Oct 28 2005, Dov, in Brights forum.
(A) Piano1, re yr posting (BF #32 on page 3):
As you can see in the following correspondence you were right. Having addressed the author of the link you found on "cellular consciousness" I concluded that his and my search routes will not cross…
(B) Oct 19 2005, Dov to http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~regfjxe/aw.htm .
I am just starting to read the material you present at your site. I was referred to this link by a friend who reacted to one of my forum postings in which I suggested that consciousness can only be an evolutionary complexing-development of functional capabilities inherited from all our predecessors all the way back to their single cell forms.
I also explained that it is absolutely improbable that any capability we have has been instilled-installed in us "ex-machina".
Finally, I posited my old ideas, published elsewhere, according to which single genes were the earliest Earth life, later evolved into genes' cooperatives etc., and I suggested that consciousness of human- and of all other poly-celled-lifes are complexed evolutions of sensing-reacting of single cells since their beginning. I also suggest that even this goes farther back to sense-react of single individual pre-cooperative and pre-celled genes life.
At my age and with the ever pressing work load I have it might take me a month to go through your above link ( if I live that long…) but I just felt like sending this note to you as I start wading through your above site…
(C) From: JE
Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Subject:On cellular consciousness
I think we have some common thoughts. Another person who has stressed the importance of the development from the single cell is Harry Hunt. His book is quite good if a bit long. (We could also mention Charles Darwin.) One thing that has interested me is the point made by an old friend, Alec Bangham that cell membranes (liposomes) are in a sense more fundamental building blocks of life than DNA. I think it is reasonably well accepted that 'living individuals' in the sense of self propagating life packets, made of liposomes and their protein and perhaps RNA contents may have preceded DNA by millions of years.
My idea is fairly simple but just hard for most people to take. Essentially the single cell was always, and always will be the life unit, even if it forms colonies with highly complex capacities to sort information for each other. Sentience is, I would suggest, build in to lipid membranes and so can never be shared between cells. Although this is against our intuition it makes it much easier to understand the brain. We just have to accept that every subjective observer is not a person but one of a million or more cells receiving the same prepackaged story in maybe left prefrontal lobe or maybe thalamus. All the other cells also have a sentience but of a sort that lacks this integrated multimodal 'story' aspect – because they have more menial functions.
The testable part is that polar lipid membranes have properties which in fundamental physics terms may well allow 'unified knowing' – an indivisible property of access to information about their entire domain. The basis of this is a form of confined field found in crystalline structures. We know this occurs in cochlear outer hair cells (sensory neurons of a type). If such fields occur in grey matter neurons at higher frequencies (for reasons beyond this email) I think there might be the beginning of an explanation for conscious perception.
(D) From: Dov
Sent: Thursday, October 20, 2005
Subject: FW: On cellular consciousness
Thanks for the prompt response.
In view of your below note it appears that the common thought we have is the concept of cellular consciousness. From your letter I see that we hold different ideas, since unlike you I feel:
– The earliest life units were individual RNAs-precursor-genes, and in the most successful mode of evolution – cooperation – life has been evolving, i.e. ever more complexing, since then.
– Celling, i.e. encasing cooperatives of genes with their essential-to-replication entourage, has been a later development.
– Sentience was a functional capability of the earliest individual genes and has evolved into a more complex capability of genes commune cooperatives and, in normal ambient state, is switched-on or not and shared or not and leads to reaction or not depending on the location-tasks of the cells in which dwell the genes cooperatives.
– Some things might never be explored by experiments simply because they cannot be de-complexed any more. Their constitutional-functional elements lost their ex-replication capability. In regards to them I state what I "feel".
PS: I always thought of "hearing" as a variation of "touching", i.e. both involve inward-outward-of-cell ions flow and electric potentials, where the cochlar hair opens-closes ion flow gates mechanically versus gating by touch-pressure.
With thanks and appreciation of this interesting exchange, and wishing you successful and satisfying progress,