On Aug 31, 9:38 pm, Stathis Papaioannou <stath...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 2:41 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:
> >> But you are saying that the cell will do something impossible, since
> >> you're saying the high level processes may direct it to do something
> >> that cannot be predicted from the physical configuration.
> > It's not impossible at all. It's ordinary. You can't predict when I'm
> > going to move my arm based upon a physical condition of the arm, or
> > the cells in the arm. When I move it there is no physical law which
> > determines whether I will move it left or right, fast or slow. Cells
> > can be influenced by physical conditions or they themselves can
> > influence physical conditions - just like we do. Quorum sensing
> > provides a hint on how this works in the microcosm. Group decisions
> > are made.
> That's obviously not true. Maybe you just haven't looked at it in a
> simple enough way. Taking any individual particle in your arm, it can
> only move in a direction determined by its own physical properties and
> the forces acting on it. If it's a water molecule inside a skin cell
> on your finger tip, there is the force of gravity, the force from any
> electromagnetic fields (since it is slightly polarised), its own
> thermal motion and momentum, and the forces from all the other
> molecules around it which are constantly jostling it.

Yet we can move our arms. Is your position that your every movement,
and indeed every function of every living organism can be determined
by applying field equations of gravity and electromagnetism? Your
position is that there is no qualitative difference between what
animates a cheetah and what animates a pile of sand.

> It won't do
> anything magical contrary to these physical factors, which is what you
> are claiming when you say there is no physical law which determines if
> you move your arm left or right.

If you actually read what I write, you will see that I have made it
very clear that I make no claims contrary to physical science
whatsoever. What determines whether I move my arm left or right could
be called a physical law or not, but it makes no difference. If you
call it physical when it has no qualities associated with physicality
(mass, specific gravity, density, etc) then the term physical really
can have no meaning. Whatever it is, it is the muscle cells of the arm
which supervene upon the higher order sensorimotive intention to
contract themselves as a group.

> The same applies for every other
> particle in the body, and indeed every other particle in the universe.
> You move your arm because you decide to move your arm, but the
> decision to move your arm consists of a large number of particles
> jostling each other in a particular way.

If the particles are making the decision by jostling each other in a
'particular way', why do they need an illusionary metaphysical voyeur
to imagine that it's 'you' moving 'your arm'? What's 'you' made out of
that makes it not see that it's only particular particulate jostling?

>The only point of contention
> here is to what extent quantum randomness plays a part in the brain;
> but even if it does, randomness is just another aspect of the physical
> world, not a mysterious non-physical life force.

No, it's not the only point of contention. If your opinion is nothing
but randomness and electromagnetism, why bother writing at all? What
does it serve the physical purpose of your particles to write or

> >> Otherwise
> >> there would be no problem in principle making an artificial cell that
> >> takes the place of the biological cell and leaves the overall
> >> behaviour of the animal unchanged.
> > Behavior is only half of the picture. An audioanimatronic puppet or an
> > interactive video can approximate human behavior to an impressive
> > extent, but they can't approximate human experience to any extent
> > whatsoever.
> They can't approximate human behaviour, as you would know in a few
> moments if you talked to them to see if they had human level
> cognition. If they could really approximate human behaviour there
> would be reason to think they approximate human consciousness.

The reason is HADD or pseudognosia. It has nothing to do with an
inanimate machine to learn to feel just by being trained in ways we
think is human.

