SuttaCentral

Consciousness is a mathematical pattern


#1

What do you think of Max Tegmark’s theory?

What do the EBTs say about the nature and origin of consciousness?


#2

Nothing.


#3

I think materialist views of consciousness need to account for observed phenomena such as past life memories and NDE observations for a start. In my view, he probably has the cart ahead of the horse (that is to say, consciousness is not an emergent property of matter - rather just the opposite).

Consciousness arises from name and form, name and form arises from consciousness?


#4

When asked, ‘Is there a specific condition for name and form?’ you should answer, ‘There is.’

‘Atthi idappaccayā nāmarūpan’ti iti puṭṭhena satā, ānanda, atthītissa vacanīyaṃ.

If they say, ‘What is a condition for name and form?’ you should answer, ‘Consciousness is a condition for name and form.’

‘Kiṃpaccayā nāmarūpan’ti iti ce vadeyya, ‘viññāṇapaccayā nāmarūpan’ti iccassa vacanīyaṃ.

When asked, ‘Is there a specific condition for consciousness?’ you should answer, ‘There is.’

‘Atthi idappaccayā viññāṇan’ti iti puṭṭhena satā, ānanda, atthītissa vacanīyaṃ.

If they say, ‘What is a condition for consciousness?’ you should answer, ‘Name and form are conditions for consciousness.’

‘Kiṃpaccayā viññāṇan’ti iti ce vadeyya, ‘nāmarūpapaccayā viññāṇan’ti iccassa vacanīyaṃ.

This is from DN.15. Whether it is EBT, I do not know.
With Metta


#5

EBT does not talk about the origin of consciousness. Buddha refused to talk about the origin of Samsara.


#6

He is getting there.
But he thinks there is one consciousness.
That is the conceit.
He also hit the same brick wall as many of us.
He can’t break into Nibbana.
His idea is not dffrent to a non-Buddhist ideas or a God particle.
It appears he can’t think beyond logic. Nibbana is when all logic ends.


#7

I agree with his point that the consciousness is the arrangement or various particles in a different way.
It is very similar to the teaching of Buddha that we are a five aggregate.
Assume we have only one particle (neither perception nor nonperception) then is that the smallest particle. Then what happen in Nibbana.
The question is what is a particle. Is it a matter or energy or both.


#8

Consciousness is ‘dependently arisen’ (it’s an epiphenomena). It has nothing to do with an eternal-soul as believed in some religious traditions. It arises dependent on ‘contact’ between the five senses and that which is sensed and, between the mind and that which is experienced by the mind.

Contact is required for consciousness to arise and, consciousness is required for ‘feelings’ to arise. Consciousness is of six kinds - five of which are associated with sensory activity and one with mental activity.

The origin of consciousness is lost in time. As long as there have been universes arising and ceasing there have been conscious-beings within them. It’s not a late-comer to existence, an emergent property of the nervous system.

The speaker said we may need to give attention to an underlying mathematical pattern in order to understand the nature of consciousness. He also said that consciousness may emerge from an underlying mathematical pattern but, exist independently.

Therefore, if consciousness is independent we may be able to observe a correlation between a pattern being expressed in the nervous system or, on another level of organisation and, consciousness - correlation does not prove causation.

He seemed to be saying given combinations and patterns of physical things - as observed in physics and elsewhere - gives rise to particular effects and, so what - is this newsworthy?

The pattern of computation in a computer is dependent on the software. Seeing the regularities in the way a computer processes information is not the same as having information about the software that is controlling the computer - is it?

Where is the software specifically located - and how is it encoded - that is giving rise to the pattern that produces consciousness?


#9

The burden of proof lies with those who propose mind-body dualism these days. Since all of these supposedly “observable phenomena” break the known laws of physics, some kind of rewriting of those laws to allow for mind-body dualism is required. Someone must show how mind-body dualism is possible given everything else we know - and have very thoroughly tested.

And then one has to reconcile mind-body dualism with Buddhists since it would break dependent arising.

The trouble is that mind-body dualism is a bad theory. It doesn’t explain the actually observable phenomena (as opposed to people’s interpretations of their experiences) and it doesn’t make useful predictions. A lot of time and effort has gone into looking for supernatural forces and entities, but the closer one looks, then less likely they are to appear. When the situation is unequivocal, then no supernatural effects ever occur. There’s only so many times that one can look for something and not find it before one looks for other explanations.

