Dear Stathis,
your lengthy reply to Craig is a bit longer than I can manage to reply in
all facets so here is a condensed opinion:

Your position about the 'material' world (atoms, etc.) seems a bit
mechanistic: like us, the (call it:) inanimates are also different no
matter how identical we think they are in those lines we observe by our
instruments and reductionist means.
You ask about Na-ions: well, even atoms/ions are different to a wider
scrutiny than enclosed in our physical sciences. Just  think about the
fission-sequence - unpredictable WHICH one will undergo it next. It maybe
differential within the atomic nucleus, may be in the circumstances and
their so far not established impact on the individual atoms (ions?) leading
to a "next one". We know only a portion of the totality and just think that
everything has been covered.
I am not representing Craig, I make remarks upon your ideas of everything
being predictably identical to its similars.

The (so far) "known facts" are neither: not 'known' and not 'facts'.
Characteristics are restricted to yesterday's inventory and many potentials
are not even dreamed of.
We can manipulate a lot of circumstances, but be ready for others that may
show up tomorrow - beyond our control.

I agree with Craig (in his response to this same long post):

"...Nothing is absolutely identical to anything else. Nothing is even
identical to itself from moment to moment. Identical is a local
approximation contingent upon the comprehensiveness of sense capacities. If
your senses aren't very discerning, then lots of things seem identical...."

I would add: no TWO events have identical circumstances to face,
even if you do no detect inividual differences in the observed data of
participating entities, the influencing circumstances are different from
instance to instance and call for changes in processes. Bio, or not.

This is one little corner how agnosticism frees up my mind (beware: not
John Mikes

On Mon, Apr 1, 2013 at 9:03 PM, Stathis Papaioannou <>wrote:

