On Sunday, October 21, 2012 4:06:16 AM UTC-4, stathisp wrote:
> On Sun, Oct 21, 2012 at 5:51 AM, Craig Weinberg 
> <whats...@gmail.com<javascript:>> 
> wrote: 
> >> The atoms in my brain don't have to know how to read Chinese. They only 
> >> need to know how to be carbon, nitrogen, oxygen etc. atoms. The complex 
> >> behaviour which is reading Chinese comes from the interaction of 
> billions of 
> >> these atoms doing their simple thing. 
> > 
> > 
> > I don't think that is true. The other way around makes just as much 
> sense of 
> > not more: Reading Chinese is a simple behavior which drives the behavior 
> of 
> > billions of atoms to do a complex interaction. To me, it has to be both 
> > bottom-up and top-down. It seems completely arbitrary prejudice to 
> presume 
> > one over the other just because we think that we understand the 
> bottom-up so 
> > well. 
> > 
> > Once you can see how it is the case that it must be both bottom-up and 
> > top-down at the same time, the next step is to see that there is no 
> > possibility for it to be a cause-effect relationship, but rather a dual 
> > aspect ontological relation. Nothing is translating the functions of 
> neurons 
> > into a Cartesian theater of experience - there is nowhere to put it in 
> the 
> > tissue of the brain and there is no evidence of a translation from 
> neural 
> > protocols to sensorimotive protocols - they are clearly the same thing. 
> If there is a top-down effect of the mind on the atoms then there we 
> would expect some scientific evidence of this. 

These words are a scientific evidence of this. The atoms of my brain are 
being manipulated from the top down. I am directly projecting what I want 
to say through my mind in such a way that the atoms of my brain facilitate 
changes in the tissues of my body. Fingers move. Keys click. 


> Evidence would 
> constitute, for example, neurons firing when measurements of 
> transmembrane potentials, ion concentrations etc. suggest that they 
> should not. 

Do not neurons fire when I decide to type? 

What you are expecting would be nothing but another homunculus. If there 
was some special sauce oozing out of your neurons which looked like...what? 
pictures of me moving my fingers? How would that explain how I am inside 
those pictures. The problem is that you are committed to the realism of 
cells and neurons over thoughts and feelings - even when we understand that 
our idea of neurons are themselves only thoughts and feelings. This isn't a 
minor glitch, it is The Grand Canyon.

What has to be done is to realize that thoughts and feelings cannot be made 
out of forms and functions, but rather forms and functions are what 
thoughts and feelings look like from an exterior, impersonal perspective. 
The thoughts and feelings are the full-spectrum phenomenon, the forms and 
functions a narrow band of that spectrum. The narrowness of that band is 
what maximizes the universality of it. Physics is looking a slice of 
experience across all phenomena, effectively amputating all of the meaning 
and perceptual inertia which has accumulated orthogonally to that slice. 
This is the looong way around when it comes to consciousness as 
consciousness is all about the longitudinal history of experience, not the 
spatial-exterior mechanics of the moment.

> You claim that such anomalous behaviour of neurons and 
> other cells due to consciousness is widespread, yet it has never been 
> experimentally observed. Why? 

Nobody except you and John Clark are suggesting any anomalous behavior. 
This is your blind spot. I don't know if you can see beyond. I am not 
optimistic. If there were any anomalous behavior of neurons, they would 
STILL require another meta-level of anomalous behaviors to explain them. 
Whatever level of description you choose for human consciousness - the 
brain, the body, the extended body, CNS, neurons, molecules, atoms, 
quanta... it DOESN'T MATTER AT ALL to the hard problem. There is still NO 
WAY for us to be inside of those descriptions, and even if there were, 
there is no conceivable purpose for 'our' being there in the first place.  
This isn't a cause for despair or giving up, it is a triumph of insight. It 
is to see that the world is round if you are far away from it, but flat if 
you are on the surface. You keep trying to say that if the world were round 
you would see anomalous dips and valleys where the Earth begins to curve. 
You are not getting it. Reality is exactly what it seems to be, and it is 
many other things as well. Just because our understanding brings us 
sophisticated views of what we are from the outside in does not in any way 
validate the supremacy of the realism which we rely on from the inside out 
to even make sense of science.

> >> If the atoms in my brain were put into a Chinese-reading configuration, 
> >> either through a lot of work learning the language or through direct 
> >> manipulation, then I would be able to understand Chinese. 
> > 
> > 
> > It's understandable to assume that, but no I don't think it's like that. 
> You 
> > can't transplant a language into a brain instantaneously because there 
> is no 
> > personal history of association. Your understanding of language is not a 
> > lookup table in space, it is made out of you. It's like if you walked 
> around 
> > with Google translator in your brain. You could enter words and phrases 
> and 
> > turn them into you language, but you would never know the language first 
> > hand. The knowledge would be impersonal - accessible, but not woven into 
> > your proprietary sense. 
> I don't mean putting an extra module into the brain, I mean putting 
> the brain directly into the same configuration it is put into by 
> learning the language in the normal way. 

That can't be done. It's like saying you will put New York City directly in 
the same configuration as Shanghai. It's meaningless. Even if you could 
move the population of Shanghai to New York or demolish New York and 
rebuild it in the shape of Shanghai, it wouldn't matter because 
consciousness develops through time. It is made of significance which 
accumulates through sense experience - *not just 'data'*.

