On Oct 23, 7:01 am, Stathis Papaioannou <stath...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Sun, Oct 23, 2011 at 5:23 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:
> >> How do my vocal cords know to produce output relating to the
> >> newspaper?
> > The vocal cords don't know that what they are doing is related to the
> > newspaper. There are parts of the brain which relate the aural
> > expectation and the semantic intention through the articulation of the
> > voice. On that level the vocal cords are not included within the
> > perceptual inertial frame. On the level where the vocal cords are
> > being considered, the other perceptual aspects are not relevant.
> >> There must be *some* causal chain, otherwise it would be
> >> magic.
> > There are all kinds of mechanisms and motives which are intertwined,
> > some causally and some acausally. There is no basis to announce that
> > all phenomena in the universe must be part of a causal chain or are
> > disqualified from being real.
> Are you seriously suggesting that I can talk about an actual event without 
> there be a causal chain between the event and the sound that comes out of my 
> mouth?

You can talk about anything you want though. If I talk about a
backache it doesn't mean that there is a connection from my back to my
vocal cords. If I talk about the dark side of the Moon it doesn't mean
there is a causal connection between my larynx and the unlit lunar
surface. I don't understand why the A connected to B and B connected
to C implies A connected to C directly.

> >> It would be magic if I could know what is happening on the
> >> other side of the world without a causal link between me and the
> >> event, and it would be magic if I could talk about it without a causal
> >> link between my eyes and my mouth.
> > The eyes are connected to the brain and the mouth is connected to the
> > brain. They aren't connected directly to each other though. Not in any
> > causally efficacious way.
> They are connected to each other through a network of neurons in which the 
> output of a downstream neuron is dependent on the inputs of the upstream 
> neurons. This so that the behaviour of the organism as a whole, controlled by 
> its nervous system, is dependent on its environmental inputs; otherwise it 
> would quickly die.

You know that a lot of simple organisms don't have nervous systems,

"• Eukaryotic, single-cell protists
 • Move through environment via coordinated motion of cilia on the
outer surface
    But no nervous system!"


As far as I know, there is no 'downstream' neuron in the larynx that
depends on an upstream 'input' from the optic nerve or vice versa.
Blindness does not cause people to lose their voice and laryngitis
doesn't cause loss of vision.

>If this sensitivity to environmental inputs did not require a causal 
>connection between neurons then why has the nervous system evolved at all? 
>>Why don't the muscles just make decisions and contract on their own?

Tissues and cells do make decisions, contract, move on their own (see
PDF above - eukaryotes). Think about carnivorous plants
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymnLpQNyI6 ...no nervous system 2,
nervous system 0.

I would think that the nervous system evolved to help centralize
sensemaking and free will within a large, multicellular organism. It
makes possible a second order biological experience, just as organic
life makes possible a second order physical experience. Through a
nervous system, simplicity is reborn in an organism of billions of
cells, much like a computer exploits the molecular properties of
semiconductors to make a giant electromagnetic molecule of glass, the
nervous system exploits the biochemical properties of cells to make a
giant electrochemical cell. In this way we feel that we exist as a
solitary individual unit rather than countless discrete cells and

> >> If the rest of my brain receives the normal electrochemical stimuli
> >> from the replaced part how could it know that anything had changed?
> > Even if the rest of the brain believes that the substitute neurons
> > have not changed, the neurons themselves are now missing so that
> > whatever feelings they contribute to the overall conscious experience
> > will be absent. If the whole brain is replaced, all feeling is absent
> > and there is unconsciousness.
> Yes, we assume that that is so. If the visual cortex is missing the visual 
> qualia are missing. However, if neurons in the motor cortex controlling 
> >speech get the same inputs they normally get they will produce the same 
> outputs, so the speech produced will be the same.

Sorry, I find this is a bizarre misinterpretation of physiology. Motor
neurons do not determine the content of our speech. They are just the
mechanical conduit for the cognitive areas of the brain to express
itself verbally. If the visual cortex is missing, the cognitive areas
get no new visual experience, therefore they can't accurately report
on that - not by speech, writing, gestures, etc. Nothing would be the

>It must be this way given the principle of no magical influences (to which you 
>claim to subscribe). For if the qualia produced an effect on the >neurons 
>separate to that of the physical factors, which are replicated by the 
>artificial neurons, that would appear as a magical influence.

