is at least a fast and useful tool
[13:32] herman Bergson: because now we have established the relation between the brain and consciousness...
[13:32] Zorba (code2.hax): A more useful program would be fed instructions to try and compute context for words as much as possible, but it's still doing the same thing. Operating on rules, and not understanding.
[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:33] herman Bergson: and the next step is that from it emerges self-consciousness, self-awareness
[13:33] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): which certainly no machine can have
[13:33] herman Bergson: and now we can answer the question whether we have a Self and what this Self might be...:-)
[13:34] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): good
[13:34] herman Bergson: Wouldn't we all like to be ourselves in the first place?
[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:36] herman Bergson: And don't we need the excuse now and then...Sorry I wasn't myself...? :-)
[13:36] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): [13:36] .: Beertje :.: can we always be ourselves at any time?
[13:36] herman Bergson: We'll see Beertje :-)
[13:37] Zorba (code2.hax): Are we ever anything 'but' ourselves? ;-)
[13:37] herman Bergson: Because to answer that question we have to know WHAT exactly we want to be in such cases
[13:37] herman Bergson: I'd give you the same answer Zorba :-)
[13:38] herman Bergson: Interesting statement...I am myself....
[13:38] Zorba (code2.hax): We are what we do, not what we want to do.
[13:38] Zorba (code2.hax): No?
[13:38] herman Bergson: We'll use some more lecture to figure out whether this is true or not....ok? :-)
[13:39] Ciska Riverstone:
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): interesting question indeed
[13:39] herman Bergson: if that  is the case are we also what we have done, Zorba?
[13:39] herman Bergson: Can we be what we will do too?
[13:40] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): oh oh here we go
[13:40] Zorba (code2.hax): I would put what we've done in a different category as 'what we were'. What we are is what we do now, or next.
[13:40] herman Bergson: Is our Self the set of all passed  actions?
[13:41] herman Bergson: But now I do this and 5 minutes later I do that...does that mean that my Self is changing every moment?
[13:41] herman Bergson: Because I am what I do?
[13:41] CB Axel: What we will do will depend on who we will be when we do what we will do.
[13:41] CB Axel: °͜°
[13:41] Ciska Riverstone: heheheh
[13:41] Zorba (code2.hax) nods
[13:41] Ciska Riverstone: good one cb
[13:42] herman Bergson: Indeed CB....there must be some personal continuity, you suggest
[13:42] Ciska Riverstone: I guess thats why the buddhists boiled that down to 8 fold path ;)
[13:42] herman Bergson: is this continuity perhaps what we call our Self?
[13:43] CB Axel: LOL
[13:43] CB Axel: I think we are ever changing. Evolving according to our experiences.
[13:43] Ciska Riverstone: yes
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i guess
[13:43] herman Bergson: But dont you have a feeling of personal identity, CB?
[13:43] CB Axel: didn't mean to lol there. I must have a macro built in somewhere on my keyboard
[13:43] herman Bergson: I mean ..some personal continuity?
[13:44] CB Axel: Yes, but my identity depends a bit on my circumstances at any given time.
[13:44] Zorba (code2.hax): The Christian apostle Paul spoke of two persons in one. A spiritual person, and a fleshly person always in conflict. One desiring for example to do good, and the flesh pushing in a more selfish direction. So I think it's not a simple thing to quantify.
[13:44] herman Bergson: I love your laugh, worries here :-)
[13:45] CB Axel: It's like those internet pictures that show "what friends think I do," "what parents think I do," "What I think I do," etc.
[13:45] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i think that was Paul’s real problem
[13:45] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): his temptations
[13:46] herman Bergson: If Paul observed conflicting intentions in his mind, no big deal...we all have them
[13:46] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yes
[13:46] Zorba (code2.hax): I agree, we all have them.
[13:46] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): but i think he tried to foist them off on annother self
[13:46] herman Bergson: Splitting up the person in a spiritual part and a flesh part is old fashioned dualism...
[13:47] Ciska Riverstone: thats how consciousness starts to manifest no? in conflicting minds?
[13:47] herman Bergson: I'd say consciousness shows itself by awareness
[13:47] Zorba (code2.hax): He called himself chief of all sinners. I don't think he was trying to deny his sin. I believe he was teaching of there being a spiritual person who seeks to please God, and the flesh fallen in sin in rebellion to God. I agree with him.
[13:48] herman Bergson: awareness of yourself in space and time and in interaction
[13:48] Ciska Riverstone: well u start to conflict - cannot solve and then you start to try to be more aware to "solve" the conflict no?
