On Tue, Oct 11, 2011 at 1:27 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> If you simulate a neuron, then you predict what the neuron will do
>> given certain inputs. The model of the neuron does not include the
>> inputs.
>
> No. Your claim is that all inputs must also be neurological. You say
> over and over that neurons can only fire in response to other neurons.
> I have shown that it is not true and now you are being dishonest about
> your position throughout this conversation. I may be crazy but I don't
> have Alzheimers (yet).

Whether a neuron fires or not depends on its present state and the
inputs, and the most important inputs are from other neurons and from
sense organs. The model of a neuron does not include the inputs. A
larger model of a network of neurons includes inputs and outputs from
all the neurons in the network but does not include external inputs.

>> The simulation is not the same as the object being simulated but it
>> can come arbitrarily close to any 3-P observable aspect of the
>> object's behaviour.
>
> I would agree as far as the simulation of objects, but not of
> subjects. That's what this whole thread is about - me asserting that
> there is likely a primitive, irreducible ontology of subjectivity and
> you and others denying that such a thing is possible. Bruno's
> conclusion is that both objectivity and subjectivity supervene upon an
> arithmetic primitive ontology, (which I have agreed with in the past
> and would probably continue to agree with if I were Bruno and had his
> facility with arithmetic concepts), whereas I conclude that arithmetic
> is actually a subject, but a particular subject - the essentializing
> of objectivity...it is a powerful way of way of making sense, but
> there are other kinds of sensemaking and qualia such as symmetry and
> succession, presence and absence, etc, which form the foundation upon
> which arithmetic realism depends.
>
> What is your position though? It seems to be that consciousness and
> life are not real for you on any level. Your cogito seems to be "Ion
> channels open therefore something thinks that it thinks, therefore it
> is not'. You're welcome to your opinions of course, but I find it hard
> to take this worldview seriously in light of our ordinary experience
> and the findings of neurology. We understand that high level processes
> to in fact influence low level processes. I offer a hypothesis which
> models those dynamics. We observe that much of the activity in the
> brain is in fact spontaneous, and not cyclical or dependent upon
> external neurological inputs for firing - that neurons are in fact
> living organisms capable of autonomous and synchronized
> intentionality.
>
> Your solution seems to be to hide in a cave of pre-scientific
> incuriousity. Content to let our entire lives as we experience them
> natively to be sequestered in a never-never land that is neither
> physical nor spiritual. Your assumptions paint conscious subjects as
> epiphenomenal non-objects, orphaned from reason, science, or any
> possibility of understanding.
>
> Further, they deny their own self-invalidation without justification,
> so that somehow these thoughts of exclusively deterministic
> epistemology are themselves immune from their own critical purview. It
> is to say that all thought is 'simply' neurology - except this
> thought. This is the one special magic thought which disqualifies all
> others. It is a philosophy that appeals to many, for obvious reasons,
> as it provides the sense of certainty and safety which we crave. The
> truth is that is thought is 'simply' the mirror image of new age
> religiosity, but owing more of it's spirit to the Inquisition.

I really can't understand your emotional objection to the idea that
consciousness may be epiphenomenal and supervenient on mechanistic
processes. It doesn't worry me or affect my behaviour; why should it?

>> The scientific consensus in neuroscience is that there is physical
>> basis for everything that happens in the brain.
>
> The brain is physical, so everything that happens in the brain is by
> definition physical. There is scientific consensus that brain events
> correlate to subjective events but there is no such consensus that
> subjective intentions do not cause physical events. Indeed common
> sense would dictate that we are the ones subjectively choosing our
> words here, since they are not floating around in our ion channels.

Physical events in my brain lead me to choose the words and on top of
this process is the subjectivity of choice.

>>A neuron will only
>> fire if its biochemistry requires it to fire.
>
> I agree. But it's biochemistry requires electromagnetism, and I am
> saying that electromagnetism *must* have a subjective, sensorimotive
> ontology (otherwise our subjectivity could not be closely correlated
> with it). I don't believe in a never never land of Cartesian theater -
> feeling can only be electromagnetic and electromagnetism can only be
> feeling. They are the same thing, only viewed from 1-p vs 3-p.

What is this "electromagnetism" you have mentioned several times? The
action potential generates an electromagnetic field and some theories
of consciousness hold this to be important, is that what you mean?
It's not mainstream neuroscience but in any case, electromagnetic
fields are well-understood physical phenomena, probably more easily
modelled mathematically than biochemistry is.

>>This is not something
>> that is stated explicitly because it's too obvious to state, like
>> saying you think with your brain rather than your liver. Specific
>> papers look at specific mechanisms behind neural activity. For
>> example,
>>
>> http://jp.physoc.org/content/305/1/171.long
>>
>> investigates cerebellar Purkinje cells in the cerebellum, which can be
>> spontaneously active. The basic principle behind a spontaneously
>> excitable cell is that the threshold potential for voltage activated
>> ion channels is lower than the resting membrane potential.
>
> That just means that the ion channels are dependent upon
> electromagnetic conditions, which I've already explained is the case.
> But what are those conditions dependent upon. What do you think is
> meant by the term 'spontaneous'?

There are two types of ion channels, voltage-dependent and
ligand-dependent. The votage-activated ones open when the potential
difference across the membrane is at a certain level: the electric
field generated as a result of this potential difference changes the
shape of the ion channel, which is a transmembrane protein, and this
opens the channel to allow the specific ion to pass through.
Ligand-activated ion channels open when a specific neurotransmitter
binds. The transmembrane potential changes as a result of ion fluxes:
potassium is more concentrated inside the cell so when potassium ion
channels open potassium ions exit leaving the inside more negative,
while sodium is more concentrated outside the cell so when sodium
channels open sodium ions enter making the inside more positive. The
sodium and potassium fluxes are responsible for depolarisation, the
action potential and repolarisation. There can't be an action
potential without these ion fluxes, there can't be ion fluxes without
the ion channels opening and closing, and the ion channels can't open
and close without the appropriate voltage or neurotransmitter
stimulus. Spontaneously active neurons have voltage-activated ion
channels that open at the cell's resting potential.

>> Voluntary breathing involves signals from the motor cortex, while
>> involuntary breathing involves the brainstem. In general, if you are
>> aware of your actions and can modify them according to your
>> cognitions, the actions are voluntary. This has nothing to do with
>> whether the underlying neurological events are deterministic. A low
>> level analysis of someone performing a voluntary action would show the
>> neurons in his brain firing exactly as the biochemistry dictates.
>
> You are confusing correlation with causation. What causes the signals
> in the motor context? What does it mean that "you are aware of your
> actions and can modify them according to your cognitions"? Who is
> 'you'? What is 'aware'? How do 'cognitions' get into the brain?
>
> You are trying to hide the gaping hole in your assumptions by focusing
> on the middle of the chain of neurological events which we both agree
> upon and distracting from the beginning and ending of the chain where
> we disagree. You do this because you are incorrect and hope to confuse
> the issue. The only relevant issue is where the chain of events
> begins. You claim that all events must begin and end in the brain. My
> view is that some events begin and end in the brain, using the subject
> as an instrument to accomplish biological-evolutionary functions, and
> some events begin and end in the psyche, using the brain and body as
> instruments to accomplish psychological-sociological functions. My
> view makes perfect sense, while yours is incomplete and denies
> ordinary reality.

So at some point the psyche, not being the normal neural mechanisms,
acts on the neurons and starts off the chain of events. Can you
describe this further? What exactly happens in the neuron at the
molecular level when the psyche acts?


-- 
Stathis Papaioannou

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