On Thursday, March 14, 2013 6:42:10 PM UTC-4, stathisp wrote:
> On Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 4:09 PM, Craig Weinberg 
> <whats...@gmail.com<javascript:>> 
> 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? 

Geographic variation and water content contribute to determining where and 
when it is likely to rain, but they do not determine when I will have my 
house painted. The rain certainly does not find its way to Singapore 
because of an appointment that it sets intentionally.

> >> 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? 

Would meditation change the pattern like it does for a human brain?

> >> 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. 

If you have the computer play the same game of chess you will see the same 
charge distribution whether or not the computer has meditated.

> >> 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.

The events in our brain follow non-probabilistic, spontaneous, intentional 

> 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. 

That is exactly what NDE studies seem to suggest. I don't require that to 
be true since I think that brain activity is the public-spatial view of a 
moment out of a private-temporal experience. The videos clearly show that 
the brain is not merely reacting to outside stimulation, nor is there any 
sign of a linear pattern of cause and effect in place. They show that 
awareness drives spontaneous brain activity - not that it is dormant until 
interacted with.

> 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. 

You still don't understand why that is a ridiculous straw man. It's like 
saying that for me to choose these letters there would have to be some 
violation of the English language going on to allow words to appear from 

> 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. 

Or you could just tell someone to imagine that they are playing tennis and 
then look at the area of the brain associated with motor activity and 
observe that it changes when they imagine playing tennis. Oh, wait, they 
did that. Case closed. Mind is not an epiphenomenon.

> >> 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". 

See above. Does physical law detail how one 'imagines playing tennis'? Is 
that sudden re-orchestration of a region of the brain's activity just a 
coincidence that was going to happen anyways?

> >> 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? 

Find me a video and I'll tell you.

> >> 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. 

There is no part of your body which causes it to behave intentionally. 
Intention is a function of experience and participation. It isn't a 
substance or function, it is the ground of all existence. It is beyond time 
and causality itself. The voluntary activities of my body are the public 
expression of my private intentions. The physics is a vehicle for the 

> >> 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 
> factor. 

I just explained it. If you were a frog, you would see yourself as 
non-mechanistic and other life forms, including humans, as being 
mechanistic. Determinism and intention are two sides of the same coin, 
except that the intentional side always faces you.

> >> 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. 

If I ask you to ask me to do something, then we come full circle and I am 
controlling you to control myself - voila, free will!

> 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. 

Yes, and the Hard Problem is why we cannot assume that just because what we 
observe with our bodies and instruments in public space is the 
authoritative reality on consciousness.

> >> 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. 

Physics accounts for itself. So what? It doesn't account for consciousness 
so it fails to provide any authority on the subject.

> 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. 

I can see that nothing will break your religious belief in this matter. I 
have adequately explained exactly why the laws of physics do not provide 
for a pile of generic neurons to do anything other than interact with each 
other as living organisms. When five billion of them jump to attention at 
once, it is often because of something that the person is experiencing 
intentionally, not because there just happens to be a dance party scheduled 
in your brain that fools you into thinking you are driving a car.


> -- 
> Stathis Papaioannou 

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