On Thu, Apr 11, 2013 at 1:17 AM, Craig Weinberg
> On Wednesday, April 10, 2013 9:22:10 AM UTC-4, stathisp wrote:
>> On Tue, Apr 9, 2013 at 12:18 AM, Craig Weinberg <whats...@gmail.com>
>> >> Where do you get the idea that subjective events cannot repeat? It
>> >> seems another thing that you've just made up, with no rational
>> >> justification.
>> > Subjective events cannot literally repeat for the same reason that
>> > historical events cannot literally repeat and you cannot step into the
>> > river twice. All conditions are constantly changing so that it is
>> > for every condition to be reproduced in a given frame of experience
>> > what frames private experience is the relation with every other
>> > in the history of the universe, and to an eternity ahead.
>> My current experience is due to the current configuration of my brain,
> But the current configuration of your brain "is due" to the current events
> in your life.
Yes, and the milk is in the refrigerator because I put it there, but if
someone else put it there, or if it miraculously materialised there, the
milk would still be in the refrigerator.
> and the current configuration of my brain is due to the preceding
> Then you rule out any possibility of perception or interaction with
> anything outside of your brain. Your brain is basically a slime mold in the
Brain configuration at T2 is determined by the configuration C1 at T1 +
external influences at T1 + transition rules.
The current configuration is due to the preceding
>> configurations because of the deterministic causal chain which you
>> discount. But even without this causal chain, if the current
>> configuration repeats due to chance at some future point, the
>> experience would repeat.
> That's your assumption. My understanding is that no experience can ever
> repeat. How could it? Every particle is always decaying at different rates
> in different combinations which cannot be controlled. Even if one
> phenomenon were to precisely repeat, the context in which is has repeated
> is different, so that the overall event is not repeated. Configurations of
> matter don't repeat, but they can echo.
It is known from quantum mechanics that a given volume of space has a
finite number of possible configurations. This number can be calculated:
the Bekenstein bound. So there is only a finite number of brain states that
you can have if your brain remains finite in size, and this number is far,
far greater than the number of mental states you can have since most
possible brain states do not correlate with mental states (eg., if your
brain is mashed in a blender). If you can only have a finite number of
brain states what would prevent the brain states from repeating?
The causal chain is significant only insofar
>> as it reliably brings about the correct configuration for experiences.
>> A car mechanic is only significant insofar as he reliably fixes a
>> problem with the car, but if the same operation were performed
>> accidentally by a chimpanzee playing with the engine, the car would
>> run just as well.
> That is not the case for free will. If my arm moves without my moving it,
> that would be a spasm. If I imitate that motion for a doctor, it is not
> really a spasm, even though I am reliably bringing about the correct
> configuration to effect the arm motion. Two very different ways to arrive
> at the same function. That means that if you build a system based purely on
> function, there is no way of knowing which ways of accessing those
> functions are present and which are not. To deny this, or remain ignorant
> of it, is like a huge flashing neon sign that the full reality of the
> phenomenon of consciousness has not been considered at all.
How have you addressed the point I made? If the correct configuration of
the brain were arranged, your arm would move as freely and consciously as
you like. The brain configuration for a spasm would be different. That's
why one is a spasm and the other is voluntary movement. To build something
you don't necessarily need to understand it, you just need to arrange
matter in the correct configuration. Cells do this, and they don't
We know that the person is the same regardless of the origin of the
>> matter in their body.
> Huh? What person are you claiming is the same as another person?
A person has atoms from a hamburger in their brain one day and atoms from a
pizza another day, but they remain the same person. The origin of the
matter is not important.
We know that the entire person is rebuilt from
>> alternative matter over the course of normal metabolism and they
>> remain the same person.
> Not all at once though. Any organization can trade a certain number of old
> employees for new employees at a given time - the new employees learn by
> example of existing employees and can be trained by them as well. You
> cannot expect to fire all of the attorneys in a law firm and replace them
> all with construction workers though.
With an organisation the new employees are different from the old ones, but
in biology the atoms replaced are the same regardless of their origin.
