Components of Psychology of Subjective Experience ©:


Part   Theory of Consciousness:



'Is reduction of consciousness feasible?'


(summary of manuscript)

[first website version 25-06-2004]
[7th, revised version 17-12-2009]



Short desription.



In this theory a proof is presented for the existence of subjective consciousness.

Why is it important


An experience we have has little meaning to us if it remains entirely unconscious. In fact, many of our questions, needs and problems in life are concerned with the consciousness of ourselves or others: especially, how to get it in a desired state, e.g. a state that is comfortable, in touch with relevant issues and ready for actions at hand. We can therefore assume that insights in the characteristics and workings of consciousness are of great importance in almost all areas of human activity. This hardly seems a problem; after all, consciousness - taken in it's most common, 'literal' sense, that is, the everyday 'being conscious', or having subjective awareness, or taking conscious notice, of whatever we may experience subjectively - is the one and only thing we know by which we know all things we know that we know.

However, in spite of its seemingly trivial character, the phenomenon of consciousness is still a profound mystery in many ways. It can not be directly observed in physical phenomena nor can it's presence be demonstrated through experimental procedures, or can it's existence be decisively derived by logical inference. It therefore really has no place in Western science up to this day, which is after all still essentially - and only - materialistic, physicalistic and functionalistic. Especially in psychology consciousness represents a troublesome concept. What remains as a logical consequence of this restriction is a concept of man that can not go beyond the levels of some sort of automaton, a computer within living matter, a 'biorobot' - in fact, a zombie. From this perspective, human beings, as well as other living creatures, cannot have any kind of intrinsic value whatsoever. They can only have market value based upon some instrumental utility, like serving as a means for production, commerce and consumption. This market value can solely be dependent of extrinsic variables like supply and demand (that are always higly accidental). This is exactly of course the way both humans and animals are considered and treaten in modern or postmodern industrialized 'free market' economy.

There obviously are some serious problems with that picture. It excludes many concepts and values that go beyond the purely physical or formal phenomena, and that we usually consider to be essential for a somewhat humane society: like having physical and emotional feelings and understanding that others have them, and many other interpersonal experiences, skills and abilities like involvement with others, and empathy. But also, consciousness is a necessary precondition of 'conscious choice', or a 'free will' and thus for reasonable levels of self-control, responsible behavior, accountability, and the ability we call 'conscience' (or some form of sincere inner morality for that matter). These faculties we may consider indispensible for living in a civil society.

Thus we may conclude that a realistic image of humans has to include a capacity for true subjective consciousness as a vital and crucial part of our being. First of all, because it concerns, as said before, our everyday waking state of consciousness by which we have any idea or awareness of anything, anywhere, in any case. Moreover, concsiousness embodies the miraculous power that is the necessary condition for the essentials in life, such as quality of experience, appraisal of what we observe, feel or know, and motivation for all our acts and efforts. Taken further, consciousness is the foundation of value, love and beauty - and the core of spiritual experience. It is therefore important to take a closer look at the grounds and whereabouts of this fascinating phenomenon. Then it appears that subjective consciousness is not that 'vague' as a phenomenon as it is sometimes considered.

Summary (of the summary below)


