Abstract Details

A Blueprint for the Hard Problem of Consciousness: The self is void and the mind its avatar  Paulo Negro , Paulo J Negro (Columbia, MD )   C11

Some current theories of consciousness search for answers in patterns of information integration, in quantum models and other natural phenomena. The subject becomes an afterthought and consciousness a cryptic panpsychism. It is possible to address the Hard Problem without resorting to panpsychism. As an example of a panpsychism fatal flaw, the Integrated Information Theory takes the subject as a consequence, and not as premise. The IIT phenomenologically derived axioms are not the cause of consciousness, but a description of the experiences of a subject already present and conscious. Phenomenology does not make the subject. The subject is the origin of the phenomenology. The IIT argument is circular. Although single-celled organisms are not conscious, they are easily identified as an early subject and a point of departure. Their coupling with the environment improves when they become capable of better prepare to deal with environmental challenges, i.e. to make predictions that improve fitness. The interface of environmental input and predictions is deeply enacted on the informational hierarchy of cellular systems and may be ultimately projected upon the human brain ability to make hypotheses about reality. Inferences about inferences, internalized across multiple levels and domains can be eventually evolutionarily selected as human mind inferences about the internalized world. Phenomenological experiences can be understood as inference inversely mapped out as hidden causes of sensorial information. Being the subject can be understood as inference inversely mapped out as hidden causes of integrated actions. These inferences are made possible by a mental model called Predictive Coding: the brain generates and updates hypotheses about reality based on the interaction of top-down predictions and bottom-up information. Hierarchical brain oscillatory cycles of Prediction/Information interactions subsume primitives by transforming Prediction/Information primitives into upper levels Information, which in turn is made available to interact with upper levels predictions. Consciousness cannot be directly objectified and measured. It originates in actions withing the phenomenology of the species-specific neurological landscape and its coupling with the body. These ideas were matched with the neurobiology of the local networks supporting awareness of location, awareness of time, interoception and olfactory awareness. They fit Predictive Coding and are supported by anesthesia studies. They indicate how the emergence of the phenomenal objects heuristic can precede and predict human cognitive heuristic. They can be considered consistent with the empirical support of the Integrated Information Theory, the Global Neuronal Workspace theory and the Adaptive Resonance Theory. This Blueprint for the Hard Problem takes the subject perspective and offers a suitable alternative to current panpsychist theories. The fundamental ideas of this Blueprint as well as their neuronal landscape support will be presented and discussed.