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*sigh* The illusion of free will
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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wosbald wrote:
+JMJ+

Fixed it fer ya. Wink


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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 5:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Proposing that there is something "more" to human cognition that is not explained by any natural laws we know about is mysticism. There's nothing wrong with that. But admit it's mysticism.

You can say that one day science will find it. People also believe that one day we will prove unicorns exist. Such beliefs are only admired by the people who have them, to the rest of us it doesn't look so good.

Further, believing one day science will explain the origin of free will, but not ALSO admitting that one day science could explain how free will is governed by cause and effect, is cherry-picking to support a chosen conclusion. No one knows what science will find. That's why we pursue it. What we think the outcome will be isn't of any use.

I for one am not happy about some spirit/soul/force controlling what I think from somewhere utterly inaccessible to me, and so beyond my ability to control or abjure or even send a signal to. I am happier having free will that's deterministic. Because it's only me who's in charge.
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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 5:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What's really interesting is the idea that you choose everything all the time simultaneously filling the multiverse with new realities each time. Since the multiverse is limitless there's plenty of room for the version of you where you chose vanilla instead of chocolate ice cream.

As your soft human brain is only capable of being aware of a single reality you are oblivious to all the rest.

Imagine a state in the distant future where you are capable of tracking more than one reality, maybe not all of them but at least a few.

You can see that if you had turned left instead of right you would have been run over by a truck in the other choice related existence.

I know, I know. Its not a provable theory. Take it up with the guys developing the Many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. Smile
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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wayfriend wrote:
Proposing that there is something "more" to human cognition that is not explained by any natural laws we know about is mysticism. There's nothing wrong with that. But admit it's mysticism.
I assume you're talking to me, since I'm the one claiming this. I hope it's okay to respond directly.

I admit that it sounds like mysticism on the surface, but I deny that it actually is, as do philosophers like the atheist, Thomas Nagel and the physicist Roger Penrose.. Our position is a bit more subtle. I think attempting to simplify it with this label only hinders one's own understanding of it. Have you read either or their books? You will find much more detailed descriptions and robust defenses. I recommend MIND AND COSMOS by Nagel and SHADOWS OF THE MIND by Penrose.

What I'm asserting is not unscientific. I can assert the very same thing about the universe: there is "more" to the universe that is not explained by any natural laws. An example would be the ratio of the election's mass to the proton's mass. No one knows why these two particles have these particular masses, and what fixes that ratio. It's unexplained by any known physical law. That doesn't make it mysticism. We can also question why the universe is so amendable to mathematical description. There is no scientific explanation for this. That doesn't make it mysticism. It's just pointing out a gap in our explanations. When those gaps relate to very deep issues in the nature of reality, it often takes a paradigm revolution to fill them in.

Wayfriend wrote:
You can say that one day science will find it. People also believe that one day we will prove unicorns exist.


Deep mysteries only become mysticism when you insert magic or miracles into the gap of explanation--as creationists try to do when they note gaps in the evolutionary account. By explicitly stating that I expect science will one day explain it, I'm doing exactly the opposite. This is nothing at all like believing that unicorns will be proven to exist, because we already know that mind exists.

All I'm saying is that our expectation that mind will be explained with a reduction to materialism has some serious problems which are not admitted or considered by materialists--they are dismissed as appeals to mysticism (as you've done). That's not a response to our points, it's an evasive mischaracterization.

Wayfriend wrote:
Such beliefs are only admired by the people who have them, to the rest of us it doesn't look so good.


I'm not sure how this is relevant to the topic at hand.

Wayfriend wrote:

Further, believing one day science will explain the origin of free will, but not ALSO admitting that one day science could explain how free will is governed by cause and effect, is cherry-picking to support a chosen conclusion. No one knows what science will find. That's why we pursue it. What we think the outcome will be isn't of any use.
Why do we think that all of reality will be explained by one set of physical laws? Why do we bother trying to find a Grand Unification Theory that will unite quantum mechanics and relativity? Why don't the greatest minds in science just "see where science leads them," as you say we should, instead of pursuing this goal? We don't blindly follow science. We test hypotheses. A hypothesis is an opinion of the outcome. Not only are they *not* useless, science doesn't advance without them. Science isn't a path we follow, it's an exploration, guided by our intuition, assumptions, beliefs, and opinions. Sometimes we discover criteria that limit any possible future explanation--like Bell's Theorem. It's not unscientific to make a claim that any future explanation (of a given type) must take a certain form. That's a hypothesis we can test, too. If it turns out wrong, fine, it gets corrected.

