On Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 12:03 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:
> To recap then, the difference between non-living and living is only visible
> to the living. Biological units are vastly larger and slower, more
> vulnerable in a thousand ways than molecular units, but they are a sign of a
> nested relation of experiences. The experience that is associated with the
> cell (and this is tricky because it is not ultimately 'the cell's
> experience', like our lives are not 'our body's experience') has 'leveled
> up' from the inorganic, and enjoys a richer, more wonderful/awful range of
> sensitivities - which is the purpose of the universe (or at least the half
> of the universe that can have a purpose).
There is surely a difference between living and non-living, but
nevertheless it is possible to get living from non-living. It is also
possible to get intentional from non-intentional, which is what you
>> > Laughing at a joke demonstrates that semantic content causes physical
>> > responses. Any activity in the brain which relates to anything in the
>> > world
>> > or the mind has nothing to do with neurochemistry. Physical processes
>> > can
>> > induce experiences, but only because experiences are a priori part of
>> > the
>> > cosmos. There is nothing about the physical processes which you
>> > recognize
>> > which could possibly relate laughter to a joke, or anger to an
>> > injustice,
>> > etc. There is no way for your physics of the brain to represent anything
>> > except the brain.
>> The claim is that the physics explains all of the physical activity.
> That's tautological. Economics explains all of the economic activity. That
> doesn't mean that a person can be understood by their economic transactions
Physics will not explain to an observer your experience since only you
know your experience, but it will completely explain your behaviour,
since everyone can see your behaviour. At one level it is correct to
say your experience influences your behaviour, but all that an
observer will see is the physical process underlying the experience
influencing the behaviour. If this is not so and some behaviours are
directly caused by experience without going through the usual chain of
physical causation then the observer would see something magical
>> door does not open unless someone or something pushes it, whether it's
>> a person, a gust of wind, the reaction from a decaying radioisotope
>> in the wood, or whatever. If the door is a little one inside the brain
>> that does NOT mean it opens without any identifiable physical cause.
> But all physical causes are thought to originate in quantum fluctuations
> from within. Those fluctuations are known to be probabilistic and
And describable by physics. Radioactive decay is a good example. It is
thought to be truly random when an atom will decay, in that there is
no deterministic formula that can predict this even if we know
everything about the atom and its environment. It could happen in the
next second, it could happen in a billion years. However, it is easy
to calculate accurately what proportion a large collection of such
atoms will decay; much easier than many processes that are
deterministic. Deterministic does not necessarily mean predictable and
random does not necessarily mean unpredictable.
>> If the little door opens in response to a joke it is because the
>> physical manifestations of the joke (sound waves) cause some other
>> physical process which makes it open. It does NOT open because the
>> joke just magically makes it open, which is what would appear to
>> happen if consciousness had a direct causal effect on matter.
> I understand exactly what you think that I don't understand, but you're
> wasting your time. I understand your position completely. Your view is that
> the joke is merely the decoded set of neurological patterns associated with
> whatever processed vibrations or collisions of the sense organs that have
> introduced the encoded patterns to your body. You think that, like a
> computer, there is a code input and an evolutionarily programmed response
> which generates an output.
Yes, although of course evolution cannot directly program a response
to a joke. Evolution programs the potential for a brain, which then
grows in fantastically complex ways in response to the environment.
> What I am saying is that model could work in theory, but in reality, that is
> not at all what is happening with the nervous system or our awareness. What
> is happening is both simpler and more complex but you have to begin by
> throwing out the assumption that anything is ever decoded by the brain into
> an experience. There is no decoder, and none is possible. That would be like
> installing a flat screen TV inside an abacus, and then building eyes in the
> abacus to see the TV. The abacus would then have to go through this
> meaningless exercise of converting some of its calculations to the screen in
> one part of the abacus in order to receive them in another, and it would be
> ridiculous since you end up right where you started, with data turning into
What we have as an empirical fact is that certain physical processes
A, B, C are associated with experiences a, b, c. There can be no
change in a without a change in A, although there can be a change in A
without a change in a. Thus a is said to supervene on A. Do you deny
this relationship? Do you have a proposed mechanism for it?
> Instead of seeing the whole thing like some kind of moron's Chess game,
> where each move is a dumb response to the other in an endless chain
> reaction, we should see the Chess game as merely an extension of the game
> players and game makers. The better the Chess player, the more they can
> telegraph their moves (motives) strategically. They are playing an entire
> game at once, not just reacting. The game limits their ability to push out
> their entire vision all at once, but that doesn't mean that the entire game
> is not being advanced by an overarching desire. On every level there are
> desires, plans, and capacities. The player can only express herself through
> the game (physics) but she can add new games (chemistry, geology, genetics,
> biology, zoology, anthropology, technology) by building them from the
> simpler examples of Chess.
But the desires, plans and capacities all supervene on dumb physical
processes. Break these processes and the subjective processes also
break. Understand the physical processes and you understand exactly
how the game will play out, although you will not understand the
associated subjectivity. It is possible that a chess playing computer
has associated, quite alien subjectivity. We don't see this, but
aliens observing humans playing chess would not see it in us either.
> What you are doing is looking at the movie and telling me "If there were a
> director or producer, you would see the actors talking to them in the
> movie". Stop looking for the camera in the movie - you are the camera
It is not obvious in the movie, but if the director directs he must
have communicated with the actors in some way, otherwise it's magic.
Similarly, it's not obvious looking at someone laughing at a joke but
there must be some sort of physical chain of causation at play,
otherwise it's magic.
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