On Thursday, October 17, 2013 8:10:50 PM UTC-4, stathisp wrote:
> On 17 October 2013 12:52, Craig Weinberg <whats...@gmail.com <javascript:>> 
> wrote: 
> >> Whichever way you look at it with the heart, the cars or the brain, it 
> >> is a sequence of physical events A->B->C etc. 
> > 
> > 
> > It's not a sequence, it's different scopes of simultaneous. I decide to 
> go 
> > to the store. That's A. I get in the car and the car drives to the 
> store. 
> > That's B. The physical event B is cause by personal motive A. There is 
> no 
> > physical event which specifically would have caused A if it were not for 
> my 
> > personal contribution in 'clutching' together various histories and 
> > narratives to arrive at a novel cause which is entering the public 
> universe 
> > from a private vantage point that I am saying is trans-ontological. 
> The decision to go to the store, A, is associated with certain brain 
> processes, and the getting in the car and driving to the store, B, is 
> associated with different brain processes. The brain processes 
> associated with A *cause* the brain processes associated with B. That 
> is to say, a scientist anywhere in the universe could observe the 
> physical processes A and the physical processes B and see how the 
> former lead to the latter without necessarily having any idea about 
> the supervenient consciousness. 

Ok, I can work with this. First let me say that, given your assumptions, 
your reasoning is absolutely correct. The assumptions themselves, although 
I don't think they are even conscious, are also completely reasonable. That 
is a perfectly reasonable expectation about nature, and it is one that I 
myself shared until fairly recently.

Starting with the first assumption: >"The decision to go to the store, A, 
is associated with certain brain processes"

To that I say, lets slow down a moment. What do we know about about the 
association? As far as I know, what we know is that 

1) measurable changes in brain activity occur in synchronization to 
self-reported or experimentally inferred changes in subjective states. 
2) the regions of the brain affected have been mapped with a high degree of 
consistency and specificity (although the anomalies, such as with people 
who live seemingly normal lives with large parts of their brain 'missing' 
makes that kind of morphological approach potentially naive)
3) that externally induced brain changes will induce changes in subjective 
experience (so that brain changes cannot be epiphenomenal).

What we do *not* know is that 

4) the entirety of our experiences are literally contained within the 
tissues of the brain, or its activities.
5) that the brain activity which we can observe with our contemporary 
instruments is the only causal agent of subjective experience.
6) that subjective experiences cannot cause observable brain changes (to 
the contrary, we count on subjects being able to voluntarily and 
spontaneously change their own brain activity).
7) that neuronal activity is not also associated with microphenomenal 
experiences which are subconscious to us at the personal level. (The 
article at the top of the thread shows that the opposite is true, in the 
sense that we can access and control individual neuron behaviors strictly 
through direct subjective attention).

The next assumption I think takes a turn from the relatively innocuous to 
the ideologically biased.

To say "The brain processes associated with A *cause* the brain processes 
associated with B." doesn't really work. Let's say that some alien 
neurologist thinks that the world financial markets are the activity of a 
global brain. She observes that certain numbers that come out of the NASDAQ 
are associated with the construction of new suburban houses. Having access 
to a precision magnetic stimulation instruments, she is able to change the 
numbers in the NASDAQ computers, and sure enough, most times the expected 
effect materializes. She concludes therefore, as you would in her position, 
that the market indicators associated with the real estate development A 
*cause* the market indicators associated with commercial development months 
later (B). This view assumes that the actual participants in the economy, 
and the actual conditions of their experienced lives are not functionally 
necessary to transform A into B. 

In the same way, we could say that a drug like cocaine changes brain 
activity to match that of a person who was living a very exhilarating life, 
and by the logic that you are suggesting, as long as the drug supply did 
not run out, the person's life would eventually have to change 
automatically to match the enhanced brain activity.

By underestimating the role of consciousness, and overlooking its obvious 
significance in creating and shaping its activities *through* the brain, 
rather than activities *of* the brain, you wind up with a worldview in 
which no form of consciousness could plausibly exist. For that reason, the 
hypothesis you assume must be abandoned with prejudice. Not only should we 
resist falling back on the whole set of hypotheses which fail to account 
for consciousness in any way, but I recommend that we start from the polar 
opposite assumption, in which the association of brain states A and B are 
not the relevant causes, but are actually the event horizon of a completely 
different set of causes which are impersonal but intersect the personal, 
sub-personal, and super-personal ranges of awareness. It is like the stop 
motion video that I linked, where impossible things seem to happen without 
any camera tricks. 

There will always be a plausible chain of causality to explain how A 
becomes B, but it is wrong. If we look at traffic patterns of a city, we 
can imagine that a flood of people leaving a parking lot is not leaving a 
concert at the same time, but just a statistical inevitability because of 
the nature of how traffic events are distributed around cities. It's a 
perfectly reasonable and scientific view, and it may be statistically 
successful even in predicting these parking lot evacuations accurately. 
It's still the wrong way to look at it. It still doesn't work if you try 
put a thousand cars in the middle of the desert and expect them to build a 

Can you see how modeling nature from the outside in has a big hole in it, 
and why that hole would be a catastrophic mistake to overlook when studying 


> This is according to the scientific 
> account of nature. If the scientific account of nature is wrong then 
> the scientist would look at the physical processes B and declare that 
> there must be some supernatural influence, 

Not supernatural, just transmeasurable. How would the scientist presume to 
speak for nature? A terrible scientist if you ask me. "Whatever doesn't fit 
in my microscope is supernatural". This is the problem. We already have, 
with our own consciousness, a better window into neuroscience than any 
instrument could possibly give us. Not that the perspective of a non-human 
system is not valuable, of course it is, but nothing about the brain would 
be worth the effort were it not for our own subjective appreciation of what 
it does. No fMRI machine has the faintest idea what a brain is or why is 
has to generate images of it. From the perspective of non-humans, the brain 
is food, or a source of energy, or just a blob of decaying ooze.

> as he cannot explain how 
> they come about given the antecedent A and the laws of physics. 

IMO, there are can be no 'laws' of physics. There is only sense. Incidents 
and co-incidents of orderly 'seems like'.


> -- 
> Stathis Papaioannou 

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