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Abstract: Psychology can be based on plans, internally held images of achievement that organize the stimulus-response links of traditional psychology. The hierarchical structure of plans must be produced, held, assigned priorities, and monitored. Consciousness is the operation of the plan-executing mechanism, enabling behavior to be driven by plans rather than immediate environmental contingencies. The mechanism unpacks a single internally held idea into a series of actions. New in this paper is the proposal that language uses this mechanism for communication, unpacking an idea into a series of articulatory acts. Language comprehension uses the plan-monitoring mechanism to pack a series of linguistic events into an idea. Recursive processing results from monitoring one's own speech. Neurophysiologically, the planning mechanism is identified with higher-order motor control
Abstract: I will actually talk mostly about evolutionary processes in the brain as we think about what to say next; I'll be happy to answer questions later, however, about how this system we call consciousness itself evolved on the usual evolutionary time scale of the ice ages
Abstract: How might consciousness have evolved? Unfortunately for the prospects of providing a convincing answer to this question, there is no agreed account of what consciousness is. So any attempt at an answer will have to fragment along a number of different lines of enquiry. More fortunately, perhaps, there is general agreement that a number of distinct notions of consciousness need to be distinguished from one another; and there is also broad agreement as to which of these is particularly problematic - namely phenomenal consciousness, or the kind of conscious mental state which it is like something to have, which has a distinctive subjective feel or phenomenology (henceforward referred to as p-consciousness). I shall survey the prospects for an evolutionary explanation of p-consciousness, on a variety of competing accounts of its nature. My goal is to use evolutionary considerations to adjudicate between some of those accounts
Abstract: It is suggested that the anatomical structures whichmediate consciousness evolved as decisiveembellishments to a (non-conscious) design strategypresent even in the simplest monocellular organisms.Consciousness is thus not the pinnacle of ahierarchy whose base is the primitive reflex, becausereflexes require a nervous system, which the monocelldoes not possess. By postulating that consciousness isintimately connected to self-paced probing of theenvironment, also prominent in prokaryotic behavior,one can make mammalian neuroanatomy amenable todramatically simple rationalization
Abstract: When and where did consciousness emerge in the course of evolution? Did it happen as recently as the past million years, for example concomitant with language or tool making in humans or primates? Or did consciousness arrive somewhat earlier, with the advent of mammalian neocortex 200 million years ago (Eccles, 1992)? At the other extreme, is primitive consciousness a property of even simple unicellular organisms of several billion years ago (e.g. as suggested by Margulis and Sagan, 1995)? Or did consciousness appear at some intermediate point, and if so, where and why? Whenever it first occurred, did consciousness alter the course of evolution?
Abstract: Many special problems crop up when evolutionary theory turns, quite naturally, to the question of the adaptive value and causal role of consciousness in human and nonhuman organisms. One problem is that -- unless we are to be dualists, treating it as an independent nonphysical force -- consciousness could not have had an independent adaptive function of its own, over and above whatever behavioral and physiological functions it "supervenes" on, because evolution is completely blind to the difference between a conscious organism and a functionally equivalent (Turing Indistinguishable) nonconscious "Zombie" organism: In other words, the Blind Watchmaker, a functionalist if ever there was one, is no more a mind reader than we are. Hence Turing-Indistinguishability = Darwin-Indistinguishability. It by no means follows from this, however, that human behavior is therefore to be explained only by the push-pull dynamics of Zombie determinism, as dictated by calculations of "inclusive fitness" and "evolutionarily stable strategies." We are conscious, and, more important, that consciousness is piggy-backing somehow on the vast complex of unobservable internal activity -- call it "cognition" -- that is really responsible for generating all of our behavioral capacities. Hence, except in the palpable presence of the irrational (e.g., our sexual urges) where distal Darwinian factors still have some proximal sway, it is as sensible to seek a Darwinian rather than a cognitive explanation for most of our current behavior as it is to seek a cosmological rather than an engineering explanation of an automobile's behavior. Let evolutionary theory explain what shaped our cognitive capacity (Steklis & Harnad 1976; Harnad 1996, but let cognitive theory explain our resulting behavior
Abstract: William Paley in his famous statement in 1800 of the Argument from Design, imagined that he found a watch lying on a heath and set to wondering how it came to be there. “The inference is inevitable, that the watch must have had a maker: that there must have existed, at some time, and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers who formed it for the purpose which
