Dr. Mark Solms demystifies Chalmers "Hard Problem " of Consciousness.

Lausten are you familiar with Dr. Mark Solms’ work? It’s weird that after nearly a year of searching out what I could about consciousness and chasing down tangents of the many lofty variations of the ideas smart people have fabricated out of their ego’s and desires, rather than serious sober physical reality based science. Finding disconsonant irritation rather than anything intellectually useful. Calling it science because they could formulate some fancy looking mathematics within their smug brains. Well, like I was starting to say it’s weird, but good, that I didn’t stumble onto him until this past Thursday. But first, more rambling background.

This past year, I recall, constantly being reminded about David Chalmers’ and how his Hard Problem of Conscious presumably settled it. Namely, that truly understanding consciousness was an insurmountable problem, period. As though scruffy Chalmers was Moses coming down off the mountain with his slate and that his description of “Hard Problem of Consciousness” settled it… taking on mystical proportions in the minds of the faithful.

Another constant point of irritation was all the fuss being made about visual processing and trying to find deep conclusions about consciousness within how our mind processes optical illusions, a la D. Hoffman.

Also the general inability to appreciate the deep evolution roots of consciousness, beyond superficial lip service.

But, I’m just an intelligent lay person who’s spent his entire life working with his hands and pondering such, beyond my pay scale, questions and mysteries. I have plenty of knowledge, understanding and intuitions and the kind of honest curiosity that doesn’t mind beating the shit out of itself, in order to cast away unsupportable notions and adjust my understanding in light of solid facts and arguments and whether it resonates with my understanding. Mind over Ego, instead of Ego over Mind. At least that’s the aspiration me, myself and I keep struggling towards.

The last Thursday came Dr. Mark Solms PhD and it was like a warm sunrise after a long cold night curled up under a tree.

The Source of Consciousness - with Mark Solms

March 4, 2021, The Royal Institution

Mark Solms discusses his new theory of consciousness that returns emotions to the centre of mental life.

Understanding why we feel a subjective sense of self and how it arises in the brain seems like an impossible task. Mark explores the subjective experiences of hundreds of neurological patients, many of whom he treated. Their uncanny conversations help to expose the brain’s obscure reaches.

Mark Solms has spent his entire career investigating the mysteries of consciousness. Best known for identifying the brain mechanisms of dreaming and for bringing psychoanalytic insights into modern neuroscience, he is director of neuropsychology in the Neuroscience Institute of the University of Cape Town, honorary lecturer in neurosurgery at the Royal London Hospital School of Medicine, and an honorary fellow of the American College of Psychiatrists.


 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmuYrnOVmfk

 

The talk just made me hungry for more and I’ve been binging on more of them, I’m on seven or eight and they never seem to get boring or old or repetitive. Have listen to this one a couple times since it’s his most recent and a summary. The man’s evidence and conclusions fit seamlessly into the vision I’m trying to articulate.

Consciousness is not the product of our cortex, it starts deep in our brain stem and is shared by the community of living creatures, to different degrees. Incidentally, seems to me that many don’t realize that the deeper we go into the brain, the deeper we go into early evolution.

Regarding Chalmers, Solms does a wonderful job of dissecting Chalmer’s statement - in the process echoing my lament that the framing of a question is critically important to the amount of information you can hope to receive from your answers. And that the questions we’ve framed around consciousness are way the hell too anthropocentric to be of much help in understanding it.

Then his starts with the science. AWESOME ! ! !

I ought to get caught up on this one before I call it a day.

 

Solms has been a hell of lot more fun and energizing and optimistic than Donald Hoffman’s poop - I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about him since he makes such a perfect segue from the philosophizing meta-physical disconnect of Chalmers ~ Mind-Body “Problem” ~ to the philosophizing I’m going to be doing. I think his work is worth sharing and I do what I can.

MARCH 10, 2021
Mark Solms demystifies Chalmers’ “Hard Problem” of Consciousness

 

... All that inspired me to put together this collection of lectures given by Dr. Mark Solms PhD, I'll be following up with another post highlighting a few of his many scientific papers.

It makes a perfect transition between Hoffman’s philosophizing and my own upcoming philosophizing. Whereas I can only offer reasoning behind the perspective I believe in, Solms provides us with scientific physical evidence and clear cut justifications that are harmonious with my perspective and trust in science.

