Ruminations on the Essence and Existence of Consciousness
“Logic is not so much about the truth value of abstract propositions as it is about a natural strategy for biological and social survival.” Dr.d
The ontological status of consciousness (the thing) has escaped many ambitious attempts at a precise formulation for several centuries now. Is it a kind of special universal, independent property, an ideal or material object or perhaps an attribute, feature, characteristic, trait, aspect or state of brain activity? If a property (of a thing), then we should be able to frame its empirical essence as either predicable or instantiable, for such properties (i.e., being red, long, etc.) are ‘intensional’ entities in the sense that they can be predicated of (have as instances) the individualized thing. When we have a collection of such things (a set) having all the same element being considered we refer to the property as ‘extensional’.
The problem starts when we start referring to a given property as being abstract, meaning not empirically verifiable. That means we have moved out of the true ontological domain of objects into the semantic domain. These abstract properties may also be considered semantically intensional in that we can have two or more different properties of being a,b,..n (e.g., young dog, old dog, loving dog, etc) denoting properties whose predicates are true of the same thing (e.g., dog at different ages!). This confusion will introduce the difficult problem of establishing identity criteria as we shall see, are we talking about the same dog at different ages? Some will argue that if they must of necessity have the same instances, they are identical, others will accept it only if they are talking about the same type of qualitative property (e.g., being a dog, barking) but will reserve their judgment when dealing with relational, disjunctive, conditional or negative complex properties (angry, intelligent dog) which for analytical purposes can be considered as different (dogs). Complex properties are required to preserve the same form and qualitative constituents to be regarded as identical.
That is to say that the properties of things, being the universals they are, come in different ontological hues. Thus for the ‘realist’ things exist independently of our consciousness of them and they may either be distinguished by its perceptual instances (in rebus) or in their absence (ante rem). There is no instance of a dog being ten feet tall but “is a dog ten feet high” constitutes a valid predicate of a dog in my inner perception (thought). For the ‘conceptualist’ things may exist so long as I can be conscious of them. For the ‘nominalist’, things do not exist, only their constitutive particulars or a set of given particulars thereof (Russell). Most scientists would settle for a description of the properties of a thing as being necessary (can not exist without those properties) or accidental (can exist without that particular property being instantiated). A taxonomic description of the dog species is essential whereas its color, size, intelligence are accidental and may or not be present in a particular case. It is very important to keep in mind this distinction when attributing predicates to things, they may be essential or accidental.
This being said, how do we characterize that thing we all call ‘consciousness’? Does it exist? If it does, what are its properties, its essence? Can anyone answer with certainty?
The brief discussion that will follow should be considered as a mere general prolegomenon to an ontological question about the essence and existence of consciousness and as such it should take into account several complex but relevant aspects in a very superficial way. The first aspect has to do with the fact that the entity ‘consciousness’ has no measurable dimensions to help us precise its extension, or localize its position or motion at any time in space-time or hyperspace. Yet its existence is a self-evident, first person human experience. How then can we have certainty about a third person observer’s account of its properties, i.e., can we objectively intuit consciousness as an entity amenable to be dissected out rationally?
Locke, the great British empiricist, narrows down the approach for the attainment of truth and guidance to a consideration of the relative merits of the senses, reason and faith in "the discovery of the certainty or probability of such propositions or truths, which the mind arrives at by deduction made from such ideas, as it has got by the use of its natural faculties; viz, by the use of sensation or reflection." We may add that religious fervor or enthusiasm, with its implication of a favored communication by personal revelation has historically yielded to the use of reason when the verifiable facts are in; when they are not then the same common sense dictates the acceptance of ‘cultural revelation’ as embodied in organized religions as genuine efforts to satiate the human thirst for the most rational categorization of that Kantian chaos of sensations, internally and in the perceptual environment. That way some ideas we get only from sensation (perceptual intuitions), others only from reflection and some from both because experience is always of two kinds, sensation and reflection. One tells us about objects and processes out there, the other one about the operations and processes of our own minds, call it an additional internal sense after the autonomic visceral receptors. The empiricist axiom that there is nothing in the intellect that was not previously in the senses is an unwarranted exaggeration because , among other things, ignores ‘innate’ propositions’ (nativism) as we will see.