> >> What you call the mind influencing the brain is consistent with the
> >> mechanistic interaction of particles.
> > What do you mean by consistent? Is it consistent with the mechanistic
> > interaction of serotonin that it would want to conduct a symphony or
> > invent a new word for 'cool'? If you deem all phenomena in the
> > universe to be a priori mechanistic, then that word has no meaning. If
> > you want it to mean something then you have to allow that some
> > phenomena are not mechanistic. In that case, if you had to say that
> > something in the cosmos was not mechanical, what might that something
> > be if not human feeling, imagination, creativity and free will?
> You can say, if you like, that consciousness is non-physical but
> supervenes on physical processes. To give a definition of
> supervenience from Wikipedia:
> quote--
> A-properties supervene on B-properties if being B-indiscernible
> implies being A-indiscernible. The reverse does not hold. That is, if
> A-properties supervene on B-properties, being A-indiscernible does not
> imply being B-indiscernible. The properties in B are called the base
> properties (or sometimes subjacent or subvenient properties), and the
> properties in A are called the supervenient properties. Equivalently,
> if two things differ in their supervenient properties then they must
> differ in their base properties.
> To give a somewhat simplified example, if psychological properties
> supervene on physical properties, then any two persons who are
> physically indistinguishable must also be psychologically
> indistinguishable; or equivalently, any two persons who are
> psychologically different (e.g., having different thoughts), must be
> physically different as well. Importantly, the reverse does not follow
> (supervenience is not symmetric): even if being the same physically
> implies being the same psychologically, two persons can be the same
> psychologically yet different physically: that is, psychological
> properties can be multiply realized in physical properties.
> --endquote

The relationship between awareness and physical existence is symmetric
though. You cannot have physical properties without some detection
process to give rise to physical qualia.

> >> There is a certain physical
> >> chain of events and you say, "yep, that was my mind influencing my
> >> brain to have a cup of coffee". Just as in a computer there is a
> >> certain chain of events and you say "yep, that was the computer
> >> calculating the digits of pi".
> > It's not only a chain of events. It's also simultaneously orchestrated
> > across many different regions of the brain. The thing is alive. It is
> > not a mechanism that does the same thing over and over. It can behave
> > that way also, but it's not very good at that - which is why we need
> > machines and computers to do the repetitive tasks with high precision
> > that are somewhat alien to our capabilities.
> A finite machine has a finite number of states, and an organism is a
> finite machine.

It's not a finite machine. As long as there's no time limit, there's
no limit to species morphology. A zebra is not contained within the
states of blue green algae, yet they are both part of the same
evolving cellular process.

>The organism's repertoire can be increased by
> modifying it or adding to it but you would need an organism of
> infinite size for it to have an infinite number of states.

You're assuming that all states occupy physical space and stored
internally. That's not how it works. States are recapitulated and
iconicized. They are projected outward to the infinite exterior, just
as I project my mental states out into your computer in this

> like a machine of finite size an organism will start repeating given
> enough time. At present, human brains have greater information
> processing capacity than computers but computers are improving all the
> time, whereas brains aren't.

Since size is not the limitation of awareness, and since the idea of a
pattern repeating supervenes on awareness, it's not a problem, even in
the radically theoretical sense that you intend.

> > I understand why the simple existence of free will seems threatening,
> > but it's really nothing to be afraid of. It's just the complement of
> > determinism arising from the 1-p topology of temporal privacy rather
> > than the 3-p public spatial topology. You cannot deny that we care
> > whether we live or die, and that implies that we differentiate between
> > the two. Substance monism can't explain that fact without tortured
> > logic which nullifies ordinary subjectivity.
> We do something either because it is determined or because it is
> random.

So either those sentences are determined (and therefore you are unable
to express any contrary opinion) or they are random. Which is it? Why
am I talking to someone who has no ability to control their own
opinions? Who is it that's reading this now...gravity? Which particle
is it in your brain which randomly jostles a meaningless opinion out
of your brain right now?

> That exhausts the possibilities.

Um, yeah. Congratulations on logically proving to yourself that logic
doesn't exist. Is logic determined by physical forces in our brain's
particles, or is it random?

>Some people say that they
> have free will if their decisions are determined, some that they have
> free will if their decisions are random, some that they lack free will
> if their decisions are determined, and some that they lack free will
> if their decisions are random. Some say they lack free will whether
> their decisions are determined or random, others say they have free
> will whether their decisions are determined or random. Disagreement
> can occur about whether free will is present or not despite everyone
> agreeing on the facts. It therefore appears that the definition of
> free will is a matter of taste.

Isn't something being a 'matter of taste' make it supervenient on
choice? Free Will is choice, no?

Let me amend your statement for you: "We do something either because
it is determined or because it is random. Or because it is a matter of

Now if we can only agree that around half of the phenomenology of the
cosmos falls under the umbrella of 'matter of taste' we'll be all done


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups 
"Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to everything-list@googlegroups.com.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to 
For more options, visit this group at 

Reply via email to