With regards to Hameroff and Penrose, Conscious events as orchestrated spacetime selections, JCS 3(1)36-53, 1996:
All Einstein/Feigl/Chalmers/ Hameroff/Penrose have ontologically is qualia and fancy-schmancy geometry. There's this configured space-time geometry and then there's the being of it, which in certain locations is sentient, and elsewhere dark. [Heidegger would say "undisclosed."] So there is a dual ontology of geometry and qualia...say, how does the world fit in? ....I mean the "phenomenal world," the one we see before our very eyes,...There's no account provided for the world! ....All they have to work with ...are space-time curvatures which are not world-like and qualia intrinsic to particular space-time configurations (and qualia are not world-like). How does such a space-time configuration get outside of itself to the surrounding world? ... One cannot even speak of the "surrounding world" within H&P's ontological framework because there is nothing but geometry and its intrinsic aspect which are qualia. H&P's brain is hermetic and their ontology all verschlimmern!
Gulp. I thought I had been feeling rather well. Being stuck inside of spacetime (with the Memphis blues again?) sounds like the old song by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention - "Help, I'm a Rock". (Seriously, Gordon's critique reminds me of New York Times book reviews better written than the books themselves.)
However, Gordon's rendition of our ontology (thanks for describing it as that) is not quite what we're intending. What we're saying is more like:
1) Spacetime geometry IS the world "out there". (Gordon implies that spacetime curvatures are not world-like. But they are! In fact according to general relativity, they are identical to the world.)
2) Qualia are intrinsic properties of spacetime geometry; particular configurations are particular experiences. (Yes, brute fact. But read Chalmers' "The Conscious Mind" and then add the physics of fundamental reality)
3) Consciousness is a self-organizing process occuring in fundamental spacetime geometry. (The "occurring in" is the essential point.The best picture we have of 4 dimensional spacetime is portrayal as a 2-dimensional projection - a curvable sheet. In this representation Orch OR events are self-organizing separations, slippages or bubbles whose arisings and collapses percolate through, and reshape spacetime. Non-conscious processes - even self-organizing ones - may move through and alter spacetime, but are not intrinsic - no separations, slippages or bubbles in the fundamental medium itself. If experience is fundamental, it must arise from processes at the fundamental level of reality.)
There seems to be something profoundly wrong with any account of a psychological phenomenon in terms of fundamental physical quantities such as mass, charge, etc. According to such an account, any change which preserved these quantities should also preserve the phenomenon being explained. But these properties are preserved by, for example, randomly scrambling the cells in the human body, and other anatomically outrageous changes whih would produce instant death. On this account, one ought to be able to put Michael Jordan through a meat-grinder without changing his perception of time.
Since this kind of objection seems so obvious and so overwhelming, could I ask Stuart Hameroff to respond to it explicitly and explain why it does not apply to his theories?
Pat has either totally misunderstood us, or this is some sort of trick. Let's take Pat's comments explicitly step by step.
There seems to be something profoundly wrong with any account of a psychological phenomenon in terms of fundamental physical quantities such as mass, charge, etc.
Orch OR ascribes experience to particular configurations of spacetime, NOT the total amount of mass, charge, etc. Its like the difference between a computer chip and a handful of silicon sand. Call it information (or it's experiential aspect, as Chalmers does).
According to such an account, any change which preserved these quantities should also preserve the phenomenon being explained.
I learned in grade school that matter can neither be created nor destroyed by "ordinary" (non-atomic) means. But if changing something destroys the relationships among its components - it's information - then the information (and its experiential aspect) is lost. What if your computer blew up?
But these properties are preserved by, for example, randomly scrambling the cells in the human body, and other anatomically outrageous changes which would produce instant death.
Who said? They most certainly are not! As a matter of fact, just the opposite. Consciousness is the most sensitive and vulnerable physiological function. (e.g. brain death, concussion, anesthesia etc). And loss of microtubule/cytoskeletal integrity may be the critical, irreversible step in neuronal death and loss of cognitive function (e.g. Furukawa and Mattson, 1995; Waxman et al, 1993).
On this account, one ought to be able to put Michael Jordan through a meat-grinder without changing his perception of time.
Uh, I don't think so. Maybe Pat's saying that since Michel Jordan's experience is "in" spacetime, if Michael were gone the experience would still "be there". But it wouldn't (except in the past). It would take Orch OR events in Michael's (or someone's) intact, living brain's microtubules to appropriately configure spacetime geometry to have a Michael Jordan time-slowing, tongue-hanging, slam-dunking experience. And while it's true the spacetime geometry is there for any of us to configure such an experience, we can't (although I, for one, have tried). It's like looking at a block of marble and knowing that inside is Venus de Milo, Pieta, David, or Winged Victory of Samothrace. It just takes Michelangelo to properly configure the marble.
Chalmers D (1996) The Conscious Mind - In Search of a Fundamental Theory. Oxfrod Press, NY
Hameroff S, Penrose R. (1996) Conscious events as orchestrated space-time selections JCS 3(1):36-53.
Furukawa K, Mattson MP (1995) Taxol stabilizes [Ca2+]i and protects hippocampal neurons against excitotoxicity. Brain Research 689(1):141-146
Penrose R. (1994) Shadows of the Mind. Oxford Press, Oxford UK
Waxman SG, Black JA, Ransom BR, Stys PK (1993) Protection of the axonal cytoskeleton in anoxic optic nerve by decreased extracellular calcium. Brain Research 614(1-2):137-145