Propositions (re: mental attitudes) are said to be those to which a person is related to by virtue of a need, desire, belief or other psychological attitude. They are usually expressed in logic sentences, e.g., Iraq leaders believe they can hide nuclear heads. As an agent (Iraq), -psychological verb (believes)- ‘that’ -clause (they can hide nuclear heads)-. The psychological states (believes, fears, hopes, etc.) are called ‘propositional attitudes’. Notice that propositions are not necessarily bearers of truth values which will only depend on the proposition statements (usually linguistic meanings or beliefs) they express. We will later on touch briefly on ‘tropes’, properties that can exist independently of substances helpful in the conceptual framing of ideal objects, like consciousness, numbers, etc. which one might use to dispense with the notion of a material substance.
This is important when distinguishing between the real essence of a material thing like the brain (its atomic constitution) and that of the mind, totally unrelated to matter as we know it. In the neurosciences this atomic / molecular constitution is the causal basis of all the observable properties of the brain. Ideally all those observable properties could be deduced (by reduction) from the real essence of their constitutive unitary particles but the resolving power of our perceptual technology and the combinatorial capacity of our brains is limited and the real essences of material things remain unknown to us. Consequently, according to empiricists like Ayers, a substance is ‘whatever it is that supports qualities’ while the real essence remains ‘this particular atomic constitution that explains that set of observable qualities’. Please notice that a causal ‘explanation’ can be deduced directly from the premises of its propositions or just inferred as a possible causation. The latter is the contemporary case for quantum-mechanical models of BOTH the physical brain and the non-physical mind. Brains and hats are physical substances made of particulate matter under the influence of quantum mechanical and / or electromagnetic fields and all physical things are made up the same way. But we have no experience of this sub-atomic structure, whether of the brain or the hat that rests on top of it. We only know them mainly by their secondary qualities such as color, taste, smell and so on or their primary qualities such as shape and extension. Consequently, since their real essence is unknown to us, our word ‘hat’ or ‘brain’ cannot get its meaning from their real essence and the words just stand for the complexity of ideas we have agreed on are parts of the idea of a ‘hat’ or ‘brain’ (their nominal essence).
Abstract ideas may be particular to a given set of spatio-temporal circumstances in an individual while those of a general nature allow the idea to apply to other similar qualities or things. This distinction by itself has generated considerable philosophical and scholarly debate about the nature of the process of abstraction as we will see below.
As we said before, the necessary intensional properties are those that a given brain must have in order to continue to exist as such. These contrast with those accidental properties that such brain can gain or lose and yet continue in existence in the same individual. That includes training, and experiences of all sorts. Is it the same brain?, the same mind? If a set of necessary brain properties is shared by a number of individuals, that set of extensional properties constitutes the essence (human brains) of a natural kind. The aim of the natural sciences has always been limited to discover the essences of natural kinds, not inferred properties of non-physical entities like mind or consciousness. Kinds can then be organized hierarchically into a classificatory system according to the observed data. This scientific classification of the natural objects of our perception in kind of objects will be unique and privileged because it alone corresponds to the structure of our physical world, reminiscent of the old Aristotelian essentialism that guided the enquiry into the natural sciences. While one may question the notion that an individual brain has an essence (atomic constitution) different from those belonging to another set of human brains or even the same brain at different stages (of age, maturation, etc.) what is not questionable is that an individual’s mind or consciousness has the same properties as those of the other set of human minds.
Consequently it is fair to assume that the human mind, in formulating its strategic plan for bio-social survival inside his ecological niche, has so many properties to choose from that it is possible for different people to formulate quite different mental ideas about the essence of same substance by the same brain substance! Are brain and mind identical? Language is the most important evidence of their essential difference by the way it accounts for the content of reality. Nominal and real essences, as discussed, focus on different domains. The surprising conclusion is that there are no natural kinds on either the level of sensory perception or sub-atomic reality. As a species, we are so severely limited that from our psychological state of existence we can witness how infinite positive progressions to cosmos beyond the ecological niche become as fussy as the infinite negative regressions to quantum mechanical / electromagnetic field levels of organization. Can we extrapolate with certainty to either extreme of infinity? Are there real natural kinds amenable to cognitive capture on the sub-atomic atomic or cosmic level, or is it just that we are not able to get at them or know what they are? Yet the reader will see below examples of the heroic mental masoquistic sacrifice some of the best minds experience as a worthy sacrifice to the Gods of the materialistic faith.
