Monthly Archives: September 2014

Qualities of Seeker of Truth

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Osho says – Every child is born with an innate search for truth. It is not something learned or adopted later on in life. Truth simply means, “I am, but I do not know who I am.” And the question is natural — “I must know the reality of my being.” It is not a curiosity.

These are the three differences, or three categories the world can be divided into: there are things which are, but they do not know that they are; hence there is no opening for any enquiry. They are closed, their existence is windowless. Then there are animals who know that they are, but they don’t have the intelligence to enquire what it is that they are. Their windows are open, but their intelligence is not enough to look out and see the stars and the sky and the birds and the trees. Their windows — whether opened or closed — don’t make much difference.

Perhaps once in a while a rare animal uses the window. In Shri Raman Maharshi’s ashram… and he was one of the most significant people of this century. Raman Maharshi was a silent pool of energy. Every morning he used to sit for a silent satsang, communion. He never talked much, unless asked something. Then too his answer was very short — having profundity, but you had to look for it. There was no explanation in it. His literature is confined to two, three small booklets.

His teaching was mostly to be in silent communion with the disciples. Naturally, very few people were benefited by him. But every morning he was sitting, people were sitting, and a cow would come and stand outside, putting her neck through the window, and she would remain standing there while the satsang lasted. It must have continued for years. People came and went, new people came, but the cow remained constant… and at the exact time, never late. And as the satsang would disperse she would move away.

One day she did not appear, and Shri Raman said, “Today satsang cannot be held, because my real audience is absent. I am afraid either the cow is very sick or she has died, and I have to go and look for her.” He lived on a mountain in the south of India, Arunachal. The cow belonged to a poor woodcutter who lived near the ashram. Raman left the temple where they used to meet, went to the woodcutter and asked, “What happened? The cow has not come today for satsang.”

The woodcutter said, “She is very sick and I am afraid she is dying, but she goes on looking out of the door, as if she is waiting for someone. Perhaps she is waiting for you, to see you for the last time. Perhaps that is why she is hanging around a little longer.”

Raman went in and there were tears in the eyes of the cow. And she died happily, putting her head in the lap of Raman Maharshi. This happened just in this century, and Raman declared her enlightened, and told his people that a beautiful memorial should be made for her.

It is very rare for human beings to be enlightened; it is almost impossibly rare for animals to become enlightened, but the cow attained. She will not be born again. From the body of a cow she has bypassed the whole world of humanity, and she has jumped ahead and joined with the buddhas. So once in a while — there are a few instances only — it has happened. But that cannot be called the rule; it is just the exception.

Things are, but they do not know that they are. Animals are, they know that they are, but they don’t have the intelligence to ask who they are. And it is not something to be wondered about. Millions of human beings never ask the question — that is the third category.

Man is, is aware that he is, and is capable by birth to enquire who he is. So it is not a question of learning, cultivation, education; you bring the quest with yourself. You are the quest. Your society destroys you. It has very sophisticated ways and means to destroy your quest, to remove the question from your being, or at least cover it up. And the method it uses is this: before the child has even asked who he is, the answer is given. And any answer that has been given before the question has been asked is futile; it is going to be just a burden.

He is told that he is a soul, that he is a spirit, that he is not a body, that he is not material. Or, in communist countries he is told that he is a body, just material, and that only in the old days, out of fear and ignorance, did people believe that they have souls — that that is just a superstition. But in both cases, the child is being given an answer for which he has not asked. And his mind is delicate, pure… and he trusts his mother, his father — there is no reason for him not to trust.

He starts a journey of belief, and belief kills the quest. He becomes more and more knowledgeable. Then education is there, religious education is there, and there is no end to collecting knowledge. But all this knowledge is futile — not only futile, but poisonous, because the first step has gone wrong. The question was not asked, and the answer has been implanted in his mind, and since then he has been collecting more and more answers. He has completely forgotten that any answer that is not the finding of a question is meaningless.

