On 9/16/2011 8:13 AM, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
On Fri, Sep 16, 2011 at 12:12 AM, Craig Weinberg<whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:
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
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.
I think this is confusing "predictable" and "random". Processes can be unpredictable
because of deterministic chaos. When you mean something like "predictable in principle
(but maybe never in practice)" it's better to use "deterministic" to avoid the implication
of in-practice predictable. The brain may occasionally do something random, but for the
most part it is unpredictable because of deterministic chaos and uncontrollable
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
Whatever their metaphysical basis, physical forces are described by
3. Therefore, the movements of the parts of the brain are described by
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.
The way you state that is a mere tautology - it assumes the past experiment was based on a
flawed assumption. But many times a new theory is disproved by reference to an old
experiment. Of course in the modern world this usually happens before the new theory gets
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
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
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
Why is that significant in an explanation of consciousness?
I'm saying "If consciousness is an irreducible part of 'function'
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
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.
And I would worry almost as much about living next door to someone who enjoyed torturing
and killing realistic avatars as I would if they enjoyed torturing and killing animals.
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
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
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
It does have something to do with it, c.f. QED.
Mind: A mysterious form of matter secreted by the brain. Its chief activity consists in
the endeavor to ascertain its own nature, the futility of the attempt being due to the
fact that it has nothing but itself to know itself with.
-- Ambrose Bierce: "The Devil's Dictionary"
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