In this article we shall highlight the importance of understanding consciousness, explore it's characteristics, and present a logical proof - by a demonstration method called 'falsifying the opposite' - of it's independent and non-reducable existence.
First we offer a working definition of the concept of consciousness that reasonably satisfies the meanings and beliefs that are tradionally most generally held about it in almost all cultures and science fields.
Next we try to define the notion of consciousness more precisely, by identifying the typical characteristics of the phenomenon that will have to be accounted for in any plausible explanation to be found. These features can be sorted into three classes, i.e. those of disjoint, inherent and unique features, each of which have specific consequences and implications, requirements and limitations.
Then we take a look at the most important general forms of explanation (or reduction) of a phenomenon: as being identical to something else (paraphrasis), or as being an effect of something else (causal explanation/attribution), or even - possibly - as being a combination of both.
Now it appears that consciousness is explained by scientists mostly towards the neuro-physical domain or towards the information domain, or through 'hybrid' approaches such as quantum-physical reductions, or otherwise by such we may call 'illusionist reductions', i.e. interpretations of consciousness as a (cognitive) illusion.
We can now systematically examine for each of these classes of reductionist models of consciousness if the earlier mentioned characteristics of consciousness can be sufficiently explained by it. For this hypothesis testing we make use of data from a wide variety of sciences and fields of research, like neurophysiology, information theory, psychology and linguistics. But also appeals are made to immediate empirical experience and creative imagination that is generally available to explore various thought experiments. In the analysis of data and testing of models we apply principles and criteria of formal logic, meta-logic, statistics and causal analysis (or causal logic).
The results of the analysis show that the investigated explanatory models are all dependent on assumptions that are empirically unproven or appear to be unprovable from the start. Moreover, they usually make use of terminology and concepts that are highly ambiguous and pliable in meaning or reference. Furthermore, in most cases they contain many complexities and contingencies and therefore remain logically undecided, or appear to be logically undecidable by their nature. And finally, in so far as they are decidable, they often run down hopelessly in contradictions and paradoxes - and are thus definitely to be refuted

What remains clear is that consciousness is usually heavily dependent on neuro-physical conditions and processes. As far as we know it appears to be present always in the normal waking state, and sometimes in dreams (especially in so-called REM sleep). Because of this it must be dependent on neuro-physical features that have arisen early in evolution, and are in animal species, especially vertebrates, almost exactly the same as in humans.
The precise process however, in which consciousness is created, activated or facilitated, for the largest part still remains a mystery. What we can conclude firmly is that consciousness appears to have a unique quality of it's own: in particular in the so-called qualia - Eg the 'redness' of red - that can only be found in subjective experience, and don't appear to have any origin or connection point to be traced or proven in either physical phenomena, or structural features or abstract patterns of information.

On the basis of this study it still seems to be defendable to assume in reality, - besides the domains of physical phenomena (including both the relativistic and the quantum scales) and of abstract phenomena - the existence of a third domain: that of subjective consciousness.


1. Introduction



Goal


The objective of this paper is to investigate, through a logically sound argumentation, whether a 'real' consciousness (in the literal, subjective sense) can exist.

Problem description


Consciousness - in the sense of the everyday 'being conscious', or taking conscious notice, of whatever we may experience subjectively - has a rather ambiguous status within the standard model of science. The minimal assumption is however that it can be described, at least partly, with respect to its various observable manifestations, in terms of physical and/or abstract phenomena: e.g. level of neuro-physical activation, or information-processing capacity.
The question however still remains whether the phenomenon of consciousness will also appear to be completely reducible to some category of the physical (neuronal) domain and/or abstract (logical) domain. Otherwise there will still be a theoretical possibility that it comprises a separate domain of reality.

Why is consciousness important


First we will shortly investigate what the importance might be of consciousness, and the state of being-conscious, for everyday life.
For the social sciences there is a special interest in gaining a better understanding of consciousness: human motives, drives and tendencies can often be traced back to objectives in the area of well-being (quality of subjective experience), and of exercising free will (latitude of freedom-of-choice) - and these are precisely the kind of experiences and processes that are only possible with some capacity of being conscious.
A considerable problem however is that these kinds of experiences and processes are already rigorously and principally excluded by the regular methodology of scientific research (or they are at most accepted as symbolic or theoretical constructs).
With this the ironic situation has risen that the established, academic version of psychology on the one hand is often called in to improve subjective well-being and self-control of persons, while on the other hand so far - paradoxically enough - it has no legitimate reason for that on a basis of its own scientific criteria.
(This paradox is seldomly acknowledged, perhaps because psychologists in their professional field already have to deal with such al lot of paradoxes).

What is consciousness?


