On Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 10:23 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> > 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.

But if there were consciousness associated with the rain, it might. We
would have no way of knowing, would we?

>> 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?

Yes, of course. Do you think that the computer could do computations
without any physical change?

>> 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.

But if meditation changes the computer then it may play a different
game, just as if meditation changes the human player's brain he may
play a different game.

>> 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
> rules.

If they are non-probabilistic they are deterministic. They can be
intentional and spontaneous whether probabilistic or deterministic.
Intentional means the person wants to do it and spontaneous could mean
the person decides to do it without any obvious external stimulus.

>> 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.

Of course the brain is not dormant until stimulated. Even under
anaesthesia there is complex, continuous brain activity.

>> 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
> nowhere.

Well, what else can I say when you deny that the activity of the brain
is entirely determined by the biochemistry? You say it isn't just the
biochemistry, then you say it is, then you say it isn't again. If it
isn't then somewhere in the brain there must be an anomalous event you
can point to. If you can't point to any such events then brain
activity is mechanistic to the same extent that biochemistry is

>> 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.

To show the mental is not epiphenomenal you would have to show that a
physical change is effected by the mental that cannot be explained
entirely in physical terms.

>> 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 re-orchestration of the brain when someone thinks of playing
tennis happens because of the physical interactions in the brain. If
it were not so then we would see evidence of this. I have explained
this multiple times. It isn't meant to be a provocative statement, it
actually acknowledges the fact that your claim that the mental moves
the physical is a coherent, falsifiable hypothesis.

>> 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
> experience.

A machine may behave in complex ways but you can deduce that it must
be deterministic if you know that its components are deterministic and
follow deterministic rules. Is that a valid deduction? Similarly, if
the body is comprised of deterministic components following
deterministic rules then no matter how apparently complex its
behaviour it must also be deterministic. Is that not a valid
deduction? Hence, if the body is not deterministic then there must be
at least one component or interaction in it which is not
deterministic. Is that a valid deduction?

>> 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.

But you claim that humans are not, in fact, mechanistic from the
public perspective. It's not just that we can't fathom the human's
mechanistic rules due to the complexity, it is that the mechanistic
behaviour is not actually there. So can you give an example of a
system much simpler than a human or a frog that has non-mechanistic

>> 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!

If a computer asks another computer to ask it to do something that is
also free will?

>> 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.

Physics explains *behaviour* fully, without any reference to
consciousness. That is the only claim.

>> 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.

So again, you are making a coherent, falsifiable scientific claim -
that the five billion neurons will not jump to attention due to their
biochemistry and the external forces acting on them. You need to find
some experimental evidence for this, and astound the scientific world.

Stathis Papaioannou

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