On Sep 7, 8:07 pm, Stathis Papaioannou <stath...@gmail.com> wrote:
> 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 seems like you are saying that A, B, C, D causes E, F, G, H and
therefore E, F, G, H can't really be causing anything on it's own. I'm
saying the opposite. Neither cause the other directly, but both are
influenced by the shared sensemaking relation (ɥ,ƃ,ɟ,ǝ-pɔqɐ) that
defines them.

>
>
> >> 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.

A voltage change is nothing but the 3-p view of a sensorimotive
change. It arises spontaneously from the 1-p sense of the situation. A
crowd wave is caused by individual people standing up and sitting
down, but it doesn't explain how and why thousands of people are
getting up and sitting down in a self-coordinated pattern. To say that
ion channels open and close *in response* to neurotransmitters or
voltage changes is to say that they detect electromagnetic and
electrochemical conditions in their environment.

That they 'respond' is to say they exercise motive participation with
their environment which satisfies the conditions of their initial
sense. They feel that the chemical conditions of their medium have
changed, and if they can make sense of that change in terms which
require their motor compliance, then they will, to the extent that
they can, move or change themselves to effect the necessary change.

>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.

The fact that different neurotransmitters have different effects on
different neurons should be a hint that the chemistry by itself is not
unilaterally commanding the brain. The neurons themselves have to be
sensitive to particular electrochemical conditions and be able to
respond individually and as a group in a synchronized and syncopated
manner.

> 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.

Every time you reiterate this red herring it reminds me that you
either don't understand what I'm saying or you aren't listening. If I
could, I would put up billboard sized letters here saying, again, I am
NOT suggesting anything unscientific whatsoever. You're the one saying
that consciousness and free will must be some kind of metaphysical
delusion made out of nothing. I am saying that the pixels of this
screen need not do anything unusual or unscientific to present an
infinite portal of human sense to us.

That sense, and this consciousness which decodes that sense are not
defined by the mechanics of the fine grain pixels of the screen or the
web of interconnected nerve cells of our bodies. Experience is an
entirely different ontology and topology than conventional physics. I
propose that it is no less real and it's qualities bear a distinct and
directly symmetric relation to physics, so they should be understood
properly as the 'other half of physics'.

As far as cause goes, it's always back and forth, involuted like a
Mobius strip. Physics causes changes in experience, our participation
in our experience causes changes - deep structural changes eventually,
in physics (our own physics and that of the world where we live our
lives).

>
> Why do you think that the feeling your decisions are not determined
> means that they are in fact not determined?

It doesn't matter whether the content of your feelings of free will
are factually not determined since the fact of the existence of those
feelings at all makes no sense in a deterministic universe. You can
choose to model a deterministic universe that is inexplicably
determined to pretend it is not deterministic - which is fine for
certain applications and scales physiological-neurological resolution
where the image of the human psyche breaks down into granular sub-
identity phenomena, but to literally believe that model and hold to it
on the macrocosmic level has negative consequences.

You would have to constantly remind yourself that you have no choice
but to constantly remind yourself that you are a helpless puppet of
electrochemical forces. It doesn't fit with the plain common sense
realism of our lives wherein we routinely read and write what we think
based upon our own human-scale experiences and ideas, having nothing
whatsoever to do with serotonin reuptake diffusion gradients or
whatever neural correlates are associated with it.

The pattern of our lives and experience is the invariance - the
continuity of semantic coherence *through* and *in spite of* the
neurochemistry. We fight our nature. As the saying goes 'You cannot go
against nature, because when you do go against nature, it's part of
nature too." A narrowly deterministic view of the universe precludes
any sort of experience of any sort of fighting - whatever principle is
destined to overcome another principle in a particular local situation
will always win, therefore it would be a nonsensical violation of
parsimony to insert some theater of ambition where there is no need
for it.

>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.

The Earth is in fact flat. Every sphere is perfectly flat if you are
small enough and close enough to it's surface. If you had to walk
around perceiving the Earth as a blue cloudy sphere all the time, you
couldn't navigate your body out of your front door. The experience of
the flat Earth is actually the more relevant, native reality to our
human perceptual inertial frame. The fact that it is also an orbiting
orb is nice to know, and useful if you are in the satellite launching
business, but otherwise it's as useless to our lives as knowing the
specific gravity of the sugar in our coffee. Facts are meaningless
without some relation to our subjective fiction, but fiction is
valuable even when disconnected from fact. Fiction is more primitive
than fact in the Cosmos, if you had to choose between the two. The
universe is made of sense and stories, matter is just the props and
stage.

>
>
>
> >> 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 depends what the entity is. If it's a living organism. then you
won't know exactly how it's going to behave even if you do know every
input it is going to receive for the rest of time. Even the entity
doesn't know how it's going to behave. When someone dies, will you be
shocked? Calm? Sad? Crying hysterically? Nobody knows. Just like you
don't know where I get this idea - I don't know either. Nobody does.
No model can predict it. It's the ingression of sensorimotive novelty
through the sieve of timespace-massenergy.

>
> 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.

You're saying here that if we can predict exactly what a TV screen
will display if we make a model that is the same TV screen. If you
make another TV, and tune it to the same channel as the first, you
think that you are 'predicting' what the TV screen will display. Tell
me, how does knowledge of how to build a TV and knowledge of what has
been on channel 12 for the last year and an adequate model for how the
TV receives programs tell me who is going to win the Superbowl next
year?

>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.

By analogy, the neuron predicting model fails just as spectacularly as
the bogus TV predicting analogy.


> 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.

It's blatant screaming begging the question. The alphabet is finite,
and combinations of words are finite, so therefore it is possible to
predict what anyone will say given a given input? Please can you
recognize that this is a fantasy and has nothing to do with how
consciousness works.

>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.

But the dopamine itself is being produced by the neurons. They are
controlling the concentration of dopamine. They trigger each other. If
anything it's the neurons that are the active agents, and the
neurotransmitters being the passive signalling medium.

>Certainly the model does not know what inputs
> the neuron will see tomorrow, but neither does the neuron or the TV!

The TV doesn't know, the neuron doesn't know, but the person with the
neuron or the TV can have an opinion that might be right. They might
be able to predict who wins the Super Bowl or whether their neurons
are going to receive a load of caffeine tomorrow morning.

>
> >> 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.

No, I say the fact that specific substances supervenes on (is
controlled through) human consciousness  functioning in specific ways
suggests that all substance may be controlled through sensorimotive
consciousness equivalents of different scopes and character (just as
chemistry produces effects on different scopes and character). Neither
consciousness (EFGH over time) nor substance (A, B, C, D in space) are
fundamental, but the relation between them A,B,C,D(ɥ,ƃ,ɟ,ǝ-pɔqɐ)EFGH
is fundamental.

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

My explanation explains the limitations of functionalism, but
functionalism amputates the content of consciousness entirely and
hides the fact that it is doing so. It also postulates a metaphysical
dis-integrated magic derived from a misplaced reverence for Cartesian
topology. It's a form of HADD or prognosia - locating the origin of
consciousness in a particular mechanistic shape (which could only
exist in an a priori conscious frame of perception but which it props
up using a hypothetical anthropomorphic omniscient voyeur
perspective).

Craig

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