Regardless of one’s interpretations, the real essence of physical or non-physical reality cannot provide un-equivocal meaning to names of substances as captured linguistically simply because the ideas that we use to make up our nominal essences come to us from the limited experience available to our species. Linguistic brain parsing in the formulation of syntacto-semantic structure of nominal essences is a dynamic system constrained both by previous usage (words already in place and standing for ideas already in use) and by the fact that substance words are expected to mirror the properties of the substances they refer to. But it does not matter much because language structure, as captured in its syntax and semantics, is not about capturing the essence of fuzzy receding mindscapes, but about biological and social survival according to the 'bps' model. When inside an ecological niche of language users what is crucial is that words be used with the same meaning such that it facilitates the chief end of language which is effective communication for adaptive survival. That is why the language instinct is the most important weapon of bio-social survival.
But there is more to life than existential biology and sociology. Man is also a spiritual being who insists in understanding all about his origins, life and destiny but only half equipped to even explain his specious present with his natural communication skills.
During the ongoing process of categorizing the multiple perceptions of the chaotic world of sensations by the pre-linguistic organ there is a period of discovery as the abstract general idea is put together, this involves parsing inside a data base before names that correspond to ideas are assigned, before their introduction into language. Language, whether natural or artificial is still an instrument for carrying out the mainly prosaic purposes and practices of every day biological and social survival. The John Does of the world, not neuro-linguists, are the chief architects of language for general discourse. When we get educated enough to dare formulate new ideas or models of consciousness, the mind gets again busy, but the archetype is pretty much already there in our minds. The question then becomes whether objects / events in our sensory perceptions of the world fit our mold of ideas, and not whether our ideas correspond to the ontology of things in the world except in the exclusive group of HiQers. who dare modify physical reality or its interpretation thereof to harmonize with their avant garde brainstorms. Mental models combine the real and nominal essences coded in genetic and social memory and shape them into our models of mathematics, morality, religion, politics and the whole shebang of human conventions in general. But the sad truth is that it is always easier to formulate in the abstract precise definitions of mathematical terms by defining the necessary and sufficient conditions for the deductive demonstration of mathematical truths. When we come down to earth and try the same approach in reducing centuries of accumulated experience in moral issues of social conviviality into a universal code of ethics to guide the diversity of social ecosystems in our biosphere we fail miserably. Maybe, like life and consciousness, morality too is incapable of deductive demonstration. What then can we know and with what degree of certainty? Fortunately homo-sapiens is genetically clever enough to turn things around and fashion the conceptual formulation of new environmental encounters so it conforms (fit) to the pre-positioned archetype in such a way that adequacy is at least guaranteed. Ultimately, knowledge does not increase in leaps and bounds as it seems to be after the impressive successes of biology and engineering, our knowledge of the physical world is probabilistic and thus becomes opinion rather than knowledge.
Knowledge proper involves a comparison of sorts between the old brain archetype and the new model. The old archetype gets only slowly modified iff that provides a better alternative for biological and social survival. Our only certainty is our psychological existence imprisoned inside a perceived physical boundary whose internal body processes I can only infer and the existence of something or somebody outside the boundary who articulates the changing design of the existential surroundings, ultimately it is I and my God. That fuzzy mindscape outside the indubitable reach of my sensorium and intellect I can only infer probabilistically. One must constantly remind the parishioners of the physicalist religion that probability is nothing but the appearance of an adaptive fit of our new model as it conforms the pre-fab brain archetype by the intervention of inductive / deductive proofs, whose connections are neither constant nor immutable, notwithstanding the pre-programmed efforts of the executive brain wetware to induce the unconscious mind to judge the proposition to be true, or false, rather than the contrary, without a guarantee that the judgment is correct. But we may ask, what is correct? Should it be interpreted in absolute or contingent existential terms?
Absolute solutions pre-supposes static environments which defy the self-evident changing nature of perceived reality. But it also supposes at least a knowledge of our origins and destinies where they must have being coded as living truths, which is an allegation that can not be articulated into any logic proposition for analysis in terms of truth value. Our mental archetype admits to only two sorts of probable propositions. Those within and those beyond the testimony of the perceptual sensory verification.
