On Wed, Sep 14, 2011 at 9:07 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> If it isn't deterministic, it's random.
> Says who? Is your opinion on this determined for you or is it random?
> What is determining it if not you? Have you no control of it
> whatsoever?
>>There aren't any other
>> possibilities.
> Oh, well if you put it scientifically like that... As long as we're at
> it, can we state that arguments from authority are the basis of
> scientific curiosity? How about 'Ignorance is strength.'?

A non-determined event is synonymous with a random event. If an
entity's behaviour is not determined then it is random, and if it not
random it is determined. This applies to consciously willed or
unconscious behaviour. Random could mean truly random, quantum level
events like radioactive decay, or pseudorandom, events that are
deterministic but very difficult to predict due to not knowing all the
variables, like a coin toss.

>>Some incompatibilist believers in free will are happy
>> with randomness as the source of their freedom. Compatibilists say the
>> opposite: if your decisions are determined then you are free in that
>> you do what you want to do, and what you want to do depends on what
>> sort of person you are and what your experiences have been; whereas if
>> you decisions are random they are not based on anything.
> What if your decisions are based upon your own choices which arise out
> of experience, randomness, and actual, legitimate, personal volition.
> You know, exactly how it has always seems when we're not actively
> struggling to disprove it with tortured reasoning and sophistry.

"Actual, legitimate personal volition", like everything else, must
have either a deterministic or random effect on behaviour.

>> > We understand the what and the how of electromagnetism, but to predict
>> > what a brain would do you need to understand the who and the why of
>> > sensorimotive perception. With only half the picture, you only get
>> > half of the predictive power.
>> So again, as I have said many times and you deny, you are invoking
>> magic. Electromagnetism is a physical phenomenon that can be measured
>> and modelled.
> Electromagnetism is the physical end of a phenomenon that we have
> partially modeled.
>>If it drives the brain then the behaviour of the brain
>> can be measured and modelled.
> We have only measured and modeled the most primitive, literal examples
> of electromagnetism. We have not yet scratched the surface of how it
> scales up to human perception.

Electromagnetism is one of the most well-understood physical
phenomena. If electromagnetic effects drive neuronal behaviour, these
effects can be modelled and predicted.
>>But if there is something else, not
>> being electromagnetism or any other measurable physical force, driving
>> the brain the brain will behave in ways contrary to science, and this
>> should be observable and widely known.
> That would be true if I were an idiot and had not considered that
> already many times. I get what you're saying. You don't understand
> what I'm saying. Unfortunately that means it's up to you to understand
> me if you care to.

Perhaps you can repeat your point in even simpler terms. As I see it:
1. Every part of the brain moves due to physical forces.
2. Physical forces are described by physical laws.
3. Therefore, the movements of the parts of the brain are described by
physical laws.
4. If either 1, 2 or 3 were not true then experiments would show it
and it would be amazing news.
5. If 1, 2 and 3 are true then the brain's movement is deterministic
to the extent that physical laws governing the brain are
deterministic, and random to the extent that they are random.

>> It's no better to say the electron contains a bit of consciousness
>> that it is to say consciousness results from the electron's
>> interactions, the functionalist position.
> Then that means it's no worse either? It makes a difference because
> the functionalist position is a wild goose chase for the Philosopher's
> Stone of a formula for exporting our consciousness into inanimate
> objects. My way explains why light and life and awareness seem elusive
> to us and unlike other material processes.

You saying "consciousness is an irreducible part of matter, so there"
is all other considerations aside no better than me saying
"consciousness is an irreducible part of function, so there". It
doesn't explain more, it isn't simpler or more plausible. And as I
have discussed, there are other reasons to prefer the functionalist

>> QED and other physical theories are either wrong or magic is occurring
>> if  neurons fire in a way that cannot be predicted.
> I don't know why you keep wanting to hear the same objection over and
> over, but what you're saying is completely bogus. It's no different
> from saying that if understanding how a TV set works doesn't predict
> the winner of the Super Bowl ten years in advance, then there must be
> magic occurring.

