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Raising My Arm
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 8:45 am    Post subject: Raising My Arm Reply with quote

Lying in the bath this morning, naval-gazing [not a pretty sight!] on the nature of the connection between conscious thought and physical action, I decided to perform an experiment - I would raise my arm.

So taking you through it, I was musing away on said subject, decided consciously to move my arm - and did it.

Now amazing as it might seem I believe I'm correct in thinking that this insignificant action presents one of the major conundrums of neurological understanding of how the world works - with philosophical dimensions thrown in to boot. I'm sure we've done this elsewhere before, but if so I've forgotten and am in serious need of a recap - but how exactly are we to understand the nature of the interface between a thought .... and an action? How can an immaterial thing [a thought framed in words, concepts ideas that are as loose as they are often erroneous] be translated into a material/physical action, measurable in terms of force, velocity, energy expenditure and the rest? The Laws of Physics would seem to demand that in order for the thought to be translated into the action, that the thought must have a material component at it's core to effect the process. And sure - we find that this is indeed so; neurones fire [physical process] electrons and atoms move [physical process], the 'thought' shows itself on the EEG in terms of it's physicality so it turns out not to be a problem at all and materialism wins the day hands down.
Except that this is not really the case at all is it; every time you look at the 'physical process' in this, the immaterial steps one step back. The chemical and physical activity of the brain is not the thought, the idea, the concept. These things remain as far removed as ever on the further side of the material-immaterial barrier; all of that electrical activity is just the first manifestation of the physical process that is for sure inherent in thought - but not the be all and end all of it. Or am I wrong here? Is our state of understanding such that we can now say for sure that the neurological network of our brain can form the thoughts, ideas and concepts all of it's own making; that thoughts are indeed physical things - measurable, quantifiable and subject to the same rules as any other material thing? [As an aside - have not some physicists posited a 'quantum' aspect to thought ...how does this effect the situation .... or even an as yet undiscovered 'force' that will bring thought into the physical fold].

Must stop wasting so much time in the bath!

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, that's the example I've been using, too:
Fist and Faith wrote:
Vraith wrote:
But I don't like the idea/terminology/use because I don't think any perspective/interpretation of it escapes a fundamental/foundational quality/implication: that there is "something" [[equivalent to "magic"]] that causes, has effects, outcomes, influence on every material thing, but is itself independent, NOT a property or force or process or result that can ever be accounted for by, through, or in the material world/explanations.
Well, of course, that's the crux, isn't it. Figuring out how it IS accounted for by, through, or in the material world/explanations. Because it most certainly is. Otherwise, again, it's Casper both flying through the wall AND knocking the vase off the table. If consciousness can't EVER be accounted for by, through, or in the material world/explanations, then it wouldn't be able to affect the material. Which it does. My consciousness makes my arm move. It does so by some crazy process of action potentials; sending signals along the neutral pathetic; sodium- and potassium- gated ion channels opening and closing... I mean, Jesus! Still, it's all particles and physics. How does consciousness, something that is not reducible to the material, affect the material?

Currently, my answer is that it's because my consciousness is also those things. It is the material. I cannot believe there is something there with the physical brain. Consciousness is the brain, so, obviously, it can affect the brain/itself. But it is material behaving in ways that cannot be reduced to properties of particles and their interactions. At least not the properties we are aware of/can study with our amazing technologies. The material is capable of something else. Obviously. But how?

Fist and Faith wrote:
I don't disagree with any of that. Yes, we can see and measure brain activity, and even tell, based on having seen the same activity in others who have reported experiencing the same thing during said activity, what that activity means. But we don't know why/how that brain activity has any meaning. How is it more than a series of interactions?

Yes, particles can be seen as other than particles. Perhaps vibrating "strings" of ... Well, not strings. Vibrate one way, and we have what we call a photon. Vibrate another way, and we have what we call an electron. Etc. But we can refer to them as particles, just to make conversation easier. We're not writing in a class on quantum mechanics, after all. Of course, if NOT thinking of them as particles makes consciousness easier to understand, then, by all means!!! But a sodium ion in a synapse that is part of the process of moving my arm is certainly easier to understand as a group of particles. And the point is to figure out how all the parts of the process that are similarly much easier to see as particles can be affected by anything that cannot be seen as such, and which has qualities that cannot be attributed to the properties of particles. And how the two seemingly incompatible aspects of the whole can possibly be the same thing! Indeed, we don't have any damn thing else at the moment. No means/methods to figure out what the hell is going on.