With that said, I'm not claiming that physical cause-and-effect can never account for the phenomenon which seems like freewill to us. Instead, I'm saying that there are serious obstacles to that proposition, some of which seem to be obstacles not only in practice, but in principle. For instance, how in the world can non-teleological processes lead to teleological creatures like us? That seems like a contradiction in terms. Much more than a practical puzzle, it's a logical quandary. Teleology exists in the universe. We have the direct evidence in our own goal-oriented actions. But the universe--scientists tell us--isn't teleological. So how does it happen? One doesn't reduce to the other, not in any obvious way.

Wayfriend wrote:
I for one am not happy about some spirit/soul/force controlling what I think from somewhere utterly inaccessible to me, and so beyond my ability to control or abjure or even send a signal to. I am happier having free will that's deterministic. Because it's only me who's in charge.
I am certainly not talking about spirits and souls. Nor is mind utterly inaccessible to me--it's exactly the opposite. Freewill that's deterministic isn't freewill, it's the illusion of one. You're happy with an illusion? I'm not.
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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

+JMJ+

Zarathustra wrote:
Wayfriend wrote:
I for one am not happy about some spirit/soul/force controlling what I think from somewhere utterly inaccessible to me, and so beyond my ability to control or abjure or even send a signal to. I am happier having free will that's deterministic. Because it's only me who's in charge.


I am certainly not talking about spirits and souls. Nor is mind utterly inaccessible to me--it's exactly the opposite. Freewill that's deterministic isn't freewill, it's the illusion of one. You're happy with an illusion? I'm not.


Assuming I'm reading your objection aright, I think that what he means is that he's happy with a freewill that's determinative. Not that he's happy with a freewill that's determined by an external cause.
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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wosbald wrote:
Assuming I'm reading your objection aright, I think that what he means is that he's happy with a freewill that's determinative. Not that he's happy with a freewill that's determined by an external cause.

No, I mean deterministic, as in following cause and effect. But that is, as I see it, the only form of free will that's determinative (I just looked that word up!). It's also the only form of free will that's not an illusion - when your controlled by randomness, or controlled by supernatural phenomenon that you cannot perceive, you are not free. The "free" in "free will" after all doesn't denote "unconstrained", it denotes "not under the direction of something else". If my will is guided by who I am what I think, and nothing else, it is free, whether it follows the natural laws of cause and effect or not.
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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 7:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wosbald wrote:
... I think that what he means is that he's happy with a freewill that's determinative. Not that he's happy with a freewill that's determined by an external cause.
Neither of us mentioned external causes. I understand that people are talking about physical causation within their own brains. I'm saying that if "freewill" is actually physical causation within the brain, it can't be freewill ... which is what Fist and Faith is also saying.

Can we all agree that mind is not physical? Intentionality, qualia, subjectivity, etc. have no mass, no objective properties, no spatial extension, no definite spot in space. While we may locate the physical processes which produce consciousness in specific neurons--which in turn have mass, spatial extension, and objective properties--this is not the same as spatially and physically defining the location or mass of a subjective experience. How much does the redness of red weigh? It's a ludicrous question.

So if consciousness isn't physical, then we've already admitted that there are things in the universe which aren't physical. If there are effects which aren't physical, why can't there also be causes that aren't physical? Nonphysical causation is what I'm talking about. I'm not saying that the actions or contents of mind isn't determined by itself, I'm saying just the opposite: it is self-determined. However, that's not committing me to physical causation. It's mental states causing other mental states.