Next a provisional working definition of consciousness is given, that is based on the general, traditional and proto-scientific notions about it (so-called 'naive psychology'). Because recent scientific developments are unmistakebly important for our thinking about consciousness, it is attempted to make the working definition compatible with findings from neuro-science and cognitive science.

2. Arguments against and in favor of consciousness



Scientific problems


After this the most important principal obstacles are explored for western science to acknowledge something like a subjective consciousness as a category of reality. These problems are of an empirical nature (you cannot observe it 'from the outside'), of a physical nature (it is of unknown 'substance') and of a logical nature (it has, as far it is known, no reasonable explanation). From these problems follow epistemological obstacles (it is hard to know how to get to know more about it), etiological puzzles (it is unclear how it comes into being), and ontological objections (it is troublesome to prove that it exists at all).
Because of these problems some scientists believe that consciousness, if taken in a literal sense, actually doesn't exist at all (so-called eliminitavism) and thus represents at most a meaningless concept, a myth or an illusion (which I call illusionism).

Reasons to assume consciousness


Opposite to the above, a number of general arguments may be posed in favor of the assertion that consciousness does in fact exist and that it may also be to some extent investigated.
First of all, the striving for quality of life is a widely spread drive in people but it could never be noticed without any consciousness. In fact, without consciousness nothing would make any difference to us at all, which clearly is not the case. E.g., it may be predicted that in the face of severe torture, even hard-core consciousness-denyers will have their preferences to be tortured or not, supposedly also when physical damage would be excluded. Furthermore, without consciousness real choices and decisions would be impossible or they could only be completely automatic - either determined or at random. Any personal responsibility would be illusive and thus a legal system would be useless.
{ It is noticed that 'subjective' and 'objective' do not necessarily form a pair of contrary concepts. Any representation of a state of affairs is always most immediately determined by properties of the information-carrier, and is therefore primarily a subject-determined representation; but apart from that it can, to some extent, be an object-determined representation - the latter would for that matter actually be an interaction-effect of both subject and object. }

Reductionist explanatory models of consciousness


After this follows the question of what precise nature consciousness could be, if it actually does exist in some way.
Many attempts have been made to reduce consciousness to categories of reality that are more easily explorable. These intended reductions are globally to be classified into two main groups:
(I) Reductions towards a physical domain, in particular neuro-variants (Identity theory and the like) - to be called N-reductions. Within these perspectives consciousness is considered to be somehow dependent on certain brain states.
{This view is to be found in such models and theories as Materialism, Physicalism, Physical monism, 'Mind-Brain Identity theories' (David M. Armstrong, o.a. 1968, 1969, 1970, 1973), Union theory (Donald Davidson, 1964, 1970/ 1980, 1987), Biological position, Causal interactionism, Mechanical determinism, 'Mind-body supervenience', and further ideas of the like.}

(II) Reductions towards an abstract domain, in particular information-variants (functionalism and the like) - to be called I-reductions. In these interpretations consciousness is considered to be only dependent on certain ordering-states, structural features, or abstract patterns - be it within the human brain or outside of it.
{Some examples of these are Functionalism, Strong AI (Artificial-Intelligence) argument, Mechanical Neuron argument, Structuralism, Connectionism, Complexity position, and similar explanations.}

When we take a look at the large number of existing attempts at reduction, their wide variation, and their many controversial and contradictory elements, this gives rise to questions about the validity as well as the consistency and even the decidability of these explanatory models.

3. What should be explained?



Characteristics of consciousness


Is a reduction of consciousness - towards neuro-domain or towards information-domain - after all feasible?
We must then firstly highlight what precisely it is about consciousness that should be explained. To clarify this, at least the most important - or most 'unmistakeble' - features of consciousness have to be investigated.
For this purpose a logical distinction is presented between three sorts or basic categories of characteristics of phenomena in general:
(1) Disjunct (or facultative) properties (

D

features):
Characteristics that may of may not show up together with the phenomenon concerned.
(2) Inherent (or necessary) properties (

H

features):
Characteristics that are always and inseparable connected to the phenomenon.
(3) Unique (or exclusive) properties (

U

features):
Characteristics that exclusively appear together with the specific phenomenon, and are thus sufficiently indicative for it.