2. Qualia routinely has an effect on neurons. That is what voluntary
action is. Whether or not it appears as magical is a matter of

Look at this: 

'''This was a real surprise," says Tyszka. "We expected to see a lot
less coupling between the left and right brain in this group - after
all, they are missing about 200 million connections that would
normally be there. How do they manage to have normal communication
between the left and right sides of the brain without the corpus

I feel confident that it is only a matter of time before science will
have to model the nervous system in something like the way that I'm

> >> You would have to say that the visual cortex has some non-physical
> >> influence on the rest of the brain, but no such effect has ever been
> >> observed.
> > 5. No, there is no non-physical influence, there is non-physical
> > experience. Our visual experience is the actual subjective
> > phenomenology of the visual cortex. Our visual experience is not the
> > consequence of an 'influence', it is a phenomenon unto itself which
> > has a physical aspect and an experiential aspect.
> >> What has been observed is that neurons fire in response to
> >> the electrochemical signals from the other neurons with which they
> >> interface.
> > Yes, neurons often fire in chain reaction to other neurons, but not by
> > any means all the time. All chain reactions in the brain originate
> > somewhere, usually in thousands of separate locations simultaneously.
> > As long as you deny this neurological fact, you cannot understand how
> > low level processes supervene upon high level processes. It is to look
> > at a CRT monitor and say that every pixel can only be illuminated
> > sequentially by the electron gun during it's horizontal scan, and
> > completely ignoring that the whole point of those scans is to produce
> > a high level image composed of thousands of simultaneously illuminated
> > pixels.
> > The human brain has thousands of 'electron guns', able to fire
> > unilaterally or in concert with many other interconnected neurons.
> > It's a community of hundreds of billions of interconnected living
> > organisms. It is *nothing* like the response-machine that you imagine.
> > Such a thing doesn't even make sense in theory as it conceives of
> > living organisms no less passive than a lump of coal. It's not even
> > worth serious consideration.
> You cite neurobiological research but you reject the most basic scientific 
> principles of that research, which is that a neuron depolarises its >membrane 
> in response to physical factors that have been known for decades, and not 
> seriously disputed. How the ensemble of neurons >behaves, how this gives rise 
> to intelligence, is still not well-understood, but how an individual neuron 
> behaves is well-understood, and whether it >fires or not is a function of its 
> internal state and the inputs it receives. A neuroscientist would just have 
> to show one example of a neuron doing the >opposite of what science would 
> predict and he would be famous.

A neuron depolarises it's membrane in response to electromagnetic
factors like charge and voltage. These phenomena are what we see when
we look outside of our perceptual frame of reference. On the inside,
they are nothing but primitive kinds of feeling and acting. The
feeling is the depolarization. It is the same thing. There is no
depolarization without a feeling (not a human feeling of course, but a
neuron's feeling) and there is no feeling without a depolarization -
at least as far as we know for sure. NDE's and phenomena like
hysterical blindness suggest there may be more to it than that.

> >> You are clearly saying just that, since you deny that there is a
> >> physical cause behind the neuron firing. If there is a physical cause
> >> then we can explain why and predict when a neuron will fire; if there
> >> is not we can't. You claim that a neuron can just decide to fire and
> >> go ahead and do it where all the observable physical factors suggest
> >> that it should not.
> > No, I'm saying that observable physical factors only suggest that a
> > neuron will fire or not fire immediately before or after a firing. We
> > can see that a neuron is depleted of serotonin and therefore can't
> > fire (or fires blanks) or that a neuron is sufficiently saturated with
> > serotonin such that it could fire, but we cannot say why any
> > particular neuron that can fire does fire, except when it is downline
> > in a chain reaction.
> > Spontaneous neural activity, whether you like it or not, accounts from
> > most of the activity in the brain and it is not the response to a
> > neurological chain reaction, but rather the instantiation of a new
> > chain reaction or a cooperative event between several neurons.

> If the physical state of the neuron plus the inputs it receives do not 
> determine whether it will fire then the neuron behaves in a manner contrary 
> to >physics, like a table levitating without any force on it. The worst thing 
> is not that you make the claim that this is how the brain works but that you 
> >repeatedly contradict yourself by saying this is how it works but it isn't 
> contrary to the physics.

You are not understanding that the physical state of the neuron and
the subjective experience of the neuron are the same thing. You aren't
reading what I am writing. Your model of one supervening on the other
is false. Sometimes interior sense drives exterior events, sometimes
exterior events drive sense, but they are only opposite ends of a
single process. This does not contradict physical observation in any

> >> That is contrary to science, by definition.
> > There is no scientific consensus as to what the fundamental physical
> > 'forces' are. We have no idea what causes charge or it's consequences.
> > By your definition, physics is contrary to science.
> You're not saying that the neuron's behaviour is determined by as yet 
> undiscovered physical laws, you're saying that its behaviour is not
> determined by any physical law at all.