[13:49] Zorba (code2.hax): This gets to the point of the fact that we tend to have a view of our selves, that may include 'wanting' to do something, and then another part of us who is what we do causing us to say things like, 'I was not being myself'.
[13:49] herman Bergson: Would you define personal / mental dynamics as conflict driven, Ciska?
[13:49] Ciska Riverstone: until u have a certain level of consciousness - yes
[13:50] Ciska Riverstone: consciousness in the sense of being aware and able to communicate about it
[13:50] herman Bergson: AM I mistaken are are you talking about a kind of spiritual consxciousness, Ciska?
[13:51] Ciska Riverstone: I make a distinction between awareness and consciousness yes
[13:51] herman Bergson: to communicate about it presupposes self-consciousness....
[13:51] Ciska Riverstone: its not the same for me
[13:51] herman Bergson: But I am talking here only about consciousness as a biological phenomenon
[13:52] Ciska Riverstone: how do you define that?
[13:52] herman Bergson: as a product of the physical brain processes...
[13:52] herman Bergson: As I defined it in a previous lecture...
[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i guess thats how you can describe it in the easiest way
[13:53] herman Bergson: the state of awareness when we are awake which ends when we fall asleep or in coma...
[13:53] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): oops
[13:53] Ciska Riverstone: how is that measured biologically?
[13:54] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i think that video tried to tell us
[13:54] herman Bergson: by the fact that you can actively interact with your envirionment
[13:54] Ciska Riverstone: ah ok  - my fault  - did not watch it
[13:54] Ciska Riverstone: well but thats no biological measure
[13:54] herman Bergson: then next step is the self awareness
[13:54] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) whispers: that chicken is pecking a hole in the carpet
[13:55] herman Bergson: which allows us to reflect on our interaction with our environment for instance
[13:55] Ciska Riverstone: interaction is a sociological measurement.
[13:55] herman Bergson: I noticed, Gemma :-)
[13:55] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:55] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:55] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): haha
[13:55] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:55] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:55] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): has been in sight
[13:56] bergfrau Apfelbaum whispers: lol
[13:56] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): it's not aware of doing that Gemma
[13:56] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): oh goodness
[13:56] CB Axel: Can consciousness be measured by EEG? Brain waves?
[13:56] herman Bergson: The chicken lacks consciousness...otherwise it would feel guilty of ruiening my carpet :-)
[13:56] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i am beginning to believe that cb
[13:56] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yes
[13:56] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): it shows working going on
[13:56] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): which must be consciousness
[13:56] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): YAY! (yay!)
[13:56] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): (whips out shotgun) BLAM! BLAM! i got the chicken!
[13:56] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehehe
[13:57] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): or not
[13:57] herman Bergson: Yes CB
[13:57] herman Bergson: it is possible...
[13:57] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): it fled through the door it seems
[13:57] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): lol
[13:57] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): eeg is the closest we have in looking into the brain today i think
[13:57] herman Bergson: that black picture on the wal with the four brain scan pictures  demonstrates it
[13:57] CB Axel: fMRI looks into the brain.
[13:57] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i think there are newer experimental things
[13:58] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): that are better
[13:58] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): eeg have been around a while so
[13:58] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): no new thing at all
[13:59] herman Bergson: Well...I guess I have given you enough to think about again till Thursday....
[14:00] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[14:00] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman
[14:00] bergfrau Apfelbaum whispers: thank you herman and class!
[14:00] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): one thing we can say for sure at least
[14:00] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): the mind is amazing
[14:00] herman Bergson: So, thank you all for your participation, including the chicken....:-)
[14:00] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[14:00] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ...^_^
[14:00] CB Axel: Thank you, Herman.
[14:00] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): Thank you Herman
[14:00] herman Bergson: HEllo John
[14:00] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): cu next time
[14:00] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[14:00] John Howard Cassio (sticaatsi) takes a humble bow
[14:00] Ciska Riverstone: have a great day or night everyone
[14:01] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate):
[14:01] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): brain inspecting
[14:01] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[14:01] herman Bergson: Interesting...thnx Gemma
[14:01] Ciska Riverstone: welterusten beertje
[14:01] CB Axel: That looks interesting, Gemma.
[14:01] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): welterusten Ciska, slaap lekker

Monday, September 18, 2017

673: The Brain is not a Computer...

In 1984 John Searle wrote in “Minds, Brains and Science”: “ The prevailing view in philosophy, psychology, and artificial intelligence is one 
which emphasises the analogies between the functioning of the human brain and the functioning of digital computers. 
