On Oct 27, 12:11 pm, Stathis Papaioannou <stath...@gmail.com> wrote:
> 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.

Let's say that I watch a football game on TV and describe what I see.
Is there now a direct connection between my larynx and a football
field somewhere? What is this connection made of? Is this the kind of
purely semantic-philosophical 'connection' you are talking about being
what connects the retina and larynx?

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.

A connects to B. A connects to C. Are you saying that B by definition
connects to C? You know that's a logical fallacy, right?

>
> >> 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?

Because living cells must confront unanticipated and novel
circumstances in their environment which cannot be determined, nor can
the responses be determined in advance. Inorganic molecules don't care
if they survive or not so their interactions are more deterministic
and passive.

> 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.

No, it's a very basic misunderstanding that you have that a living
organism is the same thing as a light switch.

>
> >> 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.

That would make sense if we were still in the 19th century. In the
last 150 years a lot has changed though. Heisenberg? Goedel? This is
not some fringe idea that I came up with.

"We have seen that extremely simple dynamical
systems can behave in ways very much at odds with our
intuition about the deterministic nature of classical
physics," - http://www.jhuapl.edu/techdigest/td/td1604/Sommerer.pdf



>
> >> 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?

There is no consciousness to the motor. There is detection and motion
of the metal that the motor is made of. Sure, the brain is very
delicate, it doesn't need very much electromotive force at all. A
chunk of dumb metal needs more convincing.

>
> >> 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.

Interesting double standard. You say that deterministic components
cannot scale up to anything except deterministic wholes, yet you also
say that many dumb conduits make you smart. To me it's clearly the
opposite. Dumb conduits make nothing but dumb conduits. A quadrillion
ping pong balls can make... nothing but ping pong balls. This means to
me that atoms are smarter than ideal spheres, and that intelligence
scales up into more complex, indeterminate intelligence.

>
> >> 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.

No. There is no connection, unless you are talking about a
philosophical connection. There is no direct transfer of
electrochemical signalling between the visual cortex and the larynx
which bypasses the brain.

>
> >> 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.

Depolarization occurs deterministically or voluntarily, depending on
the situation. It is false that depolarization results in the decision
to move your arm. Depolarization would result in a reflex muscle
contraction where you do *not* decide to move your arm. If I decide to
move my arm, the experience of that decision *is* the depolarization
of the region of the brain associated with that voluntary process (not
the involuntary process).

>If it were the other way
> around it would appear as magic.

You keep saying it would appear as magic, but it appears only as
ordinary voluntary movement.

> 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.

The observations of those experiments are that subjects responding to
repeating stimulus show brain activity indicating which response they
will choose well before they report that they are deciding to make
that decision. The interpretation that the brain activity precedes the
decision is premature, and even they do not go so far as to suggest
that conclusion. Such an obviously nonsensical conclusion would be a
last resort when all other possibilities have been exhausted.

I think that all the experiment shows is that human consciousness is
not a monolithic entity, but rather an awareness of awarenesses. There
is nothing to say that the very earliest activity in the brain is not
a sentient decision making event. There is also nothing to say that
the subject is not anticipating the routine of responding to repeated
calls to choose. If I was sitting in a chair choosing A or B over and
over, I would pick up on the pattern and begin to subconsciously
anticipate my next choice, probably even before the next stimulus.

At best the experiment shows that it takes a while for the free will
of the 'sub-selves' which make up our conscious awareness to be
reflected in other areas of the brain which know that they know that
they have made a decision and still longer for the reporting/
acknowledgement process to be initiated.

>
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> >> 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."
>

It seems ok to me as a third person description:

 "These bacteria also have a receptor that can specifically detect the
signaling molecule (inducer)."

Sense. The bacteria secrete an 'odor' let's say. They can tell the
difference between their own odor and others, they can tell how
intense the odor is, and they know that when the odor gets intense
enough, then something is going to happen.

"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."

Motive. When the conditions are right, all of the cells feel it and
begin modifying their own genetic transcription together as a group.


> >> 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

There is. If you tell someone to imagine playing tennis, they can
induce specific behaviors in the brain if they choose to comply.

>, such as a neuron depolarising its
> membrane contrary to the well-understood and deterministic factors
> known to be behind depolarisation.

You keep going back to this caricature of biology. There are ranges of
conditions within which depolarization can take place, but those
conditions are met with proper nutrition and comfortable operating
environment. Spontaneous neural activity is spontaneous
depolarization. There is no well-understood deterministic factor
involved, and more than an analysis of traffic can be reduced to
deterministic factors of traffic signals. No, voluntary choice does
not mean the cars are going against the light, it just means that the
voluntary choices are the lights themselves. You cannot deny that
neurons (and other cells and organisms) respond to their environment.
How does the environment cause changes to the well-understood and
deterministic factors that cite? How does a picture of a bunny rabbit
change polarization factors in the brain, but deciding to move your
arm does not?

>If neurons always follow physical
> laws then they only behave deterministically, and hence the whole
> brain behaves deterministically, even if chaotically and
> unpredictably.

Logical fallacy. Neurons follow physical laws, but they also follow
biological agendas. Please explain to me how it is that salmon are
able to swim upstream to spawn? Are they magic? Do they defy gravity?
Do the laws of physics change when they spawn? How is it that one
species of fish does something different like that compared to other
fish if they are both made of the same deterministic physical
behaviors? In what way is the salmon's behavior deterministic?

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> >> 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?

Who said anything about life being pointless? Life has countless
meanings. Why won't you answer my question though? You claim that
everything is either determined or random. So I ask you again...are
your responses to this comment determined or are they random?

>
> >> 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?

Sure I have. Psychology, Anthropology, Biology, Physics. I took a
class called  Human Consciousness once actually.  Actually I am
collaborating with a neuroscientist currently. His specialty is
perception and he seems quite supportive of my ideas. We are
definitely on the same page as far as perception is concerned.

How about you? Have you studied biology, neurology, psychology, and
consciousness in college?

Craig

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