On Thu, Sep 8, 2011 at 1:14 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

>>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.
>
> My position is that there in fact my not be stuff there that hasn't
> been discovered yet (or none that leads to a breakthrough in
> identifying consciousness anyways). All that needs to be changed is
> our understanding that in fact A, B, C, D, processes in the brain are
> {EFGH} experiences, and that both owe their nature to a common
> relation to A,B,C,D(ɥ,ƃ,ɟ,ǝ-pɔqɐ)EFGH sense.

I haven't disagreed with that.

>> 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.
>
> It works like a wave in a crowd at a stadium, except perhaps each
> individual ion channel has maybe 100 billionth of the awareness we
> have as far as being able to exert any kind of individuality. They can
> sense when it's their turn to open or close and they are motivated to
> open or close based on that sense. Like ourselves on a much more
> primitive scale, their awareness is the interior of the
> electromagnetic order that characterizes their immediate electrolytic
> agenda as well as containing essences of higher and lower octaves of
> the other levels or frames of relativity which they participate in.
> They open and close when they 'feel' that they must. Not feel like an
> animal feels, or like a semiconductor 'feels', but like an ion channel
> in a cell 'feels' = detects/responds.
>
> If you posit that something makes ion channels open and close, then
> you have another mechanism which needs something to make it make the
> ion channels open and close, etc and so you get recursion. At some
> point something somewhere has do something by itself, or else you are
> left with an omnipotent initial condition. Such a condition would
> inexplicably result in a deterministic cosmos that is determined to
> pretend to itself that it is not deterministic through the experience
> of one particular species of primate. The sense that makes can only be
> to fulfill a faulty premise, and not to understand the reality of what
> the cosmos actually is.

Ion channels open and close in response to neurotransmitters or
voltage changes. The neurotransmitters or voltage changes are, in
their turn, triggered by other neurons firing, which are triggered by
ion channels opening in those neurons, and so on. This is all
well-established scientific fact. If an ion channel opened without an
identifiable trigger (and that would include quantum level events that
may be random) that would be a remarkable scientific discovery, and if
it happens all the time as you claim then surely it would have been
observed over decades of scientific research. It would be like
observing that doors open and close due to their own whim, and not
because of the wind or vibrations from passing trucks or any other
identifiable cause.

Why do you think that the feeling your decisions are not determined
means that they are in fact not determined? I feel that the Earth is
flat since it looks flat, but I don't insist that because of this
feeling it is in fact flat.

>> 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.
>
> There's this same dead horse false dichotomy again. Please get over
> this. I apologize if I'm missing something as far as why it seems
> incomprehensible or unacceptable to a lot of people, but to me it's a
> fairly straightforward, if unfamiliar concept:
>
> I cannot predict future TV programs by studying how a CRT or LCD panel
> works. Not even a little bit. Not in a billion years of constant study
> with supercomputers. When I watch TV programs, the physical
> characteristics associated with the content (not the content as a
> whole of course, just the electronic mapping which correlates to the
> optical character of the content) of those programs determine how the
> CRT or LCD works - it's an Infinite State Non-Machine (the set of all
> possible human movies) that organizes a Finite State Machine (electron
> gun, microprocessor, radio receiver, etc).

You seem to think that in order to have an adequate model of how an
entity will behave you need to know every input it is going to receive
for the rest of time, but I don't know where you get this idea.

It is possible to predict exactly what the TV screen will display
given (a) knowledge of the TV's structure, (b) knowledge of the radio
waves the antenna picks up, and (c) an adequate model for how the TV
responds to radio waves. By analogy with a neuron it is possible to
predict what it will do given (a) knowledge of the neuron's structure,
(b) knowledge of the inputs the neuron receives, and (c) an adequate
model for how the neuron responds to inputs. The TV and the neuron are
both finite state machines with a finite range of responses, so that
it is possible to predict what they will do given any input. For
example, if the neuron is exposed to a concentration of dopamine
greater than a certain level it will trigger an action potential, so
you know if the action potential will be triggered if you know the
concentration of dopamine in the neuron's vicinity. How a neuron will
respond to dopamine is something that can be determined by
experimental methods. Certainly the model does not know what inputs
the neuron will see tomorrow, but neither does the neuron or the TV!

>> 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.
>
> I don't reject that humanlike consciousness is partly a function, but
> it's not a purely abstract function of anything - it's a function of
> specific substances. We can emulate a lot of these functions in
> silicon machines, and in those we can typically make them much faster
> and more efficient, but those are the functions which are actually the
> least subjective experiences we have. They are where the self reaches
> out to connect with and make sense of the objects of it's niche. As
> you get more subjective and move closer in to the self, mechanistic
> approaches have less explanatory power, and the description becomes
> more figurative and colorful. The beam of white light splits into
> bands of color that cannot be accounted for quantitatively.
>
> You're right though, function is very important to consciousness, it's
> just not the only important factor. It's necessary but not sufficient
> to explain awareness.

You say: consciousness is fundamental and supervenes on specific
substances functioning in specific ways.

A functionalist may say: consciousness is fundamental and supervenes
on any substance functioning in specific ways.

Leaving aside which of these is the truth, why is one a better or more
satisfying explanation than the other?


-- 
Stathis Papaioannou

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