Concerning this latter category, of which mind and consciousness are members thereof, we must depend on analogy and fuzzy probabilities as the only tools to help our reasoning. Let us briefly examine the logic tool and some of the resultant models about the mindscape penumbra. In so doing, we are essentially expanding briefly on an analysis previously considered on the chapter on “Loosening the Gordian Knot of Consciousness.”
A successful model theory of consciousness must have closure, consistency and comprehensiveness. Such models are ‘closed’ when they can demonstrate that for every operation x in the brain (b) there is a corresponding operation y in the mind (m) and vice-verse, i.e., any proposition p about b entails or corresponds to a proposition q about m and vice-verse such that q can be deduced from p. How close must that relation (R) need to be to make the model credible? They can be identical or similar with varying degrees of either of identity or similarity.
To be consistent, any R between b & m has to be always true or always false (t v f), never true & false (t & f) because if the latter obtains there will be a contradiction. If we can prove that every p of b ó q of m, the relation is not only consistent but also complete. A high standard indeed, see identity issues below.
Comprehensiveness applies more to extensional properties when comparing sets of brains to sets of minds. It refers to the number of members of each set we wish to compare (all, only adults, newborn, etc.) which we denote by using those quantifiers.
Any model claiming that mind and brain are identical must meet the Leibniz Law test (LL) requiring the identity of indiscernables and the indiscernability of identicals, an obvious impossibility because logical identity implies numerical identity, b & m are two! One must be a reflection of the other, like b=b or m=m, not b=m. Thus, by LL identical objects cannot differ in any respect.
Identity analysis can be expressed in the language L of classical first-order logic (FOL) by selecting a two place predicate ‘=’ and adopting the universal closures of reflection (ref) and Leibniz law (LL) where brain = x and mind = y:
The formulation may includes other properties of identity not discussed like symmetry (x = y-> y = x), and transitivity (x = y & y = z-> x = z), but which can be deduced from ref and LL above. Any R proven to be reflexive, transitive, and symmetric is called an ‘equivalence relation’. But brain and mind can not stand an equivalence relation test under LL. However, we can still make valid truth-preserving logical arguments but there will be many instances of philosophical problems showing their heads (see below) like explaining how mathematical reasoning may be irrelevant to non-mathematical reality. Since all known properties q of the mind M are not measurable they constitute semantic predicates about a non-physical object of reality whose existence we admit consciously. Their validity resides in the fact that human reasoning in a natural language is deemed correct if the forms underlying the sentences constitute a valid or deducible argument. But, as we suggested above, sentential logic -as formulated in a natural language- can only guarantee that deductions and validity conclusions represent mere idealizations of correct reasoning. A case in point is illustrated by the famous debate as to whether the hissing phoneme “is” denotes an existential or a predicative argument about consciousness. Does it exist as an independent entity (dualists) or is it just a mere accidental predicate of the brain substance (monists). But notice than when we say “there is at least one thing (m) such that it is identical with the mind” then in: (E!m)(m = the mind) it is alleged that we are not enunciating any predicate true of the mind but simply stating that something is being said about that property (or concept) of being identical with the mind thus begging the question, what is that ‘something’ we are saying about the property? The ‘is’ or ‘exists’ can sometimes be predicated of individual entities and so does the more specific ‘there-is’ sense because, in our opinion, to allege that [“it cannot legitimately substitute for it because if ‘is’ or ‘exists’ were a first-level predicate then, like all predicates, it would have a reference which in this case would be existence”] is a physicalist trick to deny legitimate existence to anything outside sensory verification. Therefore ‘existence’ CAN be a first level predicate of the mind not a forced second-level predicate based on their questionable contention that: [“to admit independent ‘existence’ as a property of the mind would lead on the one hand to the absurdity of regarding existence as a property, and on the other hand to the paradox supposedly generated by negative existential propositions”]. If this were the case then a host of science-marketable concepts like zero-point gravity, electromagnetic wavicles, etc. would have not ever been considered as ‘properties’ when first came out of the drawing board. Since life and consciousness have resisted their being framed into a reductionist straight jacket by physicalists, the latter are in denial!