That proposition is no more mystical than the existence of immaterial mind itself. If there exists a phenomena that is immaterial--and that isn't mystical--then I need not defend myself against a charge of mysticism in claiming that this phenomenon can itself have causal agency (which, by definition, supercedes physical causality). It's a higher level of causation, holistic causation of an emergent phenomenon.
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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 12:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

+JMJ+

wayfriend wrote:
Wosbald wrote:
Assuming I'm reading your objection aright, I think that what he means is that he's happy with a freewill that's determinative. Not that he's happy with a freewill that's determined by an external cause.


No, I mean deterministic, as in following cause and effect. But that is, as I see it, the only form of free will that's determinative (I just looked that word up!). It's also the only form of free will that's not an illusion - when your controlled by randomness, or controlled by supernatural phenomenon that you cannot perceive, you are not free. The "free" in "free will" after all doesn't denote "unconstrained", it denotes "not under the direction of something else". If my will is guided by who I am what I think, and nothing else, it is free, whether it follows the natural laws of cause and effect or not.


Okay. I think I'm tracking, and I think that we're on the same page. If you think otherwise, feel free to let me know.

--------------------------------------------

Zarathustra wrote:
Wosbald wrote:
... I think that what he means is that he's happy with a freewill that's determinative. Not that he's happy with a freewill that's determined by an external cause.


Neither of us mentioned external causes. I understand that people are talking about physical causation within their own brains. I'm saying that if "freewill" is actually physical causation within the brain, it can't be freewill ... which is what Fist and Faith is also saying.


It does seem to me that one could say "external" inasmuch as one would be referring to that which is "external to an illusion" (with consciousness being understood as nothing but an insubstantial epiphenomenon of physical causation). Once the externality is breached, the illusion dissipates.

Regardless, I'm not going to go to the mat for this terminology. I admit to not following this thread all that closely, and therefore, I must not be tracking with all of the lines of distinction that have been drawn thus far. I prolly should gracefully bow-out (at least, for now), since I'm only making a muck of an already messy convo.

Before I withdraw, maybe I can be of help in saying that I don't put Freewill in question, since I affirm it as a philosophical axiom which, thus, can't be proved without assuming it. In my estimation, anything short of such a metaphysically-principled affirmation leads to the same dead-ends as Descartes trying to prove his existence through recourse to an external guarantor.

On that note, I suspect that F&F's wrestling with Freewill may be symptomatic of an implicit, inherited, Kantian residue. If that thread is pulled, then maybe the blockage can be cleared, or at least, illuminated.
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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hashi Lebwohl wrote:
Zarathustra wrote:
Physical laws have no goals. Atoms don't have ideas. The human mind is adding something to the universe that isn't contained in the physical laws which produces it. Both the content of consciousness and the products of conscious people are things that can't determined by physical processes, and indeed violate standard cause-and-effect by being teleological and/or ideal in nature.


Godel already covered this topic. We may substitute "the laws of physics" for "any consistent formal system" and thus conclude that there are things which are true--"statements of the language of the formal system"--but which cannot be proved or disproved from within the formal system itself.


I know what you're saying, but we can't substitute the laws of physics for "any consistent formal system." Physical laws aren't a formal system. They are contingent regularities, not necessary relations. They are subject to revision by recourse to observation, rather than being necessarily true. They aren't generated by axioms, they are the product of inference and induction. Godel was very clear that his theorem can't be applied to the physical world.

It's not that natural laws can't ever explain consciousness. Our consciousness appeared in organisms through evolution and is sustained in us by chemical reactions in the brain. There's no reason in principle why it can't eventually be explained, even though there are reasons in principle why it can't be explained by reduction to materialism.
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PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2017 4:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
When one idea follows another idea in a reasonable fashion, the laws of physics don't determine this flow. It's the ideas themselves that are causing other ideas--causation that happens on an entirely different level than the atoms bumping around in neurons.
The reason one idea follows another is because one reminds me of the next. And the resemblance is not merely in the thought, but in the ways the two things are encoded in our brain. The flow is on two levels. The flow in the thought comes because of the flow in the "atoms bumping around in neurons." The memory that some event brings up is stored in certain ways, and the event that brings up that memory is similar enough to cause that memory to be brought to the surface. They resonate. Pattern recognition. One thought does not bring up another without having caused a resonance.
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PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2017 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:
The reason one idea follows another is because one reminds me of the next. And the resemblance is not merely in the thought, but in the ways the two things are encoded in our brain.
But no two brains are the same. We don't all encode ideas with the same exact string of connected neurons. The relationship between ideas and neurons isn't one-to-one, but organic. Thus, it really doesn't matter how we encode these ideas. What matters is their meaning. When one idea leads to the next, it's not because the firing of "matrix of neurons X" leads to the firing of "matrix of neurons Y" by some physical, deterministic rule (such that if X fires, so too does Y, necessarily). That matrix could be different for each individual person, with no clear physical rule leading to the firing of the appropriate matrix of neurons for whatever concept we're representing with "Y."