Abstract: Some naturalistic theories of consciousness give an essential role to teleology.1 This teleology is said to arise due to natural selection. Thus it is claimed that only certain states, namely, those that have been selected for by evolutionary pro- cesses because they contribute to (or once contributed to) an organism’s fitness, are conscious states. These theories look as if they are assigning a creative role to natural selection. If a state is conscious only if it has been selected for, then selec- tion appears to be able to create a new feature of states, namely, their conscious nature. Yet, intuitively, natural selection cannot create anything. Natural selec- tion chooses certain features that already exist and makes them more (or less) prevalent in a population, but it cannot bring features into existence itself. Natu- ral selection can select for conscious states, but it cannot create them. This con- clusion has recently been argued for by Steven Horst (1999). If it is right, then teleological theories of conscious states should be rejected. A state cannot become a conscious experience in virtue of having been selected for by evolu- tionary process
Abstract: First-person and third-person perspectives are different items of human consciousness. Feeling the taste of a fruit or being consciously part of a group eating fruits call for different perspectives of consciousness. The latter is about objective reality (third-person data). The former is about subjective experience (first-person data) and cannot be described entirely by objective reality. We propose to look at how these two perspectives could be rooted in an evolutionary origin of human consciousness, and somehow be connected. Our starting point is a scenario describing how evolution could have transformed a non self-conscious auto-representation into a conscious self-representation (Menant 2006). The scenario is based on the performance of inter-subjectivity existing among non human primates (Gardenfors 2006). A key item of the scenario is the identification of the auto-representation of a subject with the representations that the subject has of her conspecifics, the latter feeding the former with the meaning: “existing in the environment”. So during evolution, pre-human primates were brought to perceive their auto-representation as existing in the environment. Such process could have generated the initial elements of a conscious self-representation. We take this scenario as providing a possible rooting of human consciousness in evolution. We develop here a part of this scenario by expliciting the inward and outward components of the non self-conscious auto-representation. Inward components are about proprioception and interoception (thirst, pain, …). Outward components cover the sensory information relative to the perception of the body (seen feet, … ) and of its effects on the environment. We consider that the initial elements of a conscious self-representation have been applied to both inward and outward components of the auto-representation. We propose that the application to inward components made possible some first-person information, and that the application to outward components brought up third-person information. Relations between the two perspectives are highlighted. Such approach can root first-person and third-person perspectives in the same slot of human evolution. We conclude by a summary of the above and introduce a possible application of this approach to the concepts of bodily self and of pre-reflexive self-consciousness (Legrand, 2006)
Abstract: Self-consciousness is a product of evolution. Few people today disagree with the evolutionary history of humans. But the nature of self-consciousness is still to be explained, and the story of evolution has rarely been used as a framework for studies on consciousness during the 20th century. This last point may be due to the fact that modern study of consciousness came up at a time where dominant philosophical movements were not in favor of evolutionist theories (Cunningham 1996). Research on consciousness based on Phenomenology or on Analytic Philosophy has been mostly taking the characteristics of humans as starting points. Relatively little has been done with bottom-up approaches, using performances of animals as a simpler starting point to understand the generation of consciousness through evolution. But this status may be changing, thanks to new tools coming from recent discoveries in neurology. The discovery of mirror neurons about ten years ago (Gallese et al. 1996, Rizzolatti et al. 1996) has allowed the built up of new conceptual tools for the understanding of intersubjectivity within humans and non human primates (Gallese 2001, Hurley 2005). Studies in these fields are still in progress, with discussions on the level of applicability of this natural intersubjectivity to non human primates (Decety and Chaminade 2003). We think that these subject/conspecific mental relations made possible by mirror neurons can open new paths for the understanding of the nature of self-consciousness via an evolutionist bottom-up approach. We propose here a scenario for the build up of self-consciousness through evolution by a specific analysis of two steps of evolution: first step from simple living elements to non human primates comparable to chimpanzees, and second step from these non human primates to humans. We identify these two steps as representing the evolution from basic animal awareness to body self-awareness, and from body self-awareness to self-consciousness. (we consider that today non human primates are comparable to what were pre-human primates). We position body self-awareness as corresponding to the performance of mirror self recognition as identified with chimpanzees and orangutans (Gallup). We propose to detail and understand the content of this body self-awareness through a specific evolutionist build up process using the performances of mirror neurons and group life. We address the evolutionary step from body self-awareness to self-consciousness by complementing the recently proposed approach where self-consciousness is presented as a by-product of body self-awareness amplification via a positive feedback loop resulting of anxiety limitation (Menant 2004). The scenario introduced here for the build up of self-consciousness through evolution leaves open the question about the nature of phenomenal-consciousness (Block 2002). We plan to address this question later on with the help of the scenario made available here
