On Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 4:09 PM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> 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?

What laws of physics will make it rain in exactly 30 days? Why will it
rain in Singapore but not in Kuala Lumpur?

>> 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.
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2H6UdQVEFY
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhCF-zlk0jY
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJLdNRebeWE
> 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.

Would you be as amazed to see the pattern of charge changing in the
memory of a computer playing chess? Would it prove to you that
planning its next move caused the charge shifts, rather than the
physics of electric circuits?

>> 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.

And the computer uses the chess game to change charge distribution in memory.

>> 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.

Quantum level events are still "mechanistic" in your sense, in that
they follow probabilistic rules. But you don't need quantum level
events to make the brain unpredictable. Classical complexity is enough
for that.

>> 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?

The videos make the brain look just like a complex pinball machine,
yes. What would be remarkable would be if there were no physical
change in the brain at all while the subject was thinking. That would
show that thinking is not done with the brain but with something else,
perhaps an immaterial soul. Closer to what you claim, it would be
remarkable if we could zoom in on some of the neuronal activity and
see that there was activity in neurons not explainable in terms of
biochemistry, such as a transmembrane voltage other than what is
calculated from measuring the concentration of anions and cations.
That would be relatively simple to show and it would be consistent
with the idea that the mind is not just epiphenomenal but can have a
direct effect on the body.

>> 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.

I still don't see where you find any evidence in science that neurons
change in response to anything other than "blind physics".

>> 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.

Look at a video of the millions of changes in a computer chip. Where
do you see electrical changes as being relevant at all?

>> 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
> way.

Yes, but if the rest of the army behaves mechanistically and the
general not, then the army as a whole (including the general) does not
behave mechanistically. So if my body does not behave mechanistically
there must be at least some part or parts somewhere, in it or outside
it, that accounts for this phenomenon.

>> 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.

Humans are a complex system. My claim is that they only seem
non-mechanistic to you because you cannot fathom the complexity. To
counter this, could you give an example of a simple system which is
non-mechanistic? That would eliminate complexity as a confounding

>> 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?

My behaviour when you ask me to do something is due to a chain of
events starting with the sound waves produced by your vocal cords and
ending with me making the required hand movements. This is the Easy
Problem. The Hard Problem is why there should be any experience
associated with this chain of events, or equivalently why we are not
all zombies.

>> 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.

But every physical change in the brain and everywhere else in the
universe is accounted for by physics. Some physical changes are, we
know, associated with consciousness but these changes are not exempted
from the absolutely rigid laws of physics, and I don't know why you
think fMRI images of the brain indicate otherwise.

Stathis Papaioannou

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