It can be showed that the latter two kinds of characteristics are necessary to mark out a phenomenon like consciousness as a distinct category in reality: inherent features are needed to know what is needed in advance for the phenomenon in order to be realized, and unique features are needed afterwards to recognize the thing when it's there.
In addition, the same two sorts of properties are crucial to any adequate attempt to explain or reduce of a phenomenon: inherent features are needed afterwards to explain it from known situations (e.g. retrodiction or abduction), while unique features are needed in advance to predict it into yet unknown situations (e.g. prospection or prognosis).
(Many unsolved problems in the philosophy of consciousness originate, to my opinion, from confusion about these different categories of properties).

What follows is an overview of hypothetical properties of consciousness (say,

B

features), with a global classification in line with the before mentioned two types of consciousness reduction (

N

,

I

), namely:
(I) Properties that are neurophyscically-based (

B*N

-features, in 8 aspects), and
(II) Properties that are information-related (

B*I

-features, in 12 aspects).

Next, a number of these properties are highlighted that may be considered to be inherent for consciousness (that is to say, the combinations

B*H*N

and/or

B*H*I

).

After this an overview is presented of supposed unique characteristics of consciousness (so-called

B*U

-features, e.g. subjective sensations like qualia). If these features are truly unique to consciousness, then they must be exclusively indicative for it, and they cannot be counted among the various aspects within the neuronal or the information-domain. This would mean that the combinations

B*U*N

and

B*U*I

are not a logical possibility. In that case there remain three possibilities: either any

B*U

-features can only be quasi-unique, or all

B*U

-features must appear to be causally reducible to physical or abstract phenomena - or consciousness is not reducible.
Therefore, unique features pre-eminently throw up a challenge for the chances of a reduction to succeed.

4. Method of analysis



Main forms of reduction


Next we consider what it would mean for an explanation or reduction to be rightfully called successful.
To clarify this a division is made between two basic ways of reduction of one phenomenon, like consciousness (B), towards an other phenomenon, say A.
(a)

Pf

-reductions:

Identification or paraphrasing-models. Their purpose is to offer prove for an hypothesis of the form: '

B

is A', or '

B

belongs to A'.
Reduction takes place here by deductive analysis.
A

Pf

-reduction requires evidence of complete logical equivalence, or at least subordination (in set theory: inclusion, in logic: subsumption), of

B

towards A.
(b)

Cs

-reductions

: Causal attribution-models. These are meant to prove an hypothesis of the form: 'A causes

B

'.
Reduction takes place here through inductive analysis.
A

Cs

-reduction requires an explanation of

B

originating from A through causal processes and following causal laws and mechanisms.

Requirements to reduction


For each of these classes of reduction (

Pf

and

Cs

) a number of minimal criteria can be given on which reduction-models may be tested. In paraphrasing there are five and in causal attribution there are twelve.
The criteria concerned are of various nature: quantitive (statistical), formal (logical), qualitative (phenomenological) and physical (mechanistic).

We can now cross the two basic reduction-classes (

Pf

,

Cs

) with the two main tupes of consciousness reductions (

N

,

I

), so that we get four sections (quadrants):
(1a)

B*N*Pf

: consciousness as a neuro-physical phenomenon.
(1b)

B*N*Cs

: consciousness from a neuro-physical phenomenon.
(2a)

B*I*Pf

: consciousness as information.
(2b)

B*I*Cs

: consciousness from information.

By this we get a total of 2*5 and 2*12 is 34 test-moments. These may then be applied to the various variants of reduction of consciousness.

