On Sun, Oct 16, 2011 at 1:22 PM, Terren Suydam <terren.suy...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> 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.
> Well I'm going to stop guessing about what Stathis thinks and let him
> chime in if he wants to.

There are emergent phenomena but they supervene on the lower level
phenomena. If you reproduce the low level phenomena you reproduce the
high level ones as well. There is no downward causation from high
level to low level, since that would look like magic.

>> 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).
> But that is a correct description from the level of single-neuron
> dynamics. It is utterly deterministic. If you disagree, then you must
> show how, without hand-wavy arguments about will and electromagnetism.
> If single-neuron dynamics are not deterministic, then there must be a
> random or probabilistic dynamic at play. Roger Penrose thinks so, as
> he says consciousness is rooted in quantum effects. So, are
> single-neuron dynamics 100% deterministic?  If not, why not? What is
> the *specific* mechanism that makes them non-deterministic?  You
> cannot answer "will" as that would be level confusion once again.
>>> 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, I will await his answer on this if he cares to. You're right, I
> would be surprised.

Whether a system is linear or non-linear is a statement about the
mathematical model describing it. Non-linear or chaotic systems, such
as the weather, can still be deterministic.

Stathis Papaioannou

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