Craig Weinberg wrote:
>>For the keyboard, you
>> don't need to, but the brain has no lever which you can use to make it do
>> what you want, because, contrary to the keyboard, it has not been
>> designed
>> for that task - it is a holistic system, if you control a part of it
>> (sticking a electrode into you brain for example), it still won't do what
>> you want it to, as a whole.
> I agree that whatever you seek to control may have unintended
> consequences that would have to control with a second order of
> control, and so on, but the brain has millions of levers to make it do
> what you want. Pharmacology, political science, neuroscience,
> advertising, law enforcement, etc have identified many reliable
> methods of controlling the brain, either directly or indirectly.
They can't control the brain, they can influence it. To control it would
mean that it (almost) solely does what you want, and even the most vicious
means of control are not control in that sense (eg torture is reliable for
controlling short term actions of people, but not their brain as such).
Relative control, as in "he likes to control other people" is not sufficient
for the thought experiment If understood it correctly.

Craig Weinberg wrote:
>> So to control it, you'd have to do it on a broad scale and a fundamental
>> level. But we can't do that, and if someone could, the brain would just
>> be a
>> puppet steered by a puppeter and as such it wouldn't be a brain as
>> working
>> system, but rather a mass of flesh that is being manipulated.
> Right, that's what my Overlords Gambit is about. What are the
> mechanics of manipulation and what happens when they themselves are
> manipulated?
OK... So the one end of the spectrum seems clear to me, if they manipulate
their brain enough they will make themselves unconscious. At the other end
of the spectrum, the consciousness would be a bit clouded by the influence
they exert, like being on neuroleptics. In the middle, they will be like
people that wake out of coma for a few seconds and fall apsleep again.
I don't see that anything special comes out of the fact that they both
manipulate each other, except that it leads to KO quite fast, the more
control they have, the quicker. One of them may randomly give up if he is
sees the futility of what they do, or he just forgets what they are doing.

Craig Weinberg wrote:
>> Craig Weinberg wrote:
>> >> The closest one can get to controlling the brain is to make it
>> >> dysfunctional. It's a bit boring, but the most realistic answer is
>> that
>> >> both
>> >> would fall unconscious, as that is the only result of exerting
>> excessive
>> >> control over a brain.
>> >> It's the same result as if you try to totally control an ecosystem, or
>> an
>> >> economy. It'll destroy the natural order, as control is not a
>> fundamental
>> >> ordering principle.
>> > I generally agree. The thought experiment is to make people consider
>> > the fallacy of exclusively bottom up processing. I don't think that
>> > you could actually control a brain, I'm just saying that if you could,
>> > how do you get around the fact that it violates the assumption that
>> > only neurons can control the brain.
>> I don't think that many people would claim that. You probably mean that
>> the
>> neurons control your behaviour,
> Controlling your behavior begins with controlling your brain. The
> people I have been debating with here do claim that neurons alone
> control brain as a whole, while I maintain that control is shared from
> the top down as well.
Isn't their claim that the neurons alone *determine* the behaviour of the
brain? I don't see the necessary relationship with control. The thought
experiment doesn't mean much in that case, it is simply neurons determining
the behaviour of two brains. I don't see that it matters what the outcome of
the experiment is.

Craig Weinberg wrote:
>  The psyche can voluntarily control entire
> regions of the brain, and does so routinely.
I don't think so. The psyche is reflected in the brain, but I don't see how
it controls it. The brain doesn't do what the person want, it reflects what
the person want. For it to be control, the person had to have a choice in
which way the brain mirrors the state of the psyche, and from my experience
this is not the case.
You can't tell your brain: "Use this neurons and this neurons!". It'll just
"do what you want" because it is your avatar that reflects what you do.

Craig Weinberg wrote:
>  The neurons which make up
> the brain reflect that voluntary will rather than assemble an illusion
> of will through the mechanics of their biology.
I agree. No one has shown yet that the mechanics of biological functioning
alone make intelligent behaviour (for example by simulating a brain that
shows as intelligent behaviour as a real brain). It's just assuming a
mechanistic kind of materialism.

Craig Weinberg wrote:
>> but I don't think many people believe that,
>> either. Materialist would rather claim that the neurons are the physical
>> cause for behaviour, and consciousness arises as a phenomenon alongside.
> Not the people I've talked to. They mostly all consider consciousness
> an epiphenomenon or emergent property of neurological function.
Isn't that compatible with my statement?

