Free Will

Feel free to talk about anything not related to lucid dreaming and out-of-body travel

Re: Free Will

Postby Summerlander » Mon May 21, 2012 10:10 pm

Jeff,

I could also nitpick some of the points you've made and indeed we could go around in circles.  I still think, in all likelihood, that consciousness simply arises from a complex system.  There are different degrees of consciousness and to me evidence points to the phenomena being encoded.  You may not agree with everything DD proposes but he does raise some good points, namely the Cartesian theatre fiasco. 

When it comes to qualia, one could argue that "real brain states" are being misinterpreted by certain programs within the brain (which have their role in the emergence of self) for whatever reason.

As you said before, green is thought to be real because it is experienced in the mind.  It is the qualia of an object being perceived by an organism.  Qualia happens in the mind.  Mind arises from the living working brain as far as I know.  Take a psychedelic and you will witness how the qualia of something objective changes dramatically.

You must know already that human beings cannot possibly agree with one another 100% in that they experience qualia in exactly the same way other than the fact that each one of us have their own reality and we agree on certain perceptual experiences in terms of language.  Furthermore, if animals could speak, I very much doubt that they would agree with a human being on how something real feels.

The brain as a computer interprets.  Overtime, it simply has evolved a program that is capable of examining how it experiences the external reality.  Reality, however, and one must never forget this, happens entirely in the brain.  I'm sorry but the visual areas of the brain have already been identified.  Why is it so hard to swallow for you that we are our bodies, that external stimuli provokes an organic reaction and that everything is interpreted as a sense because it is, after all, sensed by the organs.

Sensing is subjective.  It happens in the brain.  It is your brain.  You are the brain.  It is your make and thus the subjective element arises.  We may not fully understand how this happens but it does happen.  It can't happen any other way and this nonsense of spirits incarnating in newborn babies is just that.  There is no sensation of something outside of the most complex organ in the universe.  The brain, as Stephen LaBerge put it, creates a model of the world.  The colours you see are encoded just as "00011001" can represent a letter of the alphabet on a computer screen.  How can a binary code as long as that represent a letter you might ask?  I don't fully understand how a computer works but it does happen that way, doesn't it?  The colours as you see them, however, do not exist externally as you perceive them. 

If a computer or robot could intelligently speak to you, from a conscious perspective, it could only tell you what it knows based on what it was fed.  It would not know for sure whether the data it contains represents the true world on the outside.  We, and it goes without saying, are very much like this.

Take a look at it this way: if you and a daltonic person were the only human beings in the world, who would have the right perception of it?  Both perceptions are equally valid, don't you think?  The truth is that nobody really knows what the world looks like other than the shape that our mental clay takes. 

You two could argue forever about what the world is really like but the truth is that neither one of you is having a direct experience of it.  You can only experience it from the perspective of what you intrinsically are: a physical body with all its biological systems.  That is the only way you can perceive the world.  There is no out-of-body perception apart from an illusory one when you enter the phase from a waking state.  There is waking perception... dreaming... and lucid dreaming (the phase state).  That's it.

The brain has what it needs to create this.  If you lose certain qualities in the way that you experience the world when the brain is affected, I think it is logical to think of the brain as being truly what we are (regardless of the quantum roots or not).  The homunculus in the Cartesian theatre concept is ridiculous because it does not address how consciousness comes about.  It is not practical.  Just like the suggestion that mind can exist without a physical body. 

To me, it is more logical to think of mind arising from matter and then claiming itself as perpetual (but it doesn't make it so).  I believe qualia phenomena intrinsically arises once the body is stimulated in a certain way even if it is for the first time.  It holds the potential to experience anything new in nature for as long as it can go and this may go hand in hand with the potential maximum life span of the organism and adaptability.  Imagine that you have all the letters of the alphabet and you start inventing numerous words (combinations) to form a language.  Communication and how it has evolved in its various forms is a great analogy for this.  Hey, I came up with a new word!  Yes, you did - using the letters that were taught to you, using elements that you already possessed - intrinsic to communication.

It is merely the universe playing with itself, Jeff.  Like an ocean bubbling up.  The bubbles have different sizes and properties and they come and go.  A universe couldn't possibly, in my view, come up with a conglomerate of complex properties such as the lifeforms it pops into being from its essence unless these are realistically fine-tuned to their environments in order to endure for as long as they can in space and time. 

Apart from what it has already been exposed to, the brain can also form a mishmash of such experiences and these may come about in dreams and imagination.  It has a memory, it learns, it creates.  Hence why it is possible to perceive what has never been perceived before.  The billiards have been set in motion.  Newton's Cradle perpetuates itself and only exists at a certain scale and using specific materials. 

It's just the way it is and the self is no different.  Science's role is to investigate, measure, demonstrate and explain from observation.  Eventually we will get to the bottom of it all and you will see that it goes no farther than the physical realm because that is all there is.

If this is still hard for you to grasp then you might as well ask what makes wood "wood" and metal "metal" if they are, intrinsically, the same thing: energy.

The illusion of something is only real if you believe in the way your brain has interpreted a stimulus.  Expectation is a powerful thing and clearly an active agent in cognition.  We all know that the brain can get things wrong and it is extremely quick at filling in the gaps.  It needs this so the world makes sense... in our minds (see how mind is secondary to matter and can only be an emergent phenomenon from how the latter plays out?)!! 

Hence why illusions vanish when you understand how something is truly working or you acquire a different perspective (you can try this with the McGurk effect).  I believe the same is going on in understanding reality on a quantum level and the many assumptions we make.

Perception is continuously adapted as we experience the world.  It is also worth noting that consciousness thrives alongside a developing physical organism.  Just like updating a computer and making it more sophisticated.  Destroy the computer and everything ceases.  The same should be logically true about the brain.  The collective function of programming in the brain gives rise to the sense of self.  It is essential for consciousness to emerge if the universe is to be said to exist.  But even this is an anthropological notion.  The most likely truth, which is unbiased by the way we think, is that the universe simply stumbled upon the secret formula for consciousness.  It's part of evolution.  It inevitably eventuated itself from cause and effect - just like in a game of snooker you happen to pot three balls at the same time from the get-go.  It's a chain of events.  Why not?

If no physical building blocks can ever give rise to the phenomenon of self, then I ask you, what does?  Spirits that science has failed to detect?  Fairies, perhaps?

If you say "non-physical" then I am out because, how can something non-physical (if there was even such a thing and I can't express how much I abhor the term) interact with something physical?

The brain creates its own reality.  It gives rise to the sense of self with the summation of its relevant programs (call me a reductionist if you like).  I am not surprised at all that this self has a tendency to claim ownership of the will, and dwell, in comfort, on the notion of "free will" (going back to that subject).  It may even have served its purpose in evolution as species want freedom of action in a dangerous world and the idea does seem to convey less friction when it comes to surviving.  That isn't the case, though.

There is no self and there is no free will in my worldview.  I see nothing more than illusions of perception.  These illusions, I can assure you, can either be reinforced or vanish completely by altering your state of consciousness via phase entrance, with meditation, psychedelic intake and other mind-altering methods.

I'll sort of meet you in the middle with your Donald D Hoffman link where it says:

"Scientific investigation of the classic mind-body problem has failed to produce a
viable theory. As McGinn puts it, "We know that brains are the de facto causal basis
of consciousness, but we have, it seems, no understanding whatever of how this
can be." I propose that the obstruction is commitment to a physicalist ontology: It is
not possible to obtain consciousness from unconscious ingredients. I propose
instead the ontology of conscious realism: Consciousness and its contents are all
that exists. Matter, brains, and space-time are among the contents of
consciousness, dependent on it for their existence. For a conscious realist the
mind-body problem is to show precisely how conscious agents construct the
macroscopic and microscopic physical world. I propose a mathematically rigorous
account of conscious agents and their dynamics, and of their construction of the
physical world. In particular, I propose that the physical world is a species-specific
user interface, and that quantum physics represents properties of the stable
dynamics of conscious agents. Symmetries of these stable dynamics are the
source of the symmetries studied in quantum physics. I present a concrete
dynamics for pairs of conscious agents that exhibits SL(2,C) symmetry, and from
this obtain a physical representation of the dynamics in terms of relativistic spin half
particles. This representation allows one to canonically associate a discrete patch
of Minkowski space-time to each such pair of conscious agents, and suggests that,
at the smallest scale, space-time is discrete. This suggestion comports well with
current approaches to quantum gravity."
 

Only I don't think "consciousness" is right word to use for the medium of all things.  How can you call it conscious if it isn't conscious as far as we know?  In fact, you can only know 100% that you are conscious right now, and you can recognise (or logically fathom) that other people and animals are, too, as they are familiar to you in the way that they behave - however, the same cannot be said to be true about a rock. 

You might say, however, that it doesn't resonate consciously, in which case we are back to the materialistic approach.  Sorry, but, Thomas Campbell is just plain wrong with his "digital consciousness".  The term doesn't even make sense and fails to give any sort of coherent explanation whatsoever.

If the same energy can give rise to cognitively different elements (such as wood and metal) in the way that it resonates, then why not consciousness and unconsciousness?  There is definitely unconsciousness, is there not?  I find it absurd to even suggest that a rock is conscious of itself. 

More appropriately, I'd rather say that there are different levels of potential for consciousness to emerge in different areas of space (like gravity increases as we near a celestial body).  Areas where the possibility of consciousness manifesting itself is more likely (but not immediate as time is required) would be those areas where you find the fundamental building blocks of life: sulfur, phosphorous, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, and hydrogen (SPONCH).  Why is time required?  Because it takes time for a biological/physical system to develop complexity.  It also takes time for a star to form. 

