The hypothesis is worthy of pursuit, in my opinion. The article is not well written, however. If you say matter can't have consciousness then how does your brain have one? Your brain in made of matter.
There are definitively varying degrees of consciousness and self-awareness. I don't think that someone who is an 1. atheist 2. knows that consciousness is made by the brain neurons or some processes; has the same self-awareness as someone who is 1. religious and 2. thinks he has a soul.
Look at living creature. Look at a cell. It is a living thing but it is made by much fewer atoms and molecules than the human body. It is interesting to watch what we consider "dead matter" being alive. They are both matter and atoms at the end of day.
Is a cell trying to survive its environment inside the human body conscious? Is a human trying to survive its environment inside the country/system conscious? Is a country trying to survive its environment inside planet earth conscious?
Your brain has consciousness because of the networking of the neurons that make it up
How many neurons does it take to make a consciousness?
The thing about consciousness is that you can't really define it. You know you have it because you experience it. You assume that other humans have it because they are like you. You might further assume that certain other beings have it because they are also like you in many ways (though you'd likely disagree with the idea that theirs is as meaningful as yours).
But you can't prove any of it. You can only say that certain things react to certain stimuli in certain ways, which describes everything in the universe. Is it really that much of a stretch, then, to suggest that perhaps everything in the universe has some form of awareness, some experience of things, albeit probably too different from our own to comprehend?
Perhaps consciousness is not a crisp yes/no choice but a gradient... Dolphins are conscious but to a degree less than humans, likewise mice less than dolphins and so on.
Perhaps, and perhaps a person with Down's Syndrome has a lesser consciousness as well, but we have no way of knowing that. Personally I think it is pretty arrogant and shot-sighted of us to think that our experience of the universe is somehow better and more real than anything else's.
We don't know that yet, but there isn't functionality without the network
How much functionality is required? Where is the line? Human beings can live and interact with the world with fully half of their brain removed. Are they conscious? What about Asplanchna brightwellii and its 200 or so neurons?
Here's my point: there is literally no measurement you can perform that will help you draw this line, because the experience of consciousness is entirely subjective.
Why is it so incredible to think that consciousness couldn’t emerge from the brain? All sorts of complex phenomena emerge from plain old non-magical matter.
Why would matter be magically “conscious”? What possible physical mechanism could that magic be? (beside the absurdity of vibration, I suppose?)
What's absurd about vibration? Without vibration, there would be nothing. Nothing at all. Vibration is the foundation of all that there is and ever will be.
Ugh. It’s not magic. Things vibrating together is not magic. This is a level of absurd reverence for a concept that’s as ridiculous as a magic sky god whose blood is also maybe wine.
>The more sync'ed the more complex the brain obviously
That may not even be true. Octupus brains are constrained to a toroidal geometry because they eat through the doughnut hole. Apparently despite their very large brain sizes and advanced problem solving skills the elements are fairly independent.
What is your definition of consciousness?
Mine is the ability to see a probabilistic future and maybe make decisions about that future. Under that defination all matter is conscience due to its quantum probalistic nature.
Having an experience of the color red, for example.
I think I'd call what you're describing executive functioning.
I'd imagine one could experience things w/out having any notion about the future, or even an ability to make decisions.
How do you define "experience"?
It's only a supreme being when surrounded by 2.2GHz laptops in sync
What did I just read???
I can't help but feel stupider for reading it.
This is complete garbage. Some relationship to the internal frequencies of the brain, ie. its various analog clock tree mechanisms means that because all matter is based on subatomic vibrations rocks and atoms have a degree of consciousness too?
Wow, my laptop running at 2.2GHz(and various other frequencies) must be a supreme being.
Yes, obviously a clock tree is important to sync various neurons together efficiently and where ever there are conflicts, ticks will be lost or (whatever the thought real equivalent is). The more sync'ed the more complex the brain obviously, but whether that is 'consciousness' or just efficiency... or anything else? This writer obviously has no clue. At least they didn't say the brain is a quantum computer because of vibrations.
> Tam Hunt is a practicing lawyer (renewable energy law and policy) by day and by night a scholar (affiliated with the University of California Santa Barbara's Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences) in the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of biology and the philosophy of physics.
Too bad philosophy isn't actual science
You mean, theories to be taken with a pinch of whatever you have at night..
> we have developed a “resonance theory of consciousness” that suggests that resonance—another word for synchronized vibrations—is at the heart of not only human consciousness but of physical reality more generally.