> >> I'm sorry, but this whole passage is a non sequitur as far as the 
> fading 
> >> qualia thought experiment goes. You have to explain what you think 
> would 
> >> happen if part of your brain were replaced with a functional 
> equivalent. 
> > 
> > 
> > There is no functional equivalent. That's what I am saying. Functional 
> > equivalence when it comes to a person is a non-sequitur. Not only is 
> every 
> > person unique, they are an expression of uniqueness itself. They define 
> > uniqueness in a never-before-experienced way. This is a completely new 
> way 
> > of understanding consciousness and signal. Not as mechanism, but as 
> > animism-mechanism. 
> > 
> > 
> >> 
> >> A functional equivalent would stimulate the remaining neurons the same 
> as 
> >> the part that is replaced. 
> > 
> > 
> > No such thing. Does any imitation function identically to an original? 
> In a thought experiment we can say that the imitation stimulates the 
> surrounding neurons in the same way as the original. 

Then the thought experiment is garbage from the start. It begs the 
question. Why not just say we can have an imitation human being that 
stimulates the surrounding human beings in the same way as the original? 
Ta-da! That makes it easy. Now all we need to do is make a human being that 
stimulates their social matrix in the same way as the original and we have 
perfect AI without messing with neurons or brains at all. Just make a whole 
person out of person stuff - like as a thought experiment suppose there is 
some stuff X which makes things that human beings think is another human 
being. Like marzipan. We can put the right pheromones in it and dress it up 
nice, and according to the thought experiment, let's say that works. 

You aren't allowed to deny this because then you don't understand the 
thought experiment, see? Don't you get it? You have to accept this flawed 
pretext to have a discussion that I will engage in now. See how it works? 
Now we can talk for six or eight months about how human marzipan is 
inevitable because it wouldn't make sense if you replaced a city gradually 
with marzipan people that New York would gradually fade into less of a New 
York or that New York becomes suddenly absent. It's a fallacy. The premise 
screws up the result.


> We can even say 
> that it does this miraculously. Would such a device *necessarily* 
> replicate the consciousness along with the neural impulses, or could 
> the two be separated? 

Would the marzipan Brooklyn necessarily replicate the local TV and Radio 
along with the traffic on the street or could the two be separated? 
Neither. The whole premise is garbage because both Brooklyn and brain are 
made of living organisms who are aware of their description of the 
universe. We can't imitate their description of the universe because we can 
only get our own description of our measuring instruments description of  
their exterior descriptions.

> >> The original paper says this is a computer chip but this is not 
> necessary 
> >> to make the point: we could just say that it is any device, not being 
> the 
> >> normal biological neurons. If consciousness is substrate-dependent (as 
> you 
> >> claim) then the device could do its job of stimulating the neurons 
> normally 
> >> while lacking or differing in consciousness. Since it stimulates the 
> neurons 
> >> normally you would behave normally. If you didn't then it would be a 
> >> miracle, since your muscles would have to contract normally. Do you at 
> least 
> >> see this point, or do you think that your muscles would do something 
> >> different? 
> > 
> > 
> > I see the point completely. That's the problem is that you keep trying 
> to 
> > explain to me what is obvious, while I am trying to explain to you 
> something 
> > much more subtle and sophisticated. I can replace neurons which control 
> my 
> > muscles because muscles are among the most distant and replaceable parts 
> of 
> > 'me'. These nerves are outbound efferent nerves and the target muscle 
> cells 
> > are for the most part willing servants. The same goes for amputating my 
> arm. 
> > I can replace it in theory. What I am saying though is that amputating 
> my 
> > head is not even theoretically possible. Wherever my head is, that is 
> where 
> > I have to be. If I replace my brain with other parts, the more parts 
> there 
> > are the less of me there is left. The brain isn't like a computer 
> though. 
> > You can't just pull out something and then put it back in if it doesn't 
> > work. In the brain, as soon as you screw it up, you get coma, death, 
> > dementia, stroke, etc. It's part of a living creature made of smaller 
> living 
> > creatures. It doesn't matter how closely you think your substitute brain 
> > acts like my brain, I am never going to be found in your substitute 
> brain, 
> > and the substitute brain will never even get close to working properly. 
> > Computers do not work very well. Every time I turn on my stupid phone 
> there 
> > are like 25 updates, and I hardly do anything with it. Can you imagine 
> how 
> > unreliable a network the size of a synthetic brain would be? How easy it 
> > would be to halt the thalamus program and kill you? It's wildly 
> > overconfident and factually misguided to think of the self and the brain 
> in 
> > these terms. I see it like 19th century Jules Verne sci-fi now. It's 
> just 
> > silly and every week there are more studies which suggest that our 
> > neuroscientific models continue to be more and more inadequate. They 
> don't 
> > add up. 
> As I said, technical problems with computers are not relevant to the 
> argument. The implant is just a device that has the correct timing of 
> neural impulses. Would it necessarily preserve consciousness? 

The timing of neural impulses can only be made completely correct by 
direct  experience. The implant can't work as a source of consciousness on 
a personal level, only as band-aid on a sub-personal level. Making a person 
out of band-aids doesn't work.


> -- 
> Stathis Papaioannou 

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