So the only quality of a seeker of truth is that he does not believe, that he is not a believer, that he is ready to be ignorant rather than to be knowledgeable, because ignorance is at least natural, simple, innocent. And out of ignorance there is a possibility, almost a certainty, that the question will arise, that the journey will begin. But through knowledge you are lost in a jungle of words, theories, doctrines, dogmas. And there are so many, and they are so contradictory to each other, that soon you will find yourself more and more confused… more and more knowledgeable and more and more confused.

As far as I am concerned the basic quality of a seeker of truth is to cut himself away from all belief systems, from all borrowed knowledge — in other words, to have the courage to be ignorant rather than to have borrowed knowledge. Ignorance has a beauty; it is at least yours, authentic, sincere. It has come with you. It is your blood, it is your bones, it is your marrow.

Knowledgeability is ugly, absolute rubbish. It has been poured upon you by others, and you are carrying the load of it. And the load is such that it will not give you any opportunity to enquire on your own what truth is. Your collection of knowledge will answer immediately that this is truth. If you are filled with THE HOLY BIBLE, then the question will be answered by THE HOLY BIBLE. If you are filled with the VEDAS, then the question will come out of the VEDAS. But it will come from some source outside yourself; it will not be your discovery. And that which is not your discovery is not yours.

Truth brings freedom because it is your discovery. It makes you fully into man; otherwise you remain on the level of the animals: you are but you don’t know who you are. The search for truth is really the search for the reality of your being.

Once you have entered your being, you have entered into the being of the whole, because we are different on the periphery but at the center we meet — we are one. You can draw many lines from the periphery of a circle towards the center; those lines on the periphery have a certain distance from each other. But as they come closer to the center the distance goes on becoming less. And when they reach to the center the distance disappears.

At the center we are one. At the periphery of existence we appear to be separate. And to know the truth of your being is to know the truth of the whole. There is just one quality, one courage: not to be afraid of being ignorant. On that point there can be no compromise, no cheap borrowed knowledge to decorate yourself with as a wise man. That’s enough! Just be pure and natural, and out of that purity, naturalness, ignorance, innocence, the quest is bound to be born.

Every human being would be a seeker of truth if the society were not interfering with children. The class of children is the most harmed, oppressed, exploited, distorted class of all classes — and the most helpless. And you are taking advantage of the helplessness of small children. But you are also not responsible. The same has been done to you. It is difficult to find out who was responsible in the beginning. But as long as we can look back, this has been the situation: every generation corrupts the new generation, and anybody who wants to prevent this corruption is condemned as corrupting the youth.

Socrates was condemned for corrupting the youth, and all that he was doing was the simple process of removing borrowed knowledge and helping his disciples to be themselves and then “to know thyself.” If anybody has served truth the most sincerely it was Socrates. But he was condemned by the court, by the law, by the people who were in power, for corruption, for corrupting young minds.

Strangely, in the land of Socrates I was also condemned as corrupting people’s minds. It seems the technology of corrupting the youth has evolved immensely in two thousand years, because it took Socrates his whole life to corrupt, and I was only there for two weeks! And the archbishop was already threatening to burn my house, to stone me to death.

Why are they afraid? They know perfectly well that they have no foundations. So if anybody shows the young people that their knowledge is unfounded, that all their answers are bogus because they don’t even have questions, that they are only repeating things parrot-like but they don’t have any understanding of what they are saying… then anybody who has a little intelligence will be able to understand it immediately. Is this corruption of the youth?

To bring people to the quest of the truth — is this corruption?
It seems it is the greatest crime in the world in which — unfortunately — we are living.

Source:

http://spiritualsoul.net/group/osho/forum/topics/osho-qualities-of-seeker-of

Knowledge Argument and its Implications

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Jackson's Knowledge Argument

David Chalmers and Hard Problem of Consciousness

When you look at this page, there is a whir of processing: photons strike your retina, electrical signals are passed up your optic nerve and between different areas of your brain, and eventually you might respond with a smile, a perplexed frown or a remark. But there is also a subjective aspect. When you look at the page, you are conscious of it, directly experiencing the images and words as part of your private, mental life. You have vivid impressions of colored flowers and vibrant sky. At the same time, you may be feeling some emotions and forming some thoughts. Together such experiences make up consciousness: the subjective, inner life of the mind.

