On Thursday, March 14, 2013 12:13:47 AM UTC-4, stathisp wrote:
> On Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 12:53 AM, Craig Weinberg 
> <whats...@gmail.com<javascript:>> 
> 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. 

What law of physics makes my will decide to get my house painted in exactly 
30 days? Does electromagnetism have some 30 day cycle that is predicted by 
gravity for me and nobody else?

> >> 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.

You act as if there were one single chain reaction from neuron to neuron. 
That is not a viable model.




The last one is especially cool. As you can see, the brain's behavior 
reflects massive, simultaneous, spontaneously formed patterns that have 
nothing whatsoever to do with physical laws. The same physical laws are in 
place whether the subject has meditated or not, so there is no basis for 
your claim of flat biochemical momentum somehow being responsible for 
orchestrating mental changes.

If you believe that your free will somehow acts to 
> cause atoms to move or electrical fields to change 

Not really a belief, it is an observable fact. As you can see in the third 
video, the subject uses free will to meditate and change the behavior of 
electric fields in their brain.

> 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 
> this. 

There's nothing to escape. Your causal chain is a fantasy. Watch the 
videos. We control (some) of our brain activity. How can you argue against 
that obvious fact based on your 19th century expectations of atomic 
physics? We already know that QM reveals uncertainty and entanglement 
beneath all atomic interactions. We are that uncertainty, and we will see 
that if we do physics experiments on living brains.

> >> 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 the videos make the brain look like a pinball machine?  What would it 
have to look like for you to be able to entertain the idea that you are 
100% wrong?

> >> 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? 

Neither. The ball rolls down the hill because of the sensory-motor 
relations between the ball, the hill, and the Earth. We call it gravity.

> 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. 

No, it is not a problem, because if you claim that it is the neurons who 
change, then you are just asserting that I don't have free will because my 
neurons do. You have the exact same mind-body problem that you had with me, 
only now it is hundreds of billions of tiny bodies who have formed this 
civilization of independent beings, all coordinating their activities in 
response to an outside world that must be perceived by all of them as a 
coherent whole. Your view only makes more problems. The neurons still 
change in response to semantic conditions rather than blind physics - which 
doesn't care about anything except thermodynamic states, field strength, 
ionic bonds, etc. None of those things change with meditation.

> >> 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.

Look at the video. Where do you see biochemical changes as being relevant 
at all? What biochemical conditions would be changing millisecond to 
millisecond in asynchronous semi-repetitive, multi-regional patterns? Give 
it up. Your view is not current.

> 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 
> incoherent. 

I'm saying that the general's decisions are not mechanistic. The army can 
behave mechanistically when they are following the generals orders - or the 
army can make collective decisions (like a mutiny) and the general/captain 
will have to respond to that, maybe in a mechanistic/defensive/thoughtless 


> >> 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". 

If something seems like a simple system, it is because we are distant from 
it. It is on very large or small scale, or it is unlike us in some other 
measure. Because of perceptual relativity, everything that is non-human is 
going to seem mechanistic to a degree directly proportional to how un-human 
it is. Mechanism is in the eye of the beholder, but the beholder is never 
completely mechanistic.


> >> 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). 

This is observably false. If I say to you, "I'll give you $500 to make a 
Heavy Metal sign with both hands." and you do it, the electric fields 
associated with that action are changed in response to the offer of and 
desire for money, not because there was some random change in your spinal 
cord which happened to coincide with this event. You are making physics 
omniscient and consciousness incomprehensible, while moving the Hard 
Problem and Explanatory Gap into the realm of physics. There is no gain in 
your view. If the field just changes 'because of physics' then why are we 
here to know or care about it? Why have this ridiculous theater of 
philosophical pantomime that accompanies some biochemical discharge?

> 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. 

What we see is electric fields coming and going. That is what the fMRIs 
show. How else do you describe it? Not only does our desire to move our arm 
cause the change in electric field - it is the change in electric field. We 
are our bodies and brains and *all* of the forces and fields attributed to 
every part of them. They are us. We control physics, voluntarily, 
intentionally, in real time. That is how I type these words.


> -- 
> Stathis Papaioannou 

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