On Sunday, October 28, 2012 5:48:29 AM UTC-4, stathisp wrote:
> On Sun, Oct 28, 2012 at 5:48 AM, Craig Weinberg 
> <whats...@gmail.com<javascript:>> 
> wrote: 
> >> It seems that you do not understand the meaning of the term "consistent 
> >> with the laws of physics". It means that when you decide to play tennis 
> the 
> >> neurons in your brain will depolarise because of the ionic gradients, 
> > 
> > 
> > If you can't see how ridiculous that view is, there is not much I can 
> say 
> > that will help you. My decision to play tennis *IS* the depolarization 
> of 
> > neurons. 
> That sounds like eliminative materialism. It is a bit like saying that 
> the movement of the car down the road *IS* the combustion of fuel in 
> the cylinders, transmission of power to the wheels, and all the other 
> lower level phenomena that make up the car. 

But you forgot the movements of the driver, pushing pedals and turning the 
steering wheel. The problem is that you are only seeing it one way, so that 
if I say that my impulse to move my arm is the electromagnetic changes in 
my brain and arm, you see that as meaning that the experience of moving my 
arm is not actually real. What I am saying is the opposite - that all 
material interactions in the universe are, on some scale, experiences. I'm 
not eliminating consciousness in favor of materialism, I am expanding 
materialism to include primordial subjective awareness.

> > The ionic gradients have no opinion of whether or not I am about to 
> > play tennis. The brain as a whole, every cell, every molecule, every 
> charge 
> > and field, is just the spatially extended shadow of *me* or my 'life'. I 
> am 
> > the event which unites all of the functions and structures together, 
> from 
> > the micro to the macro, and when I change my mind, that change is 
> reflected 
> > on every level. 
> You change your mind because all the components of your brain change 
> configuration. 

No. A single change of my mind is seen in the brain as millions of cellular 
events. Your view is factually incorrect.

> If this did not happen, your mind could not change. 

I can make it happen voluntarily by changing my mind. It's like a see-saw. 
If I push down, my brain goes up. They are two views of the same thing 
which can be leveraged from either the outside in or the inside out. A lot 
of people can't seem to understand this. It may not be your fault.

> The 
> mind is the higher level phenomenon. The analogy is as above with the 
> car: it drives down the road because of all the mechanics functioning 
> in a particular way, and you could say that driving down the road is 
> equivalent to the mechanics functioning in a particular way. 

The car is a tool used by a driver. No amount of mechanism in the car can 
replace the driver (except on a superficial level). Without someone to use 
the car for a human purpose, there is no driver and the car is a pointless 
automation. The same is true for the brain. Without a person to care about 
a human lifetime, there is no point to a brain.

> >> the permeability of the membrane to different ions, the way the ion 
> >> channels change their conformation in response to an electric field, 
> and 
> >> many other such physical factors. It is these physical factors which 
> result 
> >> in your decision to play tennis and then your getting up to retrieve 
> your 
> >> tennis racquet. If it were the other way around - your decision causes 
> >> neurons to depolarise - then we would observe miraculous events in your 
> >> brain, ion channels opening in the absence of any electric field or 
> >> neurotransmitter change, and so on. 
> > 
> > 
> > No. The miraculous event is viewable any time we look at how a conscious 
> > intention appears in an fMRI. We see spontaneous simultaneous activity 
> in 
> > many regions of the brain, coordinated on many levels. This is the 
> footprint 
> > of where we stand. When we take a step, the footprint changes. We are 
> the 
> > leader of these brain processes, not the follower. 
> You completely misunderstand these experiments. 

I'm talking about *every experiment* that has been done. There is nothing 
to misunderstand. When I change my mind, through my own thought or though 
some image or suggestion, that change is reflected as a passive consequence 
of the macro-level event. I am not at the mercy of the cellular agendas of 
my brain - I can think about all kinds of things. I can take drugs to 
further impose my high level agenda on low level neurology.

> Please read about 
> excitable cells before commenting further. The following online 
> articles seem quite good. The third is about spontaneous neuronal 
> activity. 
> http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/E/ExcitableCells.html 
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Membrane_potential 
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neural_oscillation 

Yeah, I know about all of this stuff. 

> >> Cells don't defy entropy and planes don't defy gravity. Their 
> respective 
> >> behaviour is consistent with our theories about entropy and gravity. 
> > 
> > 
> > Cells defy entropy locally. Planes allow us to get around some 
> constraints 
> > of gravity. If your definition of any law is so broad that it includes 
> all 
> > possible technological violations of it, then how does it really give us 
> any 
> > insight? 
> The laws of nature are broad enough to determine everything everywhere 
> that has happened and will happen. 

Then the idea of transcending them is a red herring.

> >> How the computer was made would have no effect on its behaviour or 
> >> consciousness. 
> > 
> > Yes, it would. If I make a refrigerator, I can assume that it is a box 
> with 
> > cooling mechanism. If I find an organism which has evolved to cool parts 
> of 
> > itself to store food, then that is a completely different thing. 
> The question was about two identical computers, one made in a factory, 
> the other assembled with fantastic luck from raw materials moving 
> about randomly. Will there be any difference in the functioning or 
> consciousness (or lack of it) of the two computers? 

Yes. We have no way of knowing whether the self-assembly is due to luck or 
not, so we have to give it the benefit of the doubt. The computer made in 
the factory is subject to the opposite bias, since we know precisely how it 
was fabricated and that it was made for the purpose of simulating 
consciousness. If asked to choose between a known pathological liar who 
claims to be telling the truth, and someone who has never claimed to be 
telling the truth, all things being equal, we have to give the benefit of 
the doubt to the latter, as we have no reason to expect deceit from them.

> >> >> If a biological 
> >> >> human were put together from raw materials by advanced aliens would 
> >> >> that make any difference to his consciousness or intelligence? 
> >> > 
> >> > It would if we were automaton servants of their agendas. 
> >> 
> >> If the created human had a similar structure to a naturally developed 
> >> human he would have similar behaviour and similar experiences. How 
> could it 
> >> possibly be otherwise? 
> > 
> > Because consciousness is not a structure, it is an event. It is an 
> > experience which unifies bodies from the inside out, not a configuration 
> of 
> > bodies which has an experience because of external conditions. 
> So how would a human put together by molecular assembly machines using 
> the template of a regular human be different from the regular human in 
> either behaviour or consciousness? 

A regular human is a single cell which reproduces itself continuously. 
Anything that is not that is not a human being. How that difference 
manifests depends on what the thing actually is, what it is made of, and 
what it's common history relates to in the universe.


> -- 
> Stathis Papaioannou 

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