> We know that replacing components in a person
>> with artificial analogues, proteins and other small molecules, leaves
>> the person unchanged, and we know that molecules that arise naturally
>> are exactly the same in every respect we have been able to determine
>> as their artificial analogues. We have created bacteria with
>> artificial DNA which function normally.
> From thalidomide to Monsanto's GMO assault, the amount that we don't know
> about biology is surpassed only by our arrogance in denying it. Unless
> something dies or is obviously mutilated horribly in a way which cannot
> easily be denied, we will claim that any new technology "leaves the person
> unchanged". What we really mean is that we can't detect the change yet. The
> human body is too complex to make sweeping generalizations about. It may be
> worth the risk in many cases to use the technologies we have, but that says
> nothing about any kind of principle of absolute replacement. We can
> tolerate a lot of mismatch before it rises to the level of our conscious
> attention. That does not mean that the mismatch is unnoticed on every level.
These concerns are concerns about the limits of technology, while what
you're saying is something completely different: that even something we
agree is chemically identical to the biological product will not function
> We have not yet created an
>> entire organism from scratch but if we did and it didn't work that
>> would be a staggering scientific puzzle implying that something
>> magical is going on,
> What's the difference between not yet creating an entire organism from
> scratch and creating one that didn't work? Every time we send a bold of
> electricity through a flask of primordial soup we are failing to solve this
So if I squeeze a piece of scrap metal in my hand hoping to mimic
conditions in a supernova and convert it into gold, but fail, this
and you would expect that there would be some
>> evidence of this in the other experiements we have done.
> The evidence is that creating a biological organism seems, at this point,
> to be infinitely difficult even as every other kind of chemical reaction is
> straightforwardly reproducible.
It's not *infinitely* difficult. There are the Craig Venter bacteria, for
example, which were made with synthetic DNA. Not organisms made completely
from scratch, but DNA is a pretty important biological component.
> If laundry soap contains all the elements needed to make DNA you
>> should be able to make DNA from it. Artificial DNA is made from
>> various chemicals ultimately derived, I guess, from petroleum and
>> minerals mined from the ground and ammonia synthesised from
>> atmospheric nitrogen.
> If it was all configuration though, then DNA made from aluminum and
> arsenic, or wax and rubber should work just as well.
Wax and rubber would work, but not aluminium and arsenic unless you went to
the trouble of transforming these elements via nuclear reactions.
> >> The organisms now alive purport to create organisms in the future, but
>> >> they might all be wiped out. The universe doesn't care and has no
>> >> purpose or function.
>> > Then by that definition, we cannot be part of the universe since we are
>> > nothing but cares, purposes, and functions.
>> We are part of the universe but we are not identical to the universe.
>> The whole does not necessarily have all the properties of the parts
>> and the parts do not necessarily have all the properties of the whole.
>> The fact that a person is conscious but the chemicals in his body are
>> not conscious is an example of this. You may find this staggering and
>> incredible but it is commonplace.
> That is indeed a staggering and commonplace superstition, but I don't
> think that it holds up in the real universe that we live in. We don't have
> to be identical to the universe to understand that the capacities for life
> or consciousness must be a priori supported by the universe. Your claim is
> that sense could be an accidental product of nonsense. This possibility can
> only be conceived of by a mind which takes sense for granted in the first
> place - which thinks that the definition of position and collision, force
> and time, are simply axiomatic nothingness which can still be considered
> nonsense. I see that it can't clearly enough that you are wasting your time
> if you think you might convince me to indulge in that kind of disoriented
> sophistry again.
> “If you are intelligent and reasonable, you can not be the product of a
> mechanical and meaningless universe.” — Alan Watts
This is just something you have made up. It is manifestly the case that
matter put together in a particular configuration gives rise to life. We
can synthesis all the components of biological systems in the lab, and when
we put these into the original organism, they seem to function normally. We
have created living organisms in the lab, not quite from scratch, but
almost, and they function normally. There is no scientific evidence at all
for an elan vital. You can still believe things for which there is no
scientific evidence, but it makes you seem a crackpot.
If consciousness directly affects matter,
> Matter is nothing but the effect of consciousness from a public
>> that means there should be
>> anomalous physical effects.
> You keep saying that because you don't understand my model. Every physical
> effect in the universe is consciousness on some level and scale. Matter has
> never 'existed' independently of awareness.
