On Tue, Oct 25, 2011 at 3:23 PM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> Indirectly, the larynx must be connected to the optic nerve or we
>> wouldn't be able to describe what we see. Is that not obvious?
> Indirectly everything is connected to everything. The foot is
> connected to the ass indirectly too. So what? Indirect connection is
> meaningless in this context. The larynx doesn't talk to the retina.

Of course it does, otherwise it would be impossible to describe what
you see. If I hold up 3 fingers you say "3" and if I hold up 4 fingers
you say "4". If there were a break in the connection anywhere between
retina and larynx you would be unable to do this. I would have thought
this was a quite obvious and uncontroversial point, whatever else you
believe, and the fact that you are arguing against it makes me wonder
if you are just being contrary.

>> Whether there is a feeling associated with neuronal activity is
>> separate from the question of whether the neuronal activity is
>> determined by the observable physical factors. If something
>> unobservable, the qualia, causes something observable, membrane
>> depolarisation, then that would appear like magic.
> No it would appear exactly as it does, as depolarization. You aren't
> getting it. Depolarazation is what a neuron's qualia looks like from
> our technologically extended point of view. To the neuron it's a
> feeling. You keep imagining that physics demands some sort of schedule
> or timing for neurons to fire but the necessity of neurons to respond
> to their environment (just as you agreed cells must respond to their
> environment or die) would demand independence from any kind of
> deterministic schedule. How do you reconcile these contradictions you
> insist upon?

How does "the necessity of neurons to respond to their environment" go
against determinism? I think this is again a very basic
misunderstanding that you have. A lighting circuit behaves completely
deterministically, ON when the switch is down and OFF when the switch
is up. The circuit doesn't know when someone is going to come along
and flick the switch, but modelling the circuit does not involve
modelling the entire universe.

>> I don't think it is right to say that the physical state of the neuron
>> and the subjective experience are the same but even if it is, then the
>> neuron's behaviour should be deterministic and computable, since all
>> the physical processes in neurons of which we are aware are
>> deterministic and computable.
> A single neuron may well be quite deterministic, just as an atom by
> itself is deterministic. If you scale up from atom to atoms, it is
> still pretty deterministic. From cell to cells or neuron to neurons
> however is very different, just as a culture of millions of
> individuals is not deterministic from the biology of the individual
> member.

If the components are deterministic then the system is deterministic,
although it may show complex, surprising or chaotic behaviour.

>> An electric motor has a lot of electromagnetism going on but it
>> probably doesn't have a lot of feeling.
> The motor is only a motor relative to our frame of perception. The
> level where inorganic material feels or detects something, you can't
> really call it a motor, it's just charged volumes of metal. That is
> the most primitive sense of physical sense so I agree that I would not
> call it feeling in an animal sense, but there is an experience
> happening, a relation between matter which is exerting force and
> matter which is subjected to that proto-intentionality.

But the electric motor has a very strong electromagnetic field
associated with it, much stronger than that inside the brain, so does
the consciousness of the motor match or surpass that of the brain?

>> If the impulses coming down the fibres of the optic nerve are the same
>> then the visual experiences will be the same. In general, if any
>> neuron is replaced by a device that passes on the signals it receives
>> in a manner similar to the original neuron then the downstream neurons
>> won't behave any differently, for how could they know that anything
>> had changed?
> That's fine if all you are doing is passing on signals from an object
> to a subject. You are failing to see that the subject is the
> destination of the signal and not just a dumb conduit for it. Glasses
> can help you see but they can't help someone see who is blind.

Everything is ultimately just a dumb conduit. It's the combination of
many dumb conduits that makes you smart.

>> He would *say* that he feels perfectly normal because his language
>> centre would be receiving normal electrochemical impulses from the
>> artificial visual cortex, whose job it is to send those impulses with
>> the same amplitude and frequency as the original.
> The language center receives no impulses from the visual cortex. Eyes
> don't speak (not literally anyways).

The visual cortex has projections to the temporal and parietal lobes
but you don't need to know the details to know that there *must* be a
connection if a person can describe what they see.

>> An electric field is precisely measurable and the mathematics
>> describing it is well-understood. We can therefore tell whether an ion
>> channel will open by observing the electric field. If there is a 50 mV
>> potential across the membrane and that is sufficient to make the ion
>> channel open then it will open, regardless of what the "sense and will
>> of molecules" is.
> The electric field is dynamic. That's what depolarization is. If I
> decide to move my arm, my decision *is* the depolarization of neurons.
> I control it because I am the electric field.

The depolarisation of neurons occurs deterministically, and the result
of that is that you decide to move your arm. If it were the other way
around it would appear as magic. Indeed, there are the famous
experiments of Benjamin Libet which showed that first you move your
arm, then decide to move your arm. In other words, free will may not
even be concurrent with action, but rather follow retrospectively.

