On Sep 11, 7:35 am, Stathis Papaioannou <stath...@gmail.com> wrote:
> 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
> the wave.

They have to be able to sense whether the person standing up is on
their left or their right, but without any sense of the wave as a
whole, there is no reason to do that. In order for there to be a wave,
something has to make sense of it as a wave. There has to be patterns
as 'clockwise', succession, reaction, cycle, and imitation being
recognized. It can't be accomplished just with a dumb piston.

> >> 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
> >> consciousness.
> > 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
> > direction.
> The system of neurons instantiates an observer, the person.

Why would it do that on top of already doing everything that the
person thinks they are doing? It's superfluous, metaphysical magic.

> >> 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.

Why would it do that? Why create a higher level at all? Again, it's
unscientific speculation.

> There is no downward causation from high
> level to low level: that would be magic, and it would be observable as
> magic.

Not at all. It's ordinary cognition. I'm doing it right now by picking
words and putting them together to express myself, then typing the
keyboard and correcting the typos. I don't have to do this. I'm not
compelled by the power of biochemistry like a morphine addict. There
is of course some physiological and neurological correlates to what
I'm doing but what you aren't acknowledging is the fact that those
correlates are not materially important. They are not what we care
about, which is why you and Bruno think that we can simulate what is
important (the logic and cognition) with arithmetic enacted digitally.
We don't really care about the factual underpinnings of this
conversation - they are irrelevant. What is material is the 'fiction'
of the high level self and it's meanings. I should add that it only
seems like 'fiction' to us, because that's what we're made of. Just as
matter seems solid to us because our bodies seem solid. From a truly
objective point of view, an idea or an emotion may be every bit as
'solid' to the universe in general as a bullet or a freight train
seems to us.

You've got it backwards because you are buying into the observations
of the self while using them to reject the self in the first place.
You are saying that mind cannot move matter because we would see
something happening physically that we can't explain. I understand
what you're saying completely, but it's a fallacy. The fact is that we
do change our own neurochemistry voluntarily, and it is high level to
low level, and it is observable is electromagnetic changes emerging
from multiple regions in the nervous system simultaneously, not, as
you think it does, in a linear chain reaction from neuron to neuron.
There are linear chain reactions as well, as there are cascading
consequences of our thoughts and feelings, but there is not always a
neurochemical reason for thoughts and feelings that make sense in
physiological terms. The purpose of this discussion is not a
biochemical purpose and it makes no sense as such. It is a semantic,
psychological, high level purpose that absolutely directs low level
neurological processes (as well as working with the sensorimotive
consequences of those electromagnetic processes).

> >> 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
> >> open.
> > 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.

My thoughts *are* the chain of physical events. They determine them
and are determined by them.

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).

Action potentials traveling down thoughts *are* thoughts. That's what
I've been saying over and over and over. Heads = thoughts
(sensorimotive phenomenology), Tails = action potential
(electromagnetic physiology). They are the same essential coin seen
from two different existential sides. I understand completely what you
are saying, and I've heard it many many times before. I get your view
completely. I understand your objections. You don't understand mine at
all. You're just stuck repeating the same circular reasoning. You
don't understand that your worldview means that you don't exist, and
therefore are not entitled to an opinion about anything. Of course
neurotransmitters are released because of thoughts. It is
experimentally detectable and it does look like magic, except that we
call that magic electromagnetism.

> >> 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.

No, I'm skeptical about a high school level understanding of chemistry
being used to disqualify the existence of life, feeling, awareness,
sense, and free will. Saying that a structure 'determines' the way
something 'responds' has no explanatory power at all. It's taking for
granted the ability of structures to 'determine' and 'respond' as if
those were logical expectations to have of shapes of matter. It takes
for granted that the existence of a thing which has some reason to
determine or respond to anything without making that thing explicit.
What good is input and output to something that is nothing but input
and output? Nothing makes sense without sense itself, and nothing
which exists makes no sense.

> >> 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?

