On Fri, Sep 16, 2011 at 12:12 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> If an
>> entity's behaviour is not determined then it is random, and if it not
>> random it is determined.
> It's a false dichotomy. Something making choices based on private
> criteria is going to look random from the outside. By determining our
> own behavior, we prove unquestionably that (some) of our behavior is
> neither pre-determined nor random. It can be voluntarily purposeful or
> arbitrary in addition to being involuntarily determined or random. I
> know you're probably never going to accept that (even though to 99+%
> of people who have ever lived would agree that it is a simple and
> obvious experiential truth), because you are only able to consider the
> universe from a particular perspective, which is in relation to my
> perspective, inside out. In order to understand that there is a third
> option beyond randomness and determinism, you would have to take your
> own existence seriously as a phenomenology equivalent in realism to
> any phenomena which is observed or measured through it. This
> hallucination does not seem to be curable, so I can only say, have fun
> being a puppet of determinism and randomness.

It's a matter of definition. If something is not determined by
antecedent causes it is random.

>>This applies to consciously willed or
>> unconscious behaviour.
> How does this apply to consciously willed behavior?

Either the consciously willed behaviour is predictable or it isn't. If
it is it's determined and if it isn't it's random. The person doing
the willing in general will be unaware of which it is.

>> 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.
> Forces aren't physical to begin with, they are iust how we model the
> invariance of the behavior of physical phenomena.  Parts of the brain
> move. That's all we know. They move and change and produce coherent
> patterns of changes which we can detect (meaning that they are in some
> way imitated by the behavior of) electrically charged metal probing
> devices so we consider them electromagnetic changes.

So do parts of the brain sometimes move without any force applied to them?

>> 2. Physical forces are described by physical laws.
> Physical laws refer to the invariant behaviors of physical phenomena.
> The idea of a 'force' is a metaphysical abstraction. Forces do not
> exist independently of physical phenomena they act upon, therefore any
> actions that make sense to us among separate entities are attributed
> to a 'force'. It's perfectly fine to consider them 'forces' or
> 'fields' for purposes of calculation, but I think that is not what
> they really are. They are sensorimotive relations. Physical phenomena
> making sense of each other and changing that sense to the extent that
> they can. If a monkey learns how to make a hydrogen bomb and blows an
> island to kingdom come, we cannot attribute thermonuclear reactions on
> atolls or by hominids to be comprehensible in terms of 'physical
> laws'.

Whatever their metaphysical basis, physical forces are described by
physical laws.

>> 3. Therefore, the movements of the parts of the brain are described by
>> physical laws.
> It's already tautological. You are saying all bologna comes from the
> bologna factory, therefore all parts of the bologna are described by
> factory procedures. I'm saying it's completely different. You're only
> looking at half of the universe with one eye closed.

You haven't really explained which exactly of 1 or 2 you disagree
with. Do parts of the brain sometimes move all by themselves, where
physics would suggest that they stay still? If so, we ought to have
observed it. If not, then 1 and 2 are true and 3 is true.

>> 4. If either 1, 2 or 3 were not true then experiments would show it
>> and it would be amazing news.
> That's just confirming the antecedent. Physical experiments can never
> anticipate the capability of a monkey to produce a hydrogen bomb. If
> you looked at it from space, you could see a bomb blow up an island,
> but maybe could not see that humans were involved. Our past
> experiments cannot disprove a theory which has not been investigated
> yet if the theory specifically points out the flawed assumption of
> those past experiments. My hypothesis is that the private ontology of
> the cosmos which we experience natively is part of a universe of
> private ontologies associated with public physical phenomenon. Those
> private phenomenologies cannot be accessed by third person experiments
> on physical objects (that would make them not private). Experiments
> dealing with the private side of physical phenomena would have to be
> done through interfacing the brain with those physical phenomena
> directly.

All I'm asking about is what can be accessed by observation.

>> 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
>> position.
> I'm saying "If consciousness (really awareness) is an irreducible
> expression of sense, and matter is the opposite irreducible expression
> of the same sense, then X, Y, Z follows:
> X: You get a universe where living organisms have significant
> thoughts, feelings, and temporal experiences which are both private
> and sharable in a public context.