Then your model is consistent with the brain following mechanistic physical
> If consciousness is merely supervenient,
>> no such anaomalous effects should be evident. If there are no
>> anomalous physical effects, that means consciousness does not
>> directly, or separately, or in a top-down way affect matter.
> No, it only means that you always assume that bodies in space are real and
> feelings through time are not. I see that there is no such thing as
> objectively real, but rather all phenomena are relativistic participatory
> experiences which are real to the extent that they correlate with other
It could be that the world is a dream, it could be that we are living in a
simulation, it could be that we are systematically deceived by Satan:
nevertheless, in the world as it appears to us consciousness is
supervenient, and if it did not we would notice magical effects in
> What you
>> want to see is a physiological process that science tells us should
>> not occur suddenly and spontaneously occurring - so you could point to
>> it and say that that is consciousness doing it.
> No. For the 15,000th time. You are arguing with a straw man. What is it
> that you think consciousness is not doing? What process in the cosmos do
> you have evidence for as existing independently from awareness?
For the 15,000th time: every physical event in a brain is completely
explained by mechanistic physical laws. If it were not, we would see
magical effects in experiments, such as electric fields appearing
spontaneously across cell membranes. You would say it's not magic, it's
consciousness doing this, but it would APPEAR as magic to scientists, who
cannot directly see consciousness in cells. But no such effects are
> Otherwise there is no
>> evidence to an external observer of consciousness playing any causal
>> role at all.
> This conversation is that evidence. Our consciousness is playing the
> causal role in the content of these words and sentences. They are not
> generic biochemical farts amplified by an electronic switching system. They
> have no other purpose than to express our personal intentions and ideas -
> our sense and motive. How can you claim otherwise? It's as if you have
> jabbed your eyes out and now announce that it proves that there is no such
> thing as sight.
This conversation occurs due to the chemical reactions in our brains. The
chemical reactions are both necessary and sufficient for the conversation
> Without evidence of such state
>> transitions occurring, consciousness is merely supervenient with no
>> separate or direct or top-down causal efficacy of its own.
> You think that your view is humble and scientific - acknowledging that our
> perception, flawed as it is, supervenes on an ocean of complex
> interactions. What it leaves out though, is that everything in the universe
> can be said to supervene on other oceans of complexity, until the chain
> ends with primal definitions which are delivered by fiat Law. It's a
> bankrupt ontology. In reality, this is a tremendously anthropocentric view,
> where everything in the universe contributes to physical causation, except
> us. Any dust mote can influence an explosion of sneezing but even the
> greatest charismatic leader is nothing but an ephenomenal residue of
> meaningless interactions on other levels. This view is an implosion of
> realism and presentation in favor of a kind of totalitarian anesthetic
> which has nothing to do with the universe that we actually inhabit. It is
> an upside down model build on an inverted foundation.
You can't create ultimate meaning. At some point, the question will be
asked where this meaning comes from. If God is the source of all meaning,
where does he get his meaning from; if God gets it from nowhere why can't a
Godless universe also get it from nowhere?
> But you ought to see when you look down a microscope cells suddenly
>> doing stuff that science cannot explain; ion gates opening for no
>> apparent reason,
> The apparent reason is that the person decides to do something. You can
> call it magic if you want, but I can create electric current in my forearm
> at will by moving my fingers. Do you deny this?
>> electric fields appearing out of nowhere, and so on.
> Haha. Where is it that you think electric 'fields' normally appear from?
In cells electric fields generally appear due to the potential difference
across membranes, and this potential difference is due to the difference
between positive and negative ion concentrations. The ion concentrations
are set by multiple mechanisms such as simple osmosis and passive and
active ion channels. These factors are well-studied and well-understood. If
you decide to move your finger, there will be a clear chain of
electrochemical events behind the decision and the subsequent action. If
this chain of events is not followed - if you decide to move your finger
and then all of a sudden, even though the ionic concentrations are
unchanged, the magnitude of the electric field across the membrane
increases, that would be miraculous. It would make the general news as well
as scientific news.
