On Monday, March 4, 2013 8:11:12 PM UTC-5, stathisp wrote:
> On Tue, Mar 5, 2013 at 6:02 AM, Craig Weinberg
> >> 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.
In what way do you "choose" to do it? What does choose mean?
> If I break the law I will be punished - yes.
> The fear of punishment will deter me and others - yes.
What does it mean to be deterred? In a deterministic universe, it doesn't
matter how you feel about what you do, you are simply along for the ride,
witnessing yourself doing it.
> > What difference would it make how you feel about what is determined to
> > done. There is no choice - it is simply done. If you are deterred by
> > that is still your choice, still up to you, not something which is
> > determined *for you* by extra-personal conditions.
> I chose to drink coffee today because my brain is a particular way.
In a deterministic universe, your brain would have made that decision
without you. There would just be a brain coordinating a body's access to
coffee. There could be no conceivable phenomenon of a "choice", only a
process in a queue of unconscious actions being executed.
> tomorrow the coffee is no good, my brain will be different and I may
> choose tea instead.
Why would you choose anything? Your body will simply drink tea if that is
the action which scores highest on whatever statistical model has been
> 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.
Huh? Why would they become depressed because of an unmet expectation which
could not possibly exist in a deterministic world. It's like saying hermit
crabs would be depressed and not move into shells if they didn't think that
Disneyland had a hermit crab night every year.
> >> > It's not an important question. What matters is that determinism
> >> > 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
> > brain is all.
> A system is deterministic if its future behaviour is fixed by its
> current state, and random or probabilistic otherwise.
Yes. Since many of states of the brain are driven by intention directly,
there is no way to entirely determine its future behavior. It's no
different than trying to predict the stock market by precisely modeling the
workings of a standard stock ticker.
> >> 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
> > 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
It's not because of the feeling, it's because the feeling makes no sense as
a phenomenon in a deterministic universe. I'm not saying "I like chocolate,
therefore chocolate must be real.', I am saying that the fact that I like
anything is not compatible with a universe in which liking has no causal
efficacy. The post Libet experiments on free will go further to suggest
that how much people like chocolate actually influences how much chocolate
brown residues are found in their teeth.
> 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.
It's not a claim, its a hypothesis. Which is always allowed in science.
There is no criteria which prohibits a hypothesis from being made.
> 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.
The stock ticker is deterministic except for how it is responding to
conditions beyond the device itself. The behavior of a glove is
deterministic except for those behaviors related to the wearer of the glove.
> >> 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
> > 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.
So how exactly do you conceive of it? Step by step, how is an intention
generated, and why, in a deterministic system?
> >> > But hamburgers are a perfectly reasonable expectation from the Big
> >> > 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?
The hardness of tungsten is easily understood as a function of qualities
like density and rigidity - which can be modeled as relations between
positions in space. Consciousness can't be modeled or anticipated in any
way. It is isn't 'like' anything else and there is no way of abstracting
authentic participation. It doesn't make sense to carefully reduce the
universe to matter if matter is defined as something which arbitrarily has
the powers of God. Why not just say that God makes life out of certain
> >> 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
> > the start.
> Yes, just as matter can be hard, or potentially hard from the start.
Anything which can be defined as collisions of densely plotted points can
be understood as 'hard', but no amount of collisions of points can be
understood as 'itchy' or 'green'.
> >> 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
> > 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.
Yes, but why would hardness emerge as a property of matter rather than
mind? Every function of hardness can be accomplished independently of any
experience of hardness. We know this to be true already. A machine does not
need to look like a phone or a car to perform that function, the aesthetics
are all for our minds. A cell phone could be a bag of junk served up in a
waffle cone and run the same way. It needs no pretty forms, no fashions or
enticements to work. A deterministic universe is purely pragmatic. There is
no possibility of meaningless decorations like 'here and now' or 'choice'.
> >> 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
> > being that which evolves itself. If consciousness could evolve, it
> > If matter could become conscious, it would have no way of knowing or
> > about it.
