On Aug 28, 2011, at 8:21 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

On Aug 28, 3:07 am, Stathis Papaioannou <stath...@gmail.com> wrote:
On Sat, Aug 27, 2011 at 12:32 PM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:
It's not something physical that eludes detection, it's just a matter
of understanding that a stem cell doesn't have any purpose on a
chemical level in developing into different kinds of tissue in the
body. It only makes sense from the top down, because the body needs
these various tissues and organs. The molecules don't need to do that
for any chemical purpose, they could just do what every other
inorganic molecule does and just melt and freeze, crystallize,
evaporate, etc. It doesn't need to become an esophagus. Why would
there be a purely chemical reason to become an esophagus?

What other reason can a stem cell have to become a mature cell?

"It only makes sense from the top down, because the body needs these
various tissues and organs"

are invoking magic. If a cell does *anything* other than exactly what
the laws of physics and chemistry say that it will do then that is
magic. It's bad enough that you keep saying this, but it's worse that
you don't see it or don't admit it.

Cells are not just physical and chemical. They are biological too.
That's what you're not seeing. There is a difference. There's nothing
magic about it, it's just that we have a skewed perspective on it
because the biological level gets closer to our own level, so it seems
less objective and mechanical to us. Subjectivity is completely
ordinary and concretely real, but it can only be described in
sensorimotive terms rather than the physical terms we are used to,
like mass, specific gravity, size, etc.

Substance monism has no choice but to accuse it of being magic because
substance monism is a form of epistemological fascism. If something
isn't explainable in purely physical and chemical terms, then it must
be illusion or witchcraft. Who are we to dictate that cells cannot do
anything other than exactly what 19th century scientists thought
molecules could do? It's absurd. We know for a fact that molecules
don't produce things like colors and sounds 'physically' (you don't
find them in the tissue of the brain), so it's only a matter of
figuring out at what point do qualia arise. To me they are likely not
to arise at all, but like charge or spin are a primitive property of
the cosmos.

No, it's using the laws of physics and chemistry to accomplish it's
own purposes. They are using each other to express the order and sense that they make in relation to each other; the part to the whole, with
each whole being just a part of a larger order and each part being
it's own whole in it's own private context.

That may be a way of describing what happens, but it doesn't change
the fact that the biological parts do exactly what the matter within
them does following the laws of chemistry and physics. Only if there
is an immaterial soul which pushes the particles around magically
could it be otherwise.

You're essentially taking the position of a priest in the Spanish
Inquisition, only demanding submission to a substance monist orthodoxy
rather than a theist monist doctrine. Is a song an 'immaterial soul'
that pushes around ferrous molecules on a magnetic tape, or a laser's
photons on a CD?

Why do I have to choose between a song not existing or it being some
kind if immaterial phantom in order to explain how one
phenomenological text can be encoded through the patterns of other
contexts in mutual supervenience? It's not very hard to understand.
The same thing that makes a molecule a molecule also makes a cell a
cell, and makes it out of molecules. That doesn't mean that a cell is
just a bigger version of a molecule -


I think it is illuminating that you admit this for a cell, but when it comes to computers "it's just a big silicon molecule". You can't have it both ways.

it's radically different, just
as a song is different from a pattern of bytes in an mp3 file.

Just because it is different doesn't give it the ability to violate well-established theories such as the conservation of energy and momentum. Spontaneous motion from nothing would be magic in the sense that it violated these laws.

Do you not believe in the conservation of momentum?


I didn't say that the macrocosm couldn't be predicted by synthesis of
the micro, I said it can't *always* be predicted by scaling up the
microcosm. If you could then there would be no classical limit, and
everything would either behave like weird probabilistic events winking
in and out of 'existence' or it would behave like tiny indivisible
particles clattering around the nucleus like a seeds in hollow nut.

All of the great scientific ideas of the last century have
increasingly described a universe of holistic interaction and
relativity rather than strictly linear cause and effect logic. There
is no hard material universe of objects anymore, it's all charged
fields and empty space...virtual particles, superposition, etc.

Which is all part of physics, and can be predicted by physical laws.
What do you think quantum mechanics and relativity theory are about?

And it supervenes on the processes of our body and brain.

Sometimes it does, other times the processes of our body and brain
supervenes on our conscious thoughts and intentions. Sometimes it's
both at once.

If I decide to do something there is a chain of neurological events.
If our conscious thoughts and intentions can drive these neurological
events that would mean we could observe some of the neurons involved
firing miraculously, rather than because they are stimulated by other

That would make it easier for substance monism, but that's not how it
works: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-De5nOC8K0

When we do something it's millions of neurons firing simultaneously
all over the brain. They aren't just causing each other to be
stimulated in an endless linear chain reaction. It's not nuclear
fission, it's a living organism that does what it wants and what it
needs based upon the natural perceptions of that organism. You can
call it miraculous if you want, but I certainly don't have ti. To me
it's the ordinary and somewhat inevitable result of negentropy and

Responding is only half of the battle. A dummy responds to a
ventriloquist, but that doesn't mean it should be able to replace him.
If you have a brain full of artificial neurons, then it makes a
difference if there's nothing inside that feels what it is that is
being responded to.

And if that were possible you might have such a brain now and not know it.

No. Feeling like you feel something is feeling. I get the idea that
you're trying to tell me - I do. I used to think that way too, "Since
everything we experience is presented for us by the brain, then
whatever the brain wants us to do will be presented in exactly the way
we would need to see it to make us do that, and we would never know
the difference". That's true to a certain extent. But the opposite is
true as well.

Even though our experience may be hopelessly solipsistic and
irrelevant, it still insists that we take it seriously. Knowing that
matter is all dancing webs of energy and nothingness doesn't save you
if you're hit by a bus. While naive realism is of course supervened
upon by materialism, the actions of our material bodies (and the
structures we use them to build, etc) are supervened upon by our
psychology, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, etc. A beehive
doesn't exist until bees create it, just like DNA creates proteins
that build a cell. The larger senses and motives of the thing itself
that's doing the building is as real as the lowest level physical

What if you just replace the spinal cord and each neuron in the brain it
directly connects with?

Then you would be paralyzed. With neuroplasticity you might be able to
reimprint yourself so you could throw your limbs around with certain
combinations of intense emotions or something, but I think that your
ordinary access to your body would no longer be directly available.

How would you be paralysed if the artificial neurons pass on the
signal appropriately to the upstream neurons? It's a direct
contradiction: the upstream neurons would both fire and not fire.
Which is it?

You're thinking that the 'signal' is the only factor and ignoring
completely that there is no such thing as a signal independent of the
thing doing the sending and receiving of the signals. It's not just a
chain reaction of signals - there is that too, but mainly it's living
tissue feeling the feelings of other living tissues. When you replace
the living tissues with plastic, then those tissues wouldn't be able
feel anything themselves no matter how well they could telegraph the
feelings of other tissues.

I suspect that the spinal cord neurons connect to too many systems in
too many complex ways to be separated like that in reality, but as a
thought experiment I would think that the experience would be a
profoundly dissociative state, like PCP or ketamine, where the body is
experienced as a puppet with no proprietary significance but still
under voluntary control.


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