Semantic analysis (conceptual division)


Before testing the various reduction models, some preliminary operations are required. This is because within the main groups of reductions there are many variants that have considerable mutual overlaps. These variants are first to be ordered into a smaller number of subgroups. Of these it must further be clarified how they are related to the domain of their main group (

N

or

I

), so that it may show that they are susceptible to the above mentioned criteria for both forms of reduction (

Pf

and

Cs

).

The main group of reductions for the information domain offers an additional problem: the various information-reductions appear to rest upon various specific, explicit and implicit ideas about the phenomenon of information that are heavily dependent on subjective interpretation and arbitrary definition.
Therefore first an overview is given of the different types of information, and based on this a classification is proposed into two global classes of information (derived from A.Korzybski, G.Bateson, R.Penrose, and others):
· (I) Class of Physical states of ordering (incidental patterns).
· (II) Class of Types of states of ordering (abstract patterns).

Furthermore there are certain complex reductions, e.g. the one that may be called the 'Illusion metaphor' of Daniel Dennett, that in several ways rest upon all four of the reduction forms. It appears however that such complex reductions can be split up into a number of distinct, conjunct components (corresponding with the underlying assumptions and their derivates), each of which can be classified under a specific form of reduction, and can be tested within that frame. Apart from that a separate chapter will be dedicated to the global theory of the 'Illusionist' consciousness reduction.

5. Testing and judging of reductions



After this cleaning-up and sorting-out of the most well-known consciousness reductions, the checking criteria can be applied to the acquired categories. A first and provisional trial yields the following results.

5.1. Neuro-reduction.


Neuro-reductions appear as yet to score favourably on a number of aspects.

(1a)

B*N*Pf

: Consciousness as a neuro-physical phenomenon.


This applies the least on paraphrase type reductions. Of course, from our lifelong experience we know that consciousness is usually expected to be located in neuronal environments, and never, or most seldomly, anywhere else. The problem remains however that consciousness can only be verified directly by subjective account (the Other Minds problem).
But this - rather huge - difficulty left aside, many characteristics of neuro-physical activities may serve as rather reliable - though indirect - indicators of the presence of consciousness.
Also, what affects the physical brain often also affects our state of consiousness.
However, as soon as we try to pin down the general claim - 'Mind is Brain', or 'Mind is a kind of Brain matter' - to some more specific explanation, we get in serious problems.

First of all, the number of specific structures or phenomena we may identify within the brain is practically infinite. They may include parts or properties, substances or states, processes or capacities within the brain, or the entire nerve system - that may consist of certain organs and pathways, fibres and nerve cells, tissues and fluids, circuits and subsystems, chemicals like neural transmitters, and electromagnetic signals, coming in flows, waves or fields. Each of these manifest themselves in numerous types and varieties, quantities and intensities, densities and frequencies - and all these within bounds of certain value ranges and probability intervals.
Now any neuro-paraphrase reduction of consciousness will have to identify some sample or subset of these elements, in some well-defined combination, setting and organization. So, to make such a selection, at least a choice has to be made out of the power set of these elements.

Next, it has to declare this selection to be precisely converging with the very set of neuronal correlates of consciousness (NCC's), being as such the exact physical equivalent of consciousness - without, of course, leaving a chink of space for any truly mental remainings. However, in order for such a reduction to be valid, it should be proved that this very selection perfectly satisfies simultaneity: it will always, and only, as well as solely, occur precisely during the presence of consiousness - and vice versa. This in turn requires proving that the selection concerned satisfies both sufficient subsumption - it has to account for all inherent components and qualities of consciousness (including content aspects like information structures) as well as sufficient isomorphism - it has to represent all unique features and characteristics of consciousness (like conscious notion of any information content, experiencing qualia, exercizing voluntary choice, etc.).

Unfortunately, all known models for neuro-paraphrase reduction of consciousness appear to fail on both of these criteria with many of nearly all of their proposed 'neuronal equivalents' of consciousness.

(1b)

B*N*Cs

: Consciousness from a neuro-physical phenomenon.