> >> How would the king know if his decision was determined or not? You
>> >> seem to have an incredibly naive faith here. "I feel my decisions are
>> >> not determined, therefore it beyond all doubt that I am right."
>> > If you defer your decisions to sub-personal influences then you simply
>> > the problem down a level. How do you know that any level of determinism
>> > not intentional? Why is your faith in unintentional phenomena which
>> > intentional any less naive than mine? You not only aren't seeing the
>> > for the trees, you aren't even seeing the tree for the cracks in the
>> > There is no possibility of any such feeling as "I feel my
>> decisions...X" in
>> > a universe which is purely unintentional. There are no decisions, just
>> > events flowing one randomly or reflexively into the next. Where are you
>> > getting your assumption from that intentional seeming "decisions" could
>> > exist under determinism?
>> You do believe that the fact that you feel your decisions are not
>> determined means they are in fact not determined.
> No! I am saying it doesn't matter whether they are "in fact" determined or
> not. The fact that we feel anything at all about participation - that we
> can conceive of participation in any way - even in a negative way, is
> absolute evidence that determinism fails. You don't understand why this is,
> but I think it's because you don't care to. In an all white universe,
> nothing can dream of 'off-white'. In a deterministic universe, only
> something which can experience intention can contrast the idea of an
> alternative to determinism.
You said "No" then proceeded to assert that having feelings is evidence
determinism is false! What is it that you think I said which you disagreed
> I am simply stating
>> what you repeatedly assert. You have not shown that this true a
>> priori, but you treat it as if it is.
> You are simply stating what I have never once asserted. My position has
> always been that the facts of free will don't matter, it is the fiction of
> free will which demolishes determinism on its own. Only when you can see
> that, and can see that intention is orthogonal to unintentional determinism
> and randomness can you begin to see how the relativism of chance and choice
> diverge in highly significant participation.
Intention IS orthogonal to determinism and randomness, that's what I have
> >> Intentional and unintentional have absolutely nothing to do with
>> >> determined or random. Whether something is determined or random has to
>> >> do with causality.
>> > And causality has to do with intentional and unintentional. You can
>> > the words all you want, but you cannot possibly account for the feeling
>> > intention in a deterministic universe. There is no argument there, only
>> > misdirection and distraction.
>> You continually insist that this is self-evident, or true a priori,
>> when it is not. Shouldn't other people see it if it self-evident?
> People probably would see it if they were not intentionally blocking it
> out. If anyone honestly looks at the implications of what a purely
> deterministic universe would be like, how it would develop, then the idea
> of an illusion of intentional feeling appearing in the course of that
> development is absurd.
It's not absurd if you're the only one who thinks it's absurd. Saying it is
absurd or self-evident implies that you can get a lot of people to agree
> >> If there is a direct effect of consciousness on the brain there is no
>> >> evidence of it.
>> > The brain exists for no purpose but to support and serve consciousness.
>> > Without consciousness, there can be no brain. What more evidence could
>> > want?
>> If consciousness supervenes on brain activity then consciousness does
>> not directly affect brain activity.
> Consciousness doesn't supervene on brain activity. Brain activity
> influences the content of consciousness and the public effects of
> consciousness are represented by brain activity.
But consciousness does not affect brain activity contrary to the mechanical
laws which you disdain.
The reason for the supervenience
>> thesis in the first place is that consciousness is not directly
> Except, you know, in every waking moment for every person who has ever
> lived. All things are directly observed through consciousness. Nothing
> other than consciousness can ever be observed directly or otherwise. I
> don't think that you are claiming that scientific truths appear to you
> unconsciously by osmosis, but I maybe you are?
Your own consciousness is directly accessible but no-one else's is. Even
your consciousness is not directly observable if you examine your own
brain: all you would see is electrochemical reactions rigidly following one
from the other, with no hint of consciousness anywhere.
> The physics relevant to the brain has not really changed in over a
> Which is why we are no closer to bridging the Explanatory Gap.
No physics will ever bridge the Explanatory Gap. No metaphysical theory
will ever bridge the Explanatory Gap either, because it can always be said
of the new theory, But why should that be associated with consciousness?
It's like looking for a creator of the universe. Who created the creator,
and if he doesn't need creating then why does the universe need creating?
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