Abstract: It is agreed by most people that self-consciousness is the result of an evolutionary process, and that representations may have played an important role in that process. We would like to propose here that some evolutionary stages can highlight links existing between representations and the notion of self, opening a possible path to the nature of self-consciousness. Our starting point is to focus on representations as usage oriented items for the subject that carries them. These representations are about elements of the environment including conspecifics, and can also represent parts of the subject without refering to a notion of self (we introduce the notion of "auto-representation" that does not carry the notion of self-representation). Next step uses the performance of intersubjectivity (mirror neurons level in evolution) where a subject has the capability to mentally simulate the observed action of a conspecific (Gallese 2001). We propose that this intersubjectivity allows the subject to identify his auto-representation with the representations of his conspecifics, and so to consider his auto-representation as existing in the environment. We show how this evolutionary stage can introduce a notion of self-representation for a subject, opening a road to self-conciousness and to self. This evolutionary approach to the self via self- representation is close to the current theory of the self linked to representations and simulations (Metzinger 2003). We use a scenario about how evolution has brought the performance of self-representation to self-consciousness. We develop a process describing how the anxiety increase resulting from identification with endangered or suffering conspecifics may have called for the development of tools to limit this anxiety (empathy, imitation, language), and how these tools have accelerated the evolutionary process through a positive feedback on intersubjectivity (Menant 2004, 2005). We finish by summarizing the points addressed, and propose some possible continuations
Abstract: The notion of representation is at the foundation of cognitive sciences and is used in theories of mind and consciousness. Other notions like ‘embodiment’, 'intentionality‘, 'guidance theory' or ‘biosemantics’ have been associated to the notion of representation to introduce its functional aspect. We would like to propose here that a conception of 'usage related' representation eases its positioning in an evolutionary context, and opens new areas of investigation toward self-representation and self-consciousness. The subject is presented in five parts:Following an overall presentation, the first part introduces a usage related representation as being an information managed by a system submitted to a constraint that has to be satisfied. We consider that such a system can generate a meaningful information by comparing its constraint to a received information (Menant 2003). We define a representation as being made of the received information and of the meaningful information. Such approach allows groundings in and out for the representation relatively to the system. The second part introduces the two types of representations we want to focus on for living organisms: representations of conspecifics and auto-representation, the latter being defined without using a notion of self-representation. Both types of representations have existed for our pre-human ancestors which can be compared to today great apes.In the third part, we use the performance of intersubjectivity as identified in group life with the presence of mirror neurons in the organisms. Mirror neurons have been discovered in the 90‘s (Rizzolatti & al.1996, Gallese & al.1996). The level of intersubjectivity that can be attributed to non human primates as related to mirror neurons is currently a subject of debate (Decety 2003). We consider that a limited intersubjectivity between pre-human primates made possible a merger of both types of representations. The fourth part proposes that such a merger of representations feeds the auto-representation with the meanings associated to the representations of conspecifics, namely the meanings associated to an entity perceived as existing in the environment. We propose that auto-representation carrying these new meanings makes up the first elements of self-representation. Intersubjectivity has allowed auto-representation to evolve into self-representation, avoiding the homunculus risk. The fifth part is a continuation to other presentations (Menant 2004, 2005) about possible evolution of self-representation into self-consciousness. We propose that identification with suffering or endangered conspecifics has increased anxiety, and that the tools used to limit this anxiety (development of empathy, imitation, language and group life) have provided a positive feedback on intersubjectivity and created an evolutionary engine for the organism. Other outcomes have also been possible. Such approach roots consciousness in emotions. The evolutionary scenario proposed here does not introduce explicitly the question of phenomenal consciousness (Block 1995). This question is to be addressed later with the help of this scenario.The conclusion lists the points introduced here with their possible continuations
Abstract: Current research on artificial consciousness is focused on phenomenal consciousness and on functional consciousness. We propose to shift the focus to self-consciousness in order to open new areas of investigation. We use an existing scenario where self-consciousness is considered as the result of an evolution of representations. Application of the scenario to the possible build up of a conscious robot also introduces questions relative to emotions in robots. Areas of investigation are proposed as a continuation of this approach