According to the most extreme version of this view, the brain is just a digital computer and the mind is just a computer program. (…)
On this view, any physical system whatever that had the right program with the right inputs and outputs would have a mind in exactly the same sense that you and I have minds.  (…)
Most people who hold this view think we have not yet designed programs which are minds. But there is pretty much general agreement among them 
that it's only a matter of time until computer scientists and workers in artificial intelligence design the appropriate hardware and programs
which will be the equivalent of human brains and minds. These will be artificial brains and minds which are in every way the equivalent of human brains and minds.”
In that publication he presents another time his famous “Chinese Room” argument, which he published in his paper, "Minds, Brains, and Programs", in “Behavioral and Brain Sciences” in 1980.
Look at the years: 1980, 1984. The years of the introduction of the personal computer. You could have 
such a magic machine on your own desk! A time of euphoria and unlimited expectations regarding computers.
Now 2017 we are more than 35 years and a lot of technological developments further. 
In contemporary philosophy the most common move is to insist that materialism must be right and that we must eliminate consciousness by reducing it to something else. 
The well-known philosopher, Daniel C. Dennett is an obvious example of a philosopher who adopts this position. 
Favourite candidates for the phenomena to which consciousness must be reduced are brain states described in purely "physical" terms and computer programs
But all of these reductionist attempts to eliminate consciousness are as hopeless as the dualism they were designed to supplant. 
In a way they are worse, because they deny the real existence of the conscious states they were supposed to explain
They end up by denying the obvious fact that we all have inner, qualitative, subjective states such as our pains and joys, memories and perceptions, thoughts and feelings, moods, regrets, and hungers.   
This urge to reductionism and materialism is motivated by the fear, that if we accept consciousness as having its own real existence, we will somehow be accepting dualism and rejecting the scientific worldview.
But as I said in a previous lecture: consciousness
is a natural, biological phenomenon. It is as much a part of our biological life as digestion, growth, or photosynthesis.
Consciousness is a natural biological phenomenon that does not fit comfortably into either of the traditional categories of mental and physical. 
It is caused by lower-level micro-processes in the brain and it is a feature of the brain at the higher macro levels.
Concepts like “mental” and “physical”, which refer to mutually exclusive categories, are probably outdated traditional concepts. We need new theories.
A start was already made by “The Chinese Room” argument. The sheer volume of the literature that has grown up around it,
mainly attempts to refute the argument, inspired Pat Hayes, a British computer scientist, to comment that the field of cognitive science ought to be redefined 
as "the ongoing research program of showing Searle's Chinese Room Argument to be false”.
Next time we’ll pay a visit to this Chinese Room and find out why the brain is not (like) a computer.
Thank you for your attention… ^_^

The Discussion  

[13:19] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:19] herman Bergson: I promised to tease you Bejiita :-)
[13:19] CB Axel: I am not at all familiar with the Chinese Room.
[13:19] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman
[13:19] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well, a computer might seem indeed to be close to the brain,
[13:20] herman Bergson: You will be next Tuesday CB :-)
[13:20] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): like us it have 1. memory. input and output (for ex like hearing and speech) and a way to process information
[13:20] herman Bergson: We'll see next Tuesday, Bejiita :-)
[13:21] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i saw about a month ago that there were two computers who began to invent their own language and interact between themselves and actually the creators shut them downn immediately
[13:21] CB Axel: I think I heard about that, too, Gemma.
[13:21] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): fearing what they might actually propose to each other to do
[13:21] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yes
[13:21] herman Bergson: Yeah I heard about that too, but I think it is just a nice story
[13:21] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): however in reality a computer is just a mockup of our own brains, a computer even with artificial inteligence can not really think, behind this apparent self learning capability it will just be as dumb
[13:21] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i don’t think so herman
[13:22] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): slavically following what we have programmed it to about how to learn
[13:22] herman Bergson: We'll address that issue next Tuesday again, Gemma :-)
[13:22] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ok  will do some research on that too
[13:23] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): Bejiita is writing a novel:)
[13:23] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ohoh
[13:23] herman Bergson: yes ..would be interesting to find out the exact story
[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): a computer might be able to self learn if programmed to but it will still work the same on the inside = billions of tiny switches = dumb and unable to feel anything
[13:23] CB Axel: I'd like to believe you, Bejiita.
[13:23] CB Axel: Aren't our brains made up of tiny switches? The synapses between neurons?