As to the paradox generated by negative existential propositions, what it means is that if ‘exists’ were a first level predicate of mind, then its negation (‘minds do not have an independent existence’) should be a predicate also. But if ‘does not have an independent existence’ were a valid predicate always, then in ‘virtual matter does not exist’ (as in zero-point gravity) it would be predicated of virtual matter only if virtual matter existed. And similarly, we add, for all possible negative existential propositions, like electron flow during photosynthesis, or anti-matter, in fact all possible psychological manifestations of existence outside our sensory or logical reach; and ALL must be labeled as paradoxes to be consistent, if they are to be predicated at all. Until we learn more about mind and consciousness we can safely assign it a logical predicate status as a working hypothesis like Kant would have done today when he admitted that being is not a real predicate but conceded it is a logical predicate for “anything we please can be made to serve as a logical predicate”. What was clearly a mathematical foresight, materialist detractors call it irony! Same biased frame of mind considers Aquinas free admission that existence was indeed accidental to substance as an argument for materialism, deliberately forgetting that famous quote from that medieval era “seeing is believing” was not a denial of non-physical entities, like God.
That the ‘mind’ or ‘consciousness’ exists should not be in dispute as a self-evident proposition regardless of the disputed nature of its essence. Ergo, a study of consciousness as such is not a proper object of study by neuroscientists. It belongs in the domain of metaphysic logic. Mathematicians like Russel and Frege had no qualms about considering ‘existence’ as a valid logic function. To resolve the controversy about whether existence is an independent entity or a predicate of something else the term “instantiation” was coined to distinguish between predicates (properties) attributed to individuals or to ‘kinds’. A given property can not be instantiated (be present) except in an individual already in existence, thus an individual (in existence) can not ever itself be instantiated. They are the kinds of existing things in which instantiations occur. Consequently, existence is a proper first level predicate instantiated on an individual. Hispanic is a proper second level predicate instantiated on an existing Dr.d’. Dr.d’ is (first level predicate) Hispanic (second level predicate).
When talking about ‘consciousness’ we have to decide if it fits the category of an individualized thing (e.g., the human brain) or it is a generalized kind of thing (e.g., color)? Using the verifiable, materialistic methodology of the natural sciences thus far we know of no instance of consciousness outside the human brain. Ergo, consciousness, like existence (life), qualifies as a first level predicate and both ARE independent entities. Leaning on Frege and Russell again we have adopted a similar conclusion for ‘consciousness’, viewing it NOT as a general property of things where secondary level properties (e.g., redness) can be properly instantiated but instead as a propositional function, a proposal suggested in connection with the possibility of a more definite ontological description. We have argued the same way for “life” in Chapter 1.
One of the ontological implications of our conclusion about ‘consciousness’ qualifying as a first level predicate is that, not being considered a property of anything individual, a fortiori, it would be incapable of adding anything to the physical object brain, a view in harmony with giants like Hume, Kant and others. This results from the implied conclusion that consciousness does not have an independent existence, something we have demonstrated above to be false. Consciousness is NOT an attribute but a predicate.
Physical objects, like the brain, are said to be concrete and to exemplify various discernible properties and can instantiate ‘intentional’ objects (or states directed towards non-existents) like ‘consciousness’. Intentional objects, are abstract, a term regarded as meaning that its existence is non-spatio-temporal (in hyperspace?). These abstract (A) objects, as Zalta calls them, fail to exemplify those properties at all but can, however, have a content by encoding them. This brings an unsuspected complication, e.g., when Brandy, my Golden Retriever dog gets analogically encoded at region V1 of my occipital cortex and subsequently at my pre-linguistic hippocampo-fronto-temporal cortex organ as the phoneme ‘dog’, it can be later be accessed to consciousness from V1 if there is a consumer system requesting the image (as argued in a previous chapter) but it can also be accessed to working memory consciousness via the phoneme-word ‘dog’ (if there should exist a novel need for it). Can we talk of an ‘intentional brain code’? Is it as an abstract non-spatiotemporal domain? Is there more than one? But these intentional objects are said not to exist as metaphysical logical entities and only serve to characterize and reify the content of mental representations. Perhaps Zalta had in mind the ‘wet-ware’ code as synonymous to the mental representation we call consciousness, something we have demonstrated as not being identical above. Intensional code properties (‘É’, not E!) may only be, by our argument, yet to be discovered first-level predicates of the brain, not the mind. Brain code, as we know it, whether engrammed or distributed, can be accessed by Penfeldt-type electrical stimulation which hardly qualifies the code as ‘non-spatiotemporal’. Abstract propositions like consciousness, are not tautologies, but can not cease to be an object either, just like the numbers in arithmetic!
