On Oct 14, 11:48 pm, Terren Suydam <terren.suy...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Fri, Oct 14, 2011 at 7:16 PM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > I have said many times already, if you think that I am talking about
> > something thay contradicts physics then you don't understand what I'm
> > talking about. Some people do, but you don't. Thats ok, not everyone
> > is interested enough to try to understand it, but if you are I suggest
> > you read my info at s33light.org first.
> There's a lot there to digest. It is hard to understand, and honestly
> I barely have enough time to participate to the limited degree that I
> do here. And frankly if you made a more compelling case for your ideas
> here I would be more interested.  But your argumentation, what I've
> read of it anyhow, has been somewhat contradictory, not to mention
> hostile.

I'm only hostile towards people who are hostile towards me. To
paraphrase Timothy Leary, "Everyone gets the Craig Weinberg they

> >> It just means these
> >> circuits are firing, and there is no well established tiheory that
> >> predicts that activity.
> > Right. That was my point. Stathis denies this and insists that physics
> > predicts this activity and that it is no different from a leaf in the
> > wind.
> I think we are talking past each other. There is the behavior of
> neurons at the single-neuron level. That is fairly well understood.
> Nothing about the spontaneous activity you referenced really
> challenges anything about our understanding of single-neuron function.
> You may disagree, but you would be disagreeing with the mainstream.

No, I don't disagree. In the language of the extended metaphor I used
earlier, an auto mechanic with the right tools and engineering
diagrams can tell you exactly how a car works. I have no problem with
that. I only argue that the mechanic cannot tell you where the car is
going to be driven. You can't predict what is going to be on TV by
looking at the electronics of the screen. This is the situation with
the brain. Low level neurology does not always predict high level
intentionality. That's all that I'm saying.

> Then there is the behavior of large ensembles of neurons. This is an
> emergent phenomenon and is not well understood.

Exactly. I think that it can be better understood as a phenomenon
which is not only an emergent property of ensembles of neurons, but
granular properties in the moment of an individual entity's behavior
over time. It has to go both ways otherwise there could be no reason
or mechanism for us to care about anything.

> Spontaneous activity
> is described at this emergent level. In fact, there may be multiple
> levels of emergence in the brain, each characterized by a unique set
> of dynamics. It is hard to say, because the complexity involved is
> mindblowing. But the fact that we have observed activity at this level
> of the brain that confounds us is hardly news. It just reinforces the
> brute fact that we really don't know how the brain works. And this
> says almost nothing about the nature of will or consciousness.

We are on the exact same page. This is why I keep barking in Stathis
direction - his view is that there are no emergent properties because
everything that exists must be reducible to a molecular level or else
it's magic.

> >> The brain is an incredibly complex non-linear system. Almost all of
> >> its behavior can be characterized as "without obvious linear cause".
> > Again, I agree completely. That is the opposite of Stathis' position.
> I doubt that Stathis would agree with that.

I would have doubted it too, but no. His argument is straight up 19th
century Billiard Ball Universe determinism. He says that all that can
happen in the brain is a chain reaction from neuron to neuron (plus
"Inputs" from the external environment).

> Again we must distinguish
> between single neuron dynamics, which are fairly well understood (and
> can be roughly modeled in terms of linear dynamics, but only if you
> don't care about precision), and large scale dynamics of ensembles of
> neurons, which are not all understood in terms of any kind of linear
> analysis. I would be surprised if Stathis disagreed with this
> description.

Ask him. You'll be surprised. From what he has said here, his position
is that since we do understand single neuron dynamics, then there
cannot be anything which cannot be understood using linear analysis.

> >> OK, then all you're really saying is that will supervenes on a lower
> >> level (atomic) than what the majority believe (the level of neurons).
> >> Electromagnetism is computable and therefore you are saying comp is
> >> true.
> > Close but no. Will and electromagnetism are the same thing but viewed
> > from opposite perspectives. Our personal will correlates to many
> > regions of the brain at once. Electromagnetic changes on a neuron or
> > molecular level correlate to subconsious and unconscious micro-motive
> > wills.
> That is just hand-waving. There is no way to refute it and there is no
> explanatory power. Why did Bob kick that tree?  "It was his
> electromagnetic dynamics, i.e. his will."  "It was God's will". They
> both have the same explanatory power.

Then you are saying that electromagnetism has no explanatory power
either. My idea is that electromagnetism and sensorimotive experience
are essentially the same phenomena, and that phenomena is a universal
primitive. Carrying and releasing are the sensorimotive experiences of
negative and positive charge in electromagnetism, it's just the first
person view of it. How is that not explanatory? I am putting
consciousness into the physical universe, not sequestering it into a
metaphysical never-never land. My view even explains how the idea of
God works and why it, and other super-signifiers are such powerful
motivators for human beings.

> Also, why is will, in your account, confined to regions of the brain?

Will isn't confined to regions of the brain. It's just our will that
is, because we happen to be this huge, trillion cell organism that has
a specialized organism-within-an-organism nervous system to manage the
whole monstrosity as a single coherent entity. You can't really even
say our will is confined to the brain, since we impose our will on the
outside world and on others all the time. The motor areas of the
brain, collectively, are the inflection point from which an individual
person's will is translated from the subjective 'experience through
time' topology into the material changes in 'objects across space'.

> If will and electomagnetism are the same thing, where are the
> boundaries?