It is only people with no training or understanding of the laws of nature who still accept mind-body dualism and demand to be taken seriously. If you want to be taken seriously, then solve Schrodinger’s such that mind-body dualism is an emergent property of matter and energy. Simple.

If you want a good overview of why the supernatural remains plausible, largely to religious people, then I can recommend Justin L Barrett’s book Why Would Anyone Believe In God? It is not about Christianity per se, though Barrett does confess to being a Christian at the end. It is about the evolutionary psychology view of what makes the supernatural seem plausible despite all the evidence showing it to be impossible.

Or you could try my 2015 precis with examples tailored for Buddhists: Why Are Karma and Rebirth (Still) Plausible (for Many People)? Part I of II. It’s quite a long read in itself.

Also useful in this area is Thomas Metzinger’s book The Ego Tunnel, which discusses his own out-of-body experiences and why they are definitely not a manifestation of mind-body dualism.

“Materialism” is just a pejorative term that Buddhist fanatics throw around to avoid certain types of debate. It has had no counterpart in the real world since the beginning of the 20th Century and the emergence of modern scientific theories. Finding a truly materialist account might be tricky. One has to look to 19th century science for a truly materialist point of view. There are no Materialists anymore.

There certainly are accounts of the testimony of believers from the point of view of substance monist ontologies. The phenomena that they account for, however, is the irrational belief of believers, not the content of their irrational beliefs. The question is, are you really interested in accounts that mount a major challenge to your religious beliefs and which could potentially result in a complete loss of faith, or are you just posturing? Usually, when Buddhists invoke “Materialism” it is the latter because like all religieux they cherish their beliefs over everything else. And Justin L Barrett does go some way to explaining why this is so.


#10

And there was I telling someone that finding a materialist would be nigh on impossible because such views died out in the 19th Century. And we have one in our midst.


#11

noun: epiphenomenon; plural noun: epiphenomena.

  1. A secondary effect or by-product, in particular: in medicine, a secondary symptom, occurring simultaneously with a disease or condition but not directly related to it.

  2. A mental state regarded as a by-product of brain activity.


The four noble truths follow an Ayur-Vedic model.

The first noble truth tells us about the dis-ease, the second tells us about the cause: the third tells us about the cure and, the fourth noble truth prescribes the treatment for the malady.

In the Buddha’s teachings on dependent-origination everything that arises in the sequence is emergent* and impermanent.

The limitations of our senses and minds do not enable us to perceive the complete process of change as it happens.

Science deepens our understanding of the ‘observed’ and, Samadhi can facilitate direct insight into the ever-changing mental continuum.

The first link in dependent-origination is ignorance and the other links (including consciousnes) arise as a consequence of ignorance.

Ignorance is the root of the disease - our disatisfaction and stress - and the succeeding links are the symptoms

The Buddha taught that the underlying pattern/process that gives rise to consciousness is dependent-origination. Its not a mathematical pattern it’s a psychophysical process.

Mathematics is a language - an abstraction. Our existence is not the product of numbers and mathematical formulas.

"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.

There is nothing permanent except change.

You could not step twice into the same rivers; for other waters are ever flowing on to you." - Heraclitus


*emergent

adjective
1 in the process of coming into being or becoming prominent: the emergent democracies of eastern Europe.
• Philosophy (of a property) arising as an effect of complex causes and not analysable simply as the sum of their effects.
2 Ecology of or denoting a plant which is taller than the surrounding vegetation, especially a tall tree in a forest.
• of or denoting a water plant with leaves and flowers that appear above the water surface.
noun
1 Philosophy an emergent property. knowledge is an emergent of this interactive process.
2 Ecology an emergent tree or other plant. emergents tower above the top canopy.


#12

What Buddhism says about consciousness is quite different from Brahmanism .
From Buddhism angle it would appear something alienated if compare to Brahmanism that is of different domain and would appear totally out of the box .
In Buddhism consciousness is dependent arisen, arises as a result of interaction between the sense media and its object . Short lived , limited and identity less ness .
But , in Brahmanism the Consciousness is ultimate truth or Brahman. Thus, Brahman is undifferentiated Pure Consciousness, devoid of parts, attributes, form, changes or limitations whatsoever. Sat Chit Ananda .


