On Monday, January 21, 2013 8:04:10 AM UTC-5, stathisp wrote:
> On Mon, Jan 21, 2013 at 5:59 AM, Craig Weinberg 
> <whats...@gmail.com<javascript:>> 
> 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? 

No, but so what? Haven's scientists always agreed on the wrong ideas before 
a better one is available?

> >> 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? 

I don't believe that we will necessarily know that our consciousness is 
changed. Even LSD takes a few micrograms to have an effect that we notice. 
Changing one person in the city of New York with another may not change the 
city in any appreciably obvious way, but it's a matter of scale and 
proportion, not functional sequestering.

> >> 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. 

That's because the radioactivity is mild. Heavy doses of gamma radiation 
are not without their effects on consciousness. Anything that you do on the 
nuclear level can potentially effect the chemical level, which can effect 
the biological level, etc. These levels have different qualities as well as 
quantitative scales so it is simplistic to approach it from a 
quantitative-only view. Awareness is qualities, not just quantities.

> >> 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? 

The way I explain a blind person learning to use a cane. The remaining 
parts of the brain can use the prosthetic technology as a replacement for 
sub-personal perception and participation. There is, however, no 
replacement for personal participation.


> -- 
> Stathis Papaioannou 

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