On Tue, Mar 5, 2013 at 1:54 PM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com>
> On Monday, March 4, 2013 8:11:12 PM UTC-5, stathisp wrote:
>> On Tue, Mar 5, 2013 at 6:02 AM, Craig Weinberg <whats...@gmail.com>
>> >> 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?

To choose between two options is to consider each one and to decide on the
one you think is best. You can do this whether your brain is deterministic
or probabilistic. In fact, people and animals have been doing this for a
long time without the faintest idea what "deterministic" or "probabilistic"

>> 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.

So you say, but I don't care if the universe is deterministic or not. All I
know is I don't want to go to prison. Maybe I don't want to go to prison
because that's the way my brain is wired, but I still don't want to go

>> > 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.
> 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.

There is a choice, even if it's determined. You can define choice as "no
choice if determined", but most people don't care.

>> If
>> 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
> established.

That's right, and that is what a choice is. Most people would remain quite
happy and go about their lives normally if it is explained to them this way.

>> 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.

Well, it seems that you would become unhappy, if not actually depressed, if
it were demonstrated to you that contrary your current beliefs the world is
in fact deterministic.

>> > 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.
> 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
> than trying to predict the stock market by precisely modeling the workings
> of a standard stock ticker.

But intention is determined by chemistry, and so to the extent that
chemistry is deterministic, so is intention. Intention does not change
chemistry, as you think it does, since that would be magic and we would see
evidence of it.

>> 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,
> It's not because of the feeling, it's because the feeling makes no sense
> a phenomenon in a deterministic universe. I'm not saying "I like
> 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
> how much people like chocolate actually influences how much chocolate
> residues are found in their teeth.

What you KNOW is that you have the feeling of free will. What you CONCLUDE
from this knowledge is that the world cannot be deterministic. The ONLY
fact you use to conclude this is that you have the feeling of free will.
For if the conclusion were based on other, empirical facts such as
scientific experiments, these facts could by their nature be wrong, and
therefore you would be wrong about determinism despite the feeling that you
have free will - and you believe that that is impossible.

>> 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.

But you have said that that because we are conscious and have intention
(facts that I agree are beyond doubt) it is not possible that our brains
are deterministic or random. This is not a hypothesis, since neither the
premises nor the conclusion can be falsified.

>> 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

How does that address the point I made? If my body and the universe
containing it is deterministic then my behaviour is also deterministic.

>> 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?

How exactly the intention is generated is not the question asked. The
question is whether it is conceivable that an intention could be generated
in a deterministic system. I am mystified as to why you think it isn't.

>> 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
> magical clay?

No, I don't think it's so easy to explain hardness, density and rigidity.
You might reduce one to the other but reduction has to stop at some point.
Why is there mass at all? Why is there a universe 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
> Every function of hardness can be accomplished independently of any
> experience of hardness. We know this to be true already. A machine does
> need to look like a phone or a car to perform that function, the
> 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
> no possibility of meaningless decorations like 'here and now' or 'choice'.

I still don't understand what you have against determinism coexisting with
mind. Even if mind is of divine origin we could conceive that it is
deterministic. God could have determined our every action but chose not to.
Where is the problem?

>> Are you saying that consciousness somehow drives evolution?
> To be precise, evolution is the unintentional consequence of consciousness
> (really motor participation).

So evolution isn't a process of random mutation and natural selection.

>> The
>> 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
> himself can only ever be a deluded and passive witness of his own dumb
> 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
> 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
> Shakespeare is made of anything other than English letters, but the
> to combine letters into larger groups has nothing to do with the 'Emergent
> property' of Macbeth. It's necessary, sure, but not even 0.0000000001%
> sufficient.

So one atom follows the dumb laws of physics but two or more atoms might do
something surprising?

>> 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
> of everything. Everything can't not exist, because there is nowhere for it
> to escape to.

Are you are believer in Everything Exists, in the tradition of this list,
after all?

>> Why do objects appear
>> to behave in absolutely rigid ways which leads us to define laws of
>> physics?
> 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.

Is it a fact that F=ma everywhere in the universe, or might it suddenly
change to F=ma^2 in a particular instance of brain function due to the
action of sense?

>> Why are we not solid like potatoes, if all matter has
>> consciousness?
> 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
> roughly to the degree that our experience is like that of a potato plant.

But why do we have parts that seem to function like machines to keep us
going, tricking us into thinking we are in fact machines since nothing
science has ever found suggests otherwise?

>> > 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.
> 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
> in their terminology in discerning between brain activity which has a well
> understood path of causation that that which seems to present itself
> immediate trigger. It doesn't matter though. I only point out the word
> 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
> no problem with denying our own ordinary existence entirely even as we
> outrageous license to ridiculous Sci-Fi physics theory.
> Of course the brain changes suddenly when we exert voluntary action. What
> you suggest happens? If I ask you to answer a question, do you think that
> brain scan is going to tell you my question before I ask it?

The brain changes when we do anything, of course, but each change is in
theory traceable to a physical event. You can look at a brain, or more
simply an isolated neuron, and explain everything that happens in it in
physical terms, without reference to any associated qualia. If the qualia
act on matter, causing a physical change, then it's physical manifestation
woul be matter acting in strange ways, contrary to physical laws. You see
those calcium channels there? There is 10 mV across the membrane and that
calcium channels should stay closed. But they have opened! Something
mysterious made them open contrary to all our understanding of physics and
chemistry! What could it be that caused such a thing?

Stathis Papaioannou

Stathis Papaioannou

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