Jupiter is a failed star.  Had there been more matter available and it would have generated more heat and ultimately light.  In this analogy, think of light as consciousness that arises when the conditions are right.  Light is also mysterious.  So is gravity.  The behaviour of water under certain conditions can be regarded as mysterious.  We have many theories for them and something is only "mysterious" until we have fully understood it.  But neither are considered as mysterious as the phenomenon of consciousness.  Nevertheless, I still hold that what intrinsically lies at the heart of all phenomena is a physical system.

Perhaps there is something more intrinsic - and the Higgs Field, if we ever establish its existence - may have something to do with it.  But even if consciousness extended right down to such roots, then wouldn't it take more than a simple blow to the head for you to lose it?  Something to ponder...

Why should some event determined at the big bang match the 'illusory' sense of will at any particular moment? If it is an illusion then nature should not care.


Nature does not care.  It stumbled upon it.  You simply find it hard to grasp the randomness or the deterministic causality of an effect as a conscious human being.  And let's face it, by nature, we like to believe that we are in control of our environment and everything that happens in it.  We like to believe we are in control period. And if we don't, we feel powerless, we deteriorate as we socialise and become embroiled in relationships and events, we begin to live entirely in fear and may sink into depression overtime.  At least, such tends to happen. 

Others appear to be more comfortable with the idea.  There is will children... it just isn't free... but we need not be concerned with that... and certainly not directly or consciously aware. 

The randomness has given rise to apparent cycles because vibrating particles are interacting with each other.  The universe is like a flood of sounds... and we hear music.  But there is no meaning but in our heads (a vital function of the brain - a sophisticated system of order that emerged by chance from an entropic universe).

I believe this is a complete mischaracterization of reality.I'd like to make a post all it's own on this one..LOL! In a nutshell this would require neurons to be intrinsically creative,not to mention the representation and self reference problems.And as I said,they act as the laws of nature compell them to.Futhermore this is false.I have experienced veridical content in the phase that was never entered through my conventional senses.Of course you and DD are both free to ignore this.


Please do.  I have experienced the veridical content too.  I just don't dismiss the more mundane explanations which have not been ruled out so far and do not dwell in mysticism.  Please be my guest on opening up another topic on why you do not concur with Stephen LaBerge's view that dreams create models of the world.  To think that they don't is somewhat illogical, don't you think? 

As far as my experience goes, since I've been alive, I have seen more evidence that the mental clay represents the external world and can invent non-existent worlds (it can invent and reinvent) than so-called veridical content.  As I said before, why assign more significance to the "hits" and be so dismissive of the "misses".  It seems somewhat biased, don't you think?

On your Ned Block video, he addresses the "hard problem" which DD has already refuted (if you checked my links and delve deeper into Dennett's view).  Both could argue forever and agree to disagree.  It's just different ways of thinking in the end.  Both make good points.  I tend to resonate more with Dennett.

On your following link I have this to say: The mind (which arises from the complex brain) forms conceptuality from experience and interaction just as a computer does (only a computer has a different way of interacting or it is there to be interacted with).  I have no doubt that it is possible to create a conscious robot that learns and conceptualises.  Give it time.  Qualia is nothing but the result of interacting physical systems within the brain.  Take a specific type of anaesthetic and, rest assured, qualia has left the building.  It is nothing but a cerebral function.  The universe has simply made itself aware via complexity.  We are the universe. 

The awareness is the illusion that emerges from energy being forced to behave a certain way within a cyclic and highly connected system that maintains itself for as long as it possibly can within an environment.  Like Jupiter's Red Spot.  Ultimately, it is all cause and effect in a universe that is nothing but vibrating particles.  Amazing that it stumbled upon what we see today, isn't it? ;)

The link also states:
We are the same person throughout our lives, despite a continual turn-over of matter in our brains.


There is a computer or TV analogy for this too.  You can change all of its parts overtime but the same functionality is maintained.  Besides, I can't honestly say that I am the same person I was when I was a child.  There are differences.  My biological system has simply had parts that we replaced (parts with the same or identical properties) as it thrived.  The point again, becomes moot if you get right down to the nitty-gritty of this "body changes therefore self should too" malarkey. ::)

Hume thought that the sense of personal continuity was the result of a continuous string of memories, but his theory begs the question. Who is it that has the string of memories? Continuity of self is a prerequisite for a string of memories, so it can't be the result of a string of memories. Persistence of self-identity through time can't be explained materialistically; the most reasonable explanation is that there is an immaterial component of the mind that is continuous over time.


Erm... the maintenance of memories and the system as a whole can explain this.  Also, the synaptic theory of working memory (which hasn't been ruled out) has a ground on this.  Replace as many parts as you want as long as the function is maintained.

As for Roger Sperry:
I would ask him this if he was alive.  If he recognised both brain hemispheres to be capable of functioning independently of each other and both containing consciousness... which one holds the self? ;D

Maybe his kuru affected his reasoning in the end.  We have made more progress since then and the observations are undeniable in their suggestibility.  Peel away the conscious experiences and you will be left with nothing.  The self disappears.

If you believe there to be an afterlife and you have a SOUND explanation for consciousness in some sort of dualist theory... fire away! 8)
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Re: Free Will

Postby Jeff » Sat May 26, 2012 4:23 am

Summerlander,
Your last post is too long to answer paragraph by parargraph in one post.Also, I see a mixture of ideas related to materialism and I'm not sure which one you're arguing for? Emergentism? Reductionism? Functionalism? Computational Theory of Mind? ...Dualism?....(just kidding)There's too much to respond to though I'd like to cover each issue you brought up. I'll throw a couple of arguments back at you to start with in response to your first couple of paragraphs........


You first wrote "consciousness simply arises from a complex system".

Then there must be some threshold level of suitable complexity right? So I can imagine a brain that's just one atom short of the complexity threshold.If we add this atom does consciousness just pop into existence at that moment ? This doesn't square with physicalism:

For one thing,consciousness can't arise from a physical system because emergent phenomena can still reduce to physical components.'Wetness' reduces to H2O molecules that are always present in the liquid phase of water.A brick house is built from individual bricks.Heat involves the vibration of individual atoms and molecules at the macro and micro levels.If consciousness "simply arises" then that would be unlike any other emergent property and would therefore be extraordinary.



You really like to target dualism.While I'm not committed to any one philosophy I acknowledge that there are in fact rational arguments for dualism and that it's logically possible.Here's a thought I had on qualia:

1.A color quale is not in the brain.
2.The color of a pill is a quale and it's existence can influence a pill's efficacy.
3.A quale can affect physiological change in the body,hence dualism.

http://phys.org/news/2010-11-pill-affect-efficacy.html

A note on the above:The Placebo effect depends on subjective belief.Material doesn't have belief because a belief is 'about' something.Matter is not 'about' anything.What 'believes' is the phenomenological self which is something real.

You wrote:
"Take a psychedelic and you will witness how the qualia of something objective changes dramatically."

I would challenge the word "objective" but I'll take the dualism route if you like: This is not a huge problem for dualism. Alter the brain and you alter the mind's input.The mind's relation to the brain can be functional while being existentially separate.An example is that you can interact with your computer and it's response depends on your input, it's output has an effect on you.A functional relationship.You can destroy the computer and you will still exist and vice versa. So there can be functional dependence and existential independence at the same time.

Our phenomenological world could be the same based upon NDE accounts. A no greater stretch than believing in 11 dimensions IMO.
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Re: Free Will

Postby Jeff » Sat May 26, 2012 2:39 pm

SL:

"If no physical building blocks can ever give rise to the phenomenon of self, then I ask you, what does?  Spirits that science has failed to detect?  Fairies, perhaps?"

Jeff:
I don't know,it's not my job as Daniel Dennett says..I could say 'it just is' and declare victory like you seem to do for materialism but I won't.A logical possibility is that perception itself is a fundamental property of reality.This is justified.As things stand in the orthodoxy,space and atoms (matter-energy) are said to be fundamental.Is this justified?

The fact is that we don't know these things intrinsically;we know them relationally through our perception of geometrical structure and perception of material interactions.For example:If the 'greeness' of grass is not intrinsically in grass (or the brain) then your perception of grass does not 'represent' the 'real' thing called grass.Therefore you do not really know 'grass'.The same for all perceptions including the brain and it's neurons.In fact,the position of 'indirect realism' that you seem to take ultimately means that grass is really neurons.A tree is not a tree;it is really neurons.The sky is really neurons.Space is really neurons.This amounts to being a brain in a vat.I ask you how does a brain in a vat know that there is really such a thing as a brain as it's percieved in true reality?

Matter and space time is thought to be fundamental and independent of the mind.A world independent of mind is a contradiction because it's conception presupposes the existence of consciousness.It is the same situation for information and complexity.A mind independent world can only be an abstract idea or belief,this is unavoidable.Conceiving of a mind independent world is like saying "don't think of a pink elephant".Perception however is the one thing we do know,it makes no sense to me to deny the existence of our only real knowledge.

SL:
"If you say "non-physical" then I am out because, how can something non-physical (if there was even such a thing and I can't express how much I abhor the term) interact with something physical?"

Jeff:
Granting that there is the physical world as it seems to us,this is still not the problem it's made out to be.I assume you're appealing to the argument for 'causal closure' and 'conservation of energy' ?

1.There is evidence that our world is an open system not a closed one.

2.Mind would not have to act on matter anyway.Material brain states could be guided rather than intervened upon.

3.The reality of mind could be declared to exist just as space is declared to exist as it's own entity.All that is needed then are psycho-physical linking laws.

Here is an argument based on a religious physicist's ideas that I put together.Personally,I don't think the truth of religious ideas follow from it but it is sound anyway:

A.
If material events are guided by the laws of nature and the laws of nature are not themselves made of anything,they are Immaterial,then material events are guided by immaterial laws.