> On Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 5:04 AM, Craig Weinberg <>
> wrote:
> >> I find it difficult to understand how you could be thinking about
> >> these things. If I put atoms in the configuration of a duck but as you
> >> claim I don't get a duck, I must have missed something out.
> >
> >
> > Because a duck's life is made of the lives of billions of duck cells,
> and it
> > is a fragment of the lives of all ducks. You are looking along the wrong
> > axis if you want to understand consciousness and feeling - it
> longitudinal
> > through time, not latitudinal across space. You are expecting any set of
> > atoms to have access to the emergent properties of all of biology, but
> that
> > is not necessarily the case at all. An experience can't be built out of
> > unconscious Legos, even if they are moving in some complex
> configuration. If
> > they could, don't you think that we might see some organism evolved to
> > exploit that? Wouldn't it be an obvious survival advantage for an
> organism
> > to carve it's genetic instructions into the sea floor where any future
> > creature could be impregnated just be scanning a their gastropod over a
> > rock?
> Organisms do exploit the ability to repair and build parts, including
> brain parts, from inanimate components, since that is a large part of
> what metabolism involves. It took billions of years to evolve this
> mechanism. Other mechanisms that might have been useful, such as
> rifles to kill predators or prey from a distance, did not evolve.
> However, intelligent creatures evolved with the ability to make tools
> to do this. Intelligent creatures have also recently started making
> tools that synthesise the components of life, such as an arbitrary
> nucleotide or peptide sequence.
> > It doesn't work that way at all though, does it? Biology only ever uses
> > biological vehicles to carry its instruction set - literal pieces of
> itself
> > as a physically present zygote - no 'information', 'configurations', of
> > generic atoms seem to be capable of coming to life or gaining
> consciousness
> > ab initio.
> Biological vehicles are machines that create replacement parts and
> copies of themselves. You are begging the question if you say they are
> not.
> >> For if I
> >> didn't miss anything anything out it would be a duck, right?
> >
> >
> > No, I don't think it would in reality. I understand exactly why in theory
> > most people think that it obviously would, but if I'm right about the
> > relation of life, consciousness, and matter, trying to build a living
> > organism from scratch with atoms will likely fail. The molecules need to
> > have been parts of a living cell, in the same way that you can't turn an
> > Amazon tribesman into a civil engineer without having some contact with
> > someone who has participated in Western civilization. There has to be a
> > willing integration of sense and motive.
> If you tell an Amazon tribesman that you are going to put matter
> together in the exact form of a jaguar he may well say that you will
> get a jaguar, but a tribesman from a neighbouring tribe may say no,
> because it will lack the jaguar spirit. You would go with the second
> tribesman.
> >> So
> >> perhaps the atoms in the duck I made lack the capacity of awareness.
> >
> >
> > No, all atoms have the capacity for awareness...they *are* the capacity
> of
> > awareness on the atomic scale. On the human level they appear atomic but
> > natively there is only experience. The question if not whether atoms have
> > awareness or not is a Red Herring and a straw man. The better question is
> > why can't all atoms generate animal quality experiences. The answer to
> that,
> > I think, is that it is the quality of the experience which drives the
> > appropriate reflection as a public form. The cell is the footprint of the
> > cellular experience through time. The animal body is the corresponding
> home
> > for the animal experience.
> Didn't you agree at one point that all atoms of a certain kind are
> identical?
> > Just as these words are the home of my intent to communicate, their
> > arrangement is composed directly by my intention (filtered through the
> > typos, errors, and constraints of language, grammar, keyboards and
> fingers,
> > brain, etc). These words are not appearing as letters on the screen as a
> > result of some biochemical process that happens to enjoy generating
> letters.
> > There is a whole elaborate network and history of inventions which have
> been
> > intentionally designed by people for this very purpose of expressing
> ideas.
> > The words and letters aren't just inert vehicles, they reflect sense
> back to
> > us in a different way - as the other..and that's what you are mistaking
> for
> > consciousness, IMO.
> You're answering a different question to the one I posed. Not only is
> it common sense, it is also an empirical fact in biology that if you
> put the same matter in the same configuration you get something that
> functions identically, regardless of the history of the matter, and
> regardless of how it is put together. For example, artificial peptides
> function the same as natural peptides. Given that their synthesis is
> completely different, wouldn't you expect a difference in function?
> >> How could I tell
> >> the difference between life-affirming atoms and other atoms? Why is
> >> there no difference in activity between natural and synthetic peptides
> >> such as insulin when used medically if the synthetic one lacks
> >> something?
> >
> >
> > An organism can make use of substances which are not organisms. That
> doesn't
> > mean that an organism will emerge from synthetic substances alone. What
> > about viruses which are weakened or inactivated for vaccines? How can our
> > immune systems create antibodies for one configuration of molecular
> machine
> > which is harmless that are effective for the full strength live virus?
> The dead virus has the same surface proteins, and it is to these that
> the immune response is directed. You can also create an immune
> response using artificial vaccines that had nothing to do with the
> actual virus but were derived from analysing the amino acid sequence
> of the virus. Thus, an immune response against a virus the organism
> has never seen in either live or dead form can be created using just
> the information from the virus.
> >> You make detailed pronouncements about "sense"  and "intention" but
> >> you fail to propose obvious experimental tests for your ideas. A
> >> scientist tries to test his hypothesis by thinking of ways to falsify
> >> it.
> >
> >
> > I came to the notion of sense and intention by familiarity with science
> to
> > begin with. I put together the idea of afferent and efferent nerves with
> the
> > physiology of the brain stem. As Damasio points out this video
> > (
> )
> > damage to the upper part of the brain stem results in a coma, where no
> sense
> > is consciously received, but damage to the lower part of the brain stem
