On Friday, October 18, 2013 10:34:14 AM UTC-4, Bruno Marchal wrote:
>
>
> On 18 Oct 2013, at 15:23, Stathis Papaioannou wrote: 
>
> > On 18 October 2013 12:24, Craig Weinberg <whats...@gmail.com<javascript:>> 
>   
> > wrote: 
> > 
> >>> 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. 
> > 
> > OK up to here. 
> > 
> >> 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). 
> > 
> > We don't know this for sure, but it goes against every scientific 
> > observation. If a subjective experience is supervenient on the 
> > underlying physical process then the observable brain changes can all 
> > be attributed to this underlying physical process. 
>
> The subjective experience cannot be supervenient on the underlying   
> physical process *only*. It can only be supervenient with some   
> abstract type that the underlying physical process can incarnate   
> locally. This made eventually the "underlying process" itself   
> supervenient on infinities of computations (or perhaps more general   
> abstract processes in case comp is false). 
>

If comp is false, then it might not be general abstract processes, but the 
opposite: proprietary diffractions of a single concrete "pre-longing" 
(sense, experience). A pro-cess is a going forward, or discarding of the 
past, but what I suggests prefigures spacetime entirely. There is no 
underlying process, there is a fundamental eternal now/here from which all 
'theres' and 'thens' appear in contradistinction. Like a subroutine or a 
circuit, it is the fundamental pull to return to the higher level which 
allows coherence to the function. Functions which do not return data to the 
originating inquiry, or representations which fail to ground themselves in 
aesthetic presentations, are, like a computer with no i/o ports, completely 
useless.
 

> Of course we can see only one process, as we cannot feel the   
> differentiation of the computations supporting us.


Neither can computations feel us. If computations could feel anything, then 
feelings would be redundant. Feelings need computation to persist publicly, 
but computations, were they able to make sense in and of themselves, would 
have no plausible need for even geometry, much less flavors or colors.
 

> But comp predicts   
> that we can detect them indirectly below or substitution level, and   
> that is arguably confirmed by the quantum nature of matter. 
> As far as commenting Craig's point, this remark does not make your   
> comment non valid. 
> I put it for the general interest. 
>
>
>
> > If not, then the 
> > observable brain changes cannot all be attributable to the underlying 
> > physical process; i.e., a miracle will be observed. But no miracles 
> > have actually been observed. 
>
> OK. 
>
> l make another remark below. 
>
>
> > 
> >> 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. 
> > 
> > If the alien neurologist is wrong she is wrong about details. She is 
> > not wrong about the fact that the building of new houses in the 
> > suburbs is caused by antecedent physical events. 
> > 
> >> 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. 
> > 
> > The cocaine may cause a feeling of exhilaration but it will not cause 
> > all the other thoughts, memories, achievements etc. of an exhilarating 
> > life. The two situations have different physical antecedents and a 
> > different result. 
> > 
> >> 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 city. 
> > 
> > That you can't exactly account for the physical cause of something 
> > doesn't mean it isn't there. Traffic patterns like weather patterns 
> > are entirely due to the motion of atoms bumping against each other. 
> > They can be roughly, but not precisely predicted. The lack of, or 
> > indeed impossibility of precision does not mean they are magic. 
> > 
> >> 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 
> >> consciousness? 
> > 
> > No account of consciousness is needed in explaining behaviour. 
>
> Here I disagree. We can recover, possibly, all behavior, just by   
> applying physical laws. But this will not provide an explanation. 
>
> If we detect atomic bombs on a far away planet, the explanation will   
> need to invoke fear and thus consciousness. 
>
> For the same reason than to explain why some computer win or lost a   
> game, we will need higher level concept, despite a low level can   
> account for the whole game activity. It will not been an explanation. 
>

Exactly. That's what I'm trying to point out. That we can always tell a low 
level account of physical causality, but it is not an explanation, and it 
is not even correct. Why did planes fly into the WTC towers? Well, there 
was nothing miraculous going on, everything can be explained by airfoil 
theory and probability. Sooner or later you are just going to have two jets 
fly into tall buildings (which are very tall, very close together, and in a 
very busy air traffic area...no wonder it happened!).
 

>
> Likewise, if a person kills another person, and is asked to *explain*   
> why he did that, nobody will understand an explanation like "I did it   
> because I am obeying to schroedinger equation. The explanation will   
> have to rely on higher level notions, and some might rely on   
> consciousness, or mental token. 
>

Yes, there is no neuroscientific apprehension of personality or motivation. 
It's all generalized observations which can be used to explain away 
anything that consciousness might produce. Why did he paint the Sistine 
Chapel? Ah yes, because his* *anterior cingulate cortex must have been 
responding to the excess of olive oil in the paint...


>
>
>
> > No 
> > account of consciousness is needed in explaining the weather either, 
> > even though for all we know, weather patterns have associated 
> > subjective experiences too alien for us to guess at. 
>
> I think you need consciousness to explain a lot of humans activity,   
> even if comp and/or physicalism is correct. Like you need the concept   
> of (first) person to explain the appearance of physical laws, all this   
> despite the additive-multiplicative structure of the numbers can   
> account for everything, including consciousness. 
>

I don't see how the additive-multiplicative structure of numbers can 
account for consciousness without consciousness jumping to that conclusion 
about itself retrospectively. Prospectively, arithmetic structures of any 
kind no more suggest consciousness than physical structures do. 

Craig


> An ontological reduction, even if correct, is not an explanation,   
> which might need higher level features, may be in some necessary ways. 
>
> Computationalism illustrates this well. It gives an ontological   
> reduction (all what exists is 0, s(0), s(s(0)), etc. and the only laws   
> are addition and multiplication), but it prevents the reduction of the   
> person to any of this. Person are abstract high level entity having a   
> partial autonomy, will, responsibility, etc. 
>
> This is important to avoid the elimination of persons and   
> consciousness which is, notably,  a consequence of maintaining both   
> materialism and computationalism. 
>
> Bruno 
>
>
>
> > 
> >>> 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. 
> > 
> > The scientist might be wrong about what exactly goes on in the brain 
> > but is probably not wrong in the assumption that the only influences 
> > on brain behaviour are physical ones. 
> > 
> >>> 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'. 
> > 
> > The "laws" are just observed regularities. 
> > 
> > 
> > -- 
> > Stathis Papaioannou 
> > 
> > -- 
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> http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/~marchal/ 
>
>
>
>

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