I'm trying to come up with theories (without much knowledge and no education in this area Laughing) on how this happens.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 12:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Isnt it just functionality of the organism. We open our eyes and see light, the pupils adapt accordingly.. physically by changing the aperture. We dont think it consciously it just happens .. its how we as an organism is wired.

Its fight or fight response in any animal .. they perceive a need then think to fight or flee .. extra adrenaline is released for whichever action the animal chooses to take .. there legs move .. they run .. the entire organism works as a whole to achieve those actions.

Its not just the brain that operates to facilitate action.

If you want to really experiment .. give yourself two conflicting actions .. ie lift your arm AND dont lift your arm. What does the brain do .. 🤷‍♀️ 😂

Yeah I know .. just having a bit of fun with you 😏

But seriously.. most thoughts and actions are not consciously mappable.... as in occur without a conscious thought.

And they are the same across organisms.. maybe Im missing where you want to get to with this line of thought 🤷‍♀️
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Regardless of times they are not, there are times when the mind decides move the arm. Specifically and intentionally. How does the non-physical/material mind make a physical/material event happen?
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:
Specifically and intentionally. How does the non-physical/material mind make a physical/material event happen?


Again...how do you KNOW that's the problem?
You don't.
You THINK it is different from "How does a magnet move a piece of iron?"
And it MIGHT be..in one way but not others.
Trying not to repeat stuff elsewhere...even the GUT's of physics DON'T say "all the forces are the same." They say something more like "in certain extreme conditions they operate as a unit...but in almost all ordinary conditions, they are distinct."
You CAN't keep saying the mind is immaterial without SOME evidence.
I mean, the universe, for us/our experiences is, in some ways, anecdotal not evidence, but our anecdotes/evidence so far is there is nearly infinite material [matter/forces/energy/etc...] that has NO MIND AT ALL. Mind ONLY happens in particular arrangements of materials.
There's nothing special about the mind...minds occur in LOTS of places/levels. It's the arrangement of the materials that makes one kind of mind better than others.
And how it got to BE that way is material processes of luck in a near-stable environment. Otherwise known as evolution.
[[I actually believe with a billion bucks and 10 really smart people I could create a bird, reptile, or other creature brain just as good as people...maybe better, cuz in a lab a lot of brain matter spent on other tasks could be left out to work just on the "smart" shit]]

The mystery isn't how the immaterial mind keeps masturbating it's thoughts...[[well...it is and isn't. Like a ghost story. yea, we want to know how ghosts exist---but what REALLY matters is all the other crap...AND once you know all the other crap, the answer is "of COURSE there are ghosts, and now we know why...]
The mysteries are only what kind of material IS it, and does it's nature allow freedom/choices?
[[which is MY version of the question---it's the same question, in solvable and reality-based terms. The immaterial mind doesn't cause shit...cuz it ain't immaterial, and if it is, it ain't mind.]]

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One might be forced to conclude that the mind must be physical and material.

The real work is in realizing why a physical and material mind doesn't mean there's no such thing as free will.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 11:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vraith wrote:
You CAN't keep saying the mind is immaterial without SOME evidence.
There is plenty of evidence. The content of the mind is immaterial. This goes for not only ideal meaning, like numbers, logic, abstract thought, and the intuition of essences (i.e. meanings), but also applies to fictional content that has no reality. I would argue that it also applies to qualia and the subjective sense of "appearing-to." It certainly applies to intentionality (in the phenomenological sense), as well as intent (e.g. goal-oriented).

And if there is immaterial content, this content exists within that which contains it, i.e. its context, a conceptual/experiential/phenomenological "space," which is itself not physical. [The mind may inhabit or exist as this "space."]