> > results in fully conscious paralysis - sense is present but motor effects
> > are absent.
> >
> > As far as falsifying it, I wouldn't know where to begin. The reason why
> I'm
> > suggesting a completely new understanding of the universe in the first
> place
> > is because I can't find anything wrong with it. The more that I have
> talked
> > to other, the more that I see that they can't find anything wrong with it
> > either, but that they would never admit it if their life depended on it.
> Falsifiability does not mean that a theory is wrong, it means that it
> is a valid scientific theory rather than religious faith. The theory
> makes predictions, the predictions are tested, if they are right this
> strengthens the theory, if not this weakens the theory. A prediction
> you might make, for example, is that an animal will not produce an
> appropriate immune response to an artificial protein since the
> artificial protein is not the same as the protein on the live or once
> live virus. But experiment shows this to be false. What does this
> indicate to you? It's consistent with the idea that organisms are just
> machines, but you may have to adjust your theory to account for it.
> Too many failed predictions and adjustments and you have to consider
> dropping the theory.
> >> A zombie is an entity that passes the Turing test but is not
> >> conscious. So I ask you again, how can you be sure that people other
> >> than you are not zombies?
> >
> >
> > In my example of the interactive video + human conspirators, I have shown
> > exactly how an audience can be finessed to give an inanimate object the
> > benefit of the doubt on par with a high Turing score.
> So you *do* believe in zombies. So I ask you again, how do you know
> that other people are not inanimate objects which are fooling their
> audience?
> >> Which means you must have left something out in making the cell the
> >> way you did, which brings to mind a whole lot of experimental tests to
> >> verify this.
> >
> >
> > No, you assume an ingredient where there is none. If someone goes to
> France
> > for a month and their identical twin does not, there is no Franceness
> which
> > could be transplanted from the first twin to the second twin. The first
> > twin's clothes would undoubtedly contain fibers and dust which could be
> > forensically identified as being from that part of the world, but
> spraying
> > the second twin's clothes with that same dust, or meticulously placing
> it in
> > the same places on an identical jacket would not cause the second twin to
> > have spontaneously visited France.
> What you have left out when you make the cell, obviously, is the
> history of the biological cell. But this is the question being asked:
> does the history have any effect on the cell, so that the artificial
> cell does not work the same as the natural cell? If so, then the
> history must impart some essential ingredient which the artificial
> cell lacks. If not, then despite their different histories the cells
> will behave identically.
> > Let's say you could know everything about a brain and do anything to a
> brain
> > that you wanted to. You take all of the changes in Twin One's brain and
> > adapt them to find an equivalent expression in Twin Two's brain... Does
> Twin
> > Two now have a memory of being Twin One in France, or of being
> themselves in
> > France. What about the memories which took place during that month and
> all
> > of the memories of memories, associations, and repercussions of what
> > happened during that time?
> If you put Twin Two's brain in the configuration of Twin One's brain
> then Twin Two will have exactly the same memories as Twin One. In a
> sense this happens to Twin One naturally. Over the course of months
> the matter in his body is replaced so that you could say Twin One did
> not really go to France. However, the information is still encoded in
> his brain (since information is not dependent on a particular lump of
> matter) so that he has the memories of going to France and honestly
> believes he has gone to France.
> >> But you're not saying the cell won't work because an error has been
> >> made, you're saying it won't work because it's artificial. Which
> >> brings to mind a whole lot of experimental tests to verify this.
> >
> >
> > No, I'm saying it won't work because it doesn't represent the right
> quality
> > of experience. Tofu isn't turkey. Not because tofu is artificial turkey,
> but
> > because one a cake of fermented soy and the other is a cooked bird.
> But carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen etc. atoms configured as a
> roast turkey will be indistinguishable from the traditional form of
> roast turkey. If you found a cheap way to do this you could put turkey
> farmers out of business.
> > What I am saying is that atoms have no capacity to make living cells on
> > their own. It is the intentions of higher quality experiences which are
> > represented as living cells. Molecules make atoms as much as atoms make
> > molecules, and cells make molecules as much as molecules make cells. The
> > universe is multivalent, multi-level, and mutli-directional, but the
> > unexpected part is that if you choose any particular level or direction
> to
> > base your model of it from, it will appear to disqualify the
> others...that's
> > because we are not a voyeur looking at the universe from a distance, but
> > rather embedded participants whose sanity itself supervenes on
> expectations
> > and bias.
> What I am saying is that living cells are just a mechanism to put the
> right atoms in the right configuration. If it can be done differently
> the end result will be the same. This is consistent with all the
> empirical evidence.
> >> If you disagree
> >> with this a whole lot of experiments come to mind to verify your
> >> hypothesis, so perhaps you could suggest some.
> >
> >
> > If you can think of an experiment which doesn't inherently validate the
> > prejudice of the experimenter, I'm all ears.
> A simple experiment is to introduce an artificial substance into an
> organism, a protein or other large molecule, and see what happens.
> Your prediction could be that there would be some change or deficit in
> function, and this should be observable.
> >> No, my consciousness is not obvious. An alien scientist could give a
> >> complete account of why my arm moved in mechanistic terms without
> >> having a clue as to whether I am conscious or not.
> >
> >
> > Why are you asking the alien what is obvious about your own experience of
> > yourself? You really cannot seem to conceive of the universe other than a
> > collection of objects. What if you lost the ability to see or feel your
> body
> > for the rest of your life? What would the universe be for you?
> Because I know I am conscious. I am arguing that this consciousness
> does not directly impinge on the physics of my body. If it did, then
> the alien scientist would be able to find evidence of it.