[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): on the other hand, what causes us to feel and be aware
[13:24] herman Bergson: Well Bejiita, there you already admit that a computer does or can not have a mind like we have ?
[13:24] CB Axel: I guess our synapses are more complicated, though. Different kinds of receptors in each one.
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): thats the issue, but i have a hard time a device made up of billions of the same devices that are inside my amplifier - transistors can be made to feel just because there are so many of them
[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but who knows
[13:25] herman Bergson: Indeed Bejiita.....
[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): it is a really tricky subject
[13:25] herman Bergson: To get an understanding of what consciousness is, think of that glass of water....
[13:25] CB Axel: Since we don't really know what makes us feeling creatures, where our consciousness comes from, we can't know what computers may do someday, can we?
[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed not,
[13:26] herman Bergson: Yes we can CB :-)
[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): woooo now my mind start to spin from conflicting thoughts here
[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehe
[13:26] herman Bergson: ok....hold on for a moment......
[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): its a bit paradoxical
[13:26] herman Bergson: take this glass of water ....
[13:27] herman Bergson: there is water in the glass and it is liquid...
[13:27] herman Bergson: there are NOT to things..... water and the property of liquidity....
[13:28] herman Bergson: For centuries philosophers have discussed the ontologicla status of properties...
[13:28] herman Bergson: can liquidity exist as such...on its own...and what way....?
[13:28] herman Bergson: The answer today is simply NO
[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): true
[13:29] herman Bergson: no liquidity without H2O molecules at a given temperature....
[13:29] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): exactly
[13:29] herman Bergson: we have theries why the H2O molecules behave as they do.....that is physics...
[13:30] herman Bergson: we can even predict the behavior of the molecules when we change the temperature and so on....
[13:30] herman Bergson: Now look atthe brain in the same way.......
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ok
[13:31] herman Bergson: the billions of neurons (which consist of even more molecules) generate consciousness...
[13:31] herman Bergson: how...?
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): how
[13:31] herman Bergson: We do not yet know....
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): what makes that create feelings
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): thats the hard part
[13:32] herman Bergson: but we neurons/no brain , no consciousness
[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): is it just like the transistors in the computer (meaning the computer can really feel)
[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): however there is one thing more
[13:32] herman Bergson: We already know what parts of the brain create certain conscious experiences....
[13:33] herman Bergson: Forget the computer metaphor, Bejiita
[13:33] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:33] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:33] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): he is stuck on it
[13:33] herman Bergson: When you look at the evolution of the brain, it has developed in three stages....
[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i want to try grasp the analogy in some way
[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:34] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): you really cant according to Herman
[13:34] herman Bergson: about  a 250 million years ago the spin and rbainstam developed
[13:35] herman Bergson: that part of the brain controls functions like breathing, heartbeat, hunger, feelings….
[13:35] herman Bergson: upon it developed what is called the limbic system.....
[13:36] herman Bergson: which is only  a 70 million years old...
[13:36] herman Bergson: It generates emotions and the like
[13:37] herman Bergson: and upon that evolved the neocortex....the part of our brain that contains our reasoning abilities and so on
[13:37] herman Bergson: The point is that these three systems cooperate together but not in a perfect way....
[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:38] herman Bergson: the neocortex is not able in some cases to prevent you from getting a fobia...
[13:38] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): i guess that the brains has to develop more
[13:38] herman Bergson: or to prevent you from bestial behavior....
[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): true
[13:38] Ciska Riverstone: again I would throw experiences in the mix combined with how we humans use language and how that feedbacks into our brainsystem
[13:39] herman Bergson: Decent people turn into monsters under certain conditions....
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): particularly when drunk or high on something we can loose control and in worst case murder each other
[13:39] Zorba (code2.hax): Yes, consider the Standford experiment.
[13:39] herman Bergson: the jail experiment, Zorda?
[13:39] Zorba (code2.hax): yes
[13:40] herman Bergson: creepy yes
[13:40] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aaa i think i know about that
[13:40] herman Bergson: But what was your point Ciska?
[13:41] Ciska Riverstone: the answer lays in the mix of experiences and brain reactions to it which are conditioned from childhood on
[13:41] herman Bergson: the answer to what?
