On Thu, Nov 18, 2010 at 9:56 AM, Jason Resch <jasonre...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Rex,
> Your post reminded me of the quote (of which I cannot recall the source)
> where someone asked "Who pushes who around inside the brain?", meaning is it
> the matter that causes thought to move around a certain way, or is it the
> opposite?  The looped hierarchies described by Hofstadter, if present, make
> this a difficult question to answer.  If the highest levels of thought and
> reason are required in your decision making, does it still make sense to say
> we are slaves of deterministic motions of particles or is that missing a few
> steps?

Well, I find it entirely conceivable that fundamental physical laws
acting on fundamental physical entities (particles, fields, strings,
whatever) could account for human behavior and ability.

So if human behavior and ability is what we are trying to explain,
then I see no reason to invoke thought and reason as causal forces.
And, even if you wanted to, I don't see how they could be made to
serve that role.  1Z and I discussed this in the other thread.

We don't invoke thought and reason to explain the abilities and
behavior of chess playing computers - and while human behavior and
ability is much more complex and extensive, I think it can be put in
the same general category.

The conscious experience that accompanies human behavior is another
matter entirely, but I don't think it serves any causal role either.

> I could not perfectly predict your behavior without creating a full
> simulation of your brain.  Doing so would instantiate your consciousness.
> Therefore I cannot determine what you will do without invoking your
> consciousness, thought, reason, etc.

I wouldn't necessarily agree that a full computer simulation of a
human brain would produce conscious experience.

Maybe it's true.  Maybe it's not.  I have serious doubts.

I'm not a physicalist, or a dualist, but rather an accidental
idealist.  Or maybe an idealistic accidentalist?  One or the other.

> I do not disagree with your assertion that something must be either caused
> or random, but does _what_ caused you to do something have any bearing?  If
> your mind is the cause, does that count as free will?

Even if that were the case, there must be *something* that connects
the mind to the choice.  Otherwise how can you say that the mind is
the cause of the choice?

So what is the nature of that connective "something"?

If it is a rule or a law, then the choice was determined by the rule/law.

If there is nothing that connects the mind to the choice, then the
choice was random and the mind didn't cause it.

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