B.
Intention refers to something other than itself.
Immaterial laws refer to material.
Immaterial laws can be intentional.

C.
The brain is a specific material object.
A specific subsystem of immaterial laws guide material brain events.
Immaterial intention guides material brain events.

D.
Intention is a conscious experience.
Intention can be immaterial. ( B & C)
Immaterial conscious intention can guide material brain states.


Edit:Above when I wrote "refer to" I meant to be 'about' something other.
Last edited by Jeff on Sun May 27, 2012 1:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Free Will

Postby Jeff » Sat May 26, 2012 3:42 pm

SL:
"Erm... the maintenance of memories and the system as a whole can explain this.  Also, the synaptic theory of working memory (which hasn't been ruled out) has a ground on this.  Replace as many parts as you want as long as the function is maintained."

Jeff:
This is functionalsim.

Check this out:
"On functionalism, then, the mentality of the mental is wholly relational. And as David Armstrong points out, "If the essence of the mental is purely relational, purely a matter of what causal role is played, then the logical possibility remains that whatever in fact plays the causal role is not material." This implies that "Mental states might be states of a spiritual substance." Thus the very feature of functionalism that allows mentality to be realized in computers and nonhuman brains generally, also allows it to be realized in spiritual substances if there are any."


"One may be tempted to say that the psychologically salient inputs are those that contribute to the production of the uncomfortable glare sensation, and the psychologically salient outputs are those that manifest the concomitant intention to make an adjustment. But then the salient input/output events are being picked out by reference to mental events taken precisely NOT as causal role occupants, but as exhibiting intrinsic features that are neither causal nor neural: the glare quale has an intrinsic nature that cannot be resolved into relations to other items, and cannot be identified with any brain state. The functionalist would then be invoking the very thing he is at pains to deny, namely, mental events as having more than neural and causal features."

"The failure of functionalism is particularly evident in the case of qualia.  Examples of qualia: felt pain, a twinge of nostalgia, the smell of burnt garlic, the taste of avocado.  Is it plausible to say that such qualia can be exhaustively factored into a neural component and a causal/functional component?  It is the exact opposite of plausible.  It is not as loony as the eliminativist denial of quali, but it is close.  The intrinsic nature of qualitative mental states is essential to them. It is that intrinsic qualitative nature that dooms functionalism."


http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/ ... t-one.html

Also on memory lookup the term "Terminal Lucidity". Alzheimers disease destroys and disrupts the material of the cortex and the hippocampus.Yet there are instances in which the afflicted personality can return before death with with full lucidity and memory in tact.This defies material explanation.

As for personality changes through the lifespan:Substance dualism that allows for the 'transmissive theory' has no problem with this.As the brain evolves and grows so the content of the mind can too.They are reciprocal.

SL:
"As for Roger Sperry:
I would ask him this if he was alive.  If he recognised both brain hemispheres to be capable of functioning independently of each other and both containing consciousness... which one holds the self? "

Jeff:
Actually multiple selves are a prediction of dualism.Anyway,if it is the brain's complexity that really matters then this complexity is reduced by the commisurotomy.Then you have less material and connections to add to the complexity level that is assumed to generate streams of consciousness.

Also,it is debatable as to how separate the selves are since the deeper regions remain connected.In any case materialism cannot explain the following,read carefully:

http://www.nytimes.com/1988/06/28/scien ... wanted=all

I also recommend that you checkout this book if you're interested in rational alternatives to materialism:

http://www.amazon.com/Irreducible-Mind- ... 0742547922
Last edited by Jeff on Sat May 26, 2012 3:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Free Will

Postby Jeff » Sat May 26, 2012 3:59 pm

SL:
"Take a specific type of anaesthetic and, rest assured, qualia has left the building"

This is not true. I work as a CNOR (certified nurse of the operating room) and before this I was a surgical technologist.Believe me when I tell you that patients dream under anesthesia.They have coherent contents of consciousness despite major disruptions in brain functioning.

BTW,I have these philosophical discussions at work all the time with anesthesiologists and neurosurgeons.These are not people who believe in fairies obviously,yet they are not anywhere near as certain as you are about what consciousness is and it's role in nature.

Don't get me wrong,I enjoy the discussion and can agree to disagree.You make me research things that I may not look at otherwise so thats cool.  ;D

Edit:I do not mean ALL patients dream under anesthesia.But I do think this is possibile though because of forgetting.We can't really distinguish something not happening from forgetting that something happened.Look how easily a dream's memory can slip away..

Also the statement implies that consciousness is extinguished.Well maybe not. Unconscious states could be like the quiet parts of a symphony ,say from the romantic period.During the quiet part the symphony is not yet over.

As for an afterlife.If dualism is true this would not make an afterlife all rainbows and gumdrops.Death of the brain does mean the loss of sensory experience as we know it.This means the loss of all we love and are attached to here,not a F'n picnic.It could be that the afterlife,if is there is one, is a horror show of insane experiences. Read some NDE accounts.I watched one in which the subject refused to 'go into the light'. Then a NDE character was with him on a movie stage set (much like a phase experience or dream) and told him that "the script says that you have to go into the light".He kept refusing and the character became more frustrated. Taking this at face value I have to ask W T F !? Are we fooled into going into this light? What is it anyway? (don't tell me a dying brain ok.We've been there LOL)SL,I'm skeptical about the meaning of NDEs,I accept their logical possibility though...
Last edited by Jeff on Sat May 26, 2012 6:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Free Will

Postby Summerlander » Thu Jun 07, 2012 1:21 pm

Of course we will disagree on many things here.  It has been an interesting debate, Jeff.  I will finalise here by quoting (not verbatim) the determinist from Waking Life which will brings us back to the initial issue here:

"In today's worldview, science has taken the place of God... but some philosophical problems are still troubling.  Take free will.  This problem has been around since Aristotle, in 350 BC, St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas worried how we can be free if God already knows what we're going to do.  Nowadays we know the world works by fundamental physical laws.  These laws govern the behaviour of every object in the world.  Since these laws are trustworthy, they enable technological achievements. 

But look at yourself... we're just physical systems too.  Complex arrangements of carbon, mostly water.  Our behaviour isn't an exception to these laws.  So whether it's God setting things up in advance and knowing everything or physical laws governing us, there's not much room for freedom.  You might want to ignore the mystery of free will.  To say, "it's a historical anecdote, it's sophomoric.  It's a question with no answer.  Forget about it." 

But the question remains.  If you think about individuality, who you are is based on the free choices you make.  Or take responsibility.  You're only held responsible or admired or respected for things you do of your own free will.  The question keeps coming and we have no solution.  Decisions can seem like charades. 

Imagine it.  There's electrical activity in the brain.  Neurons fire sending a signal through the nerves into the muscle fibres.  They twitch.  You reach out your arm.  It looks like a free action but every part of that process is governed by physical laws.  Chemical, electrical, and so on.  It looks like the Big Bang set the initial conditions and the whole rest of human history is the reaction of subatomic particles according to basic fundamental physical laws.

We think we're special.  We have dignity.  But that now comes under threat.  It's challenged by this picture.  You might say, "what about quantum mechanics?  I know enough to know it's a probabilistic theory.  There's room, it's loose, not deterministic.  It let's us understand free will."  But if you look at details it won't really help because you have quantum particles, and their behaviour is random.  They sort of swerve.  Their behaviour is absurd and unpredictable.  We can't study it based on what came before.  It has a probabilistic framework.  But is freedom just a matter of probabilities?  Randomness in a chaotic system?

I'd rather be a gear in a deterministic, physical machine than some random swerving.  So we can't just ignore the problem.  We must find room in our contemporary worldview for persons.  Not just bodies, but persons.  There's the freedom problem... finding room for choice and responsibility and understanding individuality.
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Re: Free Will

Postby bluremi » Thu Jun 14, 2012 9:17 pm

Jeff, I don't think you are understanding SummerLander's arguments because you are asking questions that have already been addressed instead of making rebuttals to them directly:

And is a computer aware of it's content and meaning? How does consciousness, a sense of self and freewill emerge from an arrangement of hardware or electricity? Why should this be an article of faith? If a brain is a computer then all of nature is too.This still leaves qualia and consciousness to be explained.


When people reach meditative states deep enough to see through the illusion of the "self" or ego, the experience is of a uniformity of reality. Everything is connected, there is no separation between the body and another person, nor is there a boundary of air, of water, etc. The causal nature of reality becomes completely apparent. Your statement of "if a brain is a computer then all of nature is too" is completely accurate.

A computer is organized complexity. So is all organic life. The only difference between a computer and a brain is that the design of the former is bottom-up and the other is top-down, meaning a computer was designed from base components towards an end goal, and the top-down brain reached organized complexity through random mutation. There is no coherent organization principle at the micro-level in a brain, only at the macro-level.


How does a sense of self and free will emerge from an arrangement of hardware and electricity? Both SL and I have already suggested an answer to this question, and you have not addressed it directly yet. I would like to hear your thoughts on the following, quoted from earlier in the thread:


"Moving up the chain to larger animals and mammals, these creatures have much more complex brain systems. Their brains take all of the input from their sensory organs and use it to fashion an internal representation of the world. We have this basic system as well: the world we see looks nothing like we think it does. All the colors we imagine to exist are just different wavelengths of light: solid objects are not actually solid, we just perceive them to be because we can't see the spaces between atoms, or the radiation passing through them at higher wavelengths. Our brains create a world and then place us inside it, at a specific time ("now"). If you described the entire physical universe in mathematical and conceptual terms, there would be no way for you to describe the concept of the present moment. Time is a continuum, and the idea of "now" is an illusion created by our mental model. That's how we get the feeling of "existence" or "Presence". A self that exists is one that can experience the world and all it's suffering or pleasure, at a single point in time.

