On Wed, Sep 7, 2011 at 12:11 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> Many discoveries have of course been made in neuroscience in the past
>> hundred years, eg. mapping brain function and working out its
>> neuropharmacology, but all these discoveries are consistent with
>> old-fashioned chemistry. This is in contrast to advances in astronomy,
>> for example. It isn't possible to explain how the sun shines without
>> nuclear physics.
>
> Since we haven't found the nuclear physics equivalent of explaining
> consciousness through physics or 'old fashioned chemistry', every
> discovery in biology, genetics, neuroscience, information science,
> theoretical physics, psychology, pharmacology, etc potentially
> redefines our understanding of the 'physics underlying the brain'.

None of the discoveries in neuroscience have suggested a novel
mechanism for consciousness. When neuroscientists consider
consciousness at all they consider the so-called neural correlates of
consciousness: processes A, B, C, D in the brain are associated with
experiences E, F, G, H. Processes A, B, C, D never involve anything
more than basic chemistry. Maybe there is stuff that hasn't been
discovered yet, but that is the current state of science.

>> A true theory
>> of consciousness will, if consciousness affects behaviour, describe
>> how it will cause ion channels to open where chemistry predicts they
>> will remain closed.
>
> Mine does that. Sensorimotive phenomena within the psyche is the same
> thing as electromagnetic induction, only seen from the 'inside' or
> 'throughside'. Since ion channels can be either open or closed,
> chemistry can't have an opinion on local causes, let alone massively
> synchronized general causes that we see in the nervous system. Ion
> channels opening and closing are just the physical shadow of the
> sensorimotive processes which they host (and vice versa, our
> consciousness is the psychic shadow of neurochemistry - they are the
> same thing essentially but opposite things existentially).

It's difficult to continue this discussion if I've understood
correctly and you really think that ion channels open and close all by
themselves.

> Consciousness is not understandable as a physical mechanism, it can
> only be described as first hand experience (which by definition cannot
> be 'physical', or else you get homunculus recursion). It can cause
> events in the brain which have physical, mechanistic patterns, just as
> software logic can 'cause' consequences in semiconductors, but there
> is no theory of semiconductor engineering which identifies how logic
> itself could force transistors to open or close. The logic of software
> and psyche *is* the activity of the hardware, only seen from 1-p
> instead of 3-p.

But software cannot have any effect on hardware. Software is just a
method of organising hardware so that it will behave in a particular
way. A mountain is a mountain because of the movement of tectonic
plates, not because the spirit of mountain-hood forces the rock into a
conical shape.

>> And even short of actually discovering these laws,
>> it should be obvious that ion channels are in fact opening contrary to
>> the laws already known.
>
> I don't know how many ways I can reassert that this whole notion of
> consciousness violating any kind of 'laws of physics' is a red
> herring. It's not what I'm saying. My explanation is much deeper than
> that. I am saying that the laws of physics are a set complement to
> subjective 'laws' - they are the opposite. Where physics is about
> discrete, generic electromagnetic objects in public spaces interacting
> through probabilistic entropy, consciousness is about compact
> (cumulatively entangled), proprietary sensorimotive subjects in
> private times interacting through teleological significance. That
> symmetry is the important element. That is what sense is, and sense is
> what the entire cosmos is.

But does consciousness make the matter in the brain behave in ways
that cannot be predicted by the laws of physics? If so, we should have
discovered this amazing fact by now. If not, then the brain's
behaviour could be predicted without reference to consciousness and
artificial brain components could be made that function the same as
biological components.

> By focusing on a particular layer of the physical microcosm (ion
> channels) and trying to shove the totality of the psyche into it, you
> can never get any meaningful result. It's like trying to understand
> the history of cinema by looking at the behavior of pixels on a
> monitor when watching YouTubes. The information is not accessible at
> that level.
>
> Not only is it not accessible, but applying the information that is
> accessible (recurring patterns of pixel color and intensity,
> electronic behaviors of the technology which produces them, software
> handlers of the Web Browser) would be catastrophically misleading and
> would in fact become an insurmountable obstacle to ever understanding
> what movies are, why they exist, what is worthwhile about them, how
> they are written, directed, and produced, etc.

Reproducing the pattern of pixels and just the pattern of pixels would
reproduce the movie. The movie would still be what it is even if
no-one were around to understand it, just as three apples would still
be three apples even if there were no-one around to count them.

>> It doesn't really explain consciousness to say it is fundamental to
>> matter
>
> Why not? Doesn't physics explain matter by saying it is fundamental to
> the universe? Why would the ability for the universe to experience
> it's own existence (or aspects of it) not be fundamental?
>
>> or fundamental to function and I don't see why one should a
>> priori be preferred over the other as an explanation.
>
> Function and awareness are the same thing essentially, but viewed from
> opposite vantage points existentially. This is the main idea of my
> hypothesis, yet I'm not seeing any sign that you understand what that
> means. It means that there isn't ever going to be a functional recipe
> for human consciousness, just as a shadow of a fruit tree is never
> going to actual fruit. The shadow is an aspect of what the tree is in
> relation to visual perception and optics, not something that is being
> actively produced within the tree and excreted in a particular shape
> on the ground.

You reject the idea that consciousness is fundamental to function, but
you are OK about it being fundamental to matter. Why? On the face of
it there are several reasons why attaching it to function seems
better:

1. Matter/energy is a thing, function and consciousness are not things.
2. A dead or frozen brain has the same matter but is not conscious.
The brain needs to function in the appropriate way to be conscious.
3. Consciousness seems to closely mirror function. I lift my arm, and
I have the sensation of lifting my arm. I don't have the sensation of
bones or neurotransmitters or the other things that go to make up my
arm.

These points are not proof that consciousness is fundamental to
function (as the fading qualia argument purports to be), but they are
suggestive.


-- 
Stathis Papaioannou

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