The Hard Problem

Researchers use the word “consciousness” in many different ways. To clarify the issues, we first have to separate the problems that are often clustered together under the name. For this purpose, I find it useful to distinguish between the “easy problems” and the “hard problem” of consciousness. The easy problems are by no means trivial – they are actually as challenging as most in psychology and biology – but it is with the hard problem that the central mystery lies.

The easy problems of consciousness include the following: How can a human subject discriminate sensory stimuli and react to them appropriately? How does the brain integrate information from many different sources and use this information to control behavior? How is it that subjects can verbalize their internal states? Although all these questions are associated with consciousness, they all concern the objective mechanisms of the cognitive system. Consequently, we have every reason to expect that continued work in cognitive psychology and neuroscience will answer them.

The hard problem, in contrast, is the question of how physical processes in the brain give rise to subjective experience. This puzzle involves the inner aspect of thought and perception: the way things feel for the subject. When we see, for example, we experience visual sensations, such as that of vivid blue. Or think of the ineffable sound of a distant oboe, the agony of an intense pain, the sparkle of happiness or the meditative quality of a moment lost in thought. All are part of what I am calling consciousness. It is these phenomena that pose the real mystery of the mind.

Knowledge Argument

To illustrate the distinction, consider a thought experiment called “The Knowledge Argument” devised by the Australian philosopher Frank Jackson.

According to the knowledge argument, there are facts about consciousness that are not deducible from physical facts. Someone could know all the physical facts, be a perfect reasoner, and still be unable to know all the facts about consciousness on that basis.

Frank Jackson’s canonical version of the argument provides a vivid illustration. On this version, Mary is a neuroscientist who knows everything there is to know about the physical processes relevant to color vision. But Mary has been brought up in a black-and-white room (on an alter-native version, she is colorblind) and has never experienced red. Despite all her knowledge, it seems that there is something very important about color vision that Mary does not know: she does not know what it is like to see red. Even complete physical knowledge and unrestricted powers of deduction do not enable her to know this. Later, if she comes to experience red for the first time, she will learn a new fact of which she was previously ignorant: she will learn what it is like to see red.

Let me try to explain the argument again in different words.

Suppose that Mary, a neuroscientist in the 23rd century, is the world’s leading expert on the brain processes responsible for color vision. But Mary has lived her whole life in a black-and-white room and has never seen any other colors. She knows everything there is to know about physical processes in the brain – its biology, structure and function. This understanding enables her to grasp everything there is to know about the easy problems: how the brain discriminates stimuli, integrates information and produces verbal reports. From her knowledge of color vision, she knows the way color names correspond with wavelengths on the light spectrum. But there is still something crucial about color vision that Mary does not know: what it is like to experience a color such as red. It follows that there are facts about conscious experience that cannot be deduced from physical facts about the functioning of the brain.

Jackson’s version of the argument can be put as follows (here the premises concern Mary’s knowledge when she has not yet experienced red):

 

(1) Mary knows all the physical facts.
(2) Mary does not know all the fact
———————————————-
(3) The physical facts do not exhaust all the facts.

 

There are following very important implications of “Knowledge Argument”:

  1. Human Subjective Experiences as Phenomena are Not some illusionary phenomena. They are as real as anything else.
  2. Human Subjective Experiences “In Principle” cannot be captured in the Structural, Functional, Procedural, Material Information, even if the information is in the highest possible detail.
  3. Human Subjective Experiences “In Principle” can NOT be reduced in the Structural, Functional, Procedural, Material Information, even if the information is in the highest possible detail. This also implies that all the reductionist explanations of Consciousness are False!
 
One can put the knowledge argument more generally:

(1) There are truths about consciousness that are not deducible from physical truths.
(2) If there are truths about consciousness that are not deducible from physical truths, then materialism is false.
—————————————————
(3) Materialism is false.

 

Indeed, nobody knows why these physical processes are accompanied by conscious experience at all. Why is it that when our brains process light of a certain wavelength, we have an experience of deep purple? Why do we have any experience at all? Could not an unconscious automaton have performed the same tasks just as well? These are questions that we would like a theory of consciousness to answer.

