On Mon, Jan 21, 2013 at 5:59 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> The assumption by scientists is that consciousness is caused by the
>> brain,
> We could also assume that ground beef is caused by the grocery store, but
> that doesn't tell us about ground beef.

Do you disagree that it is assumed by scientists that consciousness is
caused by the brain?

>> and if brain function doesn't change, consciousness doesn't
>> change either. So swapping out atoms in the brain for different atoms
>> of the same kind leaves brain function unchanged and therefore leaves
>> consciousness unchanged also.
> An idea can change the function of the brain as much as a chemical change -
> maybe more so, especially if we are talking about a life altering idea. To
> me, the fact that physics seems more generic to us than chemistry which
> seems more generic than biology is a function of the ontology of matter
> rather than a mechanism for consciousness. The whole idea of brain function
> or consciousness being 'unchanged' is broken concept to begin with. It
> assumes a normative baseline at an arbitrary level of description. In
> reality, of course brain function and consciousness are constantly changing,
> sometimes because of chemistry, sometimes in spite of it.

Do you disagree that swapping a carbon atom for another carbon atom in
the brain will leave brain function and consciousness unchanged?

>> Also, swapping out atoms in the brain
>> for different atoms of a different but related type, such as a
>> different isotope, leaves brain function unchanged and leaves
>> consciousness unchanged. This is because the brain works using
>> chemical rather than nuclear reactions.
> That's because on the level of nuclear reactions there is no brain. That
> doesn't mean that changing atoms has no effect on some non-human level of
> experience, only that our native experience is distant enough that we don't
> notice a difference. Some people might notice a difference, who knows? I
> wouldn't think that people could tell the difference between different kinds
> of light of the same spectrum, but they can, even down to a geographic
> specificity in some cases.

The field of nuclear medicine involves injecting radiolabeled
chemicals into subjects and then scanning for them with radiosensitive
equipment. This is how PET scanners work, for example. The idea is
that if the injected chemical is similar enough to normal biological
matter it will replace this matter without affecting function,
including brain function and consciousness. You could say this is a
practical application of the theory that consciousness is
substrate-independent, verified thousands of times every day in
clinical situations.

>> It is an assumption but it is
>> consistent with every observation ever made.
> The consistency doesn't surprise me, it's the interpretation which I see as
> an unscientific assumption.

So how do you explain the replacement of brain matter with different
but functionally equivalent matter leaving consciousness unchanged?

Stathis Papaioannou

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