Abstract: The question about evolution of consciousness has been addressed so far as possible selectional advantage related to consciousness ("What evolutionary advantages, if any, being conscious might confer on an organism ? "). But evidencing an adaptative explanation of consciousness has proven to be very difficult. Reason for that being the complexity of consciousness. We take here a different approach on subject by looking at possible selectional advantages related to the performance of Self Awareness that appeared during evolution millions of years before consciousness as we know it for humans. The interest of such an approach is that the analysis of selectional advantage is done at an evolution step sigificantly simpler that the step of Human Consciousness. We analyse how evolutionary advantages have resulted from this specific Self Awareness step. This is done by taking into consideration the possibility for a subject to identify with a conspecific at this level of evolution. We use the results made available by Mirror Neuron researchs where intersubjectivity and some level of identification with conspecifics have been evidenced for non human primates. Selectional advantages related to Self Awareness are analysed two ways: - Reformulating the performances of imitation and of development of language. - Showing that Self Awareness within group life can naturaly produce an important increase in fear/anxiety for a subject, and that the means implemented by the subject to overcome this fear/anxiety can act as significant evolution advantages opening the road to Human Consciousness. Such approach brings new elements supporting the view that consciousness is grounded in emotions. It also proposes some more evolutionist explanations to the widely dicussed subject of Empathy (S. Preston & F. de Waal) in terms of specific behaviour implemented to limit fear/anxiety increase. This approach also provides some explanation for limited anxiety within dolphins and introduces a basis for a possible phylogenesis of emotions
Abstract: This paper details an evolving dynamic systems hierarchy and explores its relationship with conceptual, evolutionary, physiological, and behavioural characteristics that include phenomenal experience. In doing this, the paper demonstrates an example of a type-C physicalist's reductive explanation of phenomenal experience that is coherent with stipulated philosophical criteria and theories. By providing a reductive explanation of phenomenal experience, the paper provides insights toward explaining many unique human characteristics. These include, creativity, the origins of language as distinct from animal communication, the evolution of morality, and the dynamics behind bias and prejudice. Furthermore, the reductive explanation provides foundations for artificial consciousness applications.
Abstract: Recently some philosophers interested in consciousness have begun to turn their attention to the question of what evolutionary advantages, if any, being conscious might confer on an organism. The issue has been pressed in recent dicussions involving David Chalmers, Todd Moody, Owen Flanagan and Thomas Polger, Daniel Dennett, and others. The purpose of this essay is to consider some of the problems that face anyone who wants to give an evolutionary explanation of consciousness. We begin by framing the problem in the context of some current debates. Then we
Abstract: Suppose that consciousness is a natural feature of biological organisms, and that it is a capacity or property or process that resides in a single organ. In that case there is a straightforward question about the consciousness organ, namely: How did the consciousness organ come to be formed and why is its presence maintained in those organisms that have it? Of course answering this question might be rather difficult, particularly if the consciousness organ is made of soft tissue that leaves at best indirect fossil records, or if it has been fixed in the populations for such a long time that there are few available examples of organisms that lack the consciousness organ on which to conduct comparative experiments. No doubt there are other confounding practical obstacles as well. But these are just the complications that face biologists and natural historians on a regular basis, and they do not reflect any special problems about the study of consciousness. This is just to say that if consciousness is a natural feature of biological organisms then its origins and history can be studied in the same manner as other features of the biological world. It’s a hard business, but biologists are pretty good at it
Abstract: There is now a huge amount of interest in consciousness among scientists as well as philosophers, yet there is so much confusion and ambiguity in the claims and counter-claims that it is hard to tell whether any progress is being made. This ``position paper'' suggests that we can make progress by temporarily putting to one side questions about what consciousness is or which animals or machines have it or how it evolved. Instead we should focus on questions about the sorts of architectures that are possible for behaving systems and ask what sorts of capabilities, states and processes, might be supported by different sorts of architectures. We can then ask which organisms and machines have which sorts of architectures. This combines the standpoint of philosopher, biologist and engineer. If we can find a general theory of the variety of possible architectures (a characterisation of ``design space'') and the variety of environments, tasks and roles to which such architectures are well suited (a characterisation of ``niche space'') we may be able to use such a theory as a basis for formulating new more precisely defined concepts with which to articulate less ambiguous questions about the space of possible minds. For instance our initially ill-defined concept (``consciousness'') might split into a collection of more precisely defined concepts which can be used to ask unambiguous questions with definite answers. As a first step this paper explores a collection of conjectures regarding architectures and their evolution. In particular we explore architectures involving a combination of coexisting architectural levels