Quine would argue that if our argument ‘consciousness exists’ expresses a first level predicate judgment about consciousness and not about its existence or its various properties (wisdom, etc) this denies the possibility that even other non-existential propositions like e.g., ‘consciousness is wisdom’ could likewise be considered also as referring to consciousness in first instance and not about wisdom. The result would be an ontology in which properties (e.g., wisdom) are ontologically primitive, with individuals (consciousness) being reducible to them, the reverse can only be true! Many, like Russell, had no objection as he entertained the notion of individuals (e.g., consciousness) as mere aggregations (‘bundles’) of universal properties, an arguable functionalist point of view. Others like D.C.Williams and K.Campbell would substitute universals for the singular ‘tropes’. Bundle theories are re-warmed Aristotelian views about ontologies in which the subjects and their predicates are both primitive. In this view universal predicates always are ontologically posterior to their subjects and can not have an independent existence, there can be no life or consciousness, when considered as universals, existing as independent predicates outside their subjects, i.e., get instantiated in a pre-existing subject. This interesting conclusion we consider a strong argument against our previous conclusion above that life and consciousness have an independent existence. But it may also reflect our present inability to characterize the unfathomable ontological profile, zero point attributes of that unitary individual subject as we find in quantum mechanical theory, a wave, particle or field existing under the conditions of zero-point gravity, is it virtual or real? It should be obvious by now the price we have to pay when we substitute the precision of symbolic nomenclatures for the uncertainties of natural language terms more familiar to us.
The un-orthodox conclusion that life and ‘consciousness’ are independent universal ontologies is controversial, to say the least and does not come without a price. The most fundamental puzzle about their identity is the problem of change and the paradoxes it generates. It is all about showing how argumenting from apparently undeniable premises inevitably leads to obviously unacceptable conclusions.
Enter predicate logic (Heyting , Gentzen ) to let it be known today that if we consider consciousness as a first level predicate, like existence, then it cannot be a predicate!! Since predicates stand for properties its negation has to be accepted as logically valid also. ‘All humans have minds’ is just as valid a proposition as ‘all humans lack minds’. Like existence, having a mind is a necessary and sufficient predicate in the affirmation ‘a human exists’ or ‘consciousness exists’ and its negation ‘a human does not exist’ or ‘humans do not have consciousness’ are valid predicate assertions constituting paradoxes.
When changes are not deemed genuine we call them “Cambridge property changes”. If an observer blushes, the change he describes ‘I blush’ is different from an identical change in a man he observes and described as ‘he blushes’, it is not deemed a genuine change in the observer. This notion forms the basis of Intuitionism in metaphysics. From that point of view a Cambridge property experience may be for the observer a relational (genuine extrinsic changes he is unaware of) or a formal (classic) predicate. From the preceding arguments, existence or consciousness can not be considered relational or formal predicates. Consequently when I watch YOU trying to make sense of this paragraph is not a Cambridge property, your existence and consciousness are genuine and real to me! But, does that add anything to you?, all real properties do! The conclusion is clear to us, consciousness, by scientific methodology accounts may not be verifiably real, but, does any one deny it?
Now, if we accept that consciousness and existence are real properties of the observed then he intensionally individuate each of those and other properties as well. This is to be distinguished from a similar extensional individuation in another observed member of the same set as the first one different only numerically from each other. Since either one obviously can not be the recipient of their own existence, somehow they managed to individuate it. We can argue the same way for his consciousness! Socrates cleverly avoided the objection that existence could not be a real property because it added nothing to his recipient by coining the term ‘bound existence’ which carried in addition to a spatial connotation, other predicates such as bounds of desire, thought, etc. which clearly is compatible with their individuation among the members of the set. Thus consciousness may not verifiably add anything to an observed human being because it is just ‘ bounded’ as a real and not invariant property like his existence. Not invariant because ontologically the predicate must conform to tolerable variations among the recipient members of the set. Some call it these properties ‘predicate adjectives’ and to escape the distinction between attributes and predicates, they settled for calling them ‘attributive term’.