One should definitely watch following TED Talk by David Chalmers in order to understand the Hard Problem of Consciousness.

 

And in order to research further on the topic, following resource by David J Chalmers is a MUST Read. It shows various issues in Mind Problem and concludes how “Hard Problem of Consciousness” is still unsolved and points towards the possibility that probably “Consciousness” may be an ontologically distinct entity.

Consciousness and Its Place in Nature — David J Chalmers

Chinese Room Argument: A Robot Cannot Feel Pain

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Introduction

To build a human like machine has always been the aim of Artificial Intelligence, to which it has partially succeeded and claims that more perfection will be achieved in future. It is not questioned whether behaviorally or in performance, we can build a machine which can be human like. Problem comes when things like Intentionality/Feelings/Emotions/Understanding/Meaning come into picture. With the help of behavior one cannot identify whether a machine is feeling emotions, feelings or would understand the meaning of words/statements/symbols it is computing, independent of the fact behaviorally it is showing to do so.

Even if we want to talk about machines having feelings, emotions, understanding, and pain etc. there exist no formal definition of these things, phenomena. Ultimately it becomes difficult to talk about these things in relation to machines and computational models.

In this essay I will try to talk about “intentional” and “feeling related” aspects for machines. I will not pretend to be neutral. I will try to defend the view that at least a computational model based on computation over any kind of representation can never have or realize intentional phenomenon, qualia, feelings, pain etc. Thus not just in practice, in principle too it is impossible to build such machines.

In this paper, I will go further to explain various theories proposed in order to explain how intentional phenomena, subjective experiences, qualia and feeling related aspects are explained in case of human beings. Here I will refer to the “Hard” and “Easy” problems of Consciousness. I will talk about how various efforts of Strong and Weak AI are working to solve the “easy problem” of consciousness and “hard problems” are still untouched.

Computation and Pain

John Searle’s Chinese Room Argument

With the help of Chinese Room Argument it can be shown that computation over any kind of representation is insufficient to realize Intentionality/Feelings/Emotions/Pain etc. Computation over representation is considered to be a promising theory of mind and is sometimes also referred to as “Computational Theory of Mind”. In 1980, John Searle published “Minds, Brains and Programs” in the journal The Behavioral and Brain Sciences. In this article, Searle sets out the Chinese Room Argument.

The heart of the argument is an imagined human simulation of a computer, similar to Turing’s Paper Machine. The human in the Chinese Room follows instructions in English for manipulating Chinese symbols, where a computer “follows” a program written in a programming language. The human produces the appearance of understanding Chinese by following the symbol manipulating instructions, but does not thereby come to understand Chinese. Since a computer just does what the human does—manipulate symbols on the basis of their syntax alone—no computer, merely by following a program, comes to genuinely understand Chinese. If the argument with the phenomena of “Understanding” is tough to understand for some then they can take reference of “Pain”. There is no way, the above set-up, with a human being and rule book, to realize “Pain”. If it is not possible to realize subjective experience like “Pain” for the above set-up then it is not possible for any computational model which manipulates representation, to realize any subjective experience. Thus, strong AI is false.

Chinese Room Argument can be pictorially understood in following chart.

chinese-room

We might summarize the narrow argument as a reductio ad absurdum against Strong AI as follows. Let L be a natural language, and let us say that a “program for L” is a program for conversing fluently in L. A computing system is any system, human or otherwise, that can run a program.

  • If Strong AI is true, then there is a program for Chinese such that if any computing system runs that program, that system thereby comes to understand Chinese.
  • I could run a program for Chinese without thereby coming to understand Chinese.
  • Therefore Strong AI is false.

The second premise is supported by the Chinese Room thought experiment. The conclusion of this narrow argument is that running a program cannot create understanding. The wider argument includes the claim that the thought experiment shows more generally that one cannot get semantics (meaning) from syntax (formal symbol manipulation).

Chinese Room Argument was mainly given to show that computation over any kind of representation will lack understanding. Same argument can also be used to show that while human in Chinese room is manipulating symbols, there is no possibility of him experiencing any kind of “Understanding” or “Pain” in the task of manipulating symbols or “there is nobody to feel pain” in the system, so there is no pain.