No, I'm saying the opposite of that. I'm saying that electromagnetism
is feeling. They are the same thing. There is no physical observation
that suggests that electromagnetism is not feeling.

> >> Assume the artificial neuron feels nothing, and all it does it get the
> >> timing right in stimulating neurons to which it interfaces. Could that
> >> still result in those biological neurons firing erratically? How, if
> >> they get the same inputs?
> > It's not that they fire erratically, it's just that they are missing a
> > certain fluidity and responsiveness. Think of how CGI animation looks
> > versus live action. You might be fooled for a moment, but over time
> > the inadequacy of the simulation reveals itself. In the eyes and
> > faces, in the overuse of certain techniques, in the dissociation
> > between expressions, words, and situations. This effect would be
> > magnified many times in an intimate biological context. These things
> > probably taste each other on the other side of the brain. They have
> > all grown together as one thing.
> This isn't really an answer, it's just a way of avoiding giving an answer. 
> How is it possible if the artificial neurons produce output with the same > 
> timing as the biological neurons that the behaviour would look abnormal?

It's not a matter of timing. The visual cortex can't do anything with
an optic nerve made of artificial neurons with the 'same timing' as
natural neurons. They have nothing to do with timing. They have to do
with transmitting the optical environment from the retina. If you've
got  a natural retina, and a natural visual cortex, you should be able
to replace the optic nerve in theory, but you can't replace either the
retina or visual cortex without losing the ability to see.

>You would again have to invoke the non-physical influences, since the physical 
>ones are all taken care of.

1. Ok, this is the last time I am going to answer this accusation from
you. The physical influences are already known. Why they do what they
do in a brain are not known. There is no mystery associated with how a
signal travels from one part of the nervous system or another, how
those signals are produced mechanically, etc. What we don't know is
what a signal actually is. What makes an electromagnetic event
meaningful to something. How is meaning or significance attached to

My view is that it isn't. Meaning and significance are attached to
subjective experience, not to matter. Both matter and experience are
essentially the same thing but existentially they appear to subjects
as opposite things. You seem to be unwilling or unable to conceive of
this relation. It may be an innate ability, like being ambidextrous,
so even though it is frustrating for me, it may not be your fault at

Most people have to see the universe as either a material system that
somehow evolved consciousness mechanically, or an experiential journey
orchestrated by a divine agency which uses and controls physical
events. I see both of those extremes as pathological, but that the
relation between the two can be used to help us understand how the
reality of the cosmos is neither of those things but will look like
either one depending on which perspective we apply. It's like an
ambiguous image: 
Neither perception is truer than the other, and they are mutually
exclusive. You can't see both patterns as individually coherent, but
that doesn't mean that the coherence or incoherence is not real.

> >> Because I'm asking what would happen to the qualia if you ignored them
> >> and just took care of the observable behaviour, which must be
> >> explainable in terms of observable causes.
> > What is observable in 3-p is both a cause and an effect, as are the 1-
> > p subjective observables. Without the qualia, the 3-p behavior of
> > cells makes no sense. They can be understood mechanically, but what
> > would be the point of the mechanism?
> They would be understood mechanically so that their senseless 3-p behaviour 
> would be replicable. That would allow us at least in principle to replace 
> parts of the brain without affecting the 3-p behaviour of the person. There 
> is a serious problem when we consider a person whose behaviour is normal 
> (says that he feels perfectly normal etc.) while he has a gross deficit in 
> qualia.

Qualia is feeling. If he feels perfectly normal, then there is by
definition no deficit in qualia. There would be no reason to replace
parts of the brain if we didn't know that they facilitate our qualia,
will, etc. The brain is just a fancy electric sponge without a 1-p
person experience associated with it.

> >> If the observable behaviour
> >> were not explainable in terms of observable causes then biologists
> >> would have discovered magic.
> > No, they would have discovered ordinary subjectivity. It is observable
> > though, just not with primitive electromagnetic instruments. We
> > observe them subjectively all the time.
> So if they had better instruments they would see neurons firing for no reason 
> at all?

No, we would observe the reasons that they are firing. We would 'see'
their pain and pleasure.