[13:42] Ciska Riverstone: I try to search for a way to put it in short ;)
[13:42] herman Bergson: yes plz  ^_^
[13:42] Ciska Riverstone: let me think another moment and go on
[13:42] Ciska Riverstone: hahah
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehe
[13:43] herman Bergson: The main point is, that  as Searle says, consciousness is a feature of the brain
[13:43] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): got that so far
[13:43] herman Bergson: not some generated independent entity
[13:44] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:44] herman Bergson: like liquidity is afeature of H2O molecules.....and not a caused effect that exists independently
[13:45] herman Bergson: However, we do not yet know how braincells generate consciousness
[13:45] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): why do we have consciousness?
[13:46] herman Bergson: Ther emight come a day when we have developed a better theoretical context, appropriate measurement tools and so on, that we can observe how the system works
[13:46] CB Axel: Since consciousness seems to come from a certain area of the brain, the very primitive part, have there been any studies about how the cells in that part differ from those of other parts?
[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): we need to be able to measure it in some way like we can an EEG today but more advanced
[13:47] herman Bergson: Tha tis a tricky question if understood wrongly, Beertje...
[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ore like copying the brains "operation system" onto an USB stick and study it
[13:47] herman Bergson: The question is only meaningful when your "WHY" means "HOW COME" that we have consciousness
[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): which i doubt can be done
[13:48] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): no I ment really WHY
[13:48] herman Bergson: If you read the WHY as "FOR WHAT REASON, you ar eon the wrong track
[13:48] CB Axel: What evolutionary reason is there for consciousness?
[13:49] herman Bergson: survival
[13:49] herman Bergson: survival of the species
[13:49] CB Axel: Trees seem to survive just fine without consciousness.
[13:49] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ah
[13:49] CB Axel: I think I'd be much better off being unconscious. °͜°
[13:49] herman Bergson: consciousness is not a precondition for survival....
[13:50] herman Bergson: certain tress do not survive under certain conditions.....
[13:50] herman Bergson: so they spread out towards locations with more appropriate conditions
[13:50] herman Bergson: when they are not found the trees get extinct
[13:51] herman Bergson: but if you are able to insects have more chance to survive
[13:51] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): smarter than us sometimes
[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): they at least always find a way to bite me while in the middle of my golf swing
[13:52] Ciska Riverstone: you did ask " how is consciousness generated" and for me the answer in short is through experience - if we let go of dualism experience of all kinds do "infliter" the system in an osmotic way.: something happens to us and we neurologically make an inner note of it. At the same time we get information of others about what we experienced (language) which gives us the possibility to express (verbally) how we understand ourselves - of what we are conscious. That invites again a mirror back and so on- thats the "osmotic" picture and thats basically how I would thesis how consciousness comes into existence in one human being.
[13:52] herman Bergson: when you are able to experience pain and pleasure you even get more faculties to survive...
[13:53] herman Bergson: oops ..that is a complex answer Ciska....needs time to digest that....:-)
[13:53] Ciska Riverstone: sorry I tried to make it short
[13:53] herman Bergson: Allow me to save it for next time...
[13:53] Ciska Riverstone: but it did not really work hahah
[13:53] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): good idea
[13:53] Ciska Riverstone: sure
[13:53] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:54] herman Bergson: do you have any references for your answer, Ciska?
[13:54] Ciska Riverstone: well let me think hard which talk I find for that one ;)
[13:55] Zorba (code2.hax): I would contend that we inherit consciousness, and need to nothing to have access to it if I'm understanding Ciska's comment properly.
[13:55] Zorba (code2.hax): need to do*
[13:55] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): another question is is the brain truly analog or digital, (firing on and off), the digital nature of a computer is another thing making it unlikley to be able to feel cause the world is analog, not digital and made up of 2 numbers
[13:55] Ciska Riverstone: no I was trying to outline the process ZORBA!!!!!
[13:55] Ciska Riverstone: of how it comes into existence
[1[13:56] Zorba (code2.hax): I think I understood that. I'm saying it exists in us even before we're born. The baby in the womb has been though to have consciousness.
[13:56] Ciska Riverstone: I forgot that one is with the name
[13:56] Ciska Riverstone: cannot say ur name until I put it out ;)
[13:56] herman Bergson: This tends  again to a kind of dualism......
[13:57] herman Bergson: Consciousness comes into existence due to the growth of a brain in the organism.....
[13:57] Zorba (code2.hax): As you stated earlier, it's an attribute of the brain.
[13:57] herman Bergson: what we inherit are genes, but no consciousness in my opinion
[13:57] Zorba (code2.hax): I agree, with the brain, comes consciousness.
[13:58] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:58] CB Axel: Sure, we're all born with it now, but what was the first creature ever to be a conscious being?
