On Wednesday, October 16, 2013 8:12:34 PM UTC-4, Liz R wrote:
> On 17 October 2013 12:41, Craig Weinberg <whats...@gmail.com <javascript:>
> > wrote:
>> On Wednesday, October 16, 2013 7:09:00 PM UTC-4, Liz R wrote:
>>> On 17 October 2013 11:57, Craig Weinberg <whats...@gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> On Wednesday, October 16, 2013 6:32:44 PM UTC-4, Liz R wrote:
>>>>> Interesting! One part of the brain controlling another (I guess it 
>>>>> does this anyway but not in the same way).
>>>> The question is, what is controlling the first part of the brain?
>>> I'm not sure if it's controlled, exactly. Some would consider it 
>>> autonomous, although it has a lot of input that "drives" it - both from the 
>>> rest of the brain and the environment (which I guess means the rest of the 
>>> body, including the senses).
>> There isn't really any room for an autonomous 'it' though when I'm 
>> introspectively controlling parts of my own brain. If my will can control 
>> what a neuron does then it is my will that controls the neuron, not the 
>> brain being passively driven by its own input.
>> I'm not sure what "will" means here. It seems to be an emergent / 
> high-level description which perhaps needs to be broken down into a 
> neuronal level description, given what we're discussing...?

Juts the opposite. Neuronal level descriptions are to me clearly divergent 
from high level description (will). It might help to think of neuronal 
descriptions as microphysiological rather than conflating them with 
microphenomenal descriptions. It's not so much high level phenomenology 
emerging from low level physiology, bit personal level descriptions and 
sub-personal level descriptions of phenomenology correspond to 
physiological and microphysiological descriptions. We are not made of what 
neurons do any more than a movie is made of what the pixels of a video 
screen do.

> Nor am I sure what "passive" means in the context of autonomy (the two are 
> somewhat opposed, surely). I'm not sure what it means for the brain to be 
> "passively driven by its own input" (where "input" includes memories, 
> experiences, etc)

It's begging the question to assume that input includes memories and 
experiences. As far as we can tell, all that the brain should need as input 
would be electrical or neurochemical signals. There is no sign of any 
'experiences' there. That's what I thought that you meant by autonomous - 
driven by purely bio-mechanical interactions, not aesthetically experienced 

when it's constantly rewiring itself, making and breaking connections...? 
> (Presumably it's ultimately "driven" by the laws of physics, but so is 
> everything else, so that would make the entire universe "passively driven" 
> which makes the concept meaningless, or at least redundant!)

I think that we are driving physics as much as physics is driving us. If 
that were not the case, then our experience would not make much sense in a 
universe that is driven only by its own unconscious automaticity.

> The brain is normally assumed to be essentially a large collection of 
> interconnected neurons.

The brain, like the entire body, is a single living cells which has divided 
into a multiplicity of self-reflections. I think that our understanding of 
the brain is on par with our understanding of astronomy before Galileo.

> There isn't anything else in there that I know of that is relevant to a 
> discussion of how it functions (well, there are blood vessels and glial 
> cells and whatever, but I don't know if they're relevant to a discussion of 
> the brain functions we're interested in, though they are obviously needed 
> in a supporting role). On that view, giving the brain the ability to 
> control parts of itself more directly than it would normally be able to 
> (through training and feedback, or with wires etc) is just introducing more 
> connections, filling in some links that nature happens to have not 
> provided, but not fundamentally different from what goes on in there 
> already.

Still, the fact that every person finds their own way to manipulate their 
own individual neuron suggests that consciousness is indeed sub-personal as 
well as personal. We have to find our way around our own brain from the 
inside - with no hands or eyes, and no sub-brain to 'process sense data' to 
allow us to improve in our training. 

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