Topic: Mind and Consciousness

Camp: Agreement / 5th dimensional qualia.

Camp Statement
Go live Time :

A biologist's assertion that pain is the firing of C-Fibre neurones in the brain does not in any way explain the sensation of pain; why or how it occurs, or even what it is.
This is one of the core issues of the philosophy of mind; the idea that there is a certain qualitative aspect of feelings and sensations that is not captured by mere descriptions of their biological cause. An easy to understand example of this is thought; while we know that thought is made up of various electrical impulses within the brain, it is clear that there is some dichotomy between these electrical impulses and the specific thought content which they entail. The issue that my theory addresses is this one: what exactly is this qualitative aspect?

Thomas Nagel in his 'What is it like to be a bat?' famously concluded that the current model of understanding the universe would never be able to objectively quantify true conscious experience as it is, by its nature, a subjective thing. The more objective of an explanation of the consciousness we attain, he claims, the further away we are from its essence, which is of subjectivity.
To an extent, I agree, but I also disagree.
The study of epistemology has shown us that there is next to nothing in this world which we can consider to be objective fact, showing that everything that is held in the mind is entirely subjective, including any knowledge or sensation of the world around us. The only exception to this, as Descartes shows, is the knowledge of the existence mind itself, for to deny its existence would be a self-contradiction as one would have to have a mind in order to do so, which would of course, defeat the purpose of denying it.
And so, by the argument that says we cannot have objective descriptors of the consciousness, we can also infer that nothing should have any kind of objective description – and yet we ascribe such descriptions readily. Of course it would be pertinent to point out that such descriptions are not really objective, more, subjective descriptions that are generally agreed upon, but we settle for these descriptions because we can infer by analogy what is being referred to by them and in the end they gets us by. For those looking for an objective definition of the consciousness that goes deeper than that you might as well stop reading; Cartesian doubt, which removes the certainty from everything we experience, really just refers to the consciousness. The consciousness is just basically an umbrella term for all that we experience and in particular its qualitative aspect: Cartesian doubt says that all that we experience is subjective, therefore the consciousness is subjective.
So, to summarize: when we try to objectively describe any quantity we are merely conveying our subjective viewpoint of it in a universally agreeable manner, and two, more importantly, when we describe a physical quantity, as far as we can know for certain, we are really just describing a part of our consciousness.
And to conclude on the note of subjective and objective descriptions of the consciousness: in order to proceed with answering the question I originally set out to answer, I must assume the existence of an objective reality, however this objective reality is the reality of that which we perceive - the reality of that which we sense, as in within the consciousness, is strictly subjective. Despite this, as we use analogy to infer the objective reality of the external world(i.e. outside of an organism's body) from descriptions of sense reality(e.g. the flower I am observing is red), I feel that it is perfectly suitable that we use analogy to infer the objective reality of the internal world (i.e. inside an organism's brain) from descriptions of sense reality (e.g. I am sad, which allows us to infer that the speaker's brain is objectively in a state which is conducive to sadness).
In other words, by a certain loose definition of objectivity, we already have objective descriptions of the consciousness, but by a stricter definition we have an objective description of nothing.

Subjectivity versus objectivity aside, as I said, I'm now going to try and find out what the consciousness is and how it fits into the world around us.

The concept of dimensional reality will no doubt be known to most reading this, but there are those who believe that a dimension is essentially a universe, hence the large amount of reference to an 'alternate' dimension in popular culture. Bluntly put, however, what I mean here when I say dimension could really be seen as being synonymous with 'aspect' (indeed, anyone familiar with Spinoza will be aware of the parallels between his theory of mind and my own).
The first 3 dimensions then, are the aspect of an object to which we most commonly relate, that is, its physical structure or place in the world. Thanks to Einstein we now know that time is the 4th dimension, however, such could have been deduced without abstract mathematics using some very simple logic.

-An entity cannot rationally described to be part of some group or category if it is not at least compatible with the typical descriptors of that group.

-Time is not compatible with the typical descriptors of the first three dimensions.

-It can therefore not rationally be described as being within the first three dimensions.

-This being the case, and with Occam's razor in hand, time should be considered to be the 4th dimension.

The second premise of the above argument is fairly clear, as one cannot describe the passage of time in terms of length, breadth, height, weight or energy, and these are the core underlying principles of the first 3 dimensions.

If one looks, a similar problem can be seen with the consciousness and the currently described dimensions.

One can say serotonin concentration in the brain affects moods, or one can say the amount of time a particular concentration of serotonin last determines the lasting period of a particular mood. One can also say that the air resistance of an object determines how long it will take to fall.
And yet, giving precise details of an object's shape and relative air resistance, no matter how comprehensively, cannot explain how long an object will take to fall. We may infer that data from calculations, but in describing the length of flight we do not invoke details of shape and size - we talk about specific lengths of time; in other words, revert to another dimensional plane (as shown in the above syllogism). In the same way as air resistance does not tell of flight length, brain chemistry does not tell of emotion: it only allows one to infer the emotion occurring - and to explain that emotion we revert to different language; no longer talking of concentrations and locations - we talk of sadness or happiness, elation or pleasure, or any other emotion, and we talk of those emotion's strengths.