Simple Explanation of “Chinese Room Argument”

Chinese room argument primarily says that any computational model based on representation is “in principle” incapable of producing any human intentional phenomena or subjective first person experiences.

Searle argues to understand the nature of “computation”. He says that a computation is nothing more than a combination of a “Rule Book” and an “Agent” which is required to manipulate the input on the basis of the “Rule Book”. Pictorially, it can be represented as follows. A computation is nothing more than what is shown in following diagram.

Chinese Room Argument

After establishing this analogy of computation, Searle asks the question to the reader, where is the possibility of realization of any human intentional phenomena, subjective experiences like pain, qualia, emotions or any kind of sensation in above setup?

Since there is no possibility of realization of any human intentional phenomena or subjective experiences in above setup, Searle argues that computation over representation, cannot “in principle” realize any human intentional phenomena or subjective experiences.

Video Explanation of “Chinese Room Argument”

 

First Video.

 

Second Video

 

Third Video

 

Further readings on the same

At this point one may also like read one of my other posts on the same issue, for greater understanding.
Can a robot feel pain? — https://devanshmittal.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/can-a-robot-feel-pain/

One may also like to read the original paper published by John Searle on Chinese Room Argument. Chinese Room Argument. Minds, Brains and Programs by John Searle.

David Chalmers and Hard Problem of Consciousness

When you look at this page, there is a whir of processing: photons strike your retina, electrical signals are passed up your optic nerve and between different areas of your brain, and eventually you might respond with a smile, a perplexed frown or a remark. But there is also a subjective aspect. When you look at the page, you are conscious of it, directly experiencing the images and words as part of your private, mental life. You have vivid impressions of colored flowers and vibrant sky. At the same time, you may be feeling some emotions and forming some thoughts. Together such experiences make up consciousness: the subjective, inner life of the mind.

The Hard Problem

Researchers use the word “consciousness” in many different ways. To clarify the issues, we first have to separate the problems that are often clustered together under the name. For this purpose, I find it useful to distinguish between the “easy problems” and the “hard problem” of consciousness. The easy problems are by no means trivial – they are actually as challenging as most in psychology and biology – but it is with the hard problem that the central mystery lies.

The easy problems of consciousness include the following: How can a human subject discriminate sensory stimuli and react to them appropriately? How does the brain integrate information from many different sources and use this information to control behavior? How is it that subjects can verbalize their internal states? Although all these questions are associated with consciousness, they all concern the objective mechanisms of the cognitive system. Consequently, we have every reason to expect that continued work in cognitive psychology and neuroscience will answer them.

The hard problem, in contrast, is the question of how physical processes in the brain give rise to subjective experience. This puzzle involves the inner aspect of thought and perception: the way things feel for the subject. When we see, for example, we experience visual sensations, such as that of vivid blue. Or think of the ineffable sound of a distant oboe, the agony of an intense pain, the sparkle of happiness or the meditative quality of a moment lost in thought. All are part of what I am calling consciousness. It is these phenomena that pose the real mystery of the mind.

Knowledge Argument

To illustrate the distinction, consider a thought experiment called “The Knowledge Argument” devised by the Australian philosopher Frank Jackson.

According to the knowledge argument, there are facts about consciousness that are not deducible from physical facts. Someone could know all the physical facts, be a perfect reasoner, and still be unable to know all the facts about consciousness on that basis.

Frank Jackson’s canonical version of the argument provides a vivid illustration. On this version, Mary is a neuroscientist who knows everything there is to know about the physical processes relevant to color vision. But Mary has been brought up in a black-and-white room (on an alter-native version, she is colorblind) and has never experienced red. Despite all her knowledge, it seems that there is something very important about color vision that Mary does not know: she does not know what it is like to see red. Even complete physical knowledge and unrestricted powers of deduction do not enable her to know this. Later, if she comes to experience red for the first time, she will learn a new fact of which she was previously ignorant: she will learn what it is like to see red.

Let me try to explain the argument again in different words.