#13

It depends on the school* - and the teacher - within the Vedic tradition. The ultimate truth is Para-Brahman - it is one step beyond ‘Brahman’ (undifferentiated Pure Consciousness).

“Para-Brahman” the formless aspect of Divinity beyond Brahman is equivalent to “true emptiness”.

Para Brahma(n) (IAST: para-brahma) or Parama Brahma(n) (the Highest Brahman) is a term often used by Vedantic philosophers as to the “attainment of the ultimate goal”. - Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia

*“In Hinduism, a sampradaya ( Sanskrit : सम्प्रदाय IAST sampradāya) can be translated as ‘tradition’, ‘spiritual lineage’ or a ‘religious system’. It relates to a succession of masters and disciples, which serves as a spiritual channel, and provides a delicate network of relationships that lends stability to a religious identity.” - Wikipedia


#14

I find it interesting that only Buddhists ever talk about “Brahmanism”.

Most would say “Hindu” here. Or “Vedic”.

Only Buddhists ever use the word Brahmanism afaik.


#15

I was not proposing mind-body dualism (in the sense of mind and body being separate) any more than Max Tegmark. Simply suggesting that making matter an emergent property of consciousness (as opposed to his view that consciousness is an emergent property of matter) might work better to explain things. There are a number of physicists that have put forth such theories.

IMO, the role of all theories is not to explain what reality is - but rather to provide models that explain our experience. Past life memories are very well documented. That is, I don’t see this work being challenged or disproved by other researchers. What these phenomena mean (for example do they mean we actually have previous lives or just picking up memories from somewhere) is not.

Not sure why you bring in supernatural phenomena and god and such - I don’t see them as relevant.

One of the first hurdles to be crossed in these kinds of discussions is agreeing on a common terminology. So what does Max here mean by consciousness, mind, etc? What do I mean, what do you mean? (these are rhetorical). But until such terminology can be agreed upon I feel we are largely talking past each other which simply leads to pointless arguments.

Just an aside - I find your style unnecessarily confrontational:

  1. You present your opinions as if they are facts.
  2. You sprinkle your comments with denigrating remarks towards those that hold a view different from yours.

This is anyway how it is received on my end.


#16

From some viewpoints, it is you that has introduced supernatural phenomena into the conversation.


#17

Perhaps - I guess it depends on what one means by supernatural and ones views on consciousness.

Definition of supernatural
1 : of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe; especially : of or relating to God or a god, demigod, spirit, or devil
2 a : departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature
b : attributed to an invisible agent (such as a ghost or spirit)

From my perspective, there is a big difference between consciousness - which is self evident - and spirits, god, etc. that (at least in my experience) are not. I have no idea if these things exist or not - I know that I am aware - though I don’t know what that is or where it comes from.

Do people consider consciousness supernatural?


#18

I personally like Chalmer’s solution of the hard problem of consciousness, which avoids both mind body dualism and reductionism that most Buddhist have problem with. It doesn’t explain everything but it is anice start.


#19

28% of quantum physicist believe in the many-worlds theory. Stephen Hawkings also believed in that. These kind of people are called materialist. And they are still abundant.

The belief that consciousness dissappears after death is based on this assumption that consciousness originated from matter.

Materialism has been refuted. Believing in materialism is like believing the world is flat. One would be better off believing in the flying spaggette monster than in materialism, because at least that theory has not been refuted.


#20

Consider the chrome browser that you are probably using now and the code that is behind this website.

Consciousness is like the browser, matter is like the code. But this code is not written yet, it writes itself as it goes. Only when the code enters the browser, that moment it gets written. It is not written beforehand. There only exist posibilities of how this code cold be written, but it only gets written the very moment it is prased by the browser. This is what we know from science.

According to what algorithm the code can be written in one way or the other ? According to kamma, both past but also present kamma. And it might also have something to do with internal consistency. There is a need for internal logical consistency inside one individual computer. That’s why the placebo effect can exist. It is only required for it to be logically consistent inside one individual computer for it to happen. To other computers witnessing, it might be implausible but it will still happen.