On 28/08/2011, at 11:21 PM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> You
>> 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.

A molecule in a cell will behave exactly the same as a molecule
anywhere else in the universe. Do you believe otherwise? Do you have
any experimental evidence?

> 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.

If qualia are a primitive then they would appear in experiments as an
unknown force. We might not immediately guess that they were qualia,
but we would see that sometimes in cells molecules do things not
explainable by known science. Through experiment, the new force would
be characterized, instruments would be devised to detect it, and
equations would be found that allow mathematical modelling that would
allow prediction of what the cell will do. Only if the unknown force
is magical, at the whim of a god or spirit, might it be impossible to
characterize it in this way. Even then, it would be simple enough to
devise experiments showing that the force is real, since it would just
be a matter of showing that cells behave in ways contrary to all
physical laws.

> 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?

If you have the full specification of the CD and CD player you can
predict exactly what will happen when you play it. That the CD
contains songs won't make the CD player do something contrary to the
laws of physics.

> 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
> sense.

Billions of neurons all over the brain are involved in every action or
thought, and they all bounce off each other like ping pong balls
inside a container. What you are proposing is that miraculously one of
the ping pong balls will move and influence the other balls contrary
to any physical laws.

>>> 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
> subroutines.

That doesn't change the fact that the behaviour of everything in the
universe is completely determined by the low level physical laws.

>>>> 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.

The plastic neurons (supposedly without feeling) would still make the
neurons they connect to fire in the same sequence, so the muscle
fibres would fire in the same sequence and ultimately the animal would
behave in the same way. I can't see any way around this unless you
claim that there are magical influences within neurons that cause them
to behave contrary to the laws of physics.

-- Stathis Papaioannou

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