> >> Magic is where the observable behaviour
> >> is not explainable in terms of observable causes:a table levitating
> >> with no force on it; a neuron firing because the ion channels open
> >> even though the laws of physics demand that they stay closed.
> > The laws of physics don't demand that they open or close. They just
> > demand that if they must have the capacity to be able to open or
> > close, but they are free to open or close whenever they or their
> > situation calls for it. You are just making physical law into God,
> > micromanaging a meaningless universe for obscure and arbitrary
> > microcosmic reasons. Magic, as you use it, is a derogatory term to
> > undermine the credibility of all thoughts which dare to extend beyond
> > an extremely narrow and parochial view of eliminative materialism that
> > you are emotionally attached to.
> Ion channels open and close in response to electric fields and ligands 
> binding, just as doors open and close in response to an appropriate force > 
> on them. Whether there are qualia associated with the ion channels or the 
> doors (and doors aren't really less likely to have them) makes no
> difference to what we observe.

Electric fields are nothing but the sense and will of molecules. It
doesn't have to make a difference to you as an observer, that's true.
It's optional. Just as it doesn't have to make a difference to me if
somebody gets their hands chopped off. It makes a difference to Mr.
Sadhooks though.

> >> But what causes a particular ion channel to open, for example?
> > Changes in it's charge.
> Not really. They are large polarised molecules which are distorted when in 
> the vicinity of a sufficiently large electric field or non-covalent binding 
> of a specific ligand. The temperature and pH also affects the configuration, 
> as with all proteins. Given any set of physical conditions, the configuration 
> of the ion channel is precisely determined.

The electric field is not physical. It is not a pseudosubstance that
persists in space independently of matter. It is nothing but the sense
and motive of molecules. The molecular sense looks quite deterministic
to us (and it may actually be deterministic), the cellular sense
appears less deterministic, and the multicellular sense appears
routinely non-deterministic and spontaneous. That is all that we

How top level intentionality translates into efferent nerve discharge
is not explainable through physics alone, because pain and pleasure
have no melting point or specific gravity. They aren't objects in
space, they are experiences in time. Pain and pleasure do *not*
contradict physics, they just give meaning to it. My idea explains how
experiential qualia relate to matter - not attached as a purposeless
epiphenomenal afterthought, not metaphysically conjured as an
'emergent property', but inhering essentially. It seems complicated
because what we are is complicated so we mistake objective phenomena
on other perceptual levels for the mechanical cause of our rich
subjectivity. If we were a single cell, with no nervous system, it
would be easier to see how simple it actually is...How quorum sensing
is a shared experience like a wave in a crowd and the firing of a
neuron is like an individual's local enthusiasm witnessing a home run
or touchdown shared simultaneously by an audience of billions.

> >> The
> >> purpose of scientific research is to answer this question. The answer
> >> that has been discovered is that some ion channels open when there is
> >> an electric field of sufficient magnitude across them while others
> >> open when a neurotransmitter binds to them. You would say that
> >> somewhere in the brain ion channels open because they feel like it, in
> >> the absence of either the requisite electric field or
> >> neurotransmitter.
> > 4. No. I am saying, over and over and over again, that the feeling
> > *is* the electric 'field'. There is no such thing as a field or a
> > force. They are all feelings and experiences which are outside of our
> > perceptual inertial frame, and as such appear as quantifiable
> > behaviors of objects across space. When they are within our perceptual
> > inertial frame, then we either experience them is feelings through
> > time or infer them as feeling-driven behavior in other organisms. I
> > *never* say that there is an absence of physical behaviors associated
> > with particular feelings. They are part of the same event. Sometimes
> > that event is driven by a feeling and sometimes the feeling is the
> > consequence of the neurological changes. It's only the direction of
> > the narrative in our estimation that changes.
> Saying that the feeling is the electric field doesn't change the fact that 
> electric fields are well-understood mathematically and can be incorporated in 
> a deterministic model without any reference to qualia.

They are only well understood on the microcosmic level for inorganic
matter. It is not understood how they scale up through living tissue
at the macro level. That's the thing about the universe, we can make
sense of it at different levels. Hence the name - Multisense Realism.
If all you have is a monochrome monitor, you can still make a coherent
analysis of the images based on that presentation, but you have
nothing to say about what colors might be observable on an HDTV. If
you know about color, you can reverse engineer a black and white image
and colorize it, but that would not be possible without the existence
of color in the first place.