When people learn math, for instance, they build up networks of connected neurons on the basis of the logical necessity of the relations themselves. The connections formed in the brain don't cause us to recognize that "1+1" = "2." The causation happens in the opposite direction: because we recognize the logical necessity of this operation, we form neural connections to retain this knowledge. The understanding of 2 being the sum of 1 and 1 isn't the product of some physical causality between the firing of two sets of neurons, but instead the necessity that the answer could not possibly be anything else. The causation MUST happen in the direction of ideal truth ==> neural connections, or the validity of math would be completely undermined.

This has nothing to do with resemblance. These thoughts aren't connected because they remind us of themselves. (Perhaps that happens in rote memorization, but we don't contain every single mathematical fact by memorization.) While some form of neural connection is following the logic of math, it is the logic itself that is connecting the numbers/relations, and our thoughts moving from one to the other are caused by this logical connection, not by physical laws. No physical determinism could possibly dictate this flow, because the laws of arithmetic are not physical laws, they are purely formal. Physical laws are contingent, not logically necessary.

The same thing happens when we form new thoughts ... such as composing new music or writing a story. The causation can't be deterministic, otherwise that thought or music would have in some sense always been in our brain somewhere, "programmed" to have happened. We can't possibly think of a new thought or piece of music because of resemblance, or there would never be any new thoughts. They would all be likenesses of old thoughts.
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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 12:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suppose it's an exaggeration to say I disagree with every single sentence. Laughing But I disagree with everything you said.

Zarathustra wrote:
Fist and Faith wrote:
The reason one idea follows another is because one reminds me of the next. And the resemblance is not merely in the thought, but in the ways the two things are encoded in our brain.
But no two brains are the same. We don't all encode ideas with the same exact string of connected neurons.
True. Not the same exact string of connected neurons. But the fact that there are variations from one brain to another does not mean they don't work the same way. The same mechanisms are used, even if the exact number of neurons used and paths taken vary.

Zarathustra wrote:
The relationship between ideas and neurons isn't one-to-one, but organic. Thus, it really doesn't matter how we encode these ideas. What matters is their meaning. When one idea leads to the next, it's not because the firing of "matrix of neurons X" leads to the firing of "matrix of neurons Y" by some physical, deterministic rule (such that if X fires, so too does Y, necessarily). That matrix could be different for each individual person, with no clear physical rule leading to the firing of the appropriate matrix of neurons for whatever concept we're representing with "Y."
Yes, "matrix of neurons Y" fires because "matrix of neurons X" fired first, triggering Y. Matrix X is a current event (sight, memory, whatever). Matrix Y is a memory. Each matrix is made up of many parts; smaller systems of neural pathways. One of these smaller systems, Sub 1, is a part of both Matrix X and Matrix Y. When Matrix X fires, Sub 1 obviously fires. When Sub 1 fires, it triggers the rest of Matrix Y. And you remember the event that created Matrix Y.

It is a deterministic rule. That's how memories work. They don't pop up for no reason. They are triggered. They are stored in certain ways, and are recalled in certain ways. And if an event does not make a big enough impression, it does not become a memory of sufficient strength to be triggered. If certain neurons are destroyed, the memory can be destroyed, and there is no longer anything there to be triggered again.

It's all there in our brains, in the neurons and chemicals. It follows rules.