To say otherwise commits you to the absurd conclusion that numbers, logic, fictions, etc. are actual physical objects ... or that physical objects can have intentionality and goals.

Vraith wrote:
there is nearly infinite material [matter/forces/energy/etc...] that has NO MIND AT ALL.
I don't believe you have any evidence for that.

Vraith wrote:
The mysteries are only what kind of material IS it, and does it's nature allow freedom/choices?
So there is only matter in the universe? Immaterial things don't exist?

Vraith wrote:
The immaterial mind doesn't cause shit...cuz it ain't immaterial, and if it is, it ain't mind.]][/color]
How does the mental state containing the immaterial concept, "if x, then y" lead to the mental state containing the idea, "x ... therefore y"? Are the rules for modus ponens somewhere in physics? In chemistry? In biology? Show me where. Sure, our neurons fire in ways that produce these thoughts. But what makes them fire in precisely these ways, if it's not physical laws? How do we know that we've made a valid inference if our understanding of this rule is merely another configuration of neurons? How do neurons know when they have correctly arranged themselves to mirror logic (or at least produce the thoughts that mirror it)? It is the immaterial quality of understanding itself that allows us the eidetic certainty that the inference is valid. We are making a connection with "pure meaning." The cause linking our two mental states from one thought to the next, in this case, is not something you can locate anywhere in nature. It is in the formal relations between symbols and the semantic relations between what those symbols mean. These relations aren't physical.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's difficult for me too say these things clearly. I believe the mind is the physical brain. But it does things that cannot be accounted for by any property of the brain - or any other damned thing! - that we are aware of. It is operating on principles that are completely unknown to us. And that should amaze us! Despite how much we still have to learn, we know a whole lot about things, from the most basic (6 types of quark, for chrissakes!) to the way matter curves spacetime to what's inside a star that's a billion light-years away. But none of that, on any scale, in any realm of our knowledge, tells us how the brain can also be a mind.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 2:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What is the distinction to you between the brain and the mind 🤷‍♀️

I do not think the mind is very elusive .. all animals possess minds. All animals possess brains. Free will and the ability to determine actions is an attribute that all living organisms possess, dont they 🤷‍♀️

A human thoughts are constituted by what we sense, see, taste, desire, smell etc. An animals thoughts are similarly constituted.

I think therefore I am 🤷‍♀️ ... am what 🤷‍♀️ .. human, dog, horse, duck, peacock 🤷‍♀️

Humans are more complex organisms from a mental intellectual capability perspective and from an anatomical perspective .. opposable thumbs 👍, upright gait, etc.

Isnt the mind nothing more than sentience that all living animals possess.

What is the distinction between the brain and the mind 🤷‍♀️ I genuinely do not know .. because I dont see the mind as starkly seperate. The brain enables thought .. it is thought, intellect, mentality isnt it 🤷‍♀️

The brain is organic mass of neurones, the physical structure which enables thought ... or the mind .. and to some degree control.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 4:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Z. has the crux of it: if you discount an immaterial component of the mind you box everything into the material and that, as he described, just leads you into places that are untenable - the physical existence of numbers etc........
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

peter wrote:
I think Z. has the crux of it: if you discount an immaterial component of the mind you box everything into the material and that, as he described, just leads you into places that are untenable - the physical existence of numbers etc........


There's a lot I'd like to talk about...especially stuff Z said above...maybe I'll get back to it another time, when it's more convenient/I have more unused resources/process available to run in my head/time constraints.

But on the above...yea, there's definitely that transition/gap...we've all commented on it before in various ways.
But...IF the mind is NOT 'in the box"...then where/what is it?
NOT being in the box doesn't solve the problem, it creates at least one other even worse. Instead of physically extant numbers, [which is untenable, as you say] you end up with physically non-existent intelligence.
[[[though I don't see why a material brain/mind processing/thinking abstractions/symbols/concepts inherently and necessarily requires those things to be material if the mind isn't also abstract/immaterial in some way...that seems logically possible, but I don't think necessary, conclusion]]]

I'm not denying the issue/space/gap...I'm saying that understanding/solving it will happen from the material up, not from the immaterial down, possibly [probably, I think] the immaterial is more material than we've grasped yet, much like states/phases of matter...once upon a time, there were only three. I don't know how many there are now...at least 6 for sure, probably a lot more. [[and like minds, most of those states only occur in very particular circumstances]].

