On Saturday, April 6, 2013 5:01:49 AM UTC-4, stathisp wrote:
> On Sat, Apr 6, 2013 at 10:51 AM, Craig Weinberg 
> <whats...@gmail.com<javascript:>
> > wrote:
>> On Friday, April 5, 2013 6:47:00 PM UTC-4, stathisp wrote:
>>> On Fri, Apr 5, 2013 at 11:35 AM, Craig Weinberg 
>>> <whatsons...@gmail.com>wrote:
>>> Why are all of your actions "obviously" due to subconscious influences? 
>>>>>> If that were the case why would personal awareness exist?
>>>>> Your actions are due to physical processes in your brain which move 
>>>>> your muscles, but you are not actually aware of these physical processes. 
>>>> How can you be any more aware of those processes than by being them?
>>> Because I have no idea that these processes are going on, or even that I 
>>> have a brain. Why do you think people used to believe that they think with 
>>> their hearts, or with their immaterial soul? 
>> People thought that because they tried to explain private physics in the 
>> terms of public physics instead of understanding it in its own terms. You 
>> already are aware of the relevant aspects of your brain function, and aware 
>> of them in a way which is a million times more detailed than any fMRI could 
>> ever be. The problem is that you are making the same mistake that the 
>> immaterialists make only in reverse. You begin with absolute certainty in 
>> what instruments have shown us of the outside of matter to the extent that 
>> you doubt what your own native senses tell you about the inside of matter.
> You use the word "subconscious" differently to the way most people do. 
> Most processes in your body occur subconsciously in the conventional sense 
> of the word. It makes it difficult to participate in a discussion when you 
> redefine words. At least make it explicit when you do so.

Point taken - in general I do tend to blurt based on my own worked-through 
understanding of things, but I do that intentionally because its a way for 
me to see if they fit with all of the rest of what is being discussed. It's 
a way of beta-testing the the deeper implications of the concept. In this 
case, however, I'm not sure that I'm using subconscious in a different way, 
its that I'm challenging how you are using "your" in "all of your actions 
are obviously due to subconscious influences". To me, using that 'your' to 
mean the behavior of your body is an ideologically loaded presumption.  The 
body becomes your body through private conscious association (you will let 
people do surgery on your body since by being unconscious, it is not really 
your body at the time as far as your personal awareness is concerned). It 
is a generic public artifact which is not just subconscious, but actually 
devoid of all private content. It is an impersonal presentation of a 
particular slice of biological history made temporarily interactive...or 
that's how it appears from the outside anyhow.

>>  You seem stuck on the belief that it is not possible to be conscious if 
>>> the processes leading to consciousness are deterministic, random or 
>>> subconscious. As a matter of logical deduction, this is false. It is 
>>> possible for a thing to have qualities different from its parts.
>> This would be a case where the intentional would have to come from its 
>> complete opposite -  from the unintentional (determined and random), which 
>> could happen theoretically, but not in a universe which had no use for 
>> intention. A universe where intentionality is fundamental can pretend to be 
>> unintentional, but unintentional can't pretend to be anything. 
>> Unintentional is anesthetic and has no plausible use for intention.
> It sounds again like something you have just made up. What's worse, you 
> present it as certain or self-evident. 

It is an understanding of what seems certain and self-evident. It's no more 
or less made up than any such understanding that any scientist or 
philosopher has ever had.

>> Why does the universe need to hae a "use" for something? Who made this 
>>> rule?
>> It's not a rule it's reason. If there were no fish in the water, there 
>> would be no such thing as gills. If there were gills on a cow, then that 
>> would be weird, especially if someone was saying that gills are an illusion.
> The universe is not conscious and doesn't care. 

Here you use the same ideology. The universe then either cannot include 
you, or you are not conscious and don't care. Which is it?

We could be wiped out tomorrow by an asteroid hit and everything else would 
> continue as before. Perhaps life and intelligence will evolve again, 
> perhaps they won't.