> Are you saying that consciousness somehow drives evolution?
To be precise, evolution is the unintentional consequence of consciousness
(really motor participation).
> standard scientific position is that nothing beyond the dumb laws of
> physics drives anything in the universe.
Because physics is focusing only on phenomena related to bodies in public
space. If that model were applied to private experience, then the physicist
himself can only ever be a deluded and passive witness of his own dumb
laws. He has no more chance of discovering what drives anything in the
universe than he does of learning to use his eyeballs backward to see
inside his own brain.
> 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.
Of course. On the level of atoms, there aren't any living things. No part
of Shakespeare is made of anything other than English letters, but the
ability to combine letters into larger groups has nothing to do with the
'Emergent property' of Macbeth. It's necessary, sure, but not even
> >> 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
> > as the experiences of consciousness.
> But to science, it appears as if the universe arises independently of
That's because science is a reaction against the assumption of subjective
authority. Like any teenager, our rebellion is well founded on one level,
but it doesn't mean that its a viable replacement for all that has been
rejected. If you design a system around dehydrating every substance
completely, you can't be surprised when your experiments lead you to the
conclusion that there is no such thing as water. Science is designed to
remove subjectivity, and that's important, but since it is the ground of
being, it's like Whack-a-mole. The more you knock down the bias in front of
your face, the more the bias behind your back grows. We have now reached a
critical point where, having painted ourselves into a dimensionless corner,
we have identified our own limited human perspective as that of pristine
universal voyeur. Even though on the one hand, science presumes to wave
away all feelings and thoughts as mere neural spasms and evolution, on the
other hand it sees its own thought process as increasingly infallible and
closed. It has entered the pathological 'indulgence selling' phase of
diminishing returns on civilization's increasingly vast investments.
Increasingly every part of society will be defined by impersonal criteria
and process, while the expected benefits become ever more elusive.
> >> 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
> > 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?
Because there is no other possibility. This is not a mystical koan, it is
the architecture of ontology. Nothing can only exist as a temporary absence
of everything. Everything can't not exist, because there is nowhere for it
to escape to.
> Why do objects appear
> to behave in absolutely rigid ways which leads us to define laws of
Because we are specific participants in the universe, so the rigidity
represents a perpetual record of what ended up happening. The more rigid,
the more primitive, and the more deeply nested within it we are.
> Why are we not solid like potatoes, if all matter has
Matter doesn't have consciousness, matter is what consciousness looks like
from a distance. We look like what we are, and what we are is like a potato
roughly to the degree that our experience is like that of a potato plant.
> Why has no-one ever observed matter behave differently
> to how it would behave if consciousness did not exist?
Consciousness can't not exist, because existence is defined by, through,
and for consciousness. (Not just human consciousness of course).
> >> 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
> > make sense as part of some conscious experience. Complexity is relative.
> > orbits of the Moons of Jupiter are a pretty complex interaction. The
> > atmospheres of planets interact with the sun. Our civilization doesn't
> > 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?
Sense is as transparent as it can be. What is revealed in complex
organization reflects the truth about how nested and elaborate the
experiences are in supporting any given conscious experience.
> >> 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
> > 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.
I know what you think I mistake those papers as referring to, but you are
wrong. I was fully aware, then as now, that the scientists were being loose
in their terminology in discerning between brain activity which has a well
understood path of causation that that which seems to present itself
without immediate trigger. It doesn't matter though. I only point out the
word they happened to use as a clue to the nature of that activity, which
is not driven by neurological events but rather by top down biographical
events - intentional events. This should be moronically obvious, but we are
so poisoned by this pathological stage of over-Westernized science that we
have no problem with denying our own ordinary existence entirely even as we
grant outrageous license to ridiculous Sci-Fi physics theory.
Of course the brain changes suddenly when we exert voluntary action. What
do you suggest happens? If I ask you to answer a question, do you think
that a brain scan is going to tell you my question before I ask it?
> Stathis Papaioannou
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