On Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 1:19 PM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> There is surely a difference between living and non-living, but
>> nevertheless it is possible to get living from non-living.
> Not without the potential for life already present in the universe. If there
> was a universe which contained only non-living substances, there would be no
> logical possibility for anything like "life". There isn't even a way to
> assume that there could be sanity or coherence enough to define any of the
> qualities of life.

The universe did start with only non-living substances, which then
became living. Therefore, the non-living had potential to become
living. But this is a trivial statement.

>> It is also
>> possible to get intentional from non-intentional, which is what you
>> disputed.
> It is also possible that I would accidentally think that you have done
> something here other than repeat your assertions. It is meaningless to say
> that you can get intention from non-intention, or life from non-life unless
> you have some 'how', 'why', and 'where' to back it up. I can say that you
> can get real estate from a cartoon too.

It is obviously possible that intentional comes from non-intentional,
since that is what actually happened. If you claim that protons,
neutrons and electrons are intentional (or have the potential to
become intentional, which is trivially obvious) then what is your
objection to machines, which are composed of the same protons,
neutrons and electrons as people, also being intentional?

>> 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.
> They aren't going to see anything if what is underlying the behavior is
> semantic. If I decide to drive to Georgia tomorrow, there is nothing in my
> brain that is going to explain my behavior of suddenly driving to Georgia
> tomorrow. That influence cannot be reverse engineered from neurology,
> unless, perhaps, the entire history of the universe is simulated as well.

If there is nothing in your brain that will explain your driving to
Georgia then you won't drive to Georgia. I didn't think even you would
disagree with that.

>> 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
>> happening.
> This is the usual physical causation, but it is not a chain. It is one
> physical thing. My will to move my arm is the mobilization of every process,
> every cell, every tissue and organ that we see moving and changing. It's not
> magical, it's ordinary. What is magical is the idea of cells that need some
> physical mechanism satisfied by making my body drive to Georgia.

I can't fathom how you think all the cells in your body will mobilise
when you decide to move your arm without this being either a chain of
causation or a seemingly magical event. You've tried to explain it but
all I get is "it just happens spontaneously, and it isn't magic". That
does not seem an adequate explanation.

>> 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.
> Except, in, you know, every other species on Earth, where it doesn't do much
> fantastic complex evolving in response to the same environment.

What do you mean by this? The process is the same for every species,
although different species have brains with different capabilities
which will grow and respond differently.

>> What we have as an empirical fact is that certain physical processes
>> A, B, C are associated with experiences a, b, c.
> Yes.
>> 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.
> No. There can be no change in A without a change in a also. The experiences
> may be not be personal experiences which we can be conscious of whenever we
> want, but they are associated with some kind of experience on some level
> that can be related back to our life.

No, there can be a change in A without a change in a. The brain must
have a certain tolerance to physical change or it wouldn't be able to
work properly. Thousands of neurons can die, for example, with
seemingly little or no change in cognition. On the other hand, your
mind cannot change without your brain changing unless you believe in a
non-physical mind which can work independently of the brain.

>> But the desires, plans and capacities all supervene on dumb physical
>> processes.
> Why do you assume so? What you think of as physical processes are linear
> moments added together in time. Plans and desires can spawn any number of
> dumb physical processes to satisfy an agenda which dumb but intentional,
> teleological, and sourced beyond moments of time. Plans shape time. They
> control the brain, which controls the body, which controls the environment.

Plans control the brain in the way a program controls a computer. The
program exists in the mind of the programmer and the computation
occurs in the mind of the computer (whatever that may or may not
mean), but at the bottom level, the parts of the computer do not move
unless pushed in a causal chain.

>> 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.
> I agree in theory, but in fact that theory is based on assumptions which are
> not necessarily true. It may not be the case that moments in time are
> interchangeable, and that material forms can be isolated from their history.
> We look at a body or brain in a moment and we see mazes within mazes of
> pulsating bodies - but that is because we are looking at the 'side view' - a
> public cross section. We aren't seeing the trillions of stories which have
> been going on for billions of years behind each of those cells. That's why
> building the Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas isn't replicating Paris. The universe
> you are assuming is a human universe of the impatient Western mind. What I
> assume is that we can't assume anything unless we have no choice. What we
> have seen is that machines are not behaving like organisms. What I suggest
> is that there may be a very good reason for that, but we can't know what it
> is until we stop assuming that the public body is the whole picture. It is
> tricky with technology, because on the one hand, everything has experience,
> but on the other hand not everything has the experience that we might
> expect. In technology, we may expect too much, and in nature, too little.

How does this answer the question of whether a computer may have subjectivity?

>> 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.
> Every time you or John says "otherwise it's magic", it just says to me
> "nothing can be real except what I expect to be real". It's tautological to
> ask what the relation between experience and matter is if you are going to
> say a priori that it can be nothing other than a 'chain of causation'.

It is magic if something happens without any physical cause. How else
would you define magic?

> There's no chain of causation, there is a personal experience with multiple
> sub-personal experiences, reflected publicly as impersonal body
> interactions. The body interactions are partly simultaneous and spontaneous,
> and they have cascading automatic consequences. You could induce laughter
> from the body, by tickling for instance, and then you have the laughter
> experience as a quasi-involuntary reflex consequence. It goes both ways.
> Multivalent causation. Az, By, Cx.

Both tickling and talking physically affect the brain.

Stathis Papaioannou

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