On Tue, Oct 4, 2011 at 2:30 PM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> The neurons are firing in my brain as I'm thinking, but if you could
>> go down to the microscopic level you would see that they are firing
>> due to the various physical factors that make neurons fire, eg. fluxes
>> of calcium and potassium caused by ion channels opening due to
>> neurotransmitter molecules binding to the receptors and changing their
>> conformation. If you take each neuron in the brain in turn at any
>> given time it will always be the case that it is doing what it is
>> doing due to these factors. You will never find a ligand-activated ion
>> channel opening in the absence of a ligand, for example. That would be
>> like a door opening in the absence of any force. Just because doors
>> and protein molecules are different sizes doesn't mean that one can do
>> magical things and the other not.
> You will also never find a ligand activated ion channel that is
> associated with a particular subjective experience fire in the absence
> of that subjective experience (that would be a zombie, right?), so why
> privilege the pixels of the thing as the determining factor when the
> overall image is just as much dictating which pixels are lit and how
> brightly? Again, every time you mention magic it just means that you
> don't understand my point. Every time you mention it, I am going to
> give you the same response. I understand your position completely, but
> you are just throwing dirt clods in the general direction of mine
> while closing your eyes.

The ion channel only opens when the ligand binds. The ligand only
binds if it is present in the synapse. It is only present in the
synapse when the presynaptic neuron fires. And so on. This whole
process is associated with an experience, but it is a completely
mechanical process. The equivalent is my example of the door: it opens
because someone turns the key and pushes it. If it had qualia it may
also be accurate to say that it opens because it wants to open, but
since we can't see the qualia they can't have a causal effect on the
door. If they could we would see the door opening by itself and we
would be amazed. It's the same with the neuron: if the associated
qualia had a causal effect on matter we would see neurons firing in
the absence of stimuli, which would be amazing.

Again, it's not that it's wrong to say that the neurons fired in the
amygdala because the person thought about gambling, it's that the
third person observable behaviour of the neurons can be entirely
explained and predicted without any reference to qualia. If the
neurons responded directly to qualia they would be observed to do
miraculous things and it may not be possible to predict or model their

Stathis Papaioannou

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