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 5:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the solution is ultimately going to be that matter isn't really "material." I think our experience with matter has caused us to "materialize" common sense concepts (like solidity, extension, ect.) so that we have misled ourselves about the nature of the universe. Matter, after all, is mostly empty space and the illusion of solidity is caused by forces, not "stuff."

I think we also have to conclude that the idea of the universe blindly following physical laws without any teleological principles is wrong (because it led to us, who do not follow those principles).

Quantum mechanics has already shown us that our common sense intuition about matter is wrong. Matter doesn't have determinate properties until we observe it. Ironically, it is consciousness that produces the illusion of a material universe in the traditional sense. It is also consciousness that lets us know that this illusion must be wrong, because consciousness doesn't fit within this deterministic, materialistic framework.

I think we should start with consciousness, and then build our understanding of reality out from there, instead of the other way around. Instead of asking ourselves how physical laws can produce the "illusion" of consciousness, we should instead ask how must the universe be if things like consciousness/purpose/knowledge can arise within it.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 5:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
One might be forced to conclude that the mind must be physical and material.
I think this is correct. But it is doing things that cannot be explained by anything we know about physical and material. So we need to figure out how it's happening. Are there other properties of the physical/material that we have no sign or hint of other than the existence of consciousness?

Or are there non-physical/material forces at work? I lean towards this option. If it is, indeed, the case, maybe the two realms are actually just different manifestations of a common ground. EDIT: Yeah, what Z just said.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:
EDIT: Yeah, what Z just said.


Really? well...maybe.
But...
Forces ARE "stuff."
"Empty" space IS "stuff."

And there already are perspectives that started with consciousness and built the universe from there: they're called religions.
I know...with our current knowledge, we could tell a more rational/coherent story...that's kinda what the recent Cumberbatch-Sherlock series does...but it's still a STORY.

But even if you ignore that and my flippant fun, teleology has a serious fucking problem: where is it?
If all cannot be explained without purpose/teleology, where is the desire-iton? the wish-icle, what are the OTHER properties of a purpos-ino?
Why/how...or even DID...teleo-matter not exactly equal anti-teleomatter and end it all from the beginning?
People have built some convoluted justification models/structures/fantasies, but no actual answers or even paths of inquiry for this, as well: how does the future CAUSE the past? that's what teleology means, after all, taken to its logical end.

There is a quantum vs cosmo thing. But it is not correct to say "quantum proves the moon doesn't exist if we don't look at it."
It is not correct to say consciousness is required for observation so reality doesn't exist without intelligent lookers.

I'd say...though this is just me being odd, perhaps...things don't "blindly follow" the laws of physics. Things don't do things cuz they have to follow the law...the law is a description of what things DO when they're busily being what they are.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was thinking of Z's first paragraph, which says a lot of what I mean.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vraith wrote:

But even if you ignore that and my flippant fun, teleology has a serious fucking problem: where is it?

If all cannot be explained without purpose/teleology, where is the desire-iton? the wish-icle, what are the OTHER properties of a purpos-ino?
It's not that ALL can't be explained without teleology, just consciousness (and perhaps life). Where is it, you ask? Well, if we're to believe reductive materialism, it has be in our neurons, right? We act purposefully according to goals. If our mind is produced by physical laws, then these laws must in some sense be teleological because they produce things that are teleological. We are the parts of the universe that manifest effects that would not be possible without goals and intentions. Skyscrapers and computers don't just happen. They come about because humans have plans, which means an intention that point into the future. This is the future causing the past. What else is a plan, if not a particular stance relative to the future? Hell, these plans even have schedules, where specific tasks are to be done on specific dates. So, events unfolding acording to a plan are entirely different from events occurring because of the past.

How do atoms come together to form plans? How do they have 'visions' for the future?