Humans randomly evolved one more complex layer above the already mentioned systems: our brains are able to abstract one level further, and we are able to form recursive concepts of ourselves. We have thoughts, but we can actually think about our thoughts. This third-level-abstraction is what allows us to form goals, and most importantly, it allows us to analyze the behavior of others and project goals onto them. We went from behavioral reading (that lion is hunting) to mind reading (that guy is lying to me because he wants X). These systems of abstraction can get incredibly complex, which proved to be a great evolutionary advantage. Think of poker and the limitless recursive loops our brains create (I know that he knows that I know that he wants me to think that...etc).

What we perceive as consciousness is the system that arose to represent our own "self" in our brains.

What does this have to do with free will? These systems are all part of the same larger system of organized complexity, and they loop into each other. Our brain has subconscious decision making abilities: that's where our thoughts and motivations come from. When they arise in our brain, they fall into the attention of our highest neural system, the self-referencing system, and in the act of perceiving them we ascribe them some personal agency. Our body gets bored, creates the thought "I'm getting up to do X", we become aware of the thought, and our "self-system" takes the credit for coming up with it, even though upon closer observation we have no idea where the thought came from.

You can think of us as having two minds: one is in the background, a complex system that processes all the input and comes up with solutions and thoughts and actions: the other is the foreground, our self-abstracting system of "self-awareness", which is aware of the thoughts only once they are fully formed. One invisibly does all the work, the other takes all the credit."
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Re: Free Will

Postby breadbassed » Fri Jun 15, 2012 9:38 am

So does this invisible force control our every movement? Does that mean we have no control over what we do at all and some unconscious 'entity' or 'formula' is determining our every move?

What evolutionary benefit would there be for someone who killed themselves?  If we truly had no free will, wouldn't we be 'following orders' (so to speak), and these would inevitably be based around the survival instincts.  Obviously we have surpassed the need for ordinary animal survival, but still the central needs of every human are to have shelter, food etc and it is 'in built', in the animal part of us to seek these.  Suicide isn't beneficial to evolution (or perhaps it is?, survival of the mentally fittest?)

With regards to the afterlife.  If it does exist it makes sense that it may be similar to dreams, so essentially it would be a complete manifestation and creation of our own minds.  If you were an 'evil' person and killed people, imagine what your dreams would be like, full of death and unpleasant things such as that. So your 'afterlife' would be a normal persons 'hell', but it would be purely created by you.  If you have conscious control of the afterlife, and are aware of the fact it is purely mental, you could create your own heaven.

I read a book on 'dream yoga', where they state that sleep is practice for death.  It supposed that if you act with the images that appear after death in a dualistic manner then it would lead to re-incarnation, but if you realize it as an 'illusion' (of the mind) and treat it as a meditative experience then you can achieve liberation from the cycle of death and re-birth.

I'm not saying that any of these things are true, just somethings to ponder on.
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Re: Free Will

Postby Summerlander » Sun Jun 17, 2012 4:48 pm

So does this invisible force control our every movement? Does that mean we have no control over what we do at all and some unconscious 'entity' or 'formula' is determining our every move?


We have perceived control but that is about it.  It's not even an unconscious formula or entity determining everything.  Everything that happens is merely the result of a probabilistic framework.  Nothing else.

I've used this example in another forum but I'll use it here too for some insight into quantum mechanics...

Think about this quote by Brian Cox:
"Quantum mechanics is weird, but not weird enough to allow a grain of sand to hop unaided out of a matchbox."

If the matchbox was on a sandy beach, there is a chance that there will be "aids" to make the hopping out of the box possible. The wind could pry open the matchbox. A smoker could pick it up in search of matches and empty it out in frustration. A crab could come...

The beach context teems with possibilities that make the hopping practically possible. However, lock away the matchbox in an empty vault and chances are that there will be no hopping.

If we think of quantum particles and acknowledge that they behave somewhat like a particle and somewhat like a wave in a probabilistic frame, we will find that within the inner and outer cluster of peaks and troughs, the waves cancel each other out in certain points. This will quickly take place as we make the measurement, because, things on a smaller scale secretly play out all scenarios before settling on the most likely outcome. Heisenberg's Uncertainty principle hinges on this.  Everything works naturally according to wavefunctions.  That's all.

We must also remember that, on a quantum level, it is apparent that nothing is at rest, even those particles which are not effected upon by force - this is where Newton's laws (which although logical and very applicable on a macro scale) are thrown out of the window. The more precisely you know the position of a particle at some instant, the less well you know how fast it is moving and therefore where it will be sometime later.

Now, we live in a quantum universe, and, a grain of sand is a relatively ginormous object in the quantum realm. It is so huge that it no longer appears to obey quantum laws and conforms to classical physics. However, it is made up of those tiny packets of energy that move and jump all the time. The bigger the object gets, the more time is incremented in their unaided motion. Make no mistake about it, according to quantum theory, the grain is moving unaided (because, like everything else, it stems from the quantum realm) but it is too big for any noticeable movement and its properties can easily be measured. This lies at the heart of quantum physics. It is encompassed in Heisenberg's breakthrough formulae. This is how things really work. Newton was not wrong, but, his picture was incomplete.

Imagine a grain of sand inside a 3cm-length matchbox. Physicists can calculate how long it will take for the grain to hop to the confines of a 4cm radius - beyond the matchbox (!) - unaided. Do you know how long it would take? Over a thousand times the current age of the universe! Meaning it won't happen! You might as well say that the grain is not moving and be content with that.

Quantum mechanically speaking, not impossible but improbable.

Hence where Cox is coming from with the matchbox and grain quote. The scenario proposed by quantum mechanics is hard to swallow and often hard to understand, but, that is the nature of the universe. Things do really happen that way and this is the only way we can explain what happens in certain experiments. It is just a matter of people getting past their prejudices. The Newtonian era is long gone and there have been many breakthroughs - not that the majority of laymen are aware, though.

What evolutionary benefit would there be for someone who killed themselves?


Asking this is like asking what evolutionary benefit is there for war?  Perhaps homicide and suicide serve the same purpose or function.  And why does it have to have a benefit?

Did you know that the world has changed a lot over thousands and thousands of years? A chaotic universe would have had enough time to stumble upon this complexity and apparent "order" from our beloved anthropological view. I'm not even going to mention the fact that a cloud of gas (simpler form) formed the solar system. I won't even go into detail about the fact that the sun converts 600 million tonnes of hydrogen (simple atomic structure) into helium (slightly more complex) every second. While this prevents our star from collapsing in on itself, it is also slowly effecting its demise. You want to talk about which of the effects has more meaning to you?

Obviously we have surpassed the need for ordinary animal survival


Have we?  What do you mean by this?  We are still animals and we are still surviving.  Only we rationalise.  Did you know that certain alleles were found in ADHD people which correspond to the alleles that were abundant in the first humans who dared to explore beyond the African continent?  They needed to be brave and act on impulse during that time.  It was a great boon.  Now, ADHD sufferers are considered to have a disorder in this day and age.  Their impulses are apparently no longer required in general.  So why have the ADHD alleles persisted in the human gene pool?  Remnants?  Product of randomness?  Or to even give us a better understanding of human behaviour perhaps (as we feel compelled to do research into this area)?

You forget that we used to be ape-like creatures that hardly thought about things and pretty much followed instinctive behaviour when stimulated by the environment. Overtime, our consciousness-lacking "lizard brains" evolved more complex layers and... voila! Now we have a thinking brain and self-awareness (most of the time). The computational power of the modern brain is such that it is capable of analysing itself and asking questions about reality in a profound way.

Here's is an interesting video about the brain:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qY829SnAm5M

And if you didn't know this already about a rodent's brain learning to pilot a plane:
http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/ ... 27308.html

Recently, it has even been proposed that our brains have evolved to argue and persuade people and not even to be rational. In this view, our biological systems have evolved to survive as best as it can with what it has and continues to adapt to the changing environment.

However you want to interpret this, it is still an environment stimulating an organism - particles interacting with particles - vibrating matter in motion - cause and effect - all energy. It only has meaning if we say so. However you view it, we create the contexts, assess the situations our way, and give everything meaning where there is absolutely none (and this realisation of meaninglessness was stumbled upon when I was at college and tried Salvia for the first time - though meditation can get you there too and in a more profound way as you get to enjoy the journey that leads you there - blueremi is on the money).  Everything ties in with the randomness of cause and effect (like boiling water bubbling up in a crescendo as the temperature rises).

With regards to the afterlife.  If it does exist it makes sense that it may be similar to dreams, so essentially it would be a complete manifestation and creation of our own minds.


It would also make sense that dreams inspired the notion of an afterlife.  It is all dreaming but not in the sense that you think it is.  The external world is very real!  It exists outside your mind and will continue to exist after you die.  How it appears to you, however, is what is made up inside your head.

As LaBerge said: Perception is dreaming constrained by sensory input.  Dreaming is perception unconstrained by sensory input.  In other words, perception is dreaming true and dreaming is perception free.

We have no other means to experience anything but with our 'mental clay'.  It is how we become conscious of anything.  Since the mental clay that can represent both what is internal and external can be affected by psychedelic drugs or different types of brain damage, it is logical to assume that the brain is doing it all and is responsible for consciousness in all its complexity.

We have afterlife enthusiasts and religious people saying that complex machines can never become conscious because they don't have a soul for starters and that their complexity fails to produce a "self".  But they forget that the brain is the most complex organ in the known universe - it really doesn't get any more complex than that (so far).  We also see that, the more complex it gets and the more it evolves as we gradually leave babyhood, the more prominent our consciousness becomes along with our cognition.  In a reverse manner, as we grow old and decay faster than our cellular rejuvenation process, we see our mental capabilities dwindling - particularly in cases of degenerate illness such as Alzheimer's.

