Materialism

  • the mind emerges from the physical properties of the brain
  • the interaction of the brain's neurons creates the mind
  • struggles to support the existence of free will

The Easy Problems of Consciousness

  • According to David Chalmers, explaining the ability to discriminate, integrate information, report mental states, focus attention, etc., represent easy problems because all that is required for their solution is to specify a mechanism that can perform the function. That is, their proposed solutions, regardless of how complex or poorly understood they may be, can be entirely consistent with the modern materialistic conception of natural phenomena.
    • the ability to discriminate, categorize, and react to environmental stimuli;
    • the integration of information by a cognitive system;
    • the reportability of mental states;
    • the ability of a system to access its own internal states;
    • the focus of attention;
    • the deliberate control of behavior;
    • the difference between wakefulness and sleep.
  • "The easy problem is concerned with various electrical or chemical measures of brain function that occur in different mental states. These measures, called conscious correlates or signatures of consciousness are revealed with various brain imaging methods as well as by the mental conditions of patients with brain injury or disease." Psychology Today

The Hard Problem of Consciousness

  • "The really hard problem of consciousness is the problem of experience. When we think and perceive there is a whir of information processing, but there is also a subjective aspect." - David Chalmers, "Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness" (1995)
  • concerned with the existence or origin of consciousness
  • scientists take one of four stances:
    1. Deny it. The mind arises from the brain. Hard materialism.
    2. Admit but ignore it. Hide behind fear of mysticism.
    3. Delay it. Science cannot help yet.
    4. Explore it. Baby steps.

Proponents

  • Francis Crick and Christoph Koch
    • "Toward a neurobiological theory of consciousness" (1990)
  • Francis Crick
  • Gerald Edelman
  • Muckli in Glasgow - feedforward signals
  • Massimini in Milan
    • used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to send signals into the brains of sleeping and awake subjects, then measured the effect with an electroencephalograph (EEG). He reduced his findings to a Perturbation Complexity Index, which he measured for a sample including comatose, locked-in, sleeping, and waking subjects.
  • Muramasa in Japan - top-down signal interruption

Materialist Scientism

Viewing nature as a machine is a reductionist approach that tries to explain wholes in terms of their parts.

The word "material" comes from the Latin materia, which shares a root with mater or mother.

Viewing nature as a construct of consciousness is a holistic approach that tries to explain all elements as interrelated parts of a whole.

Material reality refers to the fallacious model of reality that accepts only directly observable events, objects, and phenomena as real. Manifest reality refers to the physical, directly observable events, objects, and phenomena that are actualized when a choice or observation collapses a set of possibilities.

Materialism