[13:58] herman Bergson: But I have to close-read your statement Ciska
[13:58] Zorba (code2.hax): No idea, CB
[13:59] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i wil have to go now
[13:59] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): have an appointment
[13:59] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): bye Gemma
[13:59] Ciska Riverstone: have a nice day gemma
[13:59] CB Axel: Bye, Gemma. I hope we see you Tuesday.
[13:59] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): cu gemma
[13:59] herman Bergson: the first creature that could respond on physical experiences, I'd say...
[13:59] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): wil try to make it Tuesday
[13:59] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[14:00] herman Bergson: Thanks for your participation Gemma
[14:00] CB Axel: I wonder what that creature was and what it thought about.
[14:00] herman Bergson: the amoebe that moved away from pain and was attracted to pleasure
[14:01] herman Bergson: don’t confuse consciousness with self-consciousness!
[14:02] Zorba (code2.hax): I think we should also be careful to separate reactions to input from consciousness. A Venus fly trap will close when a fly touches a certain part of it, but is it conscious? I can program a computer to do things based on input, but it's not conscious.
[14:03] herman Bergson: Crosssed my mind too Zorba.....
[14:03] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): trye
[14:03] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed
[14:04] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): a venus trap might have some sub conscious thing but that is like heartbeat or our own digestive system, it works sub conscious and we can not affect it in anyway
[14:04] herman Bergson: in the previous lecture I quoted Searle's definition of consciousness:"consciousness" refers to those states of sentience and awareness that typically begin when we awake from a dreamless sleep and continue until we go to sleep again, or fall into a coma or die or otherwise become "unconscious."
[14:05] Zorba (code2.hax) nods
[14:05] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[14:05] herman Bergson: this excludes the plants at least ^_^
[14:05] CB Axel: And the amoeba
[14:05] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[14:05] herman Bergson smiles
[14:06] herman Bergson: ok CB...bad luck for the amoebe :-))
[14:06] CB Axel: °͜°
[14:06] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): however an experiment have shown (even mythbusters tried this) that slapping a plant produce a measurable signal from it like it felt pain
[14:06] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and after all plants are also alive
[14:07] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but i don’t think they are concious, they cant see, talk or move
[14:07] herman Bergson: alive they are Bejiita..but when we start with ourselves and go down the ladder of organisms, we do not know where consciousness kicks in....
[14:07] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[14:08] herman Bergson: Like we have discussions About Animal Rights and the question whether fishes experience stress
[14:08] herman Bergson: is this conscious experience or not?
[14:09] herman Bergson: How to deal with all animals we send to the slaughterhouses?
[14:09] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): or of my parents trees were in pain while i trimmed them last weekend
[14:09] herman Bergson: What to do with animals in zoos?
[14:09] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): I was thinking about that too
[14:09] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[14:09] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i hope they weren’t
[14:10] herman Bergson: You could say that to experience pain you need a central nervous system, Bejiita
[14:10] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): animals have that
[14:10] herman Bergson: indeed Beertje...
[14:10] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): true and i don’t think they have such receptors, but how would that explain this signal then in that experiment
[14:11] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i need to check this up a bit more
[14:11] herman Bergson: Guess we all have to do some checking up after this discussion ^_^
[14:11] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed
[14:11] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): been very interesting thats one thing for sure
[14:12] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[14:12] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): after these lessons we all will be vegetarians:)
[14:12] herman Bergson: So, thank you all again for your participation
[14:12] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehe
[14:12] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): cu soon again
[14:12] CB Axel: Thank you, Herman.
[14:12] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ^_^
[14:12] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): bye for now
[14:12] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[14:12] CB Axel: Bye, bye. See you all Tuesday.
[14:12] Zorba (code2.hax): well, we'll be vegetarians unless we find out that plants feel pain.. ;-)
[14:13] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): Have a goodnight all and thank you Herman
[14:13] Guestboook van tipjar stand: bergfrau Apfelbaum donated L$100. Thank you very much, it is much appreciated!
[14:13] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): lol Zorba
[14:13] Zorba (code2.hax): tc all. Nice discussion.
[14:13] bergfrau Apfelbaum: thank you herman and class:-)
[14:13] herman Bergson: Then we wouldl be in serious trouble Zorba :-)
[14:13] Zorba (code2.hax): I think so too :-)
[14:13] herman Bergson: Makes even cows murderers
[14:14] Zorba (code2.hax): Murderers are to be executed, so we can go back to eating cows then....
[14:14] herman Bergson: Nice one
[14:14] herman Bergson: Class dismissed….. ^_^