Cellular consciousness

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JustinG
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Cellular consciousness

Post by JustinG »

Here is an interesting paper recently published on cellular consciousness: https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/22/5/2545/htm. It is not written from an idealist perspective, but could probably be adapted to one (eg cell membranes as one type of 'dissociative boundary'). Here is the abstract:

"Cells emerged at the very beginning of life on Earth and, in fact, are coterminous with life. They are enclosed within an excitable plasma membrane, which defines the outside and inside domains via their specific biophysical properties. Unicellular organisms, such as diverse protists and algae, still live a cellular life. However, fungi, plants, and animals evolved a multicellular existence. Recently, we have developed the cellular basis of consciousness (CBC) model, which proposes that all biological awareness, sentience and consciousness are grounded in general cell biology. Here we discuss the biomolecular structures and processes that allow for and maintain this cellular consciousness from an evolutionary perspective."
The concept of the "beyond”, the “true world” invented in order to devaluate the only world there is - in order to retain no goal, no reason, no task for our earthly reality!

- Nietzsche
Jim Cross
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Re: Cellular consciousness

Post by Jim Cross »

Reber also has a book out. I review the theory in two separate posts. The second is specifically the book. I think BK has thought of cells as alters which would be the idealistic corresponding equivalent.

https://broadspeculations.com/2021/01/1 ... ciousness/

https://broadspeculations.com/2021/01/2 ... ciousness/
JustinG
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Re: Cellular consciousness

Post by JustinG »

Good reviews Jim.

One problem I have with Reber's book is that he frames his approach as "reductionist", which I would take as meaning that, in principle, an explanation of all movements of an organism could be made at the level of physical and chemical processes. This seems to me to not leave any room for consciousness to actually do anything, which undercuts his claim that consciousness has evolutionary value.

Re BK regarding cells as alters, he addresses this in a recent thread on this forum (I don't find BK's distinction between bacterial cells and other types of cells all that convincing and prefer Reber's position, which also has affinities with some of Whitehead's views) viewtopic.php?f=5&t=159&start=10:

"- What do you think of the idea of each cell being an alter?

I think the error of this notion is to carry over to subjectivity itself a structure only discernible in perception. In other words, we imagine the noumena (the thing in itself) as having the same structure of the phenomena (the way the thing in itself appears to observation). This is a logical error. My brain is constituted by billions of cells, yet my individual consciousness is largely a unit. I think those cells are like pixels of an image, like the pixels of your image when you appear on somebody else's computer screen. But you yourself are not made of pixels; the latter are an artifact of the representation, not the structure of the thing that is represented.

Now, of course single-celled organisms are alters; not by virtue of being cells, but by virtue of being unitary organisms.

- Why would bacterial cells in the body be alters, but other cells, such as blood cells circulating freely in the blood, not be alters?

The answer seems obvious to me: the cells of our own organism share DNA and operate as part of a unified metabolic whole, while the bacteria in e.g. our gut operate as standalone organisms, focusing on their own survival, not the survival of a larger whole. They so happen to be useful to us, but they are focused on their own survival. They are cells because their subjectivity is so simple that the representation of this subjectivity on the screen of perception does not span beyond a single pixel. Moreover, we know what happens when our own cells become dissociated from us and turn into alters of their own: we call it cancer."
The concept of the "beyond”, the “true world” invented in order to devaluate the only world there is - in order to retain no goal, no reason, no task for our earthly reality!

- Nietzsche
Jim Cross
Posts: 518
Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2021 12:36 pm

Re: Cellular consciousness

Post by Jim Cross »

I think Bernardo has compared alters to Markov's blankets. This isn't a term I am not a huge fan of, although maybe there is some technical reason for its usage. Personally I just think of these things as systems with boundaries, controlled inputs and outputs, and some sort of internal representation of the what is outside the boundary that allows for maintenance of internal homeostasis in the face of a changing external environment. This is essentially what adaptability is.

From this standpoint, life is systems within systems within systems, or blankets within blankets and so on. Depending upon your definition you can find consciousness at any level. I don't see a conflict in one of my blood cells being a system and my sense of self and awareness - what we conventionally think to be consciousness - also being a different, more complex system composed of other systems.
JustinG
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Re: Cellular consciousness

Post by JustinG »

Yes, 'systems within systems' also makes more sense in terms of the evolution of eukaryotic cells through the engulfment of prokaryotes by other prokaryotes.
The concept of the "beyond”, the “true world” invented in order to devaluate the only world there is - in order to retain no goal, no reason, no task for our earthly reality!

- Nietzsche
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