If you were an 'evil' person and killed people, imagine what your dreams would be like, full of death and unpleasant things such as that.


Not necessarily.  Things are not as black and white as you think.  First, people can have different notions of what is good and what is bad.  A serial killer would probably dream of death, but, if he enjoys doing what he does and causes it, then it is hardly unpleasant from their perspective.  It wouldn't be their "hell". And then the question arises: what happens to a person who has extensive meditative experience, such as a monk, who has also reached a point where hell no longer exists (as there is only hell if you perceive it that way) and decides to commit suicide (that's right, takes his own life) in front of the whole world to prove a point and hopefully teach everyone a big lesson - does this sound familiar.  And another realisation comes - even him was not free in his will to commit such act - his choice came about after certain events around him made him think (that's right, stimulation) and he arrived at his decision.  There was will...but it wasn't FREE.  Nothing in this world is free... ;D

If you have conscious control of the afterlife, and are aware of the fact it is purely mental, you could create your own heaven.


Again, it is perceived conscious control.  If, for instance, you become lucid in a dream, it is also a realisation that you have more scope to do a lot more.  In other words, you realise that you can do what was unthinkable in your previous state of mindlessness.  But for some reason your thoughts arena has only become wider and you have just been presented with more potential.  What you do next, which apparently comes out of free will is also being influence by something else which is more unconscious.
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Re: Free Will

Postby breadbassed » Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:25 pm

We have perceived control but that is about it.  It's not even an unconscious formula or entity determining everything.  Everything that happens is merely the result of a probabilistic framework.  Nothing else.


If it is probabilistic then surely that is a formula?  Probabilities are generally a mathematical term, based on a formula, i.e. IF so and so = a then b may result? Right?



Asking this is like asking what evolutionary benefit is there for war?  Perhaps homicide and suicide serve the same purpose or function.  And why does it have to have a benefit?


It isn't really like asking that, war is clearly an animalistic tendency, the desire to have more than someone else and to be 'head of the pack' so to speak. Therefore increasing chances of survival and pro-creation.


However you want to interpret this, it is still an environment stimulating an organism - particles interacting with particles - vibrating matter in motion - cause and effect - all energy. It only has meaning if we say so. However you view it, we create the contexts, assess the situations our way, and give everything meaning where there is absolutely none (and this realisation of meaninglessness was stumbled upon when I was at college and tried Salvia for the first time - though meditation can get you there too and in a more profound way as you get to enjoy the journey that leads you there - blueremi is on the money).  Everything ties in with the randomness of cause and effect (like boiling water bubbling up in a crescendo as the temperature rises).


I would agree with most of this, we definitely put our own meaning onto things, you created your interpretation of meaningless on a salvia trip. Most of what I have read on meditation implies the pinnacle shows the opposite, that the universe is a living entity with a purpose. Im not saying that I am right, or that you are wrong.  There is cause and effect, but there is also tension, and release.


If you were an 'evil' person and killed people, imagine what your dreams would be like, full of death and unpleasant things such as that.


Not necessarily.  Things are not as black and white as you think.  First, people can have different notions of what is good and what is bad.  A serial killer would probably dream of death, but, if he enjoys doing what he does and causes it, then it is hardly unpleasant from their perspective.  It wouldn't be their "hell".


This is precisely why i put the words evil and hell in inverted commas, and said it would be a "normal" persons hell.
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Re: Free Will

Postby Summerlander » Mon Jun 18, 2012 11:40 pm

breadbassed wrote:If it is probabilistic then surely that is a formula?  Probabilities are generally a mathematical term, based on a formula, i.e. IF so and so = a then b may result? Right?


Oh, there are formulae. 8) 

I really recommend The Quantum Universe.  It includes equations, explains exactly what the Uncertainty Principle entails and you don't even have to be a mathematical genius because the authors make it easy for the layman to understand.



It isn't really like asking that, war is clearly an animalistic tendency, the desire to have more than someone else and to be 'head of the pack' so to speak. Therefore increasing chances of survival and pro-creation.


Yes, but, we have evolved enough to know that death can most likely put an end to our suffering especially if we think there is no way out.  It's called self-destruction when an organism as advanced as us decides there is no more to give or they want out.  It could even play a role in reducing the population - like war... there's a possible reason.  We have enough babies being born.


I would agree with most of this, we definitely put our own meaning onto things, you created your interpretation of meaningless on a salvia trip. Most of what I have read on meditation implies the pinnacle shows the opposite, that the universe is a living entity with a purpose.


Nah... that isn't what I have experienced even with meditation.  In fact, meditation often makes me realise how much I'm like an onion... there is no core.  Intrinsically, when I remove the layers, the near-nothingness I achieve makes me realise that ultimately I am empty.

This is precisely why i put the words evil and hell in inverted commas, and said it would be a "normal" persons hell.


Okay, sorry if I misunderstood.  But I still think that once the body dies, that is it.  Your adult body is what you have become.  You have been evolving since conception.  In the womb, during gestation, your cells were multiplying, a quarter of a million neurons formed every minute, you went from a single cell, to an embryo, to a foetus and so on...

It is all atoms!  In the end, life naturally comes about when you have the right elements arranged in a complex structure - the most common being:  sulfur, phosphorous, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon (being one of the most important), and hydrogen.

This is all that you are.  It's like the universe is made of notes and when these are arranged in certain ways, harmonies are formed - but this is not magic!!

Quantum mechanically speaking, imagine that the universe is like a guitar and its strings can vibrate at different wavelengths.  The higher frets produce high-pitched frequencies and the electrons are in an excited state.  The lower frets can produce lower frequencies which are closer to the constant.

The instrument contains all the possibilities because all the frets and the strings are there necessary for all the notes to have a potential to sound.  But it is impossible to play all the notes at once on a guitar because your fingers have to pick a spot that will determine a particular length of string for a particular sound.  If you got many fingers to cover all the frets, logically that only the notes on the highest fret would sound and the rest would remain mute.

Where you put your fingers is where you make your measurement!  This is analogous to what happens when you work out where a quantum particle is and attempt to predict where it will be next.  There is no magic involved.

By the way, this quote from bluremi needs to be repeated again:

"Moving up the chain to larger animals and mammals, these creatures have much more complex brain systems. Their brains take all of the input from their sensory organs and use it to fashion an internal representation of the world. We have this basic system as well: the world we see looks nothing like we think it does. All the colors we imagine to exist are just different wavelengths of light: solid objects are not actually solid, we just perceive them to be because we can't see the spaces between atoms, or the radiation passing through them at higher wavelengths. Our brains create a world and then place us inside it, at a specific time ("now"). If you described the entire physical universe in mathematical and conceptual terms, there would be no way for you to describe the concept of the present moment. Time is a continuum, and the idea of "now" is an illusion created by our mental model. That's how we get the feeling of "existence" or "Presence". A self that exists is one that can experience the world and all it's suffering or pleasure, at a single point in time.

Humans randomly evolved one more complex layer above the already mentioned systems: our brains are able to abstract one level further, and we are able to form recursive concepts of ourselves. We have thoughts, but we can actually think about our thoughts. This third-level-abstraction is what allows us to form goals, and most importantly, it allows us to analyze the behavior of others and project goals onto them. We went from behavioral reading (that lion is hunting) to mind reading (that guy is lying to me because he wants X). These systems of abstraction can get incredibly complex, which proved to be a great evolutionary advantage. Think of poker and the limitless recursive loops our brains create (I know that he knows that I know that he wants me to think that...etc).

What we perceive as consciousness is the system that arose to represent our own "self" in our brains.


It is important to remember that.
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Re: Free Will

Postby Jeff » Fri Jul 13, 2012 2:52 am

:) I didn't see this was still going on.I've been busy and I took a vaction.

Bluremi,

You wrote this:
"Jeff, I don't think you are understanding SummerLander's arguments because you are asking questions that have already been addressed instead of making rebuttals to them directly:"

Then you go on making a long series of category errors about representations and hierarchical material structure/organization as if this really explains the issues of mind and qualia that I've raised...


I've already addressed the relevant arguments here,especially the idea that there are 'representations' in the brain which constitute our phenomenal experience.I really think that it is you who does not understand certain things.I've probably read alot of the same material as you but you do not seem to grasp that there is a mind-body problem of great depth that is not solved by physicalism.You don't get to just handwave the mind part of it.... sorry...

Stay tuned.I'm about to drop the hammer on all of this when I get more time....
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Re: Free Will

Postby Jeff » Fri Jul 13, 2012 4:40 pm

I'm going to clear some brush here first before I make a case for limited freewill.

Rather than using quotes I will rebut the underlying assumptions I see behind your statements Bluremi and Summerlander.

First of all,they are all based on variations of physicalism.The ground seems to be shifted towards emergence at this point.Emergence still falls under physicalism which assumes the following:

1.Reality is comprised of only fundamental space,material and energy (forces).New behaviors and complex configurations can emerge at higher levels ;but they are still comprised of the fundamental constituents of reality.

2.These fundamental entities are all that truly exist and are collectively known as the physical or material world.Events in the material world (reality) are only described by physics and objective measurements.

3.The material world exists independently.

4.And most importantly: The material world is causally closed.It is determined only by the interactions of it's fundamental physical entities.

Note that:Emergence allows for bottom up and top down causation but collections of the fundamental entites are still present in the top down processes which emerge.

Also note that most statements by you two assume the truth of 'indirect realism'.This means that all knowledge is based upon brain activity and takes place within material interactions inside of the skull.


