On Sunday, April 7, 2013 3:46:04 AM UTC-4, stathisp wrote:
> On Sun, Apr 7, 2013 at 1:20 AM, Craig Weinberg 
> <whats...@gmail.com<javascript:>> 
> 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. 

Your view assumes that time is a generic plenum of duration, while I 
understand that it is precisely the opposite. Time is proprietary and 
unrepeatable subjective content. Experiences can be inspected and 
controlled publicly to a limited extent but no single event or collection 
of events can be repeated in the absolute sense since all events are 
eventually intertwined causally with all others. You want to make this 
about arrangements of matter but it is about experiences of time.

> > 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. 

By that assumption, if I arrange styrofoam balls in the shape of the 
molecules of a cheeseburger, then a gigantic person would be able to eat it 
and it would taste like a cheeseburger. If that were true, then we should 
see the same arrangements over and over again - giant ants the size of a 
planet, etc. Arrangement is only important because of the properties of 
what you are arranging. If you arrange inert blobs, then all that you can 
ever get is larger, more complex arrangements of inert blobs. No mind is 
present in arrangement.

> 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. 

That's because your lifetime is made of subjective experience, and 
experience is publicly accessible in a limited way as forms and functions. 
Your view confuses the vehicle of life with a producer of life. 

> >> 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?

It doesn't require it, that is just the inevitable embodiment of it. If you 
want to play baseball, you play on a baseball diamond. The baseball diamond 
doesn't conjure baseball players to the field out of the aether (only in 
the dreams of Kevin Costner and functionalists does 'Build it and they will 
come." work out.).

> If the experience is primary it does not explain why, whereas 
> if the experience supervenes on the complex arrangement it does. 

The experience is primary, and why is to allow complex interactions and 
experiences as a kind of trellis to extend aesthetic qualities. If the 
experience supervenes on arrangement then you have to explain why there is 
any experience there to begin with, what it is, and how it comes to attach 
itself to 'arrangements'. You can't do that, but nobody can because it's 

> >> 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.

Why do you think that there is a "now"? What causes it and where does it 
come from? Aren't the organisms now alive just the means to create 
organisms which will live in the future?

> 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. 

That's because the Toyota doesn't feel like anything. If it did, then it 
would not feel like a Toyota since it had never been inside of a Toyota 
factory. It would, in the absence of other cars, roads, garages, etc feel 
like a collection of scrap iron would feel.

> >>>> 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! 

Consciousness is causally efficacious and it is observed to be so in every 
experiment already. It is not interpreted that way because nobody yet 
suspects that matter itself is literally nothing but the public face of 
private nested experiences. We keep looking for a Lapis Medicorum - some 
kind of active ingredient which translates the functioning of forms into 
sensory experience, but we will never find it because forms and functions 
are already nothing but sensory-motor experiences as experienced from a 

> >> 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.

I know that, but that doesn't mean that there is not a clear and singular 
understanding which they are missing.

> 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. 

I'm not just picking my own fun definition, I am proposing a total 
reinterpretation of physics. Within that reinterpretation, how we view free 
will is indeed flexible and actually impacts your participation in the 
outside world, but that is only possible if we understand that at the root, 
the nature of physics allows that very flexibility because free will is the 
very fabric of nature.

> >> 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.

That's up to the spiritual powers. They decide whether to stick to their 
word as law or to make laws of their changing whims. It's no different than 
a king. Some kings are capricious and cruel, some are enlightened, some are 
the former at some times and the latter in others. The king doesn't have to 
choose when he is crowned whether his decisions are fixed for all time or 
unpredictable - that's kind of the important thing about being the king, 
you get to 'have it your way'.

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. 

The king is neither determined nor random, he is intentional or 
unintentional. Determined or random are both opposite poles of 
unintentional. The more that we argue about this, the more obvious to me it 
is that my view is absolutely correct, and that yours is clearly lacking 
any realism or deep consideration. Why is it the law that intention must be 

> >> , 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.

Yes, everyone else needs to reconsider their concept of a dog and see if 
mine is better. The problem is if they don't care about the truth and 
insist on science being a popularity contest.

> 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. 

Our brains are going to appear determined or random but if you try to 
reproduce a brain based on that, it will not match the behavior of a human 
brain over time, because our intention is constantly changing the behavior 
of the brain. The appearance of the brain is not the territory of 
consciousness, it is the roadmap. 

> >> 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. 

If the first change in the universe has nothing before it, then it cannot 
be determined, and if it is random then it exists in meaningless isolation. 
Why can't you conceive of intention? You are using it every waking moment, 
all of your life. You are choosing what words to use, what ideas to 
express, based on your personal preference. You are using your brain and 
fingers and keyboard to extend your private agenda into the public world. 
No complex arrangement of particles cares about that, they are doing 
mechanical routines, shadowing your intentions and intensity. It goes the 
other way too - you can get tired, and those complex arrangements can pile 
up instructions in some queue, and that puts you on the receiving 
end...still, there is no tiredness unless there is an aesthetically 
motivated participant to feel tired. A machine is not motivated and not 
aesthetic, so it can know no tiredness and will work until it breaks itself 
any time it is set to do so.


> Stathis Papaioannou 

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