Riiiight. How delusional must one be to actually take the time to publish something with this as a core idea?
>> Not only is the theory seeming a bit too large fitting but...
But it's not even a theory. That's the problem with these types of people, they confuse the term "hypothesis" with the term "theory". One is simply a proposition - possibly a wild-ass guess about something - the other is backed up by observations and can be used to make meaningful predictions.
Materialism, the scientific doctrine that describes the world as a machine of particles, is a fairly new way to think about the universe, 16th century. It's been very successful in producing machines, repeatable machines. But it's not the only way to think about how the universe is organized.
Rupert Sheldrake is a very interesting scientist who's re-introducing an much older model for how the universe is organized, called panpsyicism, where all matter is considered conscience. Conscience is defined as having a probabilistic future,and maybe being able to make choices about that future. He has some other interesting hypotheses that build on top of this, such as morphic resonance as which is like a memory for conscience. He doesnt expect materialist science to be able to explain the forms of plants, believing that DNA is not going to be able to account for how the plant is shaped. I find that a very interesting idea, that there we are something more then our DNA
I wouldn't be so sure.
There are a ton of people who get taken seriously who really, really don't like the "consciousness is what the brain does" consensus of modern neuroscience, and they say a lot of stupid things trying to come up with an alternative.
That's not a concensus of modern neroscience, that's a philosophical consensus that perhaps neuroscientists have. Consciousness is not eligible for science because it can't be observed. For example you might think someone under deep anethesia is not conscious, but how do you know that they aren't completely conscious while not experiencing anything, doing anything or forming memories?
You can't observe consciousness in even living beings. Consciousness can't actually be verified for anyone but yourself. And that is actually a point of contention. Some people believe that their consciousness is an illusion too...
It's less of consensus, more of an IOU. Materialist science just says, we can't explain it now, but we will explain it in the future. Materialist biology is saying the same about the forms of plants being caused by the DNA, we can't explain it now but we will in the future. There are some scientists that aren't materialists, Rupert Sheldrake, that dont expect materialistic science to be able to explain consciousness or why life has complex forms.
Exactly how consciousness arises from the brain is still a work in progress, sure. But that's just the classic moving goalpost we see any time someone doesn't like what's objectively pretty solid evidence.
The overwhelming evidence against any form of dualism -- either the classical Decartes-style or the modern quantum-magic style -- and in favor of consciousness being what the brain does is how damned easy it is to produce altered states of consciousness through physical manipulations of the brain. Psychotropics, anesthetics, TMS, direct electrical stimulation of the brain, and the removal of brain tissue due to accident or as treatment for an underlying condition all paint a pretty solid picture that you can alter the mind, the subjective experience of being, by altering the brain.
Any alternate hypothesis that consciousness doesn't reside in the electrochemical behavior of neurons faces an uphill battle; you're demonstrating the identity of the brain and consciousness every time you go out drinking.
Not only is the theory seeming a bit too large fitting but the article tries to stuff some cool 'vibe' nonsense.. if the original problem is Hard and you have some insight into a solution you have a ton of value already. But then maybe you dont have that insight and want to sell some snake oil level article.
for something so important it just ends up looking like bad satire or onion type material.
what are you trying to convey? sand is concious.. okay, thankyou. that was very helpful.
the original paper probably has more sense in it.
I wonder... Professor Schooler is a pretty high-profile scientist (https://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=3UEI9NIAAAAJ&hl=...). But I don't see any publications with Tam Hunt (who seems a little... eccentric? (https://www.collective-evolution.com/2018/03/21/carl-jungs-s...). I wonder if this is just some guy who has managed to get 'visitor status' at UCSB and is taking an unwitting scientist's work out of context? In what sense is he a 'colleague'?
Stephen Collins satirised this kind of 'science reporting' pretty well - https://www.wired.com/images_blogs/beyond_the_beyond/2009/07...
On a long enough timeline, all popular science magazines eventually decay into motheaten old copies of BBC Focus.
I suppose it can be called a theory, just not a scientific theory.
Otherwise, it would not be possible to find any theory for consciousness, but in fact people are still trying to find one.
You have to be very careful when deciding what can and can't be a scientific theory.
Not being able to directly observe something isn't actually a problem. We can't directly observe black holes. We can't directly observe the center of the sun, in the foreseeable future. We can't directly observe the evolution of life on Earth.
