On Sep 4, 7:10 am, Stathis Papaioannou <stath...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Sun, Sep 4, 2011 at 1:32 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:
> >> Well, either the atoms got into the book by following the rules of
> >> physics or they got there by magic. What other options are there? This
> >> does not mean that the rules of physics are all known, all
> >> deterministic or all computable; but whatever they are, the atoms in
> >> the universe bounce around according to them and end up in books,
> >> stars and people.
> > Whatever physical phenomena are observed to be doing, the laws of
> > physics are extended to allow for. Quantum mechanics is magic, until
> > physicists call it physics. It's upside down to imagine that our
> > observations need to fit into our existing rule book, especially when
> > those observations (like first person singular subjectivity, free
> > will, qualia, feeling, awareness, perception, etc) both cannot be
> > denied and cannot be explained within the existing rules.
> > If I were more of a materialist, I would say that the odds that we
> > happen to be living in the one era of all of history when our
> > knowledge of physics coincides with objective truth are astronomically
> > unlikely and radically anthropocentric. Given our collective history
> > of willingness to cling to irrational superstition and shortsighted or
> > premature scientific theory, I see no reason to consider our
> > contemporary chapter of science any more sacrosanct than that of
> > centuries past. History has shown that we have always been completely
> > wrong about the universe. Until our explanation of the universe
> > accounts fully for all subjective and objective phenomena in their
> > native presentations, it seems obvious that we have a long long way to
> > go. Right now, particle physics accounts for human experience about as
> > much as the Holy Trinity accounts for quarks.
> Nothing really new has turned up in the physics underlying the brain
> in over a century,

I'm assuming you're just being thoughtlessly condescending here and
not actually saying that physics has not changed in 100 years, or that
the brain has some separate physics that anything else. You're not
telling me that MRIs don't count as something new, or that quantum
theories of consciousness are not the result of recent interpretations
of physics.

> since all the discoveries since are consistent with
> organic chemistry,

If something is discovered in organic chemistry, then it by definition
becomes consistent with organic chemistry.

> a subject reasonably well-understood even in the
> nineteenth century. However, it is possible that something
> fundamentally novel will turn up at some future point.

That's a strawman of scientific innovation. It wasn't that General
Relativity 'turned up' at some point, or that it came to Einsteins
attention because of some new kind substance that defied Newtonian
mechanics - it was just his making a newer, greater sense out of
existing perceptions.

>In that case,
> the brain will still follow the laws of physics, just laws that we
> previously didn't know about.

Right. Sensorimotive interiority is what those laws will look like.

> The brain's behaviour will still be
> computable and therefore the brain's consciousness will still be
> computable if the new laws are computable.

Some aspects of the brain's behaviors are computable, but others never
have been and maybe cannot be.

>If the new laws are not
> computable it might still be possible to make artificial brain
> components using non-computational devices, and consciousness would
> still be preserved.

I agree. I think it will likely have to be more based upon tissue
replication than logical emulation is all.

> In a sense it is true that particle physics does not explain human
> experience, and this is what Chalmers called the "Hard Problem" of
> consciousness. It does not just apply to known physics, it applies to
> any naturalistic theory of consciousness. If we show that the brain
> contains dark matter, and the dark matter is responsible for
> consciousness, it is still possible to say, "But when I see dark
> matter, I don't see thoughts and feelings". And you can make that
> observation in response to any theory at all.

That's why we have to have a theory which lets consciousness be what
it is and not have to be described in terms which are completely
foreign to it. Consciousness is experience. Perception, pattern
recognition, sensation, thought, feeling... That's what it is, that's
what it does, and that's what it's made of. You can correlate them to
external physical patterns, and you can understand their precise
relation, and you can use one to drive the other, but you can't make
the interior of one thing be the exactly same as the exterior of
something else. Something that feels like we do is probably going to
be a lot like we are.


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