Either the universe is teleological to some extent, or minds are outside the universe. In other words ... supernatural.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 11:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure I agree, Z. Extremely well said. You've made the point very well. Still... Do we have solid objects because the primary particles or the laws of physics are solid in nature? Most certainly not. Indeed, quantum mechanics tells us the micro is as far from solid as can be. So we know that macro characteristics are not necessarily the result of the same characteristics at the micro level. How can we be sure that this particular macro characteristic must be caused by the same characteristic at another level?
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 3:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's a bit 'chicken and egg' isn't it? I mean physical laws produce our minds which then produce the physical laws which produces them. Once we do grasp the nature of the mind-matter relationship I wonder where the end of its application will be found to be. The brain's power is always said to reside in the complexity of it's connections - but to me they've always seemed simply hugely numerous rather than complex. Overlying this physical network (or inherent to it) is the ability to form patterns of electrical activity from whence the mind is born. These patterns must be meaningful and memorable and reproducible and from within this matter-electrical tangle the enigma of mind emerges and I'd guess that the key that we are missing will be found at the interface; somewhere in the bubbling froth of matter and energy at the quantum level the mysterious 'factor X' of the mind will be found. It will either be some totally new thing/force/energy type or a new property resultant of the combination of existing 'stuff' or a new dimension something we already know about, but whatever the case, will require a complete reworking of the math in order for construction of a system that will accommodate/explain it.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:
Indeed, quantum mechanics tells us the micro is as far from solid as can be. So we know that macro characteristics are not necessarily the result of the same characteristics at the micro level. How can we be sure that this particular macro characteristic must be caused by the same characteristic at another level?
I'm not saying it must be caused by the same characteristic at the micro level. But once you admit this, you can no longer reduce the mind (macro) to matter (micro). You're saying that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, that new properties of matter emerge at higher levels--new in ways that violate our assumptions of how the universe works at the lower levels.

This happens to some extent in the micro/macro divide in quantum mechanics, so it shows us that the possibility at least has an analogue. But even in that case, the divide doesn't span any teleological divide, much less sentience.

And just to be nit picky ... solidity doesn't exist on the macro level. That's an illusion. We're sensing the very same property (i.e. repulsion of electrons) on the macro level and just misinterpretting it as solidity. There aren't two properties, just truth and falsehood.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 4:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

peter wrote:
The brain's power is always said to reside in the complexity of it's connections - but to me they've always seemed simply hugely numerous rather than complex.


Disagree extremely. The brain is both complicated [hugely numerous set of moving parts] AND complex [only one "kind" of force, really, electrochemical, but enormously sensitive to initial conditions, and probabilistic/indeterminate/turbulent/chaotic...only at the aggregate/"global" scale is it stable/predictable/ordered...which is related to, at least a bit....
Z wrote:
that new properties of matter emerge at higher levels--new in ways that violate our assumptions of how the universe works at the lower levels.

I agree 110% that new properties emerge at higher levels and/or in aggretation. But I don't think that implies/necessitates a violation of the lower levels.
Such as: if you have 2 hydrogen atoms hanging out near each other somewhere out past Pluto or something like...there will be some gravity between them, all the ordinary forces/rules. Those two have a non-zero chance to...VERY briefly... undergo fusion, become a tiny sun. The change is so small that, IIRC, it will likely happen only once many trillions of years [near zero chance it's ever happened once in our universe in those conditions] But aggregate a bunch of hydrogen together, and at a certain threshold there's basically 100% chance of a star. Scale absolutely matters, it changes everything at the macro level, but still depends on the micro.

More everyday aware for us: individual humans are the basis of human society/culture/everything human. But those groups/cultures exhibit distinct "properties" that don't exist at the individual level...the cooperation/interaction/aggregation itself causes these properties, but doesn't violate the rules that cause an individual, and are not independent of those
HOWERVER...the systems of individual/culture are recursive, discursive, engaged in feedback loops, evolutionary, etc.---complicated AND complex.

Neither of those is perfect, for several reasons---one of which is because the problem we're working on is "between" them. The gap/space we're trying to fill in our discussion/situation has the difficulties/hard cases that arise in BOTH the kinds of situations I described.

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