On 10/3/2011 11:11 PM, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
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.
This goes by the name "causal completeness"; the idea that the 3-p observable state at t
is sufficient to predict the state at t+dt. Craig wants add to this that there is
additional information which is not 3-p observable and which makes a difference, so that
the state at t+dt depends not just on the 3-p observables at t, but also on some
additional "sensorimotive" variables. If you assume these variables are not independent
of the 3-p observables, then this is just panpsychic version of consciousness supervening
on the 3-p states. They are redundant in the informational sense. If you assume they
are independent of the 3-p variables and yet make a difference in the time evolution of
the state then it means the predictions based on the 3-p observables will fail, i.e. the
laws of physics and chemistry will be violated.
Of course this violation maybe hard to detect in something very complicated like a brain;
but Craig's theory doesn't seem to assume the brain is special in that respect and even a
single electron supposedly has these extra, unobservable variables, i.e. a mind of its
own. The problem with electrons or other simple systems is that while we have complete
access to their 3-p variables, we don't have access to their hypothetical other variables;
the ones we call 1-p when referring to humans. So when all the silver atoms in a
Stern-Gerlach do just as we predict, it can be claimed that they all had the same 1-p
variables and that's why the 3-p variables were sufficient to predict their behavior.
So the only way I see to test this theory, even in principle, would be to observe Craig's
brain at a very low level while having him report his experiences (at least to himself)
and show that his experiences and his brain states were not one-to-one. Of course this is
probably impossible with current technology. Observing the brain at a coarse grained
level leaves open the possibility that one is just missing the 3-p variables that you show
the relationship to be one-to-one.
So I'd say that until someone thinks of an empirical test for this "soul theory",
discussing it is a waste of bandwidth.
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
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