Craig Weinberg wrote:
>> I don't see how this is any problem with regards to control, it just is a
>> claim of magic (mind coming out of non-mind, with no mechanism how this
>> could happen) that is not even directly subjectively validated (like the
>> magic of consciousness that we can directly witness).
> Some people argue that will is an illusion caused by neurological
> function. I'm showing that the neurological function can also be made
> into an epiphenomenon of conscious control. It has to be bi-
> directional.
My interpretation of would happen seems to be compatible with your first
sentence; the neurological function of the brain is disturbed, and so the
feeling of conscious control is disturbed.

Craig Weinberg wrote:
>> >  The point was to show that bottom up exclusivity fails,
>> > and that  we must consider that our ordinary intuition of bi-
>> > directional, high-low processing interdependence may indeed be valid.
>> Yes, I guessed that this was your point, but I am not sure that your
>> thought
>> experiment helps it. Neurons making thought is quite meaingless from the
>> start, I don't see how it is affected by what controls what.
> It's not about thought per-se, it's just the idea of supervenience
> doesn't stand up to this thought experiment. If the brain is nothing
> but predictable,  controllable, emulable  functions, then what happens
> when we turn that control on itself? What happens when we, as the
> deterministic puppets of our neurology, control someone else's
> neurology. Whose puppet do they become then?
Nothing special happens, as they become unconscious. This would rather be a
confirmation that their neurons are what determines their state of
consciousness, as they interfer with the functioning of the other persons
neurons, the brains don't work properly anymore, and so does consciousness.

Craig Weinberg wrote:
>> >> It seems like you think of control or will as something fundamental,
>> and
>> >> I
>> >> don't see any reason to assume that it is.
>> > That's a reasonable objection. If it's not fundamental, what is it
>> > composed of, and why is there an appearance of anything other than
>> > whatever that is?
>> It is not composed of anything (I am not a reductionist). Rather it
>> arises
>> like other feelings/perceptions, for example being hungry (it is just
>> more
>> essential to our identity).
> Doesn't that make it fundamental?
Fundamental in comparisons with mind constructs maybe, but not fundamental
to reality or to consciousness.

Craig Weinberg wrote:
>  If it's real yet has no reducible
> precursor, then it's primitive, isn't it?
It can be a phenomenon in consciousness (and thus secondary to it) without
being reducible to it (nothing can be "reduced" to consciousness, as it is a
source that gives rise to phenomena in and as itself and not something that
things are constructed out of).

Craig Weinberg wrote:
>  I could agree that it is
> just like any other feeling or perception, or that it has ontological
> efficacy. Either way it's the same really. It makes no difference,
> both possibilities invalidate pure determinism in my opinion.

Craig Weinberg wrote:
>> The reason for its appearance is simply as a feedback mechanism, it shows
>> us
>> that "we" are the source of the actions,
> Why should we want to be shown that if we aren't the source of the
> actions really? A feedback mechanism would be just as effective
> without any feeling/perception at all.
Do you mean with regards to materialism? Good question, from this standpoint
it is just a kind by-product. It has no use, just as nothing else has any
ultimate use.

Craig Weinberg wrote:
>> which bring attention to our
>> actions (which is obviously quite useful). As such it is not more
>> fundamental than other such mechanism (like pain, which shows us
>> something
>> is wrong in our body).
>> Also, in a state of "enlightenment", the feeling of being in control
>> vanishes (together with the ego that is supposed to be the controller),
>> and
>> people still function normally, which shows that it can't be that
>> fundamental.
> If by fundamental you think I mean that it is of some kind of
> superlative phenomenon underlying all others, then no, I don't think
> that. I just think will is a part of the sensorimotive experience of
> living organisms.
Ah, OK. Somehow your thought experiment seems to suggest that control has a
special place, and if it isn't I fail to see the significance of the thought

Craig Weinberg wrote:
>> >>Honestly I that we think that we
>> >> have "free", independent will is just the arrogance of our ego that
>> feels
>> >> it
>> >> has to have a fundamentally special place in the universe.
>> > I used to think that too, but now I see that it's every bit as much of
>> > an egotistical arrogance to De-anthropomorphize ourselves. It's an
>> > inverted, passive aggressive egotism to perpetually look to other
>> > processes above and below our native level of individual cohesion to
>> > give credit or blame, while all the while hiding invisibly behind the
>> > voyeur's curtain.
>> I understand where you coming from, but I don't see the necessary
>> relationship to will. We can be the genuine free source of our actions,
>> whether our will is free or not.
> Sure, it's never free in the sense that our will is only a
> relativistic means to an end which is already defined by sense. We are
> presented with 'the good choice' and 'the bad choice', so there really
> is no free choice about it. We will choose whatever we think is better
> (even though determining that isn't always easy - sometimes we prefer
> what might be seen as the 'bad choice') or more appropriate. But the
> fact that we experience this formality of decision shows that the
> universe is not mere automation.
Not really if it is just a meaningless by-product, which makes sense if the
universe is meaningless in the first place.
This is a sad way of viewing the world, but I don't see our experience shows
something here in any rationally arguable way.
We can only directly appeal to experience, but there is not much to argue
about in this case. "But you experience it that way!" - "So what? It is an
illusion." - "But how can it be an illusion if it is direct experience! Just
look, it is here!" - "Direct experience an illusion." - "How can it be an
illusion if it is direct?" - "It isn't really direct, it just appears to
be." etc... We can do that for an abitrary long time, it most likely won't
have any effect.