Before leaving the topic of predicate logic as it applies to our allegations we will notice that it was developed to improve on the limitations of propositional logic (sentential calculus) and come closer to achieve the Frege-Russel dream of an idealized symbolic logic ready to tackle the unsolved problems of life and consciousness for the artificial intelligence (AI) crowd. Turing, father of AI has already warned this ambitious group that there exist non-linear functions describing processes (many in the brain!) that can not be effectively calculated and thereby simulated or expressed as computable numbers like the D functions or the ‘halting functions’ of predicate calculus. Any device or body organ like the brain whose internal processes can be expressed as a finite function or in the way described, can not be simulated. Until such problems are solved neuroscience models will never achieve logical completeness. As a closing remark on the problems predicate logic faces in its attempt to describe consciousness we will expand briefly on the earlier remarks on the topic of relative identities brought about by spatiotemporal fluctuations (‘change’) experienced by an individualized object.
Some of the problems physicalists will have to have to explain their fellow parishioners when defending the identity ‘brain = mind’ is that they only mean relative identity at best. That their new born and wedding pictures are distinct temporal parts or stages of the same temporally extended self. That their brains and minds now and then are not really objects of different kinds, e.g., like the snow man figure and the pieces of snow it is composed of, that they both occupy the same space at the same time, that if they decide to mold snowman into a snow fortress the same relationship will hold ‘snow = snowman = snow fortress’. What if somebody says that two but objects of the same kind, e.g., two snow figures cannot be identically and simultaneously occupy their 4d space in time. That even if the resulting figure preserves part of each, a ‘mantress’ J they are still the same? That parts of snowman and snow fortress are the same as their totality? Can the changing composition ‘snow > snowman > snow fortress’ be argued as composition identity? Is the vanished snowman still present in the fortress? Or perhaps the transitions can be considered as modal/temporal predicates of same entity?
What if a wise guy fellow parishioner got wise and told you that the property determined by a modal predicate may be affected by the subject term of a sentence containing the predicate, that the subject term denotes an object belonging to this or that kind?
Results and Conclusions.
Perhaps the controversy with us can be resolved by agreeing that perhaps identity is not what really matters in the long run. That perhaps what matters more is to describe some other relation, one that can substitute and account as well for those facts as readily as identity. Kripke has suggested that the described transitions are irrelevant because what is important is its origin because a simple transition is sufficient to change the identities as long as one can conceive of a possible world in which they differ. Identity relations are not more than what they say they are and from a logical point of view all one can say is that any identity relation, like any equivalence relation experience an intersection of their overlapping domains thus preserving a certain minimal set of properties in common.
Perhaps the best we can say of these relativist theories of identity is that they are not really theories of numerical identity and they lack internal consistency. (Burke, 1994.)
We doubt if there is any known, or there will ever be even a restricted and verifiable overlap of common relationships between brain and consciousness that may satisfy Leibniz requirements.
Identity statements are ultimately just mere equivalencies and metaphysical distinctions between their substance and attributes, object and property are self evident as we hope to have demonstrated. Chalmers dualism approach always is a reminder that brain and consciousness do not belong to the same order and thus can not be compared , that a logical relation is more primitive than a mere adjectival description of measurable predicates. We believe that identity is logically prior to ordinary similarity relations. The dependence relation or supervenience between facts and properties of brain and consciousness, because of their essential independence from each other can NOT be a logical supervinience or reducible by physical laws and all we may say, thus far, is that their supervenient relationship may be just natural in occurrence. A “metaphysical supervenience” anchored in necessary ‘a posteriori’ truths, as we suggested before (Loosening the Gordian Knot of Consciousness) seems the best fit to everything we know about their relationship.
It was disappointing to see Dr. John Searle (“Why I am not a property dualist.”) one of the outstanding earliest defenders of ‘dualism’ retreat under pressure from his physicalists peers.
One of the unexpected results of these idle ruminations was to realize that I had raised a controversy in my own mind by defending the independent existence of consciousness and equating it all along -for the logical development- with life. Life and consciousness are the same thing? The controversy assumes deeper proportions because, if my arguments and conclusions elsewhere that all matter is alive (see chapter 1 above) are true, then all matter is conscious? Perhaps life exists in potency only awaiting matter to evolve into a critical stage of aggregation to be characterized as ‘living’ and ‘conscious’ in act, reserving the ability of self-introspection to human life. In the physical world transition into ordered states are never spontaneous and always the result of a plan, like the transition of crude snow into an ice castle. Perhaps life and consciousness are also the result of a plan, a special intelligent design!
End of Chapter 16