Zarathustra wrote:
When people learn math, for instance, they build up networks of connected neurons on the basis of the logical necessity of the relations themselves. The connections formed in the brain don't cause us to recognize that "1+1" = "2." The causation happens in the opposite direction: because we recognize the logical necessity of this operation, we form neural connections to retain this knowledge. The understanding of 2 being the sum of 1 and 1 isn't the product of some physical causality between the firing of two sets of neurons, but instead the necessity that the answer could not possibly be anything else. The causation MUST happen in the direction of ideal truth ==> neural connections, or the validity of math would be completely undermined.

This has nothing to do with resemblance. These thoughts aren't connected because they remind us of themselves. (Perhaps that happens in rote memorization, but we don't contain every single mathematical fact by memorization.) While some form of neural connection is following the logic of math, it is the logic itself that is connecting the numbers/relations, and our thoughts moving from one to the other are caused by this logical connection, not by physical laws. No physical determinism could possibly dictate this flow, because the laws of arithmetic are not physical laws, they are purely formal. Physical laws are contingent, not logically necessary.
Humans recognize patterns. Our brains are like film. Expose it to light, and there's an image. The image was not there before the light hit it. Slap your hand down on wet sand. The impression of your hand left behind on the sand was not always there. Expose our infant brains to repetitions of a pattern, and neural pathways develop that recognize the pattern. There are countless patterns in our world. From infancy, the neural connections are being made and reinforced every time someone sees one thing, another thing, and the things together. From repeated exposure to the pattern, the pathways grow. And then the pathways insist on the pattern. When the most basic mathematical fact of 1+1=2 is taught to each of us, it simply puts a label on/gives a name to what we have seen countless times in our lives. If we did not communicate, I imagine some people would come to understand the pattern they see all the time. Each of them rediscovering this basic bit of mathematics. (Doubtless, many people would never realize it in any conscious way.) But we do communicate. The first people to come up with the idea of removing objects from this pattern, the first people to understand that numbers did not have to be attached to things, told others the idea. And it grew and grew.

Zarathustra wrote:
The same thing happens when we form new thoughts ... such as composing new music or writing a story. The causation can't be deterministic, otherwise that thought or music would have in some sense always been in our brain somewhere, "programmed" to have happened. We can't possibly think of a new thought or piece of music because of resemblance, or there would never be any new thoughts. They would all be likenesses of old thoughts.
The arrangement the billiard balls end up in when they settle after the cue ball hits them is not "programmed" into them in any sense. And I doubt the exact arrangement has come about twice. There are many variables.

There are many times many more variables involved with us.

-80,000,000,000 neurons and the uncountable pathways.

-Seemingly pre-programmed traits that differ, often more than somewhat, from one person to the next. Mozart, Einstein, and Shakespeare are extreme examples.

-People with the most similar lives possible still have different experiences. Even twins can have different medical or psychological issues. At the very least, they see the same thing from different angles because of not being able to occupy the exact same point in space at the exact same time. But most people have extremely different experiences. Raised by different parents; living in different places; having different friends; and on and on.

That's all a billiards game beyond understanding. We could never keep track of every variable that leads to our thoughts and actions. Again, "If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn't."
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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 1:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:
Yes, "matrix of neurons Y" fires because "matrix of neurons X" fired first, triggering Y. Matrix X is a current event (sight, memory, whatever). Matrix Y is a memory. Each matrix is made up of many parts; smaller systems of neural pathways. One of these smaller systems, Sub 1, is a part of both Matrix X and Matrix Y. When Matrix X fires, Sub 1 obviously fires. When Sub 1 fires, it triggers the rest of Matrix Y. And you remember the event that created Matrix Y.
Where does meaning exist in that chain of physically determined neural firing? How do we distinguish between meaningfulness and nonsense (in language) if all our thoughts are actually physical things? A physical process can be meaningless and chaotic, even as it follows physical laws (e.g. a storm). There is no inherent difference between one group of neurons firing vs another, at least not physically. So where does our recognition of meaning come from, if it's all based on physical laws that don't even make a distinction between meaning and chaos, much less meaning and nonsense? Our neurons could fire in completely chaotic ways--a "brain storm"--without violating any deterministic law of physics.

