On 16 Oct 2011, at 04:22, Terren Suydam wrote (answering Craig):
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.
What do you mean by "going both ways"? Causality really does not
cross levels. All we can say is that higher levels emerge
from/supervene on lower levels. If that gives you problems in seeing
how we could have a phenomenological experience of will, then that is
a failure of imagination on your part. Unless, you can come up with a
principled argument as to why, for one, "there could be no reason or
mechanism for us to care about anything," and for another, how
causality can "go both ways". Rhetoric won't do. I need detailed
On 11 Oct 2011, at 14:45, Stathis Papaioannou wrote (answering Craig):
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.
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?
If consciousness is an epiphenomena, and given that the physical laws
will be explains in term of coherent appearances in machine's
consciousness (dreams), eventually both consciousness and matter are
As s rebuttal to Craig non-comp stance and ex-nihilo spontaneous will
causation, the argument is valid. But the phrasing is dubious. Better
to use "phenomenological" instead of epiphenomena, I think.
And, I would say, against Terren, that causality can cross level of
explanation, even if I agree that there is some unaccessible low
level, which is just the arithmetical law, when assuming comp. But a
universal machine can emulate a cyclic "causal" relationships, like a
universe can emulate someone taking an aspirin to act on its brain,
and an aspirin can indeed act on the brain, which at some high level
is a cross level relationship, even if at a more lower level, all this
is completely deterministic. We need this because high level
explanation are unavoidable (the comp theory force an explanation of
both mind and matter in term of higher epistemological level).
I think it is important. The materialist eliminativists do that
confusion so that consciousness becomes a mere epiphenomena, which is
the purgatory before elimination. With comp this would eliminate both
mind and matter, with only the numbers remaining. The moral is that
high level phenomena are what is important, and can have local role.
That is what gives free-will a genuine sense in the compatibilistic
determinist frame. It is also what gives consciousness
(phenomenological bet on a reality) a genuine power, like a relative
Low level phenomena (like quantum wave or arithmetic) can account for
a high level phenomenon, but usually cannot 'explained' it in any
reasonable sense of the terms. Nobody will explain a murder by a
quantum field. Already, nobody will explain deep blue strategy by
invoking the computer's gate running deep blue programs. Explanation
will be phenomenologically explains by higher order phenomenological
facts, and sometimes invoking genuine cross level causation. Like, he
did the murder but is not guilty, he just became mad due to a brain
tumor, said the lawyer. The judge answered: he is guilty of
irresponsibility because he got got a brain tumor by attempting to
suicide by drinking radioactive materials.
Only from God's point of view, everything is deterministic, and from
that view, consciousness is, well, just absent. But from the internal
views there will be real solid material appearances and real conscious
Of course, this is only vocabulary. Actually such loops and cross
level "causality" are well explained by computer sciences, and so we
don't need to postulate 'material mind' to make the mind acting on
matter, and producing things like symphony, Mona Lisa and atomic
bombs. Biology is full of such kind of loop.
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