Colin Geoffrey Hales wrote:
>> So you are saying the special something which causes
>> consciousness and which functionalism has ignored
>> is the electric field around the neuron/astrocyte.
>> But electric fields were well understood even a
>> hundred years ago, weren't they? Why couldn't
>> a neuron be simulated by something like a SPICE model?
>> Even if there is some new
>> physics involved, once the equations are worked
>> out then either with pencil and
>> paper or with the aid of a computer you should
>> be able to model the neuron: given
>> starting parameters, work out what it is going to
>> do in future. Do you disagree that this would be possible?
>> Stathis Papaioannou
> Yes. I disagree.
> The problem is in the statement:
>> But electric fields were well understood even a
>> hundred years ago, weren't they?
> NO! they are _not_ understood (explained) they are only described. The
> descriptions do not say what an electric field is. They do not predict an
> electric field. They do not say WHY maxwells equations are what they are.
> There is no real explanation! No true 'understanding'.
> Nothing - I repeat - NOTHING is explained by science at this stage. 

What would you count as an explanation?

> there is is a whole bunch of mathematical models describing how things
> 'appear' (eg quantum mechanics). This is not 'what they are'. Making wave
> its arms about like a model does not create "what they are". If there are
> properties innate to the 'stuff' involved in a situation X they waving
> stuff around like the model of situation X does not does not implement
> those properties.
> This is a fundamental blockage in thinking. Everybody in physics and maths
> thinks that equations drive things. Bollocks. They merely describe.

Of course they describe things - they aren't the things themselves.  But the 
question is whether the description is complete.  Is there anything about EM 
fields that is not described by QED?  If you can find it you'll be famous by 
> I've just spent a month writing about this very thing. It's making me very
> grumpy and frustrated that something 300 years old and really obvious
> still hasn't sunk in. The universe is NOT made of model/descriptions of
> its appearances!
> It's made of something that, in the right circumstances, delivers
> appearances(to a suitably equipped agent made of it) and it behaves like
> it does within those appearances when you look with the appearance
> generator thus implemented (a brain). Models of the appearance are just
> models of appearances! They are very predictive but are completely devoid
> of all causality. Making a machine run as per the models won't do it.
> It's doesn't mean we can't achieve what we want in an artefact (pain) - it
> just means that functionalist dreaming isn't enough.
> I found this today:
> "The Explicit Animal" Raymond Tallis. He goes through the issues really
> well and trashes functionalism properly.
> My preoccupation with electric fields is that they have correlated
> perfectly with everything I have thrown at them for 5 years and they
> predict everything. 

I don't see how an EM field can "predict".

>The trick is to understand the kind of universe that
> expresses something that looks like electric fields run by Maxwells
> equations - NOT to run models according to maxwell's equations.
> cheers,
> colin

If there is something more to electromagnetism, beyond what is described by 
Maxwells equations (and there certainly is), then do you agree that it too 
should be describable in some different or more complete model? 

Brent Meeker

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