Your view is that since color does not show up on the monochrome
monitor of physics, it can only be magic. That view is, IMO, a
primitive superstition that belongs in the 19th century. Consciousness
does not have to prove it's reality on your monochrome monitor. The
ordinary experience of voluntary will and sensemaking are real whether
or not we can understand them in purely 'physical' terms. There is no
non-physical pseudosubstance which changes physics at will - that is
*not* *not* *not* what I am talking about. I am talking about the
nature of physical existence itself being just the public tip of the
iceberg, with the majority of the universe hidden beneath in private
realities composed of feeling over time rather than objects across

> The standard position of neuroscientists is that the neurons do their thing 
> and the qualia follow.

The degree to which they believe that is the degree to which they will
eventually be proved wrong.

> >> You claim the putative non-physical influence is ubiquitous in living
> >> cells, so it would not be unreasonable to expect that it would have
> >> been observed, overturning all of science. But it has never been
> >> observed.
> > 3. There is no non-physical influence. There is one phenomenon with a
> > subjective side and an objective side to it's topology. Think of a
> > tree with roots in the ground that suck up water and nutrients to
> > express as branches and leaves, which feel the sun and air which cycle
> > back into the organism as a whole as motive power. Both ends of the
> > tree define each other. You can't have a tree without either roots or
> > branches. This is like how a neuron works. It has roots in physical
> > law which support it's growth and articulation through the flowering
> > of sensorimotive qualia. Qualia is it's product. It's not non-
> > physical, it's infra-physical. It is the experience of the neuron
> > which gives everything the neuron does it's purpose, just as our own
> > experience gives our bodies and brains purposes for doing what they
> > do.
> OK, the objective side of the neuron is the only thing that can be observed. 
> So if the neuron behaves according to what is observed of its objective side 
> it is behaving in a normal mechanistic manner. But if it does something due 
> to its unobservable subjective side, then it seems to the poor foolish 
> scientist that it is doing something magical; that is, something not 
> explainable in terms of objective scientific principles. Do you agree with 
> that?

No. If you have a heart cell it beats at a certain time. If you get it
near another group of heart cells, the first one synchronizes. How do
you explain this? How does the normal mechanistic manner of the cell
change by itself? By itself it beats on the one count of a four count
cycle - it's protein molecules contracting regularly. If you get it
near other heart cells which beat on the three count, suddenly the
protein contractions compensate - either waiting two more counts or
beating twice in one cycle. How do you explain this? Neurons would be
like 100,000 times as complex as this example, with many different
'beating' behaviors synched to many different counts, directly and
indirectly all over the body.

> >> The choosing and understanding, everything to do with consciousness,
> >> cognition and free will, is *as a result of* the mechanistic neural
> >> activity. That is the conventional scientific view.
> > I agree that is the conventional view of science, and I think that it
> > is almost correct, however, being almost correct in this particular
> > way makes it precisely wrong. It makes no sense to have consciousness
> > at all if the mechanistic neural activity is sufficient to explain
> > anthropological function. There is no need to have 'a result' at all.
> > The mechanism would be it's own result and subjectivity would be a
> > metaphysical, unexplainable non-function.

> Subjectivity is consistent with the mechanistic view. You could worry about 
> why it exists at all, as David Chalmers does,

Subjectivity is in no way consistent with the mechanistic view. You
are confusing 'worrying about why it exists' with 'seeing the
catastrophic failure of the mechanistic view to support subjectivity
in any way.'

> but then you could worry about any fundamental fact about the universe, even 
> a priori facts.

If you are saying that subjectivity is a fundamental fact about the
universe, then we agree. I think that you want it both ways though.
You want to hang on to eliminative materialism but still imagine that
subjectivity can somehow 'emerge' from it. Mechanism is precisely the
attempt to remove all trace of subjectivity in what is observed. It
falls apart of course, when you realize that all observations
themselves are purely subjective. Such a view considers consciousness
something like dehydrated water, or a particle-wave. It makes sense
that way as a computation, but not as an explanation. In fact, the
mechanistic view prevents all possibility of explanation. My view
explains why that is the case.

> >> The mechanism has no absolute meaning but if it leads to consciousness
> >> it results in meaning in the person thus created.
> > Why would there be a thing such as consciousness to create 'meaning'
> > for 'people'? If it's all low level events driving the bus, why and
> > how could there be high level events at all?
> You can't explain it any better. It's like invoking God to explain the 
> universe, ignoring the fact that you now need to explain God.

Hah, nobody could explain it any worse either.

I think that I can explain it thoroughly though. It's pretty
straightforward to me. Entropy is to significance as space is to time
as matter is to energy as object is to subject and evolution is to
teleology. Electromagnetic behavior is to sensorimotive experience as
relativity is to perception. The symmetries compel us to reconcile
them. Why deny it?


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