Yes, the universe is a dynamic, multi-level syzygy of private intentional 
sequences and public unintentional consequences. Not everything knows or 
cares about human beings or planet Earth but that doesn't mean that 
consciousness and caring isn't as real as helium or the Andromeda galaxy.

>>  And what difference does it make if you say intentionality is 
>>> fundamental or emergent? It could be a fundamental fact that consciousness 
>>> will emerge when matter is organised in particular ways.
>> The difference is that the argument that intention must be reduced to 
>> determinism or randomness doesn't make any sense but it makes perfect sense 
>> that intention would be fundamental and determinism and randomness would 
>> naturally arise as perceptual fictions. The idea that consciousness will 
>> emerge from an organization of inanimate, unconscious matter (which makes 
>> no sense to begin with since there is no real way to conceive of a universe 
>> devoid of all detection and presentation) is just a religious faith with no 
>> explanatory power at all. Why not just say that when there are a trillion 
>> customers at the galactic WalMart that consciousness appears on a random 
>> planet.
> Because it is an observed fact that consciousness is associated with 
> certain complex arrangements of matter. 

So what? World War II was associated with certain complex arrangements of 
matter also, but that doesn't mean you could understand, define, or 
replicate World War II that way. Matter is nothing at all but a way of 
organizing experiences of public perspectives on different scales by 
frequency and size. It is a way for eternity to be present explicitly as 
forms and functions as well as implicitly as perceptions and 
participations. The forms and arrangements of them are irrelevant from an 
absolute perspective. In this final phase of the Western approach, we are 
like RainMan having an OCD attack as we recite Who's On First about 
wavefunctions and ion channels. It is only important to us locally, for 
medicine and engineering, but cosmologically it is a dead end. This 
conversation is associated with certain IP addresses, certain routers and 
switches, certain video screens and GUIs - but that has nothing to do with 
what is generating the conversation at all. Not even a little bit. Trying 
to make a new conversation by using statistical models between these 
screens and routers without any human users involved is idiiotic. It is 
like a sculpture of an uninhabited city.

> If consciousness were fundamental then why would it need this complex 
> arrangement? 

It's only complex where there is a complex experience, like an animal. It 
doesn't need to have complexity, but it wants increasing richness and 
significance, and complexity is the public expression of that. 


> Why would it persist in much the same way despite a complete replacement 
> of the matter? Why would it be disrupted with relatively small structural 
> changes in the matter? 

Because as a vertebrate, we are really out on a limb as far as pushing the 
envelope of sensory elaboration. To get to this depth of privacy, it is 
sort of like how forging a samurai sword must be folded over and over to 
incorporate the oxygen and carbon into the steel. We are deeeeply embedded 
in forms within forms and functions within functions. It as if all kinds of 
agreements are in place on different levels - zoologically, biologically, 
psychologically, that for a time they will all suffer together to have this 
human lifetime show - all of these noble influences going back billions of 
years are sort of kneeling so that for a time a human person can become 
relevant...as long as you get burned, buried, or eaten at the end :)