Craig Weinberg wrote:
>> That we place so much attention on our will, is due to us seeing us as
>> mere
>> doers. Actually we are much more (conscious beings with rich inner life),
>> so
>> if anything it is humanizing to give more attention to that, than mere
>> will.
>> It is important that we *are* free, not that we can decide "freely" what
>> we
>> do in particular, if you ask me.
> Oh, absolutely. As far as personal philosophy goes, I generally let my
> will evaporate whenever possible. I'm down with the wu-wei my friend,
> believe me. My motto is "never do anything".Human beings instead of
> human doings. I second that motion completely.
Cool :).

Craig Weinberg wrote:
>  This thought experiment
> is much more primitive than that. I'm just showing how low level
> processes must be susceptible to control from high level processes as
> well.
You are not really showing that, frankly. You just show you can imagine that
it could be so, or that it feels that way.
These thought experiments may be fun, but they really show nothing, except
if someone happens to agree with you already.

Craig Weinberg wrote:
>> When I say that your will is not really free, I am not saying that you
>> are a
>> puppet that is controlled by your brain. An opinion is valuable to you,
>> whether you just have it, or you claim to use your will to have it.
>> The cosmos does not need free will, as it is free without a will. It just
>> does what it does, including having opinions, talking to interesting
>> people,
>> etc... Why is all of that nothing worth if there is no controller of
>> them?
> Why isn't just doing 'what it does' free will?
Because the feeling of will need not be involved, so why call it will then?

Craig Weinberg wrote:
>> I mean, it is natural to want to be the owner of things (these are MY
>> actions), but we can also "learn" to transcend this, or rather, see that
>> there is no owner in the first place (just the appearance of one). I find
>> this liberating, not dehumanizing.
> Right, but that's a whole other conversation. I'm just talking to the
> functionalists among us who claim that there is nothing to want to own
> anything in the first place. That it can all only be functions
> satisfying microcosmic physical laws.
I am not sure you can convince someone by argueing against that, just like
you are unlikely to convince a hard headed christian fundamentalist. It is
just dogma and you (mostly) can't touch that with any words. It is more an
emotional attachment. A materialistic world may be meaningless, but it is
potentially understandable and controllable, so if that's important to you,
you won't let go of that belief.

Craig Weinberg wrote:
>> >> That is not to say that we are predetermined by a material universe,
>> >> rather
>> >> control is just a phenomenon arising in consciousness like all other
>> >> phenomena eg feelings and perceptions.
>> > Sure, but that's all that it needs to be. As long as we get the
>> > sensory feedback that we expect from our motives, then we might as
>> > well have free will. It just seems violate parsimony unnecessarily.
>> > Why does it make sense for consciousness to be completely dominated by
>> > the experience of control in a universe where that would be utterly
>> > meaningless? How would such an illusion even work in the sense of how
>> > does a feeling of will get invented in the first place? If you keep
>> > throwing dice long enough they will start hallucinating that they are
>> > an organism with a conscious will? Why? How? It's totally nuts and
>> > explains nothing.
>> OK, I agree with you that it is not a meaningless by-product, certainly
>> not.
>> That doesn't make it fundamental, though. It is fundamental to our
>> self-image, but that doesn't say much (money or fame is also, for some
>> people). Self-image is important in the development for consciousness, so
>> it
>> makes sense it uses the feeling of being in control. But ultimately we
>> don't
>> want to idolize an image, but actually be directly aware (of)/as the Self
>> (it seems to me there is just one).
> I think we are on the same page, I didn't intend to say that free will
> was a super important feature, just that it's appearance suggests
> quite a bit more flexibility in the universe than determinism would
> predict or allow.
For a materialist appearance in terms of consciousness suggests nothing,
except purely subjectively to an individual (usually not to the materialist
of course, since he is more objective than that). Just matter matters,
because this is how it is.
They start from the assumption that matter is all that is, and therefore
they end with that conclusion, no matter what appears to be the case.

View this message in context:
Sent from the Everything List mailing list archive at

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups 
"Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
For more options, visit this group at

Reply via email to