Same with functionalism.

> Y: You get a public universe where thoughts, feelings, and experiences
> are indirectly inferred through and held in contradistinction to
> computable physical structures in spatial relation with each other
> (thus creating an interior topology of energy events through time and
> an exterior topology of substantial objects in space)

We can only infer experience from observation?

> Z: You get a continuum which relates X and Y as an involuted whole
> such that every phenomena is both a single subject which qualitatively
> perceives the universe as many objects and a single object or set of
> objects as perceived quantitatively by other qualified perceivers.
> This opens the way for inertial networks and hierarchies of
> perception.

Why is that significant in an explanation of consciousness?

> I'm saying "If consciousness is an irreducible part of 'function'
> then:
> 1. You get a universe where certain functions produce consciousness,
> such that anything can thing and feel that they are a human being even
> if they are a group of mild bottles, a ventriloquist's dummy, a
> projection on a movie screen, or a program inside of a computer game.

Only special arrangements of matter will show the right type of
functioning to give rise to consciousness, just as only special
arrangements of matter will function as cars.

> 2. You get a universe of intangible entities which we can only know
> through arithmetic calculation, while the universe we know is only
> explainable as a solipsistic simulation, forever disconnected from the
> rest of the cosmos as an unexplained fantasy in an otherwise
> mechanistic universe.

The disconnect between the subjective and objective occurs with any
theory of consciousness whatsoever.

> 3. You get a nihilistic, absurd philosophy where a video game
> experience of killing a person-shaped graphic avatar of sufficient
> sophistication should logically be prosecuted as first degree murder.

If the avatar experiences pain and doesn't want to be killed then it
would be wrong to kill it. Some people won't care, just as most people
don't care if they eat animals, telling themselves that the animal's
life is worth much less than their own.

> 4. The egregious violations of common sense which lead to variations
> of 3 must be explained away with assurances that 'our lives don't have
> to be any less wonderful just because part of us knows it's a random,
> predetermined calculation that manipulates our hallucinations like
> puppets for no conceivable reason' and 'just because we haven't yet
> found a calculation that solves to [the experience of seeing red}
> doesn't mean we won't someday'.

We won't ever find a calculation that "solves the experience of seeing
red". You have to *be* the calculation in order to experience what the
calculation experiences.

> 5. You get a metaphysical pseudo-teleology through magical-teleonomy,
> with zombies, 'illusions', 'interpretations', 'information',
> 'signals', and 'emergent properties' which will make ping pong balls
> turn into conscious Mickey Mouses eventually if you give them enough
> time.

If inanimate matter such as carbon and hydrogen atoms can lead to
consciousness then why not ping pong balls?

> 6. You might need to create a separate universe for every typo that
> everyone ever makes, every action that is ever taken or not taken by
> any object that has ever existed or could ever exist as a consequence
> of any variation in any universe. To explain one universe you would
> need an infinity of universes which would, I imagine each need an
> infinity of sub universes to explain them?

Multiple universes may exist.

> 7. You get light that is intangible, massless, travels faster than
> anything, cannot interact with anything except through atoms, and has
> nothing whatsoever with what we think we see when we look at a source
> of light.


> 8. You get a description of a universe as told by a hypothetical
> omniscient voyeur, an unexplained provider of transparent,
> perspectiveless deduction, which is somehow immune to the solipsistic
> illusions of 2.

Nothing is immune to solipsism. I can only be certain of the existence
of my own thoughts; even assuming a thinker is presumption.

> So, we can have light that is a form of darkness, in one of infinite
> worlds of accidental nonsense pretending to make sense for no reason,
> where life and death are simply chemical reactions and murder is no
> more or less significant than flipping a light switch. This worldview
> provides that arcane computer assisted computation is the only true
> valid epistemology and that any suggestion of anthropocentric
> epistemology is to be met with kneejerk accusations of magic and
> witchcraft behind veils of presumed authority, with insinuations of
> incompetence and promissory materialism for all.

That you don't like something doesn't mean it's not true.

>> 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 can't model environmental input of a brain unless you can predict
> the future. Ideas are among the environmental inputs that change the
> brain. Images, experiences.