You completely misunderstand why that analogy is bogus. If you model
the brain then you model how the brain will respond to environmental
input: you expose your model to the input and see what happens. The
model doesn't know what you're going to do tomorrow until it happens
and you don't know what you're going to do tomorrow until it happens
either. Indeed, your feeling of free will is exactly because of this

> Are you saying there is no evidence that we can manipulate our own
> brain chemistry consciously? Since emotions are essentially (but not
> existentially) the same thing as physical events in the brain, if you
> assume that the physical events are primary, then your study will
> reflect that. When a person decides to think about something that is
> associated with a certain emotion, neurotransmitter events takes place
> in the brain (in different regions, some simulataneously, some in
> chain reactions). There is no evidence to suggest that the
> neurotransmitters in the patients brain could cause the doctors brain
> to suggest to the patient that they think of something which would
> precipitate that brain event or emotion. We are not just biochemical
> puppets. Our biochemistry responds to our feelings and thoughts as
> well as causing us to respond to it's collective experiences and
> conditions. I don't see how you can deny that with any sincerity.

If I have a thought A which causes emotions B associated with release
of neurotransmitters then you would say (I guess) that the thought A
caused the neurotransmitter release. In a manner of speaking that is
true. However, the underlying process is that brain events A caused
neurotransmitter release B, and brain events A are associated with
thought A while neurotransmitter release B is associated with emotion
B. It is very important to understand this basic principle taken for
granted in neuroscience and I'm not sure that you do. If it did not
happen this way then, as I have said many times, we would expect
experiments to show that neurotransmitter B is released without any
antecedent cause, which would be miraculous and amazing and widely

>> Then you are saying that the atoms do *not* always follow physical
>> laws. If they did, we would be able to predict their behaviour.
> No. That's what you're saying. I'm saying that physical laws are
> observations about simple, literal, objective phenomena. Not
> everything can be addressed meaningfully by the laws of physics. It's
> not a universal tool of understanding, it has a specific, limited
> efficacy. If we understand what physicality actually is, and what
> makes it possible to even consider the idea of anything other than
> physicality, then we could realize that predictibility is one of the
> qualities which diminishes the more you look at the other end of the
> continuum of sense. Matter acts predictably on the outside, less so on
> the inside.

Physics can't tell what the subjective experience of a thing is, but
it can describe the objective behaviour (the qualifiers subjective and
objective here are redundant but I need to spell it out). It is the
*objective* behaviour of matter that I am talking about. If subjective
factors directly affect the objective behaviour then that would be
observed in experiments as an event contrary to the laws of physics.
If, on the other hand, the subjective has a supervenient relationship
to the objective behaviour the objective behaviour of the brain can be
entirely explained in physical terms.

> The brain is too close to our own frame of reference. We know too much
> about what's going on from the inside view to be able to predict to
> any meaningful degree of precision. We can predict generally how a
> healthy brain should function, but not the idiosyncratic patterns of
> how any particular person's brain will function over time. If you
> could predict how the person's life will go minute by minute, then
> sure, you could get a pretty good idea, but then you have to predict
> the entire universe.

The same is true of even the simplest object. You don't know what
forces it will be subjected to tomorrow, but you do know what it's
going to do *given* a certain force. That is called "having a model of
the object's behaviour". The model does not include everything that's
going to happen to the object, since that would be called "having a
model of the entire universe".

> Sure, if it's just on the general level of 'matter'. If you want to
> predict the trajectory of a serotonin molecule in a brain, you might
> need to know what a person is thinking about. Serotonin in a brain
> acts differently than serotonin by itself in a vacuum. There is
> nothing in the molecular structure of serotonin which indicates that
> it should have a role in something like a human brain. What is
> meaningful about serotonin cannot be described in purely in terms of
> it being a bonded group of atoms. It's a physical agent but it's also
> a chemical, biological, and neurological agent.

Of course serotonin behaves differently in different environments; how
chemicals behave in different environments constitutes the subject of
chemistry. and of course there is nothing in the structure of
serotonin indicating it should have a role in the brain, but there is
nothing in the structure of methane indicating that it should have a
role cooking your dinner.

>>  You can't have it both ways. Either the brain follows physical laws
>> and its behaviour is predictable or it does not follow physical laws
>> and it's behaviour is magical.
> You can have it a third way. The brain has behaviors which can be
> described adequately with physical observation, and it has behaviors
> which can only be described meaningfully in other ways.

The consciousness of the brain cannot be described in physical terms,
but the objective, observable behaviour can.

Stathis Papaioannou

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups 
"Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to everything-list@googlegroups.com.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to 
For more options, visit this group at 

Reply via email to