>> A single cell responds to its environment in a deterministic way just
>> as neurons do. Quorum sensing involves single cells responding to
>> chemical factors secreted by their neighbours.
> You have this weird way of disqualifying any kind of agency by burying
> it in passive reception within a network. The cells can't respond to
> their neighbors secreting chemicals unless some of them are actually
> those neighbors, initiating the chemical signals. Quroum sensing is no
> named because they cells arrive at a mutual consensus together,
> simultaneously. Unless you are going to tell me some story about how
> by quorum sensing scientists really mean 'not-quorum not-sensing' as
> you tried to do with spontaneous brain activity. That is the amazing
> thing about quorum sensing - it is not just single cells responding to
> chemical factors, it is many cells acting as a group; using chemical
> factors as a semantic binder for their shared sensorimotive
> experience. This is not deterministic from a physics perspective at
> all. The cells are making the determinations themselves.

Where does this description of the mechanism of quorum sensing in
bacteria from Wikipedia go wrong in your view:

"Bacteria that use quorum sensing constantly produce and secrete
certain signaling molecules (called autoinducers or pheromones). These
bacteria also have a receptor that can specifically detect the
signaling molecule (inducer). When the inducer binds the receptor, it
activates transcription of certain genes, including those for inducer
synthesis. There is a low likelihood of a bacterium detecting its own
secreted inducer. Thus, in order for gene transcription to be
activated, the cell must encounter signaling molecules secreted by
other cells in its environment. When only a few other bacteria of the
same kind are in the vicinity, diffusion reduces the concentration of
the inducer in the surrounding medium to almost zero, so the bacteria
produce little inducer. However, as the population grows, the
concentration of the inducer passes a threshold, causing more inducer
to be synthesized. This forms a positive feedback loop, and the
receptor becomes fully activated. Activation of the receptor induces
the up-regulation of other specific genes, causing all of the cells to
begin transcription at approximately the same time. This coordinated
behavior of bacterial cells can be useful in a variety of situations.
For instance, the bioluminescent luciferase produced by V. fischeri
would not be visible if it were produced by a single cell. By using
quorum sensing to limit the production of luciferase to situations
when cell populations are large, V. fischeri cells are able to avoid
wasting energy on the production of useless product."

>> Well, if no non-physical substance acts on living tissue then it would
>> follow the laws of physics, which as far as we know are computable.
> The laws of physics are computable, but the laws of psychology are
> not. Subjective interiors scale up in the exact opposite way that
> objective exteriors do. Exterior symptoms of accumulated significance
> become more complex but no less computable. Interiors retain
> simplicity but become richer, more animated, and less computable.

If high level non-computable, non-deterministic, non-physical
processes act on matter then as I have said many times there should be
direct laboratory evidence of this, such as a neuron depolarising its
membrane contrary to the well-understood and deterministic factors
known to be behind depolarisation. If neurons always follow physical
laws then they only behave deterministically, and hence the whole
brain behaves deterministically, even if chaotically and

>> You have no reason to reject the standard position. It is perfectly
>> consistent with all observation. As far as I can tell, your main
>> objection to it is simply that you don't like it, and you create the
>> logically impossible category of neither-determined-nor-random to
>> explain free will.
> No, it's you who doesn't like my position even though it is more
> consistent with observation than physics. I like physics fine, it just
> doesn't explain anything that I care about. It's not me that is
> creating a category to explain free will, I'm just describing the
> obvious qualities that free will has. Are your responses to this
> determined or are they random? If they are determined then it's a
> waste of time talking to you because you are incapable of changing
> your mind, you can only watch as a helpless spectator as your mind
> changes. If they are random than it's a waste of time talking to you
> because I could just talk to a deck of cards instead. You tell me.
> Which category do you fit into that makes sense for me to talk to you,
> or for anyone to talk to anyone?

If you feel life is pointless because it is the way it is whose fault is that?

>> The myocytes synchronise via gap junctions 
>> (eg.http://www.springerlink.com/content/ug8755r8703kt637/). However, the
>> specifics are not important for the purposes of this discussion. What
>> is important is that a scientist observing the phenomenon would
>> immediately start thinking of experiments to work out what the
>> physical mechanism for it is and keep going until he finds out, while
>> you would apparently be content to say that there is no physical
>> mechanism.
> Your scientist is not a scientist, he is an alchemist insisting upon
> turning lead to gold. Science is curiosity, not orthodoxy. It is a
> refinement of common sense. If experiments indicate that the dynamic
> cannot be described fully through traditional terms of mechanism and
> physics, he explores other options as well, even as he continues his
> due diligence pursuing the Lapis Materialistica.

A scientist will always try to come up with hypotheses which he tests
by experiment. Have you ever studied science at University level or
spent any time with scientists?

Stathis Papaioannou

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