On Wed, Apr 10, 2013 at 5:57 PM, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:
> On 4/10/2013 1:36 PM, Terren Suydam wrote:
>> This is close to an idea I have been mulling over for some time... that
>> the source of the phenomenological feeling of pleasure is in some way
>> identified with decreases in entropy, and pain is in some way identified
>> with increases in entropy. It is a way to map the subjective experience of
>> pain and pleasure to a 3p description of, say, a nervous system.
> You will just further muddle the meaning of entropy.
> Damage to the body (associated with pain) can usually (always?) be
>> characterized in terms of a sudden increase in entropy of the body.
> Consider dribbling some liquid nitrogen on your skin. Hurts doesn't it.
> But the entropy of your body is (locally) reduced. The pain comes from
> neurons sending signals to your brain. They use a tiny amount of free
> energy to do this which increases the entropy of your body also. Your
> brain receives a few bits of information about the pain which represent an
> infinitesimal decrease in entropy if your brain was in a state uncertainty
> about whether your body hurt.
Agree. I am abandoning the idea of entropy in the chemistry sense in light
of Telmo's and your objections. However, there may be a way to
characterize the mind - i.e. "the software that runs on the brain
architecture" in objective terms (such as the information-theoretic notion
of entropy) that might yield possible mappings to subjective feelings of
pain and pleasure. I subscribe to the idea that we only experience our
internally constructed world, so it seems possible to abandon "physical"
entropy without sacrificing the idea of a mental entropy.
> Perhaps this is also true in the mental domain, so that emotional loss
>> (or e.g. embarrassment) can also be characterized as an increase in entropy
>> of one's mental models, but this is pure speculation.
> It hardly even rises to speculation unless you have some idea of how to
> quantify and test it.
Sure. Our understanding of the emergent dynamics of neural activity is
still pretty meager. But as I am assuming comp, I therefore assume that
there is a lawful, deterministic relationship among these emergent dynamics
as well (a determinism that is orthogonal to the determinism of ion
channels etc) - and so I find it entirely plausible that one could quantify
and test the higher level dynamics, in the same way that you could make a
study of the causal relationships among patterns that emerge on a "Game of
I think one of the more important areas of research is characterizing these
emergent dynamics from the bottom up, modeling them, and then proceeding to
the next level of emergent dynamics. My hunch is that there are several
such emergent layers, corresponding with structures that scale up
eventually to the size of the entire brain, resulting in chains of
supervenience. Psychology is the study of the highest layers - we need to
connect them to the lower layers. Without that understanding we will never
truly understand how drugs affect our psychology, for example. With that
understanding we will have a much better grasp of the mechanism of mind,
how to predict it, etc.
> The case is even harder to make with pleasure. It would be weird if it
>> were true, but so far it is the only way I know of to map pleasure and pain
>> onto anything objective at all.
> Damasio proposes that pleasure and pain map into levels of various
> hormones as well as neural activity.
This may be true, and yield useful insights, but still just shifts the
burden of explanation onto something else.
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