There is nothing that suggests they will or will not fire until they
are about to fire. If I think of something that makes me mad, someone
can look at an fMRI and say "Oh he's thinking of something that makes
him mad", but the fMRI can't tell what I'm going to be thinking of ten
minutes from now or how it will make me feel. Especially not if I
don't want them to.

This view of the psyche as being the inevitable result of sheer
biochemical momentum is not even remotely plausible to me. It denies
any input/output between the mind and the outside world and reduces
our cognition to an unconscious chemical reaction. If that were the
case then you could never have a computer emulate it without exactly
duplicating that biochemistry. My view makes it possible to at least
transmit and receive psychological texts through materials as
communication and sensation but your view allows the psyche no
existence whatsoever. It's a complete rejection of awareness into
metaphysical realms of 'illusion'.

> >> 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.

It's not *that* current flows that matters, it's which pixels in which
combinations get how much current flow. Of course pixels light up
because of physical processes, and neurons grow and change and fire
because of biochemical processes. So what? If that were all there were
to it, a white TV screen would be the same thing as an image, and a
person in a coma would be the same as one who was fully conscious.

>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,

No. You believe that's what I believe, despite my telling you over and
over and over that your saying that means that you do not understand
what I'm talking about.

>because otherwise their behaviour would be
> predictable and you don't think that should be so. Could you point to
> any evidence of this?

Begging the question. Just because I know that gasoline can cause
fires doesn't mean I know which houses are going to burn down. It's a
false equivalence and a strawman of my position.

> >> 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
> >> weather.
> > 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.

No, I'm saying that it is not possible about having free will, because
free will only has to be a feeling of free will. It's like color. It
doesn't matter if something is *actually* blue, all that matters is
that I see blue. Those subjective experiences of feeling and seeing
are absolute evidence that the universe supports that phenomenology at
least as a subjective property. Since we don't believe in naive
realism, that means that just as the material world we experience
through our senses may not exist externally, the feelings we
experience as fleeting, esoteric phenomena may be profoundly concrete
artifacts outside of our shroud of ignorance.

> >> 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
> > phenomena.
> 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.

The evidence is that we speak words from our vocal chords which cannot
be located in the body. You cannot examine the brain and vocal chords
of a human cadaver and identify anything that it may have uttered.

> > 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.

You're assuming that behavior isn't driven by consciousness. What
evidence do you have of that, other than a priori certainty about the
nature of physical processes. My view is just that electromagnetism (a
physical process, right?) is sensorimotive (a qualitative experience).
That's it. No magic, no woo, just the facts of our own ordinary
circumstance rationally extrapolated to the micro and macrocosm.

> >> 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
> > electromagnetic.
> 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.

You keep repeating that. It's not true, and it's not what I'm saying.
You're just sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling. No
biological organism is entirely predictable. That's why doctors
'practice' medicine but engineers solve problems. There is a
difference which arises partly from complexity, but also as a
consequence of qualitative differences between different inertial
frames. More degrees of freedom, with more non-computational
considerations come into play. It's not magic, but if someone's entire
worldview is built on defensively clinging to material literalism,
then yes, it seems like witchcraft.

> > 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.

Then it's not a model, and it doesn't predict anything.

> >> 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?

It's not. You'd be agreeing with me. Only you are assuming that your
modeling of the functions is all that would be necessary, whereas I
think that the actual functions in the actual substance may be

> >> (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?

Because it amputates half of the universe. What reason would you have
for accepting it? I can flatten or dissolve a brick, but that doesn't
change it's composition. Why would I want to ignore that?

> > 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.

I know that you think that I contradict myself. That's because you
don't understand what I'm saying. Just because this conversation takes
place over physical wires, chips, screens, and neurochemistry doesn't
mean that the conversation itself can be meaningfully described in
terms of any of those physical structures and processes. The
conversation is a human semantic English language written text. It is
not something which 'physically' exists, it is a phenomenon which is
real but which represents an aspect of the 'insistence' of our
personalities. It seems hopeless I guess to go on trying to explain
this to you if you aren't open to it. It's up to you. I'll argue my
position as long as you want.


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