The brain doesn't model environmental inputs so why should a model of the brain?

>> 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
>> fact.
> What is the point of the model?

A model of the brain will perform similarly to a biological brain. If
you give it a problem to solve it will solve it as a human would solve

>> 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.
> No, I say that the thought A is interior perspective of the
> neurotransmitter release. It depends on what the thought is as to
> whether or not the sensorimotive sense it makes or the electromagnetic
> sense it makes is more relevant. If the thought is food-sex-money then
> it's worthwhile to pursue an electromagnetic view of the process in
> the body. If the thought is a poem, then there is no point in trying
> to understand it's content as a neurotransmission. It has a
> neurotransmitter correlate, of course, but it's not what we care
> about. You can't read it aloud in a coffee shop (well actually you
> could, if you wanted to be *that* geeky and artsy, but it's not really
> a poem).

There are neural correlates to the writing and reading of a poem. A
dead person can't do it because his brain lacks the relevant neural

>> In a manner of speaking that is
>> true. However, the underlying process is that brain events A caused
>> neurotransmitter release B,
> That's an unsupported assumption. Brain event A and thought A are the
> same thing. One does not cause the other. Brain event A causes both
> brain event B and thought B, and sometimes it is the voluntary thought
> supplying the purpose and sometimes it's the consequence of brain
> events which are supplying involuntary thought. Your view fails to
> admit the possibility that every brain event has a sensorimotive
> correlate. I don't make that mistake.

We can only observe the physical aspect of brain event A and
neurotransmitter B release. Therefore, if we observe the brain we will
always see a physical chain of events. If something unobservable
caused a change in something observable, then we would see a physical
process occurring contrary to the laws of physics, and we never see

>> 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.
> I think actually you don't understand. Neurotransmitters like
> serotonin, epinephrine, dopamine, etc. are not associated with
> 'emotions'. They are neurological agents which are associated with
> many cognitive, emotive, and behavioral traits, as are all 'brain
> events'. There is no one to one correspondence between a human
> experience like the word 'rose' and a single instance of chemical or
> electrical stimulation. A human brain is as complex as something like
> China. There is a lot going on, none of which can be boiled down to a
> 'basic principle' of neuroscience.

Of course emotions and cognitions are not caused just by simple
physical events like release of neurotransmitter. That was not the
point I was making. The point I was making is that it is a basic
principle in neuroscience that there is a neural correlate for every
mental event.

>> 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
>> known.
> I think it happens all the time. We don't know why or how gambling
> causes activity in the amygdala, we just observe that there is a
> correlation. Zero cause. No mechanism.

There are apparently specific regions in the amygdala associated with
risk aversion. This means these regions are stimulated and cause a
fear reaction when the subject is presented with a risky situation.
There is definitely a chain of events, although it may be difficult to
work out exactly what leads to what. But if we examine it at a simpler
level, there is always a reason why a neuron fires, generally
stimulation by another neuron or sense organ. And simpler still, there
is always a reason why an ion channel opens. If you are right and
thought has a direct effect on the physical processes in the brain
then we would find multiple instances of neurons firing or ion
channels opening apparently miraculously.

>> 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.
> What could be important about the objective behavior of a brain?

The objective behaviour is what we observe of everyone except
ourselves. It is that behaviour which is predictable and simulable.

>>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 you can't observe subjective factors, how do you know when they are
> directly affecting the objective behavior?

Exactly - you would see something happening apparently with no cause.

>> 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.
> Anything the brain does is by definition physical. It means nothing to
> say that subjectivity supervenes upon the brain if we subjectively
> feel otherwise.

The subjectivity is apparently associated with physical processes in
the brain. It seems sensible to assume in the first instance that
these physical processes give rise to the subjectivity.

>> The consciousness of the brain cannot be described in physical terms,
>> but the objective, observable behaviour can.
> I agree only to the extent that you are observing objective behavior
> that doesn't relate to the content of consciousness.

If you are observing objective behaviour that does relate to the
conscious of consciousness the physical behaviour still has to follow
the laws of physics, and be predictable to the same extent. If not,
you would observe magic. The magic would involve the unobserved mental
events affecting the observed physical events.

Stathis Papaioannou

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