John,

I not sure whether we actually disagree about the human brain. Of course we can't say that our 2004 understanding of science is the final word on physics, or neuroscience, or anything else! There is much that we do not understand about the workings of the brain, just as there is much that we do not understand about, for example, how cancer develops, or the nature of black holes. But whatever the explanation behind brains, cancer and black holes is, even if we never actually discover it, it must be part of science. Now, do you agree with this last sentence, or do you believe that while cancer and black holes are subject to scientific laws, the human brain/mind works by some other process, outside the domain of science? This would then by definition be a supernatural explanation. I know that some people do in fact claim exactly this, but I have never encountered any plausible reason for such a claim.

As for my reference to bats, I was alluding to a paper by philosopher Thomas Nagel, "What Is It Like To Be A Bat?", exploring the nature of qualia. I believe it is available on the net if you search for it, although my copy is in the book by Hofstadter and Denett, "The Mind's I", first published in 1981 but still well worth reading.

--Stathis Papaioannou

John Mikes wrote:
QUOTE-
[SP]:
I don't claim to know exactly how the human brain works, but I
do know (and so do you) that it works as the result of the complex
organisation
of its constituent parts, (...)
[JM]:
I know it differently, unless you include into the 'constituent parts' of its COMPLEX ORGANIZATION more than just the flesh. Eg. the qualia of the organization (human) total. Besides for "brain" in such respect I understand more than the tissue filling the cranium. OR (if you wrote with an open mind for wholness-thinking beyond the
physics-books):
we have to agree that besides those physiological measurements on mostly (electro)chemistry of neuronal functions which are only a so-far detected (and studied) part of its function AND beyond those physical laws you mention as sacrosanct, there is more to be known (included). I want to bank on your subsequent expression:


w-hich, like everything else in the universe,
interact according to the laws of physics, whatever those laws might be. <

-the "whatever", if it means: 'unrestricted to the content of the 2004AD physics books'. My argument is: there was physics before the discovery of electricity or radioactivity and their discovery merged into 'physics' quite well, so I don't consider the 2004 'physics' as finally closed. (If you want to call it still 'physics').


As a matter of fact, I believe that consciousness (or qualia, or subjective
experience) is something irreducible,...<

According to the 2004 status-quo of those (and only those) laws you mentioned. New discoveries may render them calculable (predictable?) by newly emerging parameters.


... because even if we knew every detail
at the finest level of the workings of the brain of a bat, for example, there is still something we would not know: what it actually feels like to be a bat. But it does not follow from this that there is something
magical -
meaning beyond the laws of physics - about consciousness.<

Please, don't substitute our human thinking for a bat-level mind. Such substitution is false. Hameroff and Penrose (JCS ~1992?) substituted the 'bat' by a worm's feeling. I argued how wrong it is to think with our neuronal braincomplexity in terms of the ~1000 neurons of a worm. The complexity of the mind works WITH the material tool (10^11 neurons) and all that our present science is doing is to observe the tool-part and explain the whole (function) by the conclusions drawn therefrom (using the
word: somehow for the qualia-jump).
It is like explaining the car by the study of the piston and concluding that the piston is the cause of the running of the car. With proper conditioning (modeling, kept inside the adequately chosen boundaries) it may even be mathematically proven(?).
-ENDQUOTE


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