Neuro-reduction performs much better on criteria of causal attribution (four out of twelve).
The extent to which chronology is satisfied, deserves the benefit of the doubt.
A problem still remains in that the two other basic requirements for causality, autonomous contribution as well as unique contribution, cannot be sufficiently verified. The first seems to be uncontrollable and the other appears to score as yet only scarcely positive.
Furthermore, a real experimental test of causal hypotheses seems practically infeasible because of a number of fundamental obstacles to set up real experimental and base line group conditions. In effect to this, confounding or entanglement of possible other causal factors (or covariates) appears to be uncontrollable and not tractable, so cannot be excluded.
Thus the many, much commended neuronal correlates of consciousness (NCC's) as yet appear restricted to indicators of temporal coincident, that may just as well refer, hypothetically speaking, to indirect causal relations between nerve system and consciousness, e.g. in case that common causes or intermediating factors play a substantial role in the arising of consciousness, that are still unknown.

Considering the obviously strong dependence of consciousness on certain neuro-physical factors, it is for instance also imaginable that the latter in their turn play a necessary and unique intermediate role, in particular in an elicitating or a facilitating way, within the process of the origin and maintenance of conscious states. E.g., perhaps an amount of 'consciousness potential', latently present in the immediate environment, might be brought into a psychological manifestation on the individual level, through a certain kind of neuro-physical intervention or modulation (In such a case one could think of a form of panpsyschism.)

Either way, just as easy it appears to be to falsify any neuro-reductions of consciousness, as hard it remains to back up the various hypothetical reductions - fascinating and promising as they may seem to be - with sufficient positive evidence. Especially, a possible causal mechanism between nerve system and consciousness still cannot be mapped out - not even in the slightest way. For instance, as a result of the 'intangible' properties of consciousness, any match points or transitional areas between consciousness and neuronal processes are hard to find.
Even more, processes in the entire realm of mind - from consciousness to the physical brain - show signs of enormous complexity.
{Note. Processes at the 'macroscopical level' that take place within consciousness and more general, within the mind or psyche, often seem to arise in a non-algoritmic way: like eg various processes of artistic, creative and inventive nature. At the 'microscopical level' of the neuro-physiological processes however, complexity arises in the first place from variaties, fluctuations and combinatory explosions of electro-chemical patterns that are of astronomical proportions, and of hyper-exponential or even of absolutely non-computabe order. Besides, anatomy of the nerve system and 'wiring' of neural circuitry are also of immense complexity, and until now are only mapped out to a very limited extent. Furthermore, neuro-physiological mechanisms - whether on the cellular, molecular, atomic or sub-atomic quantum level - are extremely multifarious and for the largest part still remain unclarified.
To offer explanations, all thinkable sorts of physical and mathematical theories are brought into position: quantum-mechanics, chaos theory, recursive geometrical functions (eg fractals), etc..}
For any attempts to understand such processes, these forms of complexity bring along problems such as hyper-exponentiality, non-computability and undecidability. As a consequence it follows that, even if consciousness actually is a neuro-physical product, the causal mechanism for this may be too complex to be described in a way that is precise, accurate and complete.

5.2. Information-reduction.


Information-reductions even gain less promising scores.

(2a)

B*I*Pf

: Consciousness as information.


Within the frame of paraphrasing consciousness to information, the range of reduction types appears to be restricted to consciousness as being sometimes an indication for the presence of an amount of information - and this at any rate under the assumption that consciousness can be reliably detected, and also under a very tolerant interpretation of the notion of 'information'. Indeed, consciousness will probably nearly always go together with (subjective) information. However it will often contain much more than only information in the conventional meaning. (Think only of experiencing qualia of stronger and rougher kinds such as pain, itch, orgasm, hunger, thirst and the like). In other words, consciousness as information - and being only information - will stretch the notion of information a bridge too far.
Given the wide variety in qualities of conscious content it is also clear that the requirements for subordination (or logical subsumption) of consciousness to information are even less satisfied, in particular with respect to the supposed unique features of consciousness.
The reverse of this indicative relation, information as being a sufficient indicator of consciousness - that is, any one living creature's consciousness - seems much more obviously at hand. However, for this interpretation to be valid, once again first a choice has to be made in favor of a specific definition of information - in this case that of class II: of types of states of ordering (structural features, or abstract patterns). The question remains thereby whether that choice can be supported to such an extent that we can sufficiently exclude the alternative definition, that is the one of class I: of physical states of ordering (incidental patterns in physical processes).
In discussing these different concepts (cf. previous chapters), already a conflict appeared to exist between the two basic approaches: on the basis of the philosophy of science and the exact sciences there is evidence for the abstract-pattern definition, but on grounds of general, conventional use of language the physical-state definition as yet can not be excluded.

