On Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 12:53 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> I may not be able to predict what your brain will do 30 days from now,
>> but that does not necessarily mean your brain is not deterministic.
>> And it certainly doesn't mean your brain is neither deterministic nor
>> probabilistic.
> But I *can* predict what my brain will do 30 days from now if I decide to do
> something in 30 days. That means that what is determining my brain's
> behavior (in addition to whatever physiological realities are in play) is my
> personal will.

And what is determining your personal will is your brain, which
follows the laws of physics.

>> There is a chain of causation between you reading these words and you
>> throwing the ball. Where exactly do you think is the break in this
>> causal chain?
> There is no break at all. Did you not see the part about top-down,
> bottom-up, center-out, and periphery-in causal influences all being
> dynamically interactive? When I make a decision about throwing the ball, the
> public symptoms of that decision can be seen as billions of simultaneous and
> near-simulataneous events, retro-causal events, premonitory events.

If the atoms bouncing around in your brain follow a causal chain then
so does your brain. If you believe that your free will somehow acts to
cause atoms to move or electrical fields to change in a not
determined, not probabilistic way then that would be obvious in
experiments as a break in the causal chain. There's no way to escape

>> No, I think you believe the brain does things "by itself" and you
>> don't understand how an experiment could be set up to demonstrate
>> this.
> When did I ever say that the brain does things by itself? Why do you keep
> pointing at this straw man?

You frequently say that the brain does things due to free will, while
I say the brain only does things due to its components blindly
following the laws of physics, like a pinball machine (your example).

>> Do you know how the transmembrane potential is set? It is due to the
>> difference between the sum of positive and negative ions on either
>> side of the membrane. Do you know how the ion concentrations are set?
>> Ions diffuse across the membrane following their concentration
>> gradients, diffuse more quickly through specific ion channels, and are
>> transported against concentration gradients via energy-dependent
>> transmembrane proteins.
> Let's say that you are looking at a live video of someone's neurons as they
> decide to throw a basketball four inches in the air or three feet in the
> air. What happens? What does it matter? The result is the same. Whether it
> is at the level of the entire brain, a particular neural pathway, a group of
> neurons, membranes, ion channel, molecule... it doesn't matter at all
> because they all are changed according to what the person decides. The
> person's decision could be pushed from the neural level also, but we would
> need to do that intentionally because transmembrane potentials don't know
> what a basketball is. Also, your entire model needs a complete revision
> since human glial cells have been discovered to increase the performance of
> mouse brains. All of our assumptions about coded electric signals as
> fundamental factors of consciousness could now easily be wrong.

Does a ball roll down the hill because of the pull of gravity or does
gravity pull on the ball because it rolls down the hill? This is the
problem with your insistence on saying that the neurons change because
of your decision, rather than that your decision occurs because your
neurons change.

>> You would be surprised if the balls in a
>> pinball machine just started levitating or something all by
>> themselves, and yet that is what you claim happens in the brain. Where
>> does it happen, and why has it never been observed?
> It is observed any time a person exercises their voluntary will and we look
> at what the brain does. Look at Libet even. We don't see sudden responses
> coming out of any inevitable physiology of ions, we see semantic responses
> to sensory events. What is your claim, that the test just happens to
> correspond to a moment when the ion balance was drifting toward an action
> potential anyways? What is your theory of how membranes react to non-local
> changes?

The semantic changes and sensory events supervene on the biochemical
changes. You still seem to believe that this isn't the case and an ion
channel might open by itself, in the absence of the normal stimulus,
because you decide to do something.

>> If the general does not behave mechanistically then the army as a
>> whole doesn't either.
> Why? Where is that dictum from?

>From you: "The general makes a decision personally, and the army
follows mechanically." I only disagree with you when you are wrong or

>> The only way the general could behave
>> non-mechanistically is if some part of him does not; for if every part
>> behaved mechanistically then he and the army would behave
>> mechanistically. So which part exactly of the general behaves
>> non-mechanistically, and could you suggest an experiment to
>> demonstrate your hypothesis is right?
> You are assuming a bottom-up topology. If you flip it over, it is easy to
> see that wholes are not mechanistic, it is only parts which seem mechanistic
> to wholes. It's all about perceptual relativity - which I don't think you
> even notice that I have been talking about all this time. Whatever
> experiment we can do to try to defeat perceptual relativism will only end up
> confirming the bias of the experiment.

Give an example of a simple system in which the components behave
mechanistically but the system itself does not, because to me that
sounds a priori impossible. Do not beg the question by saying "a
system including human input".

>> But charge and electric fields are well-described mathematically in
>> physics. Do you have any experiments showing that electric fields
>> behave contrary to the well-understood equations?
> We are the experiment. When we want to move our arm, an electric field
> changes. Do you deny this?

No, but the electric field changes and as a result we want to move our
arm (the electric field across cell membranes, if that's what you
meant). The desire to move our arm cannot cause a change in an
electric field. If it could, we would see electric fields coming and
going magically, since the free will is not an observable.

Stathis Papaioannou

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