These emotions are the current (loosely) objective standard by which we can comprehend how another human being is feeling, and yet, they are so rough, imprecise and lacking in standardisation that if the same treatment were given to time no one would ever get anything done. I feel my theory should give us a starting point for fixing this issue, as well as answering questions about the nature of qualia.

It goes as follows:

-An entity cannot rationally described to be part of some group or category if it is not at least compatible with the typical descriptors of that group.
-Consciousness/qualia is not compatible with the typical descriptors of the first 4 dimensions (see above example).

-It can therefore not rationally be described as being within the first 4 dimensions.

-This being the case, and with Occam's razor in hand, consciousness/qualia should be considered the 5th dimension.

This makes perfect sense; while other theories contrive to squeeze the square peg of the qualitative consciousness into the round hole of the first 3 dimensions, boggling our minds in the process, my own accepts their distinctness and provides for them their own niche in which they are liberated to be what they are.

I don't want to come across as some neo/pseudo-scientific cook here, so at this point I feel compelled to remind my readers that I have demonstrated in a thoroughly logical fashion that the consciousness cannot be described in terms of the first 4 dimensions this isn't something I have just assumed in order to pursue a dogmatic belief that consciousness is an expression of the 5th dimension. As far as I can see all you need do is accept my premises in order to accept my conclusion, and if there are any premises that you feel are worthy of contention, please indicate this to me so that I can either see the flaw of my thinking or clarify the truth of it too you.

The first objection to this theory that I have thought of is that if it is indeed the case then all objects must have a consciousness, e.g. thermometers must have a sense of temperature, clocks must have a sense of the passage of time etc. My first response is the obvious fact that we in our brains have a vast, complicated, but ultimately structured, network of thought, memory, vision and all the senses that other objects, such as thermometers simply do not. We couldn't feel heat without nerves, so what's so special about thermometers that they can? None, because they can't. I see the 5th dimension as requiring a degree of structured complexity to come through as consciousness, because as we acknowledge, the loss of an aspect of the brain's complexity, such as losing the part of your brain that deals with vision, results in a reduction of consciousness (the consciousness of sight).
The proper (fancy) response to this argument is well documented and was meted out by Searle in a rebuttal to one of the responses to his famous Chinese Room experiment. The response to which I am referring is the conjunction fallacy; the idea that any conjunction or pattern of objects or events can then form an intelligent system; if a thermometer can feel heat then perhaps, if enough willing participants could be found, we could recreate a human consciousness simply by having people stand in particular patterns which represent the cell structure of the human brain. This idea is obviously absurd, and yet, what is the brain, if not a conjuncted system? What is so special about the cellular level connections of the brain that make them more capable of creating consciousness than a group of people holding hands, or a highly advanced computer program, for that matter? The answer is of course, nothing.
What are we left with then?

Before I move on to answer that question I must clarify something. One thought which may have been ringing alarm bells in your head (as it certainly did mine for many a headache inducing night of thought) is this 'Why is there an entire dimension, presumably created at the big bang, which only ever represents itself in meaningful emotions and sensations? There is no place for such intentionality in the impersonal cosmos science has shown us to live in.'
My answer to this is simple; these qualia have no meaning at all, not on their own – they merely appear to because they are apprehended by other brain events which have their own qualia. That is, they seem to have meaning because while we may have a sensation of pleasure in our brain, the rest of our brain is considering this sensation (or at least, the intellectual part is, the part that will later go on to ask the above question) and this 'considering' has its own qualitative character. An analogy to help explain this is to imagine a bundle of sticks, stacked, without the use of glue or any adhesive, into the shape of a pyramid. Imagine each stick as a particular qualia.
In this analogy, each stick only has value as it relates to the whole pyramid - without the other sticks, we would just consider it an ordinary stick, and yet alongside the other sticks, it has a purpose and meaning, and that is roughly how I imagine qualia get their meaning, that is, in conjunction with all the other qualia. I know it's not the best of explanations, but it's all I've got for now.

And now for that earlier question (You know, the one about conjunction and all that?), and the seemingly untenable problem which it creates. My answer to it however, is quite simple and already has a small following of people who have deduced it, for other reasons of course. It is the electro-magnetic field. It represents the brain's complexity, the brain's bundle of sticks, if you will, quite sufficiently (therefore allowing for the consciousness) and it does not suffer from the problem of conjunction as it is one, whole, analogue entity, as opposed to a collection of several arbitrarily connected atoms or cells.

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Topic Name : Mind and Consciousness
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Camp Name : 5th dimensional qualia.
Keywords : Fifth Dimension, representation, complexity
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