Notice that there are no terms in physics that describe mental properties,consciousness or subjectivity.Because the discussion of causation is limited to the objective language of physicalism there can be no room for mental causation or consciousness itself in this version of reality. Therefore freewill cannot be admitted.

Of course FW doesn't exist within these terms of discussion.There is no honest debate taking place if the starting parameters exclude the admittance of evidence for that which it denies any possible existence of.This is circular reasoning and amounts to dogma that is reminiscent of religion.However,if mental causation can be demonstrated then physicalism can be shown to be unable to fully describe reality.....more on this later....

Moving on now.....

Sorry guys,but you don't get to use your insights from meditative states of mind under the premises of physicalism and indirect realism.

If all experiences are brain generated "illusions" and do not correspond to reality then this entails that meditative states are also illusions and do not correspond to reality because they are also generated by the brain.To say that one can "see through the illusion of self" under physicalism is to be logically inconsistent.

Both of you claim that certain brain based experiences like those of ownership,agency (self) and will are illusions; yet an experience of unity and no-self are not.This is a case of the special pleading fallacy. I may agree about a unity and so on but not under your limited assumptions.

You guys also don't get to make the claim that space,matter-particles are real and fundamental while stating the truth of indirect realism-representationalism:

If we experience the (supposed) 'real' physical world only through our senses indirectly (indirect realism) then this necessarily entails that the perception of space and fundamental particles are also 'indirect representations'.This means that we do not actually experience the things called "space" or "matter" intrinsically.

Yet,you are also claiming that one set of 'generated' perceptions related to materialism are 'real' (space,matter)and other perceptions like qualia,a sense of self,sense of freewill and consciousness itself for example are just 'illusory' or unreal. This is also a case of special pleading.

There's alot more I can point out related to supposed fundamental randomness but I want to move on to address the claim about hierarchical layers of the brain and evolution next......
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Re: Free Will

Postby Jeff » Fri Jul 13, 2012 6:57 pm

Conscious mental states do in fact stand in causal relation to material brain states.Here's a simple example before I move on to emergentism:

It's easy to turn the whole (illogical) "illusion" argument on it's head.Look at the following:
http://web.mit.edu/persci/people/adelso ... usion.html


Proponents of physicalism hold the position that the known physical world is all that exists and it is 'causally closed'.Everything that truly exists is physical.Because of this,something like an immaterial mind cannot effect or affect matter as this would violate the causal closure principle.'Mind stuff' can't change the course of events of physical 'brain stuff'. Therefore the mind must be a useless by-product of brain material -mind is only an "illusion" that is.


1.Squares A and B actually have equal luminance in the physical world but this is not what we see.

2.The brain (visual cortices,edge detectors,etc.)is a part of the physical world and it responds to the 'illusion'.But there is no physical brain material or process that qualitatively resembles the checkerboard we perceive. That is,square B as we see it doesn't QUALITATIVELY exist in the physical world AT ALL-on the computer monitor or in the brain.The lighter 'grey' that we see isn't on the screen or in the brain.

Furthermore,the brain material correlated with visual perception of the checkershadow is 'numerically distinct' from the physical source of the stimulus.In other words,relevant brain material possesses it's own distinct location among other 'primary qualities'.

A corresponding shape of a V1 firing pattern for instance is still not the shape of the square 'out there'.We aren't specifically aware of our brain patches that 'light up' as being the little light 'grey' square 'out there' or as being brain material or process itself.(This is true of the entire visual percept actually.But the luminance makes the point better.)

Applying Leibniz's law of identity it can be demonstrated that mental states and material brain states are not identicle. (EDIT:And they are not duplicates.)

3.Yet we can initiate verbal behavior and physically vocalize "I see a light grey square labeled B ". The information content of this statement would be true under the correspondence theory of truth (the strongest theory of truth) ,the consensus theory of truth and others because it would represent a subjective state that we can agree is  experienced.This verbal behavior involves known material processes that stand in causal relation to qualia not present in the physical world.

Hence:Immaterial-mental causation.

Short story: Square B as we percieve it doesn't physically exist as such,yet we can report it in the physical world....


That's my original example but there are plenty of examples that evidence mind-material causal relation and even mind-mind causal relation.(placebo,nocebo,voodoo death,false pregnancy,multiple personality,psycho-immunological conditions,neurofeedback training,plasticity,PSI... which opens a whole other layer)



Now...because mental causation exists........consciousness cannot just 'emerge' at some evolutionary level of complexity if it is not already present in the universe.This would violate the causal closure principle of physicalism.Futhermore:If consciousness were to be *somehow* physical then emergence would also violate the conservation of energy principle. That is unless brains are alchemical or magic...ordinary periodic elements transmute into consciousness when organized like a brain.  ::)


Qualia is something more than just material states and it's existence can in fact affect the course of brain events.I have a case for freewill I can lead into soon when I get time.....
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Re: Free Will

Postby Jeff » Fri Jul 13, 2012 11:53 pm

One more quick point for now. The idea that we don't choose what we choose from ,or something like that, doesn't negate freewill.

Choices that arise belong to us.So even if you think that your mind equals your brain there is no reason under normal circumstances to desire to be free from your choices. (Although you can desire this because these degrees of freedom exist.Like a mentaly disturbed person who desires normalcy for example.)

Because some choices that arise are based largely upon past experience does not negate freewill.Mind and brain matter can be conditioned.Mind,knowledge,will,intention co-evolves with the associated brain material configurations.They can reflect one another.I already showed you both evidence for this.Here it is again:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17349730

Subjective willfull and intentional mental activity modulates and rewires the brain.[b]If mind and will are fully determined by material states then there could be no degrees of freedom to allow this. So,if conscious will is an 'illusion' as characterized,then,in the context of the above evidence, it would be like the 'image' (not photons) from a computer monitor or the 'sound' (not air pressure vibrations) from a computer speaker being able to meaningfully change the patterns of electrical activity and function of the computer hardware/software that produced them.
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Re: Free Will

Postby Jeff » Sun Jul 15, 2012 9:32 pm

OK,so I think I'm not going to share my exact argument for freewill after all because I don't want to give it away.But I'll make a different,and I think,reasonable hypothesis for freewill:

In this discussion I see that mental properties-abstract particulars are being conflated with physical properties and particulars. I don't want to try and sort them all out here but I believe that it's reasonable to say that mental and physical properties and particulars can overlap.This also means that I think there can be more than just one type of cause for a material event.I already posted one possible opening for this:The laws of nature that guide and refer to physical properties can be described as intentional and immaterial -and so can mental states.

Since QM popped back up after all:Other areas of overlap may be the potential to exist ,the indisernibilty of 'particles' and the possibility of a unitive consciousness.

The dynamic properties of fundamental particles,if they exist,share a relevance to human choice that can't be separated.This has consequences for naive realism.Their position,momentum,spin,polarization,etc,are only potentials to exist in space-time before measurement.
http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/new ... to-reality

http://quantumenigma.com/wp-content/upl ... -q-exp.pdf

There is an emerging science of 'quantum cognition' that I think looks promising.Another area of overlap:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_cognition

Consciousness could exist as the universe's potential as well.And maybe there is a unity of consciousness,that can be experienced directly (not represented) while the phenomenal content of mind,including the perceiving of matter,is discernible. But then at the level of particle physics it has also been stated that all 'electrons' could be the same entity.Some speculate that facts like these point to the possible existence of one unifying layer of reality."Unus Mundus."


Anyway,back to the problem:
It is assumed that only material causes exist.I don't think it's fair to exclude teleology from discussion because it addresses how we actually experience the physical world in our day to day lives.

Say I have a subjective mental state arise:The desire to stand up and go outside.There is the feeling of 'what it's like' to will my body to stand up and walk outside.Going outside refers to a possible future state of being.It is intentional.It is about this possible future state and it involves both my mind and body.This state does not yet exist but it serves as a so called 'final cause'.

Some area of mental-material overlap here would be that both my will and intention to move and the laws governing physical bodies are 'about' motion.My intent is both 'about' the present and the future.The physical laws are 'time symmetrical'.Neither seem to be made of anything.Both the future mental state of being when the final cause obtains and physical states 'in' space-time that would correlate with my mental state both lie in potential relative to my subjective present and my body's physical state.

If examined,nothing found in the physical states of my brain or body at any level would be 'about' the final cause of being outside.There would be no 'will molecules' or neurotransmitters found.The feeling of 'what it's like' to will my body to go outside is not measureable.No biochemical,electrochemical or metabolic reactions yield 'Will'.

No single or collective state of atoms,molecules or cells know the future purpose they contribute to.They have only their primary qualities of shape,motion,extension,etc,...their physical,chemical and biological properties.Only their present moment in space-time.

Will is a property of the mind that intends purposeful action and inaction.The brain and body instantiate will as permitted by the laws of nature.Because degrees of mental freedom exist (If they didn't there couldn't be semantics) and can affect future material states which exist indeterminately,I believe it's likely that they overlap at some level of reality outside of space-time as we know it in the waking world.

Because we see our mental intentions actualized by our material brains and bodies causation appears to be both physical and teleological.If this were not so and our intentional mental states were to be "illusions" or unreal,then we would hardly be likely to see the tight correlations between our intentions and their future obtaining on a constant basis. Nature would be playing a trick on us and retroactively cause us to believe we intended apparent final causes at each and every moment.This would be pointless because an epiphenomenal  illusion would have no causal efficacy and would therefore not need to be 'fooled'.Also,matter doesn't 'believe' anything as it is not about anything.If it could do this then why would matter not just be about the final cause to begin with? Of course this is because mind and matter are not identicle.

