Developing a Deeper Understanding of Life

Daniel Schmachtenberger – Developing a Deeper Understanding of Life

[ 26/April/23 ]

While I align with Daniel in many dimensions of the extremely complex issues we have as a species, two things Daniel stated in this interview give me deep concern:

01:07:00 “Do I think that consciousness is an emergent property of brains? Probably not.”

To me, as a geek interested in life and biology for over 50 years, the answer to that question is: Yes, beyond any shadow of remaining reasonable doubt, and the evidence for that is profound and multitudinous, for any serious student of evolution, behaviour, or their own experience. Just the facts that we go to sleep, or that we can hallucinate, or that we can be rendered unconscious by anesthesia, are major pointers.

And of course, human brains, and human behaviour, is necessarily more complex than any brain can itself model in detail; though we can explore the general classes of systems and models and algorithms employed in the evolution of us. And we are sufficiently complex and diverse that it seems clear to me, that should I live for the rest of eternity, there will still be things of interest to explore in being human. Reality does seem to actually be that complex – in spite of the extreme tendencies to over simplify the irreducibly complex that evolution has biased into our neural networks – with work, such biases can be identified and mitigated to a significant degree in most contexts (and it takes a lot of work).

01:07:06 “Do I think there are things that don’t have brains that includes other types of biology, have some qualia, that is some quality that it is like to be them? Probably yes.”

Again, to me, the evidence, from thousands of experiments and close observations I have personally performed, is, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt – No.

And that is not to lessen the complexity of even supposedly simple cellular life. Life seems clearly to be profoundly more complex than most have ever considered the possibility of, and even simple cells are capable of extremely complex responses to context, and the smallest animals we can see even more so; and the general classes of molecular mechanisms for such complexity are reasonably well characterised, and there is still a vast amount unknown about specifics, and there is no logical reason I can see to assign any significant probability to needing mechanisms beyond the general classes of classes of such things as some of us have reasonable confidence about, to explain observations.

And that is nothing like saying I know it all – quite the inverse. I “know” enough to have reasonable confidence that all of my understandings are much more accurately characterised as “useful approximations in some contexts” rather than any sort of “Truth”.

And the confidence I have in the two propositions above is high – .95+.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) with reasonable security, tools, resources and degrees of freedom, and reasonable examples of the natural environment; and that is going to demand responsibility from all of us - see
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