>>  In order to decide if free will exists the first thing is to understand 
>>>>> what is meant by the term. If it means "I choose to do what I want I do" 
>>>>> then free will exists. If it means something else such as "neither 
>>>>> determined nor random" then it doesn't exist.
>>>> What do you claim is the difference between choosing to do what you 
>>>> want to do and acting as a physical phenomenon which is intentional rather 
>>>> than unintentional (determined or random)?
>>> I don't accept your claim that "intentional" (either in the common sense 
>>> or the philosophical sense) is incompatible with the phenomenon being 
>>> determined or random. It seems to be something you just made up and present 
>>> as self-evident, which it certainly is not.
>> You don't accept it but you have no reason to offer for your opinion. I 
>> present my view as self-evident because to me it certainly is. It's funny 
>> for you to talk about 'making things up' since that is certainly a thing 
>> which makes no sense in an unintentional universe.
> I have a good reason for my opinion:
>>> Fact 1 accepted by everyone: we are conscious.
>>> Fact 2 accepted by everyone except you: everything that happens in the 
>>> universe is either determined or random.
>> "Everyone" meaning like three people on this list? 
> No, everyone who understands the conventional meaning of the terms 
> "determined" and "random". Perhaps you are excluded because you have your 
> own private definition for these words.
>> A lot of people think that the universe does not include their own life. 
>> They conceive of the universe from the view from nowhere, like some perfect 
>> diorama which exists in an observation bubble. When presented with real 
>> opportunities to participate in the world, nobody thinks that what they eat 
>> for lunch is determined by physics or random, they personally contribute to 
>> their own lunch experience and the universe fully supports that. It does 
>> not require any metaphysical powers that defy the laws of gravity, we 
>> simply weigh the various influences which are available to us and settle on 
>> what we prefer, or create a new idea. Then we move through the world 
>> directly to get what we want to eat for lunch. There is no physical agenda 
>> which shows up on an fMRI which says 'yep, this is brainstem for pastrami 
>> sandwich. He has no choice but to get a pastrami sandwich.
> I think even those people who have the sort of belief you describe would 
> accept that everything that happens in the universe including activity in 
> their brains is either determined or random, assuming they understand the 
> usual meaning of those words. 

If that's true it's only because they haven't considered their own actions 
as part of the universe.

> They would also accept that they are conscious, since that has nothing to 
> do with whether their brains are determined or random. 

Well, if the brain were determined or random, consciousness would be 
completely superfluous and unexplainable really. Consciousness could only 
contribute to evolutionary success if it had causally efficacious dominion 
over the actions of the body - above and beyond the default biological 
agendas of its tissues and cells.

> They may or may not accept that they have free will, since unlike 
> "determined" and "random" that term is not universally defined the same 
> way. So some will say that if the world is determined we lack free will 
> while others will say that if the world is determined we have free will; 
> and others will say that if the world is random we have free will while 
> others will say that if the world is random we lack free will. Then there 
> are those, like John, who will say that free will is an incoherent concept.

It's strange to me to be thinking in terms of what other people say. To me 
that only matters if it seems they are right. My view is the only view that 
seems even remotely plausible. The idea that free will is some difficult 
problem is laughably absurd to me now, although only a few years ago, I 
also could only see that will could only be a passive response to 
conditions. Until I asked - if that were true, why and how could anything 
respond at all? What would such a phenomenon be doing in a universe of 
automatic public functions? Privacy...intention..., what's that?

>> Conclusion: hence, consciousness is compatible with a deterministic or 
>>> random universe.
>> That's your argument? "Everyone" thinks there is no free will (using 
>> their free will, of course) so there must not be. Wow. How could any 
>> religious fundamentalist have an argument that was any worse than that. 
>> Seriously, here's how that would go.
>> I have a good reason for my opinion:
>> Fact 1 accepted by everyone: it is good that we are conscious.
>> Fact 2 accepted by everyone except you: everything that happens in the 
>> universe is either determined by God or the Devil.
> Not everyone thinks there is no free will, but everyone thinks they are 
> conscious and almost everyone thinks that the world is either determined or 
> random

No. Not 'almost everyone thinks that the world is either determined or 
random'. I think that if you look at the worlds population of seven 
billion, you would find that the overwhelming majority think that the world 
is undetermined except by spiritual powers. If you look at the history of 
humanity, that majority probably becomes almost total. Only a very small 
portion of cloistered moderns educated in the European Enlightenment 
disciplines could sustain the idea that the universe is an empty machine.

> , since that comes from the normal definition of these words. 

Definitions are good for legal contracts, that's about it. Nobody's 
thoughts 'come from the normal definitions' of words. 

The existence of God and the Devil does not follow from the definition of 
> the words.

The existence of God and the Devil are taken for granted in my example, 
just as the existence of determinism and randomness are taken for granted 
in yours. The argument you provide is every bit as invalid and arbitrary as 
the one that I constructed for comparison.


> -- 
> Stathis Papaioannou 

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