On Tue, Mar 5, 2013 at 6:02 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> I am responsible for my
>> actions because I know what I am doing and I choose to do it. If I
>> break the law I will be punished because the fear of punishment will
>> deter me and others who are thinking of doing the same thing. This is
>> all consistent with determinism.
> Why would any of that be consistent with determinism?

Because it all still holds if determinism holds:
I know what I am doing - yes.
I choose to do it - yes.
If I break the law I will be punished - yes.
The fear of punishment will deter me and others - yes.

> What difference would it make how you feel about what is determined to be
> done. There is no choice - it is simply done. If you are deterred by fear
> that is still your choice, still up to you, not something which is literally
> determined *for you* by extra-personal conditions.

I chose to drink coffee today because my brain is a particular way. If
tomorrow the coffee is no good, my brain will be different and I may
choose tea instead. To me, that's a choice. I doubt that there are
many people in the world who, if they believed that their brain
functioned deterministically, would decide they didn't have a choice
in anything and become depressed.

>> > It's not an important question. What matters is that determinism itself
>> > is a
>> > shadow or reflection of intention.
>> So are you now agreeing that we could have consciousness and free will
>> despite having deterministic brains?
> I don't think that the term 'deterministic' is meaningful to describe the
> brain is all.

A system is deterministic if its future behaviour is fixed by its
current state, and random or probabilistic otherwise.

>> So you *are* saying it is a priori impossible that the brain is
>> deterministic. It's a pretty dramatic claim: you are telling
>> scientists that, by sitting
> Looks like you trailed off there, but I don't see why a brain would be
> deterministic if a person's life experience isn't deterministic. In some way
> the brain reflects that experience, so unless you can isolate them and
> control, it, I wouldn't expect that determination would be a relevant
> quality of a brain.

I didn't finish the paragraph, sorry. What you are saying is that you
know that you feel free. I've no objection to that. But then you go on
to say that because of this feeling, you know that the brain cannot be
deterministic, and that therefore scientists are no more likely to
discover that the brain is deterministic than they are to discover
round squares. This is a very serious claim. The claim of a priori
knowledge is stronger than any scientific claim, since the most
accepted scientific theory could be overthrown tomorrow by a new piece
of evidence. But I don't think you have anywhere near enough reason to
make the claim. Even if I agree with you about free will and
determinism, machines and consciousness, I can still conceive my brain
being deterministic while I still feel (falsely, perhaps) that I am
free. The logical contradiction that is required for the a priori
truth to be asserted is not there.

>> But if the universe could only possibly be deterministic or random
>> then intention must come from that. It's not begging the question,
>> it's a reasonable conclusion from two facts.
> No, its plugging in a deus ex machina (or a machina ex deus, really). If
> there were only deterministic or random phenomena in the universe than
> intention would be inconceivable. Unless you have a guess as to how you get
> one from the other two?

To me and to others, intention is certainly conceivable in this case.
You have a singular mental block if you can't conceive of it.

>> > But hamburgers are a perfectly reasonable expectation from the Big Bang,
>> > given the nature of matter.
>> So is consciousness, given the nature of matter.
> Why do you think so? What about matter prefigures consciousness?

Just as we learn from experiment that tungsten is hard, we learn that
certain systems of organic chemicals are conscious. You could object
that "hardness" cannot be explained entirely in physicalist terms, but
where does this get you?

>> For when you put
>> matter, and nothing but matter, together in the form of a human, it is
>> conscious.
> Which means that matter is conscious, or at least potentially conscious from
> the start.

Yes, just as matter can be hard, or potentially hard from the start.

>> The standard view is that there is only matter and energy and "sense"
>> follows if it is combined in a certain way. You are putting it the
>> other way around, so it certainly sounds as if you're saying "sense"
>> is something over and above matter and energy.
> Exactly. Matter and energy are what sense and motive look like to itself
> separated by space (matter) and time (energy). Because if matter or energy
> could exist independently of sense, then there surely would be no sense
> experience at all.

But then there might also be no hardness if matter and energy could
exist independently of hardness. The reality is that they do not:
hardness is an emergent property of matter, as is mind.

>> Consciousness arises from intelligent behaviour. If it did not, then
>> there would be no consciousness, since there is no reason for it to
>> evolve.
> It's circular, because you assume that consciousness evolves rather than it
> being that which evolves itself. If consciousness could evolve, it wouldn't.
> If matter could become conscious, it would have no way of knowing or caring
> about it.

Are you saying that consciousness somehow drives evolution? The
standard scientific position is that nothing beyond the dumb laws of
physics drives anything in the universe. No-one has been able to find
a case where a single atom has done something these dumb laws of
physics don't account for.

>> Your theory presents an ad hoc complication: that
>> consciousness arises independently and somehow in sync with
>> intelligent behaviour. By Occam's Razor, your theory should be
>> eliminated.
> No, I never said that consciousness arises. It is the universe which arises
> as the experiences of consciousness.

But to science, it appears as if the universe arises independently of

>> Association does not necessarily imply causation, so it is possible
>> that consciousness is caused by God and intelligent behaviour is
>> caused by matter, and the two just happen to coincide. It's possible,
>> but it is an inferior theory as it is more complicated, does not
>> explain any more, and is not empirically falsifiable.
> I was commenting that you assume from the start that consciousness is a
> product of the universe rather than the origin. I think that is an inferior
> theory as it doesn't lead to a resolution of any of the problems with
> physics and consciousness, while mind resolves all of them.

No, it doesn't. Why is there a universe at all? Why do objects appear
to behave in absolutely rigid ways which leads us to define laws of
physics? Why are we not solid like potatoes, if all matter has
consciousness? Why has no-one ever observed matter behave differently
to how it would behave if consciousness did not exist?

>> One other important observation is that only things with the capacity
>> to analyse their environment and interact with their environment in a
>> complex way are conscious. Dead or inert things aren't conscious, yet
>> dead or inert things might have just as much matter and just as much
>> of your proposed all-pervasive "sense"; otherwise how is "sense"
>> allocated?
> You are looking at what seems dead to us, on a particular level of
> description. Speed up the action fast enough (i.e. don't take your naive
> human pace of awareness as a universal voyeur standard) and it may very well
> make sense as part of some conscious experience. Complexity is relative. The
> orbits of the Moons of Jupiter are a pretty complex interaction. The
> atmospheres of planets interact with the sun. Our civilization doesn't look
> very impressive from a distance either.

It seems that the complex functional organisation of matter, rather
than the matter itself, is associated with consciousness. Why is that?

>> Your brain changes deterministically and as a result of this process
>> you feel you have changed your mind, for good or bad or arbitrary
>> reasons. This may or may not be true but where is the *logical*
>> contradiction which leads you to say it is a priori false?
> The logical contradiction is that the chemistry of your brain has no reason
> to spontaneously change to correspond with visualizing red right now, but my
> asking you to visualize red is an overwhelmingly convincing cause.

You still have it in your mind that the brain can change
"spontaneously", and that this is evidence of the mind acting on
matter. But you are completely wrong about this. You have cited papers
about spontaneous neural activity which you have misunderstood.
"Spontaneous" does not mean what you think it means.

Stathis Papaioannou

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