At some point, the distinguishing factors have to lie in the meaning and grammar of the language and thoughts themselves, or it makes no sense to say that we are even capable of understanding each other. I have no access to your neural patterns--neither do you, not really. When you say something to me, and this causes me to have an idea, there is another layer of reality over and above the patterned waves of air molecules being received by my eardrums. That layer isn't physical. It's ideal. Though it's true that my brain is good at recognizing patterns, the part of me that understands your meaning has no conscious knowledge of the patterns of air molecules that carry this signal. I'm hardly aware of the shapes of the letters I'm seeing now (unless I turn my attention to them). The patterns occurring where I'm most intensely focused are patterns of conceptual meaning, not patterns of perceptual signal carriers.

I can see how everything you're saying applies to the patterns of perception, the signals, markers, and signs we use to convey meaning. That can be described in terms of physical determinism. But the meaning itself cannot, AFAICT. We think in a level "above" the perceptual signs. The letters that carry my meaning are just as necessary (in a mechanical sense) and irrelevant as my brain itself. What I mean is ... neither meaning nor consciousness could be "sustained" without these physical carriers (letters, neurons), but the truly interesting thing that's happening in either case happens on a level that has virtually nothing to do with the shape, constitution, or physical structure of those carriers of meaning. [Consider all the 1000s of fonts just for our own language that could carry exactly the same meaning, or all the different forms of writing we could invent to do the same ... the physical carriers of meaning are entirely interchangeable and at some point irrelevant ... ignored even as we use them.]

Fist and Faith wrote:
It is a deterministic rule. That's how memories work.
I wasn't talking about memories, I'm talking about the flow of thoughts as we think of new things, such as making this post.

Fist and Faith wrote:

Humans recognize patterns. Our brains are like film. Expose it to light, and there's an image. The image was not there before the light hit it. Slap your hand down on wet sand. The impression of your hand left behind on the sand was not always there. Expose our infant brains to repetitions of a pattern, and neural pathways develop that recognize the pattern. There are countless patterns in our world. From infancy, the neural connections are being made and reinforced every time someone sees one thing, another thing, and the things together. From repeated exposure to the pattern, the pathways grow. And then the pathways insist on the pattern.
Sure, that happens. But that doesn't explain how we *produce* new patterns never seen before, such as new mathematical theorems. Wet sand doesn't make its own, never-seen-before patterns. Our brains are doing much more than taking the imprint of external patterns, more than pattern recognition. We create. And our process of creation doesn't merely follow physical rules. One logical point doesn't lead to another logical point due to following deterministic physical laws--it leads to the next point due to following logical necessity. In addition, we can recognize the truth of logical necessity not merely by the application of the appropriate axiomatic rule, but by eidetic certainty. Computers can apply axiomatic rules. They cannot understand the logical necessity of the result, do not experience an eidetic certainty in the result. Logical and math are more than just psychological habits we learn from experience. They are a "universe" to themselves, a completely immaterial "realm" we can explore without any perception whatsoever. Our exploration of this realm not only leaves behind physical movement and physical perception, but also the deterministic laws upon which our neural framework depends. Sure, neurons are still firing in this activity. But they are "taking the imprint" of things that come from nowhere else than the logical necessity of math and reason. You cannot explain on your account of physical determinism how that happens. Math and reason aren't physical, and yet they're determining the flow of neurons that make up thoughts of them. That's non-physical causation.

Fist and Faith wrote:

The arrangement the billiard balls end up in when they settle after the cue ball hits them is not "programmed" into them in any sense. And I doubt the exact arrangement has come about twice. There are many variables.
But the arrangement into which billiard balls end up is entirely dependent upon initial conditions (i.e. exactly how they were racked up and exactly how you hit the cue ball which strikes them). The arrangement of a work of art depends on something much more than the initial state: a goal, an intention, some murky glimpse of the final state. Creativity is teleological. Just like Donaldson writing for the end. Billiard balls never strive for a particular final shape. They move according to physical laws without any intention, will, or goal.

