On Sun, Apr 7, 2013 at 1:20 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> 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.

It does mean you could replicate World War II if you replicate the
complex arrangement of matter. It does not mean you would necessarily
understand it if you replicated it, any more than a photocopier
understands the image it is copying. But if the photocopier were
technically very good, the copy could be arbitrarily close to the
original in the opinion of anyone who *did* understand it. Similarly,
if you replicated World War II to a close enough tolerance the
observers inside the replication would understand it and an external
observer would understand it.

> 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.

Matter is, indeed, not absolutely important for mind. What is
important is the functional arrangement of matter. If this is
replicated, the mind is replicated. This happens in the course of
normal physiology, whereby all the matter in your body is replaced
with different matter from the food you eat, but you still feel that
you are you.

>> 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.

But why would a complex experience require a complex arrangement of
matter? If the experience is primary it does not explain why, whereas
if the experience supervenes on the complex arrangement it does.

>> 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 :)

The influences going back billions of years are just the means to
create organisms now alive. It took billions of years of evolution to
create cars, but if a car randomly fell together from scrap iron and
so on in the exact form of a Toyota Corolla, it would function exactly
the same as a Toyota Corolla despite never seeing the inside of a
Toyota factory.

>>>> 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.

But you have stated repeatedly and forcefully that I am using a straw
man argument when I say you believe that consciousness is causally
efficacious and therefore should be observed to be so in experiment!

>> 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?

What you don't understand is that free will is defined differently by
different people, both philosophers and laypeople. There is not just
one definition. You choose your own definition, which is OK, but you
paint yourself into a corner because you are forced to say that free
will does not exist once you understand that
neither-determined-nor-random is impossible.

>> 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.

But if the world is determined by spiritual powers those spiritual
powers make decisions that are either determined - fixed for all time,
i.e. fatalism - or random - not fixed, not predictable, fickle. If God
is making decisions for us then our behaviour could be determined but
non-computable. Determined but not computable is a legitimate
category, since there are non-computable functions, and in fact Roger
Penrose proposes that our brains utilise exotic non-computable physics
using such functions. It is possible, but there is no evidence for it.
Neither-determined-nor-random is impossible.

>> , 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.

But if we are talking about cats and your concept of a cat is everyone
else's concept of a dog, there is a problem. I wonder if you are
mixing up your cats and dogs when you claim that it is obvious that
our brains are neither determined nor random.

>> 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.

The existence of determinism and randomness does not require
scientific investigation, like God, the Devil or consciousness
directly acting on matter. They exist insofar as the universe exists
and there is at least one change in it, for that change must a priori
be either determined or random. If you don't agree then you probably
have a different understanding of these words.

Stathis Papaioannou

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