On Sat, Sep 10, 2011 at 4:41 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> The individuals in the crowd [wave]
>> don't need to understand anything about what is going on, they just
>> need to follow the rule.
> That is the same thing. Following the rule requires that they are
> 1) capable of knowing the rule
> 2) capable of knowing when the rule applies
> 3) capable of following the action proscribed by the rule
> All of these require sense, or sensorimotive perception to be precise.
>> The wave is an emergent phenomenon which you
>> can see if you stand back and look at the whole crowd.
> It's just as much the individual standing and sitting that emerges as
> a phenomenon of the wave. If it was just bottom up and not top down,
> the wave would be starting and ending in multiple areas at the same
> time and never achieve coherence as a single sweeping wave in one
> direction. It's seen by looking at the whole crowd, but without
> looking at the crowd, there is nothing to participate in. It would
> just be standing up when people around you stand up.
All it takes is that everyone consistently stand up and sit down when
either the person to their left or right (for anticlockwise and
clockwise travelling waves) stand up. You could program a group of
quite stupid robots to do it. The people in the crowd are not so
stupid but their intelligence is not necessary for the generation of
>> Similarly with
>> neurons: they each follow simple rules, and they are not aware of the
>> grand picture, which is the emergent phenomenon of intelligence and
> No, because that would necessitate an entity that was not neurons to
> "stand back and look at the whole". Since there is nobody here but us
> neurons, neurons must in fact facilitate both top down and bottom up
The system of neurons instantiates an observer, the person.
>> There is no spirit of the crowd wave directing the
>> individuals in the crowd, and there is no spirit of consciousness
>> directing the neurons.
> Right. The spirit model is a category error because it conceives of
> sensorimotive experience or perception as a substance. It's an ideal
> monism. To understand my model, you have to let go of that aether-
> phologiston-spirit concept and realize that just because there is no
> substance associated with perception does not mean that it isn't as
> real as a substance - it just works differently - it's a different
> topology which arises within and through substance as meaning,
> purpose, consequence, significance, charge, motion, energy, etc.
>> The low level behaviour completely accounts for
>> the high level behaviour.
> Not at all. The low level behavior has no meaning by itself. The high
> level motive instantiates the low level behavior to a great extent.
The low level behaviour has no meaning on its own, but it creates
meaning at a higher level. There is no downward causation from high
level to low level: that would be magic, and it would be observable as
>> What? A ligand-activated ion channel opens because it is a protein
>> which changes its shape when a small molecule, the neurotransmitter,
>> lodges in one of its nooks and changes the protein's shape by pushing
>> and pulling at it. If this doesn't happen then the ion channel won't
> But those neurotransmitters won't be present unless the high level
> experience which is associated with their presence is transpiring. You
> can fake it - you can fool the ion channel with drugs, but you can
> also manipulate the some kinds of neurotransmitter release using only
> your thoughts.
No, no, no, you can't. Your thoughts supervene on a chain of physical
events. If one element of this chain has no cause - if
neurotransmitter is released somewhere in the brain "because of
thoughts" rather than because of an action potential travelling down
the axon - then that would be experimentally detectable and it would
look like magic (unless it is a quantum level event like radioactive
decay responsible - which would follow strict statistical patterns).
>> The structure of the receptor protein determines what neurotransmitter
>> it will respond to, as biochemists have known for many years. How do
>> you propose that it works?
> That's correlation, not causation. The cause and effect of anything is
> sense and motive which scales up to perception. The 3-p view of that
> electromagnetism, which scales up to relativity. Biochemistry is
> electromagnetism within the inertial frame scale of cells and
> macromolecules. Sensation is the same thing but from the interior 1-p
> perspective. They are essentially the same thing, but existentially
> (ontologically) polarized.
> It works because of what molecules are, what cells are, what organisms
> and their niches do and the sense of how it all fits together. It has
> functional processes and it has essential properties that give rise to
> the functions and the need for the functions.
I don't really understand what you're saying but it sounds like you
are sceptical about high school chemistry.
>> Well, I don't understand. Can you clearly state, do the neurons
>> respond only to measurable physical stimuli, or do they other things
>> as well?
> They respond electromagnetically to electromagnetic changes, which
> induced AND are induced BY sensorimotive experiences. You can measure
> the electromagnetic shadow of the experience, because it's public, but
> it's also a-signifying and generic so it tells you little about the
> sensorimotive content, which is private, signifying, and proprietary.
I'm not suggesting you can tell what the experience is by observing
neurons, only that you can tell when and why they fire. Do you think
that sometimes they fire when all the identifiable influences such as
neurotransmitters, transmembrane voltages and so on would imply that
they will not fire?
>> I understand that you think they respond to mental events,
>> but if mental events supervene on physical events, then we would only
>> observe neurons engaging in predictable, mechanistic behaviour. If, on
>> the other hand, physical events supervene on metal events we would see
>> neurons doing magical things; for example, we would see ion channels
>> opening all by themselves, in the absence of any environmental
>> changes. You might not like it, but that's how magic is defined.
> You're mixing the scales of the phenomena. On the level of neurons,
> there are no human beings. Their behavior contributes to a human
> being, like a pixel changing color contributes to an image, but
> neurons themselves are not 'responding' to the totality of the
> experience of the human psyche at any given moment - rather the 1-p
> experience of the neuron itself is a tiny fragment - a monad (like a
> pixel of feeling or awareness) which aggregates to macroscopic scale
> human mental event.
> The idea that this cannot be happening or we would see fantastic
> neurological changes under the microscope is to me the same as
> insisting that we cannot watch TV programs because each pixel would
> have to turn into an actor or a stage prop. The fact is that we have
> voluntary control over parts of our body, and through that we exercise
> voluntary control over parts of our world and our life. You might not
> like it, but that is how our reality is defined.