So, what makes our brain different from billiard balls, besides complexity? How does adding more connections introduce intention and goals? I don't think you've even touched on this issue. Where does teleology arise in physical determinism?
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Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do–back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 7:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heh....this popped up from a friend of mine. Z, you mentioned Bell, so that's just a bonus connection. I looked up the physicist---he has real credentials, so that's a good sign.


https://futurism.com/scientists-have-an-experiment-to-see-if-the-human-mind-is-bound-to-the-physical-world/
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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 11:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome find! Can't wait to see the results.
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Meaning is created internally by each individual in each specific life: any attempt at *meaning* which relies on some kind of external superstructure (God, Satan, the Creator, the Worm, whatever) for its substance misses the point (I mean the point of my story). -SRD

Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do–back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
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PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2017 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, that's very cool. Cool

So, Z... Laughing I was kind of hoping to this thread would get me to a different mindset before I give Nagel a serious go. It doesn't seems logical to read why X could not be caused by Y if I do not think X happened in the first place.

Unfortunately, this thread did not accomplish that. I don't claim to have all the answers. I'm not sure I have even one. Mysteries and awe abound. You and I view some things in very different ways. Meaning and mathematics, for example. Also, I don't know of any theory for the existence of consciousness that's held by a majority of people in the field. Heck, I'm not sure they all agree on what the definition of it is. So I hold to the idea that the awareness granted us by 80,000,000,000 neurons, a neocortex, what must be some impressive feedback loops, various hardwirings, etc, might be able to explain things. I'm not ready to assume that the laws of the universe, tested and verified to a staggering degree, gave rise to something that is outside of those laws, which cannot be tested, verified, or described with any clarity or detail.

But I want to give Nagel a try. Maybe he'll say something that clicks with me. Maybe I can suspend my disbelief in some ways, and learn other things anyway. I don't know. But, since I do like some of the things he says in the first couple chapters, it seems worth trying.
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PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2017 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

F&F, you don't think it's significant at all that non-teleological laws of science give rise to a phenomenon (consciousness) that acts on the basis of goals?
As I said above, the final state of billiard balls in your example depends entirely on the initial state (as does most everything else in the universe--that's determinism, after all). So how does adding more connections in the brain introduce intention and teleology? How does a purely deterministic system acquire the ability to operate on the basis of striving for particular ends? Everything else in the universe is blind to the future, except us. Evolution itself can't operate on the basis of purpose, goals, intentions, so how does it produce organisms which can? I hate to keep repeating myself, but you don't address this at all.
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Meaning is created internally by each individual in each specific life: any attempt at *meaning* which relies on some kind of external superstructure (God, Satan, the Creator, the Worm, whatever) for its substance misses the point (I mean the point of my story). -SRD

Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do–back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
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PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2017 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, I haven't addressed it. That's because I think it requires a huge post, and I only have half-baked thoughts on it. But let's go slowly on this, ok?

Is it not an act based on a goal when a bird builds a nest, or a spider spins a web? A little more complex is when a squirrel gathers nuts for the winter. Even more complex is when a mother bear spends a few years teaching her cubs things they must learn, or they will die.

Or the granddaddy of them all! A monarch butterfly flies 2,500 miles from southern Canada to Mexico for the winter? A freakin' butterfly?!? That's among the most amazing things I've ever heard of. Their children begin flying north in the spring; die along the way, but their children continue; die along the way, but their children continue. The annual cycle involves at least four generations. And they don't merely go to Mexico, they always go to the same trees. Butterflies that were never at those trees, that were never even in Mexico, fly to the same trees their ancestors did four generations ago!

Is it the butterfly's consciousness that tells it when to start flying and where to go? How many neurons does a butterfly even have?

Is the spider thinking about the best way to catch food? Although all spiders produce silk, not all spiders spin webs. Some hunt. Some wait for prey to come to them. Do the ones who spin webs do it after careful consideration of their options?

This is some pretty amazing stuff going on. But are they not the product of a purely deterministic system? Are they anything more than instincts, programmed into the DNA?
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PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2017 2:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're right, evolution accomplishes some pretty amazing things without goals. The power of natural selection + mutation is such that it can mimic goal-oriented behavior. After all, it produces things like seeds and embryos, which seem like they have a purpose of maturing. But we accept that this is all the product of blind forces which have been honed through natural selection. Nature doesn't really intend for a seed to grow into a plant, it is just a marvelous accident, right?