One can object that evolution disproves teleology.Two counter objections are that:
1.There is some evidence alleged for it in nature.Convergence, Stasis and tool-kit genes.

2.Survival itself is teleological.

I'm not opposed to the idea of feedback loops though.Obviously they exist.It can be that the physical world provides a layer of reference for the mental.
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Re: Free Will

Postby bluremi » Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:17 pm

Hi Jeff,

Thanks for your post, it cleared up a misunderstanding I had about your argument. It's true that under the assumptions of "physicalism" free will is logically impossible.

1) That said, I think the onus is upon the non-phsyicalism crowd to explain how the mind could be separate from the brain. The example you gave in green, above, about the optical illusion seems to have a obvious flaw in premise #2: "Square B as we see it doesn't qualitatively exist in the physical world at all, on the computer monitor or in the brain". This seems to be just a blind assertion. Why doesn't the firing pattern of neurons in the brain map to a qualitative experience of the optical illusion? If we created a 4D lexicon of neuronal firing patterns, we could map an individual's brain states and reproduce the exact experience of the optical illusion of the square.

2) Additionally, I disagree with you on whether or not "free will" makes any sense as a concept at all, regardless of the underlying assumptions. Let's say that I agree with your premise that the mind is separate from the brain, and that it can be a source of free will. What does that actually mean?

To me, it seems that the only possible logical definition of free will is "randomness," because unless you are making a choice based on pre-existing causal factors, the only option left is that you are making a choice that is literally random, with no valid reason for anything that could be called a "preference." Free will is an attractive concept because it means we can retroactively provide justification for our choices or actions. If there is no justification, what's the point of free will?

Is there any difference between a sea of causal factors so large as to defy prediction and a random number generator?
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Re: Free Will

Postby Summerlander » Wed Aug 22, 2012 2:04 pm

To me, it seems that the only possible logical definition of free will is "randomness," because unless you are making a choice based on pre-existing causal factors, the only option left is that you are making a choice that is literally random, with no valid reason for anything that could be called a "preference." Free will is an attractive concept because it means we can retroactively provide justification for our choices or actions. If there is no justification, what's the point of free will?


I agree.  It's all random.  As Joey from Friends said: "there is no selfless good deed" either.  This also shows that we are not free.  We are part of this system of endless probabilities and some stake higher than others.  We are forever preconditioned and there is no escape.  Escape from what?  The universe?  We are the universe.

Is there any difference between a sea of causal factors so large as to defy prediction and a random number generator?


Good question.  I see none other than the fact that the earliest encompasses everything and is more sophisticated at the randomness.
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Re: Free Will

Postby phasemancer » Thu Aug 23, 2012 10:54 am

If the world is deterministic, it is theoretically (but perhaps not practically) possible to build a computer that could predict the future, where you could watch a "movie" of yourself showing you everything you will do and every thought you will have. If on that computer you could see your arm moving left in ten seconds, you would be unable to move your arm right, no matter how much you want, though in this case you would not and could not want to do that. In this case there is no free will, as every action is forced in ways that cannot be changed, no matter what happens.

If the world is non-deterministic, however, there is some possibility of something like free will. Free will in this case I think would mean that there is a probability of different outcomes, your action is determined by the internal state of your neural networks, external input and a bit of randomness. The freedom here comes from that fact that things are not predetermined. If a computer predicted that you would move your arm to the left, that prediction itself could make you want to move your arm to the right, and you could then move your arm to the right.
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Re: Free Will

Postby bluremi » Fri Aug 24, 2012 4:55 pm

In your thought experiment, in order to predict your actions the computer would have to take into account that you are watching the computer report results to you.

Since interacting with the computer is one of the variables that affects the computer's prediction, you fall into some infinitely recursive logical problems here.
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Re: Free Will

Postby phasemancer » Fri Aug 24, 2012 5:29 pm

bluremi wrote:In your thought experiment, in order to predict your actions the computer would have to take into account that you are watching the computer report results to you.

Since interacting with the computer is one of the variables that affects the computer's prediction, you fall into some infinitely recursive logical problems here.

No, you'd just feed in the initial parameters of the universe and run a full simulation, thus you'd know everything that has happened, and everything that will happen in the future, in the entire universe. Not saying it is really possible, just that in theory you could know everything from the initial parameters of the universe.
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Re: Free Will

Postby Jeff » Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:16 pm

bluremi wrote:Hi Jeff,

Thanks for your post, it cleared up a misunderstanding I had about your argument. It's true that under the assumptions of "physicalism" free will is logically impossible.

1) That said, I think the onus is upon the non-phsyicalism crowd to explain how the mind could be separate from the brain. The example you gave in green, above, about the optical illusion seems to have a obvious flaw in premise #2: "Square B as we see it doesn't qualitatively exist in the physical world at all, on the computer monitor or in the brain". This seems to be just a blind assertion. Why doesn't the firing pattern of neurons in the brain map to a qualitative experience of the optical illusion? If we created a 4D lexicon of neuronal firing patterns, we could map an individual's brain states and reproduce the exact experience of the optical illusion of the square.

2) Additionally, I disagree with you on whether or not "free will" makes any sense as a concept at all, regardless of the underlying assumptions. Let's say that I agree with your premise that the mind is separate from the brain, and that it can be a source of free will. What does that actually mean?

To me, it seems that the only possible logical definition of free will is "randomness," because unless you are making a choice based on pre-existing causal factors, the only option left is that you are making a choice that is literally random, with no valid reason for anything that could be called a "preference." Free will is an attractive concept because it means we can retroactively provide justification for our choices or actions. If there is no justification, what's the point of free will?

Is there any difference between a sea of causal factors so large as to defy prediction and a random number generator?


I wasn't able to answer sooner.I've been pretty busy.The following should address point one.See,I don't need just that square to make this argument at all and 'the map is not the territory'..It applies to your entire visual field:

1.The conventional stance is that the world is an 'indirect representation' created by neurons.All perception takes place confined in a physically real brain. Consciousness-perception is an epiphenomenal by product and (dead) material and space are real.

2.If we project the properties of these indirect representations (which somehow have nothing to do with consciousness) onto the objects of perception,taken to be independent of mind, and trace a map on to brain activity,there will be no 'isomorphism' that preserves the properties attributed to the objects of perception.

3.No properties of the external object are created by neurons referencing other neurons.No 'endomorphic permutation' will yield existence from nonexistence.(or conscious from unconscious)The microstructures of the brain(electrons,molecules) are 'indiscernible'. One electron or molecule is the same as another.

John Lock's 'primary' and 'secondary qualities' of the world are not found in a brain.A particular brain, when examined, will possess it's own properties and qualities and not the ones of a particular object of perception. (Why would a brain not perceive itself as it,supposedly is?)

4.If all perceptions are 'indirect representations'.It follows that space and particles must also be 'indirect representations' and are not experienced intrinsically. It is arbitrary to decide that one set of representations are fundamental and others are not.This is 'special pleading'.

5.If space and particles are fundamental and indirect realism is true than space and particles would have to represent space and particles within the volume and material of the brain.

This is incoherent because:
A.Space and particles representing space and particles is self referential and circular.Like a printer that prints itself and becomes magically aware of it's duplicate all without 'real' space-like separation.(Remember, you guys want to abstract away consciousness.To do so material would have to know what it 'represents'.This is impossible without presupposing consciousness.'Panpsychism' is a rational option here though IMO.)

B.The volume of space in the cranium is smaller than the volume perceived in the world.The volume of the perceived world cannot be contained in the volume of the cranium.

6.Because of 2-5 indirect realism is false. The brain,a particular material object,does not possess the space,particles or properties we attribute to objects of perception.If the world exists there must be:
1.Direct perception.
2.Mutual information that spans 'material' objects.
3.Consciousness.


On point (2) I can conjecture in a logically consistent way later later.But for now let me say a few things.

1.Material events may seem random from our relative perspectives but fundamental randomness is incoherent.It's like saying there are causeless causes.Perceived 'material' events follow rules,laws and algorithms and are therefore not 'random'. Randomness may measure our ignorance within perceived space-time but,because:

A.Quantum computations exist and the bits required to describe (materially represent)400 entangled qubits would contain more bits (matter) than those that describe the entire KNOWN universe. And:

B.It's proven that there are no local hidden variables in QM.....

...we can say that the KNOWN universe is NOT the set of all that exists to stand in causal relation to what is experienced.

2.Because of Computational Irreducibility,even if you have a 'lap lace demon' that knows the state of entire known universe,it could not -even in principle- predict the very next state of the universe.Therefore as the known universe evolves,totally new information that could not have been predicted from sufficiently complex initial conditions IN space-time are created.

Choices that arises in our minds are similar.Perhaps they do arise because our conscious will serves a limited non algorithmic function for the events within our conscious capacity to affect. This would explain why evolution would select organisms which make use of mental processing such as ours.

Now,to use a bit Galen Strawson's argument:
If all that exists is physical
And consciousness exists
Then consciousness must be physical.

So if you are a physicalist you must be saying that consciousness is material and there are material causes EXCEPT for the material that is (somehow) identical to mental states.This is nonsense because the material that IS mental (somehow) would have to be an isolated system.This is clearly false.If all is physical and physical things cause events then what we call mental things also must cause events.This is what I meant by "false brain states".

However,as I showed mental properties are not physical properties.Yet mental properties exist.Therefore,since consciousness exists it is natural and not supernatural.Alternatives are needed beyond the limited and irrational assumptions of conventional physicalism.

IMO,promising paths are:
1.panpsychism
2.Theories of direct-ecological perception
3.Virtual reality conjectures
4.Information based theories
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Re: Free Will

Postby Jeff » Fri Sep 14, 2012 7:32 pm

BTW...Libet's RP has been misinterpreted:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn2 ... -will.html

Another blow against material reductionism:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 181228.htm

""According to previous research, this man should be a zombie," he adds. "But as we have shown, he is certainly not one. Once you've had the chance to meet him, you immediately recognize that he is self-aware."