The pixels on a TV screen light up due to the current flowing through
them. Every other part of the TV you examine similarly follows
mechanical laws. The atoms in the brains of the people making the TV
program also follow mechanical laws, as do the atoms everywhere else
in the universe. You seem to believe that some atoms somewhere don't
follow such laws, because otherwise their behaviour would be
predictable and you don't think that should be so. Could you point to
any evidence of this?
>> I'm quite happy with a deterministic outlook but even if I were not,
>> that has no bearing on whether reality is in fact deterministic. I
>> would prefer it not to be raining, but my wish does not affect the
> But the fact that you can have a wish at all is not supported by
> determinism. It doesn't matter that not all wishes come true - even if
> none ever did, the existence of the ability to wish itself is evidence
> of subjective participation in the cosmos (even if it's just an
> interior cosmos). In my view, we do more than participate in our own
> fantasy, we actually impact the fantasies of others, even those who
> we've never met long after we're dead. It's a little bit of both -
> fantasy and fact. They shape and inform each other. Both play
> different roles in 'reality' and neither can exist without the other.
If you think free will is impossible under determinism (and it's a
matter of definition) then at worst you would have to say that i am
deluded about having free will.
>> Again, you seem to completely misunderstand the concept of a model. A
>> billiard ball does not know the future and does not need to know the
>> future. All it needs to do is follow simple rules consistent with
>> conservation of momentum when other billiard balls hit it. A model of
>> billiard ball behaviour needs to take into account these simple rules,
>> and given any initial state of the billiard balls it can predict
>> future states. You run the model and see how things turn out, just as
>> you hit the billiard balls and see how things turn out.
> Which works great for material objects interacting through space. It
> is a catastrophic failure for experiential subjects interacting across
> time. We have already discredited these ideas in the 20th century.
> Behaviorism didn't pan out. Classical mechanics exploded with the
> atom. These kinds of models are only appropriate for certain kinds of
> phenomena. The human psyche is the exact opposite of those kinds of
The parts of the human body that do things, such as send sound waves
through the air, are physical and are moved by physical forces. You
claim that sometimes they are moved by something else, but there is no
evidence for this.
> It's not complicated, it's simplistic. If you put a group of kids in a
> room you can't predict which ones will go on to hit other people, even
> if you know who will hit who first. A billiard ball model only works
> for things that behave like billiard balls. Again, this should be
> considered settled science. You can't reduce everything to abstract
> positions and velocity when you are dealing with the real world, and
> especially with living organisms.
You can't reduce consciousness to physical processes, but you can
reduce physical processes to other physical processes, which means
that you can describe how any physical entity will behave entirely in
physical terms, without reference to consciousness.
>> The person's neurons are each doing their own dumb bit, unaware of the
>> grand picture, like the people in the crowd wave.
> The people in the crowd wave are perfectly aware of the their role in
> creating the wave, and do so intentionally and intelligently with full
> awareness of the grand picture. The sense that each neuron makes is
> like that, participating in a larger sense - which is why you can
> query your memory in natural language. You can just roll a name around
> in your mind to see if it picks up any associations. The exterior of
> the neuron that you see under a microscope is a different side of the
> thing. That's the side that is matter in space and that view exposes a
> completely different agenda which is not sensorimotive but
Whether or not the neuron has its own separate awareness, it behaves
in a way describable and predictable in purely physical terms. If it
did not, it would perform magical feats.
> It is a-signifying and generic, but even that is not dumb - it plays a
> role in the overall functioning of the electromagnetic integrity of
> the biocomputer. It can change huge swaths of neuronal connectivity
> all at once, even when it's not reflecting our own sensorimotive
> conscious influence. It's doing all kinds of phenomenally
> sophisticated electrochemical orchestrations which, although much more
> computable and billiard ballable than the peceptual interior, are
> still not 100% modelable as a FSM. It's too plastic and spontaneous -
> too much growing and dying and interacting with an unpredictable
> environment. The model of today cannot anticipate the hormone
> disrupting environmental contaminant of tomorrow, etc.
Like the real thing, the model would have to be exposed to the actual
situation and then it will do what it will do.
>> OK, so I say the relationship between consciousness and function is
>> fundamental. Why do you think it is better to say that the
>> relationship between consciousness and substance is fundamental?
> I don't say that the relationship between consciousness and substance
> is *more* fundamental than the relationship between consciousness and
> function, I say that awareness *is* the relationship between substance
> and function, and that when that substance is a human brain, and it
> functions to live a human life through a human body, then the
> relationship is what we call consciousness.
If I say consciousness is the relationship between function and
substance, and the substance must be of a type to allow the
appropriate function, how is that unsatisfactory for you?
>> (Incidentally, once the relationship between consciousness and
>> function is accepted, problems with the physical supervenience thesis
>> do become evident, as Bruno frequently points out).
> But when consciousness is understood as the relation between substance
> and function (ie 'sense') then there are no supervenience problems.
> Function is important, but it isn't everything. There is a difference
> between a pile of gold bricks and a pile of mud bricks. They have
> similarities, sure, but they are also different kinds of things with
> different properties and different roles to play in the microcosm and
> in the macrocosm.
But I could say that in the case of consciousness, it is the function
that is important, the fact that they are bricks rather than the type
of bricks. What reason have you for rejecting this?
> Is any of this making you question your assumptions at all or are you
> completely unchanged in your position?
I am completely unchanged in my position. I think you fundamentally
misunderstand the concept of a model and contradict yourself by saying
you don't believe the brain acts contrary to the laws of physics but
that it sometimes does things not due to physical processes.
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