The boundaries are a matter of perspective only. It's solipsistic, but
it isn't an illusion. Change that you feel that you cause or infer is
being caused by something which resembles yourself is will. Change
that you observe in something other than yourself which you cannot
infer as having intention boils down to electromagnetism.

> Why not the entire brain (even the parts we know to
> control involuntary behaviors)?  Why not the entire body?  Why not the
> air I breathe in and out, and my shit and piss, pardon the language?
> All of that can be modeled in terms of its electromagnetic dynamics if
> you go micro enough.

Yes, all of those things have micro wills too - just nowhere near as
qualitatively developed as ours (just because we are this crazy
overgrown animal nervous system). The blood cells in the coronary
traffic jams may not be playing XM radio while they get pumped through
the interchange, but that doesn't mean that these tissues aren't
expressing a will to live in what they are doing every day, just as we
do in our own (1,000,000,000,000 times more elaborate) way.

> >> If you want my explanation, will is a psychological epiphenomenon.
> > Which means you are relying on metaphysics. I don't.
> You wanted an alternative explanation. I was not offering it to argue
> it. Only to show that there are alternative explanations in which
> "will" is something that is not contradicted by the laws of physics.
> Perhaps it is wrong. Who cares.

If you are fine with metaphysical explanations of what the universe
is, then that's ok with me. I want the uni in universe though. I don't
buy some voyeuristic dimension that is separated from physical
phenomena by an impenetrable wall. I think that although our
perception is determined by who and what we are, that does not mean
that we aren't also literally part of the physical universe - that we
don't directly participate in our own lives rather than some
epiphenomenal simulation. My ideas offer a way of putting us back into
the cosmos without sacrificing anything from science.

> >> We
> >> don't actually will our behavior, not from a single "command and
> >> control center". Our bodies and minds simply behave, according to all
> >> sorts of instinctive, conditioned, and even contemplative impulses,
> >> and our egos tell the story of it as if there was a single source of
> >> all of our impulses.
> > Partly true yes, but it makes no sense for ego to exist at all. We
> > have both voluntary and involuntary ranges of experience.
> So you don't believe in egos?

I'm saying that in the case you describe, where are bodies and minds
simply behave according to various predeterminations and
probabilities, that it would make no sense for egos to exist. I don't
think that egos 'exist', but they can be said to 'insist'.

> >> We say, "I ate the pie", but really, our eating
> >> the pie can be more accurately described as a desire to satiate
> >> hunger, and/or a desire to experience pleasure, or in some situations,
> >> a learned response to the desire to reduce anxiety. Will is a story we
> >> tell about ourselves, but it is just a narrative that unifies many
> >> disparate impulses. This is evident when we behave in a way we can't
> >> explain... "I don't know why I snapped at her."
> > Yes but why and how would such an unnecessary narrative exist?
> That is for you to answer, unless you are asserting that you don't
> participate in such a narrative yourself.

Are you saying you want me to answer why it exists (again, I think
that it 'insists', and the reason is because it reflects the evolution
of significance in the face of entropy) or that the nature of the
narrative is such that it also includes a mysterious quality that
invites interpretation by each person? Of course I participate in such
a narrative myself, sure.

> >> To be more specific about breathing: our diaphragm is controlled by an
> >> ancient part of the brain that we do not have conscious access to
> >> (meaning, there are no inputs from this ancient circuit to the higher
> >> levels of the brain where self-reflection is processed). When we take
> >> control of our breathing, a higher-order layer of the brain (the
> >> cortex) exercises control of the diaphragm by supervening on that
> >> ancient circuit (those higher levels manipulate the ancient circuit).
> >> I'm aware there's a lot of holes in this account. I'm offering it not
> >> as a precise or robust theory but as a possible explanation - one that
> >> allows for the feeling of will but without invoking any magic. It is
> >> very counter-intuitive because the illusion of a single "I" is so
> >> strong, the ego having been conditioned in us at such a young age, but
> >> there is some evidence for this explanation.
> > If consciousness were mere epiphenomenon there would be no reason for
> > more than one area of the brain to control breathing.
> > Craig
> That is an argument from ignorance. Just because you can't conceive of
> a reason, doesn't make that a valid argument.

No, it's just a contrafactual example. What would be the pojnt of
having two different areas of the brain that do the exact same thing
but one is accompanied by some magical feeling that it 'wants' to be
breathing? I'm asking you why that would make sense. Why have any high
level processes in the brain at all if it's all automatic and
awareness of it is epiphenomenal?

I used to believe in consciousness as an epiphenomenon myself, not
very log ago, and for most of my life, so I do understand the appeal
of it very well. It's almost right, but in this case I think that
means that is exactly wrong. The point of this conversation for
instance, is to consider our opinions. We care about our opinions for
one reason only, because we might need to use them. With an
ephipehenomal intellect, why would we have opinions much less care
about them or identify with them. They would mean no more to us than
the wallpaper in the hotel room we are visiting. It just doesn't make
sense to feel anything if we aren't going to be able to do anything,
and it doesn't make sense that doing anything should or could feel
like anything if it is going to get done no matter what. Determinism,
emergent properties, bottom up processing are all just the left hand
of the story; the stage and props. The actors and agents add something
else. I don't know why everyone is so afraid of recognizing that
simple, ordinary reality that they treat it like some exotic
witchcraft but I'm not afraid.


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