"Here, we have a patient who is missing all the areas in the brain that are typically thought to be needed for self-awareness yet he remains self-aware," says co-corresponding author Justin Feinstein, who earned his doctorate at the UI in February. "Clearly, neuroscience is only beginning to understand how the human brain can generate a phenomenon as complex as self-awareness."

Based on philosophical reasons and personal non ordinary states of consciousness I disagree with the term 'generate' but I'll take it.... ;)
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Re: Free Will

Postby Jeff » Fri Sep 14, 2012 7:35 pm

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/obs ... ts-origin/

I had already linked to Gisin's video here but this article explains more clearly.

To believe you have no free will is to believe in 'superdeterminism' that is believe that *somehow* eventhough computational irreducibility would prevent it, your choices were predetermined before the 'big bang'. This is mathematical proof and experimental evidence of freedom:

"If there are, say, 1000 possible measurements, then complete freedom means you could choose any of the 1000; if your choice were constrained to 500, you would have lost one bit of free will. Interestingly, Barrett and Gisin showed that the loss of even a single bit would explain away spooky action. You wouldn’t need to suppose that your decision somehow leaps across space to influence the particle. Instead, both your choice and the outcome could be prearranged to match."
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Re: Free Will

Postby Jeff » Fri Sep 14, 2012 7:56 pm

"with no valid reason for anything that could be called a "preference."

And your own,personal past choices provide no weight? Your subjective desire doesn't exist?
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Re: Free Will

Postby bluremi » Fri Sep 14, 2012 8:42 pm

Thanks for your reply, some thought provoking stuff! I disagree with your logical argument, though:

Jeff wrote:4.If all perceptions are 'indirect representations'.It follows that space and particles must also be 'indirect representations' and are not experienced intrinsically. It is arbitrary to decide that one set of representations are fundamental and others are not.This is 'special pleading'.


You are essentially saying that because all of our "knowledge" of the physical universe is deduced from indirect representations of the universe, i) to make any scientific assertions about the universe at the atomic level is solipsistic and therefore wrong, and ii) therefore consciousness cannot possibly reside in the brain.

You are ignoring the fact that symbolic representations are required when describing any system. Mathematics relies entirely on the use of abstract symbols to describe complex systems, that does not mean that any mathematical theorem is untrue. Therefore, there does not need to be a 1-to-1 ratio of subject:object, or neurons to universe, or in your last example, particles in the volume of space to particles in the brain.

I think a more useful argument is Plato's Cave: you can make observations about the world based on your senses, and they may seem internally logical and consistent, but still be very wrong. I think that's the best argument that can be made against pure materialism, basically an argument from ignorance. On that level I would have to concede the point.

Jeff wrote:So if you are a physicalist you must be saying that consciousness is material and there are material causes EXCEPT for the material that is (somehow) identical to mental states.This is nonsense because the material that IS mental (somehow) would have to be an isolated system.This is clearly false.If all is physical and physical things cause events then what we call mental things also must cause events.This is what I meant by "false brain states".


If you are a physicalist you are saying that consciousness is material and there are material causes for EVERYTHING, including mental states. Physical events influence mental states, which are configurations in the brain, which then also cause events. Our brain is connected to the environment in both directions: we receive input from our senses, and we then react to the input through our physical bodies. There's no breakdown of cause/effect in either direction as far as mental states go.

Jeff wrote:And your own,personal past choices provide no weight? Your subjective desire doesn't exist?


Past choices and subjective desires are illusory. We attribute personal ownership of our past choices and desires because we are blind to their ineffable nature. If you're not making a choice based on pre-existing causal factors (that includes preferences, desires, memories, etc), you are literally not making a choice based on ANYTHING. That's why free will seems to be a nonsense concept to me. It's impossible to define: if you are making choices based on your memories and preferences, you are not in control of your own actions, instead you are under the control of your past experiences, in a regression leading all the way back to your birth.

If, on the other hand, you cannot explain why you are making a particular choice (because you don't know), there is literally nothing in control of your actions; there is no agent! To this day I still haven't heard a definition of free will that makes any logical sense. I seriously believe it's an oxymoronic term.
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Re: Free Will

Postby Jeff » Sun Sep 16, 2012 4:04 am

Bluremi:
"You are essentially saying that because all of our "knowledge" of the physical universe is deduced from indirect representations of the universe, i) to make any scientific assertions about the universe at the atomic level is solipsistic and therefore wrong, and ii) therefore consciousness cannot possibly reside in the brain."

Jeff:
But I'm also saying more specifically that one has to give up either indirect realism or the idea that they actually perceive fundamental space and matter.Both can't be true.

Bluremi:
"You are ignoring the fact that symbolic representations are required when describing any system. Mathematics relies entirely on the use of abstract symbols to describe complex systems, that does not mean that any mathematical theorem is untrue. "

Jeff:
I'm not ignoring that,in fact that's a big part of the issue.I'm pointing out that the brain ,supposedly,as a symbolic representation,a thing with it's own material states, and a thing that interprets itself not AS itself; but as faithful symbols of the world-that with a magical hand wave become phenomenal perception- makes no sense.The symbols are not quantitatively or qualitatively identical to ,or duplicates of, the phenomenal.

Just as an argument for materialism claims that a nonphysical mind cannot interact with a physical thing the converse is true.It's like claiming that the distributed material and energy exchanges that encode a scanned photo in a computer can also decode itself and reach back to 'see' the photo.

You can't honestly claim that the brain both symbolizes and perceives 'transparently' beyond it's own states to the world without presupposing intentional mental states,the thing materialism tries to abstract away. It's something like saying that a material object like a road sign knows what it is that it represents or refers to.Intention,a mental property,is a state that is 'about' something.For material to be 'about' something and also BE that something(claiming we are just a brain) it would have to transcends itself.......to itself.Which is nonsense.Something else (mind) is required to bridge from brain to world.

Bluremi:
"Therefore, there does not need to be a 1-to-1 ratio of subject:object, or neurons to universe, or in your last example, particles in the volume of space to particles in the brain."

Jeff:
Well if the brain generates all perception internally and all perception corresponds to what is out there,then there is some kind of ratio.If it is not 1:1 and the world is greater than the brain,then there is information compression.Many things 'represented' by less things or one thing. This actually compounds the issues.

Assuming realism:
If the brain is a set of space and matter,imbedded in a larger set of space and matter....

And is *somehow* the perceiver of actual space and matter beyond it's subset by generating self referential 'representations' (maps) restricted to the actual space and matter of this lesser volume

Then such an internal mapping (endomorphic permutation) will not possess enough volume to be both actual space and phenomenal space.The matter will not possess the primary and secondary qualities of the 'represented' matter in the actual spatial coordinates.

A brain can't know a world without intentional mental states that share information with,and extend to, the world.
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Re: Free Will

Postby Jeff » Sun Sep 16, 2012 4:12 am

"there is no agent!"

Do you have the sense of agency?
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Re: Free Will

Postby Jeff » Sun Sep 16, 2012 2:10 pm

Bluremi:
"Our brain is connected to the environment in both directions: we receive input from our senses, and we then react to the input through our physical bodies. There's no breakdown of cause/effect in either direction as far as mental states go"

Jeff:
I don't disagree here at all actually. In fact this statement flirts with ecological perception.But it's only the whole story under materialism if we ignore mental properties.As much as I favor direct perception over indirect (a visual perception is literally made of photons) it doesn't explain everything.And there are arguments that pretty much destroy it too.Unless we assign mental properties to the environment and brain (panpsychism or ubiquitous 'panprotoconsciousness' ) or do away with material altogether. (idealism)

I actually would prefer that idealism or dual aspect monism be true.There are only partitioned personal minds who's sensory percepts are 'content addressable' within a greater Mind.Or both space-matter and mind emerge from one ground: information.These can explain both material (as information) and mind.Material monism cannot explain mind it can only deny it.Which is absurd IMO.

As for the world springing from information,this is an idea taken very seriously by physicists working on quantum gravity....It has explanatory power and working computer models:
http://www.signallake.com/innovation/Se ... mJul08.pdf
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Re: Free Will

Postby Summerlander » Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:40 pm

Jeff, this is from you Newscientist link: ;D

Cognitive neuroscientist Anil Seth of the University of Sussex in Brighton, UK, is impressed by the work, but also circumspect about what it says about free will. "It's a more satisfying mechanistic explanation of the readiness potential. But it doesn't bounce conscious free will suddenly back into the picture," he says. "Showing that one aspect of the Libet experiment can be open to interpretation does not mean that all arguments against conscious free will need to be ejected."

According to Seth, when the volunteers in Libet's experiment said they felt an urge to act, that urge is an experience, similar to an experience of smell or taste. The new model is "opening the door towards a richer understanding of the neural basis of the conscious experience of volition", he says.


It doesn't mean anything, mate.  I still think logic lies in free will being an illusion.  How can there be free will if you as a living being are only reacting to stimuli?  And if you think you have really made a decision at all (or even desisted from a decision in favour of another), it is only because your brain's complexity, particularly the higher layers, have embellished or reinforced the free will illusion on inspection - particularly if the bias towards free will is strong (which it is in the majority of individuals - even I catch myself using the term "free will" in conversations about doing what I want).  But in reality, it is not really about what one wants, it is about what one feels like doing.  And there's a big difference... 


You feel a certain way right now and have certain thoughts and even a worldview based on what you have experienced so far.  But remember... a psychedelic could change all of that! :-X
Consciousness is overrated, Jeff.
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