including: (a) reactive mechanisms which evolved very early, (b) deliberative mechanisms which evolved later in response to pressures on information processing resources and (c) meta-management mechanisms that can explicitly inspect evaluate and modify some of the contents of various internal information structures. It is conjectured that in response to the needs of these layers, perceptual and action subsystems also developed layers, and also that an ``alarm'' system which initially existed only within the reactive layer may have become increasingly sophisticated and extensive as its inputs and outputs were linked to the newer layers. Processes involving the meta-management layer in the architecture could explain the origin of the notion of ``qualia''. Processes involving the ``alarm'' mechanism and mechanisms concerned with resource limits in the second and third layers gives us an explanation of three main forms of emotion, helping to account for some of the ambiguities which have bedevilled the study of emotion. Further theoretical and practical benefits may come from further work based on this design-based approach to consciousness. A deeper longer term implication is the possibility of a new science investigating laws governing possible trajectories in design space and niche space, as these form parts of high order feedback loops in the biosphere
Abstract: It is argued that the principles of classical physics are inimical to the development of a satisfactory science of consciousness The problem is that insofar as the classical principles are valid consciousness can have no e ect on the behavior and hence on the survival prospects of the organisms in which it inheres Thus within the classical framework it is not possible to explain in natural terms the development of consciousness to the high level form found in human beings In quantum theory on the other hand consciousness can be dynamically e cacious quantum the ory does allows consciousness to in uence behavior and thence to evolve in accordance with the principles of natural selection However this evo lutionary requirement places important constraints upon the details of the formulation of the quantum dynamical principles..
Abstract: ABSTRACT. What potential exists for improvements in the functioning of consciousness? The paper addresses this issue using global workspace theory. According to this model, the prime function of consciousness is to develop novel adaptive responses. Consciousness does this by putting together new combinations of knowledge, skills and other disparate resources that are recruited from throughout the brain. The paper's search for potential improvements in the functioning of consciousness draws on studies of the shift during human development from the use of implicit knowledge to the use of explicit (declarative) knowledge. These studies show that the ability of consciousness to adapt a particular domain improves significantly as the transition to the use of declarative knowledge occurs in that domain. However, this potential for consciousness to enhance adaptability has not yet been realised to any extent in relation to consciousness itself. The paper assesses the potential for adaptability to be improved by the conscious adaptation of key processes that constitute consciousness. A number of sources (including the practices of religious and contemplative traditions) are drawn on to investigate how this potential might be realised
Abstract: What is the potential for improvements in the functioning of consciousness? The paper addresses this issue using global workspace theory. According to this model, the prime function of consciousness is to develop novel adaptive responses. Consciousness does this by putting together new combinations of knowledge, skills and other disparate resources that are recruited from throughout the brain. The paper's search for potential improvements in consciousness is aided by studies of a developmental transition that enhances functioning in whichever domain it occurs. This transition involves a shift from the use of procedural (implicit) knowledge to declarative (explicit) knowledge. However, the potential of the transition to enhance functioning has not yet been realised to any extent in relation to consciousness itself. The paper assesses the potential for consciousness to use declarative knowledge to improve its own functioning and to thereby enhance human adaptability. A number of sources (including the practices of religious and contemplative traditions) are drawn on to investigate how this potential might be realised
Abstract: Evolution is littered with paraphyletic convergences: many roads lead to functional Romes. We propose here another example - an equivalence class structure factoring the broad realm of possible realizations of the Baars Global Workspace consciousness model. The construction suggests many different physiological systems can support rapidly shifting, sometimes highly tunable, temporary assemblages of interacting unconscious cognitive modules. The discovery implies various animal taxa exhibiting behaviors we broadly recognize as conscious are, in fact, simply expressing different forms of the same underlying phenomenon. Mathematically, we find much slower, and even multiple simultaneous, versions of the basic structure can operate over very long timescales, a kind of paraconsciousness often ascribed to group phenomena. The variety of possibilities, a veritable rainbow, suggests minds today may be only a small surviving fraction of ancient evolutionary radiations - bush phylogenies of consciousness and paraconsciousness. Under this scenario, the resulting diversity was subsequently pruned by selection and chance extinction. Though few traces of the radiation may be found in the direct fossil record, exaptations and vestiges are scattered across the living mind. Humans, for instance, display an uncommonly profound synergism between individual consciousness and their embedding cultural heritages, enabling efficient Lamarkian adaptation