At some point I think we need to recapture our incredulity for such "accidents." There is more going on here. If not in plants or spiders, then certainly in us. The spider or the seed don't have to know what they're doing. They can be following a "program." This is easy to accept for the seed--it's a genetic program. It's a little less obvious for the spider, but I think this behavior is probably "programmed," too. It doesn't know exactly what it's doing, it just does.

But we know what we're doing. That's why we don't just build webs ... we build the World Wide Web. What humans are doing with their intelligence isn't just an extension of spiders and seeds. We're understanding the nature of reality. We're atoms that know we're atoms. We've entered a feedback loop or something. We've crossed into paradox territory. We're the universe waking up to itself ... why shouldn't that be transcendental?
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Meaning is created internally by each individual in each specific life: any attempt at *meaning* which relies on some kind of external superstructure (God, Satan, the Creator, the Worm, whatever) for its substance misses the point (I mean the point of my story). -SRD

Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do–back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 19, 2017 10:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jumping back here, since I saw you and Av discussing things. Laughing Hoping to narrow things down a little. We branched out into a few areas.

Zarathustra wrote:
At some point I think we need to recapture our incredulity for such "accidents." There is more going on here.
How much do you still agree with this:
Zarathustra wrote:
We turn wonder and awe into a sucking void of "this is not enough in itself, there must be more."


The basis of everything I started this thread for is this: The mind is a part of the universe; part of its laws of physics and cause & effect. It is impossible to dispute this.

EFFECT
The mind does not arise without a genetic code that causes us to be built. It does not arise without various types of sensory input that begin with photons hitting a retina; vibrations in the air hitting the eardrum; molecules coming into contact with taste buds; etc., all of which are transformed into chemical processes, ions, electrical signals to the brain. (See the Behe quote for a bit of the explanation on how vision works.) It does not arise without the chemicals/hormones in our bodies and brains, which can drastically affect our minds minute by minute. All of this is clearly part of the laws of physics and cause & effect, and our minds are not going to come into being without it at least some of these things. (Not all senses are required to make a mind. I don't know what kind of mind develops without any sensory input, but I suppose something could come about just from the physical structure and the chemicals/hormones?)

CAUSE
In the other direction, our minds direct our conscious, physical actions. If I reach for the candy, it is because my brain sends a signal to the motor pathway; a motor neuron fires; a chemical is released, which hits the muscle; the muscle fibers react; my hand moves.

The mind is both an effect and cause within all of these chemicals and physical structures, and every step of all of these processes follow the laws of the physics, and cause & effect.

So what parts of all that do you disagree with?


Behe wrote:
Here is a brief overview of the biochemistry of vision. When light first strikes the retina, a photon interacts with a molecule called 11-cis-retinal, which rearranges within picoseconds to trans-retinal. The change in the shape of retinal forces a change in the shape of the protein, rhodopsin, to which the retinal is tightly bound. The protein's metamorphosis alters its behavior, making it stick to another protein called transducin. Before bumping into activated rhodopsin, transducin had tightly bound a small molecule called GDP. But when transducin interacts with activated rhodopsin, the GDP falls off and a molecule called GTP binds to transducin. (GTP is closely related to, but critically different from, GDP.)

GTP-transducin-activated rhodopsin now binds to a protein called phosphodiesterase, located in the inner membrane of the cell. When attached to activated rhodopsin and its entourage, the phosphodiesterase acquires the ability to chemically cut a molecule called cGMP (a chemical relative of both GDP and GTP). Initially there are a lot of cGMP molecules in the cell, but the phosphodiesterase lowers its concentration, like a pulled plug lowers the water level in a bathtub.

Another membrane protein that binds cGMP is called an ion channel. It acts as a gateway that regulates the number of sodium ions in the cell. Normally the ion channel allows sodium ions to flow into the cell, while a separate protein actively pumps them out again. The dual action of the ion channel and pump keeps the level of sodium ions in the cell within a narrow range. When the amount of cGMP is reduced because of cleavage by the phosphodiesterase, the ion channel closes, causing the cellular concentration of positively charged sodium ions to be reduced. This causes an imbalance of charge across the cell membrane which, finally, causes a current to be transmitted down the optic nerve to the brain. The result, when interpreted by the brain, is vision.

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