On 8/26/2011 4:41 PM, Craig Weinberg wrote:
I'm well aware that a cell is made of molecules and that it is their
structural and dynamic relations that constitute the cell. I understand
perceptual frame of reference: If I stand a different place I see a
different scene. What's that have to do with cells and being
On Aug 26, 4:38 pm, meekerdb<meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:
On 8/26/2011 1:14 PM, Craig Weinberg wrote:
That's the problem. You're interested in the wrong thing. Cells and
organsims are not billiard balls. If you treat them as predictable
mechanisms, you lose the very dimension that you are trying to
It's not a question of "treating" them as predictable; so far as anyone
has been able to tell they *are* predictable. No one has found any
evidence that they do not behave according to the known laws of physics
and chemistry - which means they are predictable. What evidence do you
have to the contrary?
None of what goes on in a cell could be predicted purely by chemistry.
If you were down at the level of individual atoms, you would have no
possible clue of the existence of anything like a cell, just as
looking at the surface of a TV screen with a microscope excludes the
possibility of making sense of a movie being watched.
You have to grasp this concept of perceptual frame of reference. A
cell is not the same thing as molecules - it's meta-molecular.
what a cell does makes sense in pure chemical terms,
But not all (according to you). And that's the question. What part
doesn't? How can this part be detected?
like most of what
an animal does makes sense in purely cellular terms. It has absolutely
nothing to do with defying physics or chemistry, it's that the
reliable, predictable levels of physical reality are routinely
manipulated to serve the purposes, whims, and fantasies of meta-meta-
meta organic entities.
Which is it? Does being manipulated by organic entities entail doing
something other than predicted by the laws of physics and chemistry?
The unpredictable behavior of a cell doesn't arise out of
complexity, it arises out of a higher order of simplicity that organic
"Higher order simplicity"?? More magic or more poetry?
Do you consider cells and bodies magic or poetic? What about higher
order simplicity sounds like witchcraft to you?
All of it. What's the operational definition whereby I can recognize
and measure simplicity and order it as higher and lower? It is a
thing? A substance? A property...of what? A relation?
You seem to be
agreeing that complexity is not sufficient to make cells unpredictable.
So in principle the complex behavior of the cell could be predicted even
at the molecular level. You are claiming this prediction would fail
because of ...what?
No. You're equating simplicity with microcosm. That's what I mean by
higher order simplicity and perceptual frames of reference. You can't
predict how a baseball game will turn out by looking at nothing but
the trajectories of baseballs in previous games.
But you could do it by looking at the microstates of the players in the
present game plus various environmental states. No one has suggested
that you could predict the behavior of a neuron or a brain by looking at
past brains or neurons. Why do you bring up such strawman arguments?
That is exactly what
substance monism suggests by insisting that the macrocosm can always
be predicted by scaling up the microcosm. I didn't think that kind of
mechanistic view is even taken seriously anymore, even in the hard
sciences. All that went out the window in the 20th century.
Fortunately it's the 21st century now. Who told you the macrocosm
couldn't be predicted by synthesis of the micro? I must have missed
that in physics class. If you're relying quantum randomness then please
say where Tegmark went wrong in his paper showing the brain must operate
classically? If you're relying on classical chaos theory then your
argument is with Bruno who assumes everything can be simulated in digits.
The prediction fails because it's basing the prediction on the wrong
thing. What we think about has an effect on our body on a systemic
level. The neurons behavior is caught up in that like we're caught up
in weather systems. We make brain hurricanes happen just by thinking
about something we enjoy or hate.
And how do you choose what to enjoy and who to hate?
Those make floods and blackouts the
tissues of our gut and sweat glands. It's no big voodoo - it's the
ordinary way that we function and experience our lives.
And it supervenes on the processes of our body and brain.
Similarly with an artificial neuron, for the purposes of this
discussion we are interested only in whether it stimulates the other
neurons with the same timing and in response to the same inputs as a
biological neuron would.
Even if you could create an artificial neuron which could impersonate
the responsiveness of an natural one, it wouldn't matter because it
still doesn't feel anything.
How do you know it doesn't feel anything? How do you know it doesn't
feel exactly the same as the neuron it replaced?
Because there is no reason to imagine it would. How do I know that a
ventrilioquist's dummy doesn't feel anything? Because I know it's a
manufactured artifact that has no living tissue in it. Same reason a
semiconductor array has no feeling. I don't *know* know it has no
feeling, but I think that whatever it does have is likely on the
microcosmic level rather than a higher order simplicity, and I think
that because of that it's likely not to be very similar to the
feelings of a conscious Homo sapien.
How do you know the
feeling of either the neuron or the artificial neuron has an effect on
what you would feel?
Because we can feel it when we use transcranial magnetic stimulation
or a taser to change the electromagnetic conditions of our neurons.
But a microcircuit based artificial neuron would also respond to those
stimulations and it could even be designed to respond (provide the same
output) to them as a biological neuron.
We know from operations on the brain that
electrostimulation may evoke memories, the sound of a melody, and other
qualia. The subject never says, "That felt like electrostimulation." or
"That didn't produce any feelings."
You could have electrostimulation to a lot of parts of your brain and
you wouldn't feel it. Only areas relevant to your perception and
cognition would end up being experienced in real time by you. I think
that the perceptual frame determines whether the stimulation is felt
as blind electric shock or a sound or a memory, but it's not really
debatable whether changes to neurons affect how we feel and how we can
act. That's why we care about neurology, because brain cancer and
spinal cord injuries aren't a sometimes bad thing, there is an
Could artificial neurons be used to repair a severed spinal cord?
Sure. If the rest of the spine is healthy then you can use a
prosthetic to telegraph the connection from brain to body across the
gap. Maybe you can even replace the whole spinal cord, because that's
how a person feels and moves their body, but if you replace the brain,
you have replaced the person themselves.
What if you just replace the spinal cord and each neuron in the brain it
directly connects with?
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