(2b)

B*I*Cs

: Consciousness from information.


Causal attribution simply doesn't score for the information domain on any criterion. At least it is hard to prove that preceding the start of consciousness, or even stronger: independently of any kind of consciousness, information can exist. Of course this counts for information taken in the sense of class II: of types of states of ordering (structural features, or abstract patterns).
{We may take information in the sense of class I: of physical states of ordering (incidental patterns in physical processes), but that simply and inevitably brings us back to neuronal causation models of consciousness. }

Even more, there is a number of interesting clues for the reverse relation: consciousness causes information - that is of course, if we again restrict information to abstract patterns.

6. Results in short


The many known explanatory models (or attempts at reduction) of consciousness can be globally classified into two main groups of explanatory factors that they are oriented to: neuronal factors and information aspects.
Apart of this the reductions can be classified on basis of their orientation towards identification (or paraphrasing), and causal attribution. These forms of reduction are good for five respectively twelve testing-criteria for successful reduction.
As a strategy for final tests the technique of 'meta-reduction' is systematically applied on the reductionist models, in the form of logical proof method reductio ad absurdum. For this aim, a number of preparations are performed. To optimize logical power of testing the models are given maximal 'profit of the doubt' in advance, by default assumptions décharge. The formalizing towards testable logical structure is construed on the basis of linguistical, conceptual and empirical-analytical methods. The actual logical testing is performed by confronting the formalized models with empirical data, principles of causal analysis and logical (reduction) laws.
The results of the analysis show that the investigated explanatory models all fail on one or more basic logica criteria.
(·) Meaning-decidability : They usually make use of terminology and concepts that are highly ambiguous and pliable in meaning or reference.
(·) Logical validity : Moreover, they are all dependent on assumptions that are empirically unproven or appear to be unprovable from the start.
(·) Truth-decidability : Furthermore, in most cases they contain many complexities and contingencies and therefore remain logically undecided, or appear to be logically undecidable by their nature.
(·) Satisfiability (consistency) : Finally, in so far as they are decidable, they often run down hopelessly in contradictions and paradoxes - and are thus definitely to be refuted.
At the same time, the neuro-physical reductions clearly appear to have 'better papers' than the information reductions. There are plenty of indications that consciousness is, in one way or the other, dependent on neuro-physical factors (mind-body supervenience).
However, in all known cases immense fundamental obstacles remain for a complete reduction. In particular, the supposed unique features of consciousness give rise to serious problems: within the frame of a paraphrasing model they appearently are very hard to 'unmask' as being capable to be generalized outside of the consciousness domain, while within the frame of causal attribution there is no match to be found with physical factors nor with abstract patterns.


7. Preliminary conclusions


On the basis of this study it still seems to be defendable to assume that in reality, besides the domains of physical phenomena and abstract phenomena, a third domain exists: that of subjective consciousness.
The cosmological division that Karl Popper made into three 'worlds' can therefore as yet, mutatis mutandis, be adopted (metaphysical pluralism). Thereby however a theoretical possibility still remains that the information domain may appear to be capable of being reduced to the realm of consciousness. Thus, for a dualism à la Descartes the stars still don't stand definitely unfavorable.


Cees P. van der Velde, december 2009.

See also ..