> Consciousness would not be private, and we could examine any object or
> system to determine empirically if it is conscious, rather than guess
> by analogy with our own experience, which is currently what we have to
> go on. You could apply this test to machines and everyone would have
> to concede that you are right.
> >> If I jump up and
> >> down and insist I am conscious he will be able to explain that also in
> >> mechanistic terms. Just as you say the computer passing the Turing
> >> test is no indication it is conscious, so the alien scientist can say
> >> of you passing the Turing test he puts you through.
> >
> >
> > Of course, but why is your own authority not sufficient to validate your
> own
> > consciousness in your own estimation?
> It is of course enough to validate my own consciousness in my own
> estimation, but the question is how to convince the alien; or how the
> alien could convince me that it is conscious.
> >> The bear causes visual, auditory, perhaps olfactory stimuli which then
> >> result in a series of neural events. How else could it possibly
> >> happen?
> >
> >
> > How does that jibe with "There can never, ever be a difference between
> the
> > anion and cation concentration unless the different entities move there
> > through simple diffusion or through selective ion channels."?
> >
> > If the sound of my voice can cause a neurological response just like the
> > sound of a bear does, then why wouldn't the sound of my voice cause
> > neurological responses in myself? If the sound can do that, then why
> can't
> > the electrical activity which causes my larynx to make that sound also
> make
> > some part of my brain secrete a hormone? Voila, the speaker of words
> which
> > cause neural reactions in others has become the thinker of thoughts which
> > cause neural reactions in herself.
> I'm not sure what exactly you're saying but if you make a bear sound
> to yourself it's not the same as convincingly pretending to be a bear
> to someone else, since you know you are pretending. But if you were
> badly demented, perhaps you could scare yourself with a bear sound.
> That is "causing a neural reaction in yourself" but this does not mean
> what you seem to think it means. A self-driving car primed to stop
> when it sees a red light could be confused if it sees a reflection of
> its own braking lights; is that evidence that the car "causes an
> electromechanical reaction in itself"? Yes, you could say it is - but
> I doubt that you think that is anything special.
> >> So please explain limiting yourself for clarity to a single protein in
> >> the brain: how does it change its shape without being pushed by the
> >> mechanistic stimuli painstakingly worked out by biochemists?
> >
> >
> > The same way we move our bodies. They twist themselves in response to
> their
> > environment. Or it could be that it is the cell which is orchestrating
> the
> > entire movement from above, like a cymatic resonator. Probably a bit of
> > both.
> The protein will twist itself in response to its environment.
> Environmental stimuli include temperature, pH, ionic concentration,
> electric fields due to transmembrane voltage differences, and binding
> of ligands. If there are other factors they will be discoverable by
> experiment, even if currently unknown. Each of these causal factors in
> turn will have other physical factors causing them.
> >> No papers rule it out - it is in fact possible, as I have taken pains
> >> to explain. It's just that there is no evidence for it. The papers you
> >> cite do not show what you think they show.
> >
> >
> > I think that the papers I cite show what you think they don't show.
> Beyond
> > that it's just not plausible to me that even though all of civilization
> has
> > been an intentional struggle against entropy and nature, somehow we have
> > been simply floating passively in the breeze of biochemistry the whole
> time.
> You haven't explained why this is incredible to you. It is consistent
> with all the known facts, so you have to find some very strong
> counterevidence against it.
> >> What exactly do you mean by "spontaneously"? Do you mean that a sodium
> >> ion will suddenly appear out of nowhere?
> >
> >
> > No, I mean that the excitement of a some experience will be reflected in
> > many ways on many levels - molecular, cellular, somatic. Nothing appear
> out
> > of nowhere except the excitement which insists on these many levels
> > simultaneously - mechanically, organically, semantically.
> So how does the sodium ion get anywhere if not pushed or pulled by
> something? How is the sodium ion in the cell fundamentally different
> from a sodium ion in a beaker of water?
> >> > Here's a chart I put together last night on the difference between the
> >> > conventional perception model and mine:
> >> >
> >>
> >> It doesn't explain how doors or ion channels open "spontaneously" in
> >> response to will.
> >
> >
> > The same way they open in response to a bear's photons and acoustic
> > compressions. You have amputated your self from the brain to begin with,
> so
> > you can't see that obviously our will directly controls the chemistry of
> our
> > own nervous system. You can't amputate the bear so you just allow it all
> of
> > the causal efficacy in physics which you deny to intention, emotion, and
> > thought. Somehow you aren't seeing proprietary presence as possible in
> the
> > universe even though it is impossible to deny since you are nothing but
> > proprietary presence itself.
> Whatever you say about "proprietary essence", it is of no scientific
> consequence unless you can show evidence that it causes even one
> sodium ion to go where it wouldn't have gone following blind physical
> rules.
> >> If I have
> >> absolutely, definitely made up my mind, bought the airline tickets,
> >> and have absolutely no doubt that I will go to China I can still look
> >> forward to going there, and I don't know what it will be like there.
> >> That something is determined and that I know it is determined does not
> >> mean that it doesn't matter.
> >
> >
> > You're smuggling in this universe of intentionality into the thought
> > experiment which has none. It's like you are telling me that a hat is
> still
> > useful if you don't have head because you still wouldn't want to get your
> > hair wet. If you truly lived in a universe where all was determined or
> > random (aka unintentional), then there is no coherent concept of
> something
> > being determined or not. There are only events witnessed passively by
> > epiphenomenal spectators. Without any history of participation in the
> > environment, there could be no learning or orientation to your sense -
> you
> > would be watching a movie produced by mollusks.
> I'm pointing out that your argument that nothing would matter if it
> were determined is false. Things matter greatly to us even when we
> (and even you) believe them to be determined.
> --
> Stathis Papaioannou
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