Solms deftly demystifies Chalmers’ “Hard Problem” of Consciousness, thus taking the air out of the wavy gravy meta-physical approaches to consciousness that removes it from fundamental evolutionary processes and physical reality as we know it. It’s no wonder Hoffman never mentions Solms name, nor the promise of neuropsychoanalysis.

 

Among the points that resonated with my own understanding,

 

was Solms explaining that the way we frame our questions, constrains what they can reveal to us.

Solms explains why studying visual perception and optical illusions offer little for constructively understanding consciousness.

Though he doesn’t explicitly discuss Evolution, Solms does trace the roots of consciousness to within our primal brainstem, what used to be called our ‘reptilian brain.’ This clearly places the development of consciousness way back in the dawn of creature development, with change over time driving creature Evolution, and human consciousness being part of a continuum.

Mark Solms makes consciousness accessible to understanding through the physicalist paradigm by breaking down the problem into the following categories.

The functionalist problem of consciousness
Consciousness is not a cognitive function
Consciousness is an affective function
Affect is a homeostatic function
The function of mechanism of consciousness
Regarding vision studies, from “NERV: Mark Solms - A New Approach to the Hard Problem of Consciousness”: …


 

 

MARCH 18, 2021 The Other Side of Mark Solms PhD, farmer, vintner, humanitarian

Recently, I virtually met an amazing man, Dr. Mark Solms, who’s many YouTube lectures do a superb job of walking students of human consciousness and the “mind-body problem” back onto the solid ground of physical reality based science, with a roadmap for constructive learning, through the new disciple of neuropsychoanalysis.

You can watch a dozen of Mark Solms’ lectures and find that each was worth it, for each offers unrepeated gems.

What’s he walking people back from? The cliff edge of meta-physical philosophizing pretending to be serious science.

I mean, proclaiming “spacetime is doomed”? Advocating that the search for our consciousness must look to out-of-body agents, because every puzzle hasn’t been solved yet? Rather than continuing current fruitful “physicalists” research, such as that being explicated in Dr. Solms’ talks.

Get serious, that’s evolved religion. Hidden under all the pretentious words and inscrutable math, it’s all about protecting our ever so fragile human egos. What about focusing on learning about this amazing fantastical planet, that created this amazing fantastical body, that created our amazing fantastical consciousness, to have and to hold for the duration of our short lives! By the Grace of Earth!

Speaking of human ego.

All of us make first impressions of people we meet, in life or virtually. Some we like, some we feel indifferent to, some we’re leery of, and so on. Mark Solms impressed me from the start. I saw solidity and a superb mastery of his topic. As I watched succeeding videos red flags never showed up. The fascinating talks captured me and though the topic overlaps, each talk is unique and refreshing.

Then I started researching and learning about the man. His list of accomplishments helped make sense of that inner solidity he radiates. After a few days of absorbing nothing but Professor Mark Solms I had to take a break for a while, allowing it to percolate and settle some.

Recently to get warmed up and into the project again, I clicked on a short TEDTalk by Mark Solms that I hadn’t listened to yet. I was waylaid.

Now I’ve spent the past couple days trying to imagine the sort of inner reality lived and the sense of place experienced, by a sixth generation white African farmer who possesses not only his piece of land, but also the 180 indigenous & slave descendants who live on the farm.

Well, at least that was until he did something about it. It’s complicated. I should add that Mark left his home in South Africa (1988) to avoid compulsory military service for the National Party apartheid government and turned his back on the family farm to focus on his studies. In London he received his PhD in '92 and worked towards unlocking the origin of our dreams. After apartheid fell, the lure of home and his neglected hereditary farm drew him back to South Africa in 2001.

Therein lies an amazing story of human dignity, respect, compassion, intelligence, vision, humanity, the best in men. Something that’s becoming all too rare these days. Which is why I also want to share this aspect of Dr. Solms’ story.

I’ll let the professor, psychoanalysis, neuropsychologist, farmer, vintner, friend to many, Dr. Mark Solms tell the rest of the story: …


TEDxObserver - Mark Solms - April 1, 2011

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Mark Solms: giving his land back to farmers

Julius Baer - January 12, 2018

(That title is misleading.  Solms helped them purchase and develop a neighboring farm, and then a second, the three operate as a cooperative business.  It's a fascinating inspiring story.)

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It’s fun digging deeper and simply finding more layers of real substance. Seems so rare these days.