Re: An idea to resolve the 1st Person/3rd person division mystery - Coarse graining is the answer!?

From: <>
Date: Sat, 05 May 2007 03:50:16 -0700

On May 5, 10:05 pm, Mark Peaty <> wrote:
> MG:
> 'There is no doubt that the nature of consciousness is closely
> > associated with time in some way - but exactly how? The relationship
> > between time (time flow and also causality) may be far closer than
> > many realize. Could consciousness in fact be *identical* to time in
> > some peculiar sense? '
> MP: How about: consciousness is simply [ie no more and no less
> than] the *registration of change* in one's model of
> self-in-the-world.
> My understanding, from my [admittedly-] shallow but obsessive
> and persistent reading of abstracts and articles, is that a
> reasonable case can be made that sentience in vertebrates can
> be correlated to the fact of and extent that the outcome of
> perception and action does not match expectation. The gist of
> the mechanism is that every time an 'instruction' to move or
> change perceptual focus is generated and emitted to muscles
> and/or adaptable sense organs, a matching emission goes to the
> cerebellum. There the 'expectation' - the amalgamated result of
> all previous instances - is evoked in concert with the outcome
> of the current new instance. Any discrepancies are then
> available for feedback and feed-forward to modulate the activity
> and warn of potential problems.

That sounds like a pretty good description of *how* consciousness
arises, but it doesn't actually explain *what* consciousness in
general actually is.

> The model of self in the world is just a bunch of network
> activations which embody/describe/denote/are the situational
> awareness and navigational controls of the entity. For human
> beings, who can tell themselves and each other stories, the
> model of self in the world clearly must include much description
> of social and personal history. For the model of self in the
> world to exist [and be any use at all] it must entail
> representations of currently significant features of the world,
> currently relevant aspects of 'self', and relevant relationships
> between self and world. The representation of self incorporates
> recursive self-references and therefore constitutes a process
> that is present and unique [and to a great extent
> unpredictable]. There is therefore something which actually
> exists. The constant updating of this model of self in the world
> IS the experience we call consciousness or awareness.

Well, again, this is a functional description of *some* aspects of
consciousness with which we are familiar. I would say that
consciousness in general does not require does not require a self
model. Reflection on the motivation system generates self-awareness I
think, but other types of reflection don't involve self-awareness.

> What we call time can be seen as the story, or sets of stories,
> we tell ourselves and each other in order to account for the
> changes that are occurring and to predict and control what we
> expect to occur. Calling time a 'dimension' therefore, or a set
> of dimensions, seems to me to be a rather abstract fudge.
> Enormously useful of course, we couldn't make social
> appointments or launch space rockets without 'time', but aren't
> we just reifying a human construct when we do this?
> Regards
> Mark Peaty CDES

It all depends on whether high level concepts (concepts at the level
of functional systems) are completely reducible to explanations in
terms of low level physics. If they are (if reductionism is true)
then indeed, it would appear that the passgae of time has no reality
(it would be merely a useful human fiction as you point out). But if
reductionism is not true (as I suspect), then time could more complex
than is commonly thought.

Reflection is the process of reasoning about cognitive systems (ie
cognitive systems recursively calling other cognitive systems). If
explanations of cognitive systems cannot be entirely reduced to low
level physics, then it appears that reflection must involve a new
definition of causality which cannot be reduced to mere computation.
Indeed, one could say that reflection IS a form of higher-order
causality - the higher level processes involved in reasoning about
cognitive systems and lower-level physics. Conciousness is of course
*composed* of computation and physical processes (according to all
avaliable scientific evidence). But the *explanations* of
consciousness are not neccesserily completely reducible to these

> wrote:
> > On May 5, 1:59 am, "Danny Mayes " <> wrote:
> >> I think of time from the third person perspective as being simply a higher
> >> spatial dimension above 3 dimensional volume in the same way that 3
> >> dimensional volume exists above 2 dimensional area. In other words it's
> >> really the same as the other dimensions.
> >> So your comment about "3 dimensional time" is sort of right, but it is of
> >> course actually 4 dimensional. This means there are connections and
> >> relationships between points in this "hyperspace" that we can't imagine with
> >> our normal thought process because it is obviously something more than 3
> >> dimensional volume.
> > No, 3-d time would be quite different to the standard 4-d block
> > universe of general relativity. Even in relativity, the time
> > dimension is not exactly the same as the spatial dimenions. 3-d time
> > would result in a 6-d block universe (the standard 3-dimensions of
> > space, plus 3 extra time dimensions).
> > In any event, I've kinda modified my ideas and am not longer
> > postulating three time dimenions in a literal sense. What I'm
> > suggesting is simply that there may be more than one valid way to
> > define causality and it may arise from the fact that there are
> > different levels of organization. I'm a non-reductionist. Although I
> > agree there may be physical properties associated with everything,
> > there are many different levels of organization and I'm skeptical that
> > higher level properties of systems are entirely reducible to
> > explanations in terms of the lowest level properties. This would
> > allow for the possibility of there being more than one valid measure
> > of time flow.
> >> This 4 dimensional thing is eternal, and is the multiverse. Actually that
> >> is not even correct because it implies the passage of an infinite amount of
> >> time. Time is ultimately the relationships between things and how those
> >> relationships change. So for the entire multiverse it exists outside of
> >> time, or more accurately time exists as a part of it so it does not make
> >> sense to discuss the whole in the context of time.
> >> From the first person point of view the sum is greater than the parts. No
> >> individual frame of reference creates an observer moment because it
> >> obviously takes the passage of some time (passage of time being another way
> >> of saying a string of individual universe frames in the first person point
> >> of view). Therefore the illusion of time passing and moving in one
> >> direction is simply a result of the nature of consciousness. Consciousness
> >> involves linear thought process and we of course only seem to experience one
> >> outcome as you follow the line of existence of the SAS (that acronym used to
> >> be used a lot around here!) through the multiverse. From the 3rd person
> >> perspective, the existence of the SAS is a 4 dimensional space in this
> >> diagram (covering its existence in every universe it is described in), but
> >> again from its perspective on the diagram it is a one dimensional line
> >> through points in the 4 dimensional hyperspace it existed. This is of
> >> course its self-perceived time line.
> >> This idea may give us a theory as to the total information capacity of the
> >> multiverse, which may not be infinite. It may also explain the holographic
> >> principal, as suggested by Colin Bruce a few years ago.
> > There is no doubt that the nature of consciousness is closely
> > associated with time in some way - but exactly how? The relationship
> > between time (time flow and also causality) may be far closer than
> > many realize. Could consciousness in fact be *identical* to time in
> > some peculiar sense? This is in fact what I'm getting at with my
> > suggestion that there may be more than one valid way to define
> > causality.- Hide quoted text -
> - Show quoted text -

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Received on Sat May 05 2007 - 06:50:23 PDT

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