But we can use our theories to explain these things to also make predictions that can be observed, tested, and used to discard incorrect hypotheses.
Where science ends is when there are no observations you could make which would disprove your hypothesis. For instance, intelligent design basically says, an intelligent designer could have done things in whatever weird way they are, so any observations are just how it happened.
Right, and therefore consciousness is unexplainable by science, because as far as science is concerned it doesn't even exist. There is no measurement that can be made to determine, for instance, if AlphaGo is a thinking, conscious mind, or merely an advanced algorithm. In scientific terms, there is no meaningful distinction.
I was trying to say the opposite. Or rather, I was actually trying to say that phenomenon are rarely unscientific, only the explanations. You can have scientific and unscientific explanations of the origin of life on Earth.
You really only declare a phenomenon unscientific if we've spent a long time not being able to come up with any good scientific explanations. For instance, we commonly regard the question, "What happened before the Big Bang?" as outside the reach of science. But that's just provisional -- if someone came up with a really great theory that explained the nature of the universe before the Big Bang, and it produced testable predictions, then suddenly the question would in fact be inside the reach of science.
The difference is that we can conceive of such testable predictions, even if we don't have any currently. That's because they'd be objectively observable.
I challenge you to even conceive of what a "test for consciousness" would look like. Let's imagine you have one. How confident in it will you be when the first person who fails it says "but I am conscious!"?
You are confusing "a scientific test for consciousness" with "a scientific theory of consciousness".
False positive and negative rates are not particularly new to science or medicine. When we run blood tests to determine if a person has a particular disease, some percent of people with the disease will be tested as not having it, and some percentage of people without the disease will be tested as having it. Just because we fail to detect something accurately 100% of the time doesn't mean we don't understand it.
You're missing the point, which is this: How do you know your scientific test is accurate? With a disease, we know by looking at the results of people who were inoculated or treated vs those who weren't. This is possible because data is objective.
When you are making your magic consciousness detector, how will you know when it is working?
Why do you need a consciousness detector/test at all to study the nature of consciousness and develop a falsifiable theory that explains its origins, properties, and the conditions under which it can exist?
If you have a theory about the conditions under which consciousness can exist, you will need to test it. How will you test that theory if you cannot tell what is and isn't conscious in the first place?
Let's say my theory says that rocks are conscious and hippos are not. Without some means of detecting consciousness this theory is untestable.
>In scientific terms, there is no meaningful distinction.
That might be going to far. To an electric field an uncharged particle "doesn't exist," but that doesn't actually mean that uncharged particles don't exist. Likewise there could be particles that don't interact with any known force, or even particles that interact with nothing. The right thing to say is that the existence of those things is categorically unknowable, and that studying them may even be a waste of time, but you shouldn't say that they are known not to exist. It's a similar story for consciousness, which is at least purported to interact with things, although the interaction is one-way in the "wrong" direction.
> The right thing to say is that the existence of those things is categorically unknowable, and that studying them may even be a waste of time, but you shouldn't say that they are known not to exist.
But that isn't what I said, I said that from a scientific perspective there is no meaningful distinction, which is exactly what you're saying. Its existence or lack thereof is irrelevant because it cannot be measured.
The "scientific method" is very clearly defined. See for instance:
Why can't it be impossible to find any theory of consciousness? Unless you define the word theory to mean something it doesn't mean to scientists, it is impossible to have a theory of consciousness. At best there could be speculation about consciousness.
Technically you could but it depends on definitions of consciousness and ability to affect, disassemble, and replicate - never mind the ethics.
To be a smartass with multiple definitions of consciousness we have concrete theories already. Given that xenon gas is capable of anesthetizing even plants it appears that the process is electrochemical in known life and disruption leads to unconsciousness - pain can't go anywhere. That tells us basics but building from there is difficult.
You're talking about sleep, I'm talking about "the experience of qualia," or whatever you want to call it. Sure, you can have a scientific theory of anesthesia. "The experience of qualia," categorically cannot be studied because it inherently makes no predictions about the behavior of anything in the physical world. It isn't like the idea of free will, where something is being decided, it is just about how things are being passively observed.
I'm not sure if it should be called a theory, given that it's completely unfalsifiable. It is totally impossible to determine through observation whether or not anything beyond yourself is conscious, unless by conscious you mean physically awake.
The Mindscape podcast touches on a lot of these issues. More recently  they had David Chalmers who was quoted in the OP.