Brain workings and freedom

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.
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CIN
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by CIN » May 22nd, 2018, 4:53 pm

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
May 22nd, 2018, 4:12 pm
Perhaps consciousness is a mere epiphenomenon. Perhaps it arises, but serves no purpose. We are aware. We experience. But we are perfectly determined machines, a la Libet and his experiments, but an emergent property is this innner awareness that is no causal. So it need no have evolved, since it serves no purpose, but it is, and so we have this inner life.
Consider these features of the pain in my finger when I touch a flame:
1) it is very unpleasant
2) is is subjectively located in my finger and not in some other place in my body.
These are just the features you would expect to find in a feeling if it had evolved to be causally effective - to EITHER cause me to withdraw my finger from the flame AND/OR subsequently protect the finger from further harm. A feeling that lacked feature 1), i.e. was not very unpleasant, would not cause either of these actions. A feeling that was in some other part of the body would also not cause either of them. Why, if the feeling is a mere epiphenomenon and has no causal effect, does it have these two features, which are precisely those features that would be required for it to have a causal effect?

Consider then that we can ask these same questions about every pain everywhere on the body surface. It can't be coincidence that all these sensations in all these places have these two features. This, IMO, is why epiphenomenalism is a non-starter.

Eduk
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by Eduk » May 22nd, 2018, 5:12 pm

CIN in what way can you imagine dragons? As in something that flies? Or something that breaths fire? Something that likes gold? Etc etc. I can think of real things with those properties? And can amalgamate a dragon. Am I imagining a dragon?
But can I imagine magic? I mean I can define magic as something which lets the dragon fly breaking the laws of physics. But exactly what is that something?
Personally I cannot imagine this aspect of dragons.
Unknown means unknown.

CIN
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by CIN » May 23rd, 2018, 12:15 pm

Eduk wrote:
May 22nd, 2018, 5:12 pm
CIN in what way can you imagine dragons? As in something that flies? Or something that breaths fire? Something that likes gold? Etc etc. I can think of real things with those properties? And can amalgamate a dragon. Am I imagining a dragon?
But can I imagine magic? I mean I can define magic as something which lets the dragon fly breaking the laws of physics. But exactly what is that something?
Personally I cannot imagine this aspect of dragons.
Let's recap. Chewybrain wrote:
"How does the word 'should' have any meaning without free will?"

I replied:
"Words do not have to refer to something that actually exists in order to have meaning. 'Dragon' has meaning even though there are no dragons. 'Should' has meaning, not because there is free will, but because people can imagine that there is, just as people can imagine that there are dragons."

By 'imagine' here I meant 'conceive of', or 'have the concept of'. I didn't mean 'have a mental picture of'. (I should have avoided the word 'imagine'; it's ambiguous.)

Can I have the concept of the magic that enables a dragon to fly? Yes, and so can you, as is proved by the fact that you used a form of words ("something which lets the dragon fly breaking the laws of physics") which clearly uses that concept to convey a meaning. Of course the concept is not detailed enough for us to know anything more about that magic, e.g. how it works (no doubt it couldn't), but that doesn't stop it being a concept.

Chewybrain was claiming that free will must actually exist in order for the word 'should' to have meaning, but I am claiming that all we need is the concept of free will for 'should' to have meaning. Like the concept of the magic that enables a dragon to fly, the concept of free will is not very detailed, but it is still a concept, and as such we can use it to say things that have meaning. So, for example, if I say 'you should have repaid that money', this is only a meaningful sentence if we have the concept of your being able to freely choose either to return the money or not return it, but the fact that we have this concept doesn't mean that you really were free to either return it or not return it.

CIN
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by CIN » May 23rd, 2018, 1:07 pm

On the question of whether we have free will (by which I mean, as I usually do, could have done differently):

Consider a car driver coming to a