Suppose that Mary, a neuroscientist in the 23rd century, is the world’s leading expert on the brain processes responsible for color vision. But Mary has lived her whole life in a black-and-white room and has never seen any other colors. She knows everything there is to know about physical processes in the brain – its biology, structure and function. This understanding enables her to grasp everything there is to know about the easy problems: how the brain discriminates stimuli, integrates information and produces verbal reports. From her knowledge of color vision, she knows the way color names correspond with wavelengths on the light spectrum. But there is still something crucial about color vision that Mary does not know: what it is like to experience a color such as red. It follows that there are facts about conscious experience that cannot be deduced from physical facts about the functioning of the brain.

Jackson’s version of the argument can be put as follows (here the premises concern Mary’s knowledge when she has not yet experienced red):

 

(1) Mary knows all the physical facts.
(2) Mary does not know all the fact
———————————————-
(3) The physical facts do not exhaust all the facts.

 

There are following very important implications of “Knowledge Argument”:

  1. Human Subjective Experiences as Phenomena are Not some illusionary phenomena. They are as real as anything else.
  2. Human Subjective Experiences “In Principle” cannot be captured in the Structural, Functional, Procedural, Material Information, even if the information is in the highest possible detail.
  3. Human Subjective Experiences “In Principle” can NOT be reduced in the Structural, Functional, Procedural, Material Information, even if the information is in the highest possible detail. This also implies that all the reductionist explanations of Consciousness are False!
 
One can put the knowledge argument more generally:

(1) There are truths about consciousness that are not deducible from physical truths.
(2) If there are truths about consciousness that are not deducible from physical truths, then materialism is false.
—————————————————
(3) Materialism is false.

 

Indeed, nobody knows why these physical processes are accompanied by conscious experience at all. Why is it that when our brains process light of a certain wavelength, we have an experience of deep purple? Why do we have any experience at all? Could not an unconscious automaton have performed the same tasks just as well? These are questions that we would like a theory of consciousness to answer.

 

One should definitely watch following TED Talk by David Chalmers in order to understand the Hard Problem of Consciousness.

And in order to research further on the topic, following resource by David J Chalmers is a MUST Read. It shows various issues in Mind Problem and concludes how “Hard Problem of Consciousness” is still unsolved and points towards the possibility that probably “Consciousness” may be an ontologically distinct entity.

Consciousness and Its Place in Nature — David J Chalmers

Conclusion

So we see there are certain problems with computational theory of mind, which are,

  1. Problem of Meanings/Semantics: Syntax cannot have Semantics. Chinese Room Argument proves it.
  2. Problem of Intentionality: How can the syntax be ”about” something. Again reference of Chinese Room Argument can be taken in this also.
  3. Problem of Consciousness: As Chalmers says what we can solve from Computational Theory of Mind is the Easy Problem and the Hard Problem still persists.
  4. Human Subjective Experiences as Phenomena are Not some illusionary phenomena. They are as real as anything else.
  5. Human Subjective Experiences “In Principle” cannot be captured in the Structural, Functional, Procedural, Material Information, even if the information is in the highest possible detail.
  6. Human Subjective Experiences “In Principle” can NOT be reduced in the Structural, Functional, Procedural, Material Information, even if the information is in the highest possible detail. This also implies that all the reductionist explanations of Consciousness are False!

At least in the case of a computational model based on computation being performed over a representation, one can see that Intentional and Feeling related aspects are not possible. Chinese Room and other similar arguments show that Intentionality, Qualia, Feeling related aspects are not realizable in a computational model.

After showing the limitation of computational model I talked about various researches which have happened till now in relation to explaining how intentional and feeling related aspects are explained in a human being. I talked about the “easy” and “hard” problems of consciousness. Most efforts in AI (both weak and strong) are trying to solve the “easy problem” of consciousness and “hard problem” as I showed is still untouched or unexplained.

In conclusion I would like to say that, till now there have not been any strong enough researches, arguments, proofs which can prove/show the existence of intentional phenomena or “feeling related” aspects like “pain” in case of machines. Arguments of “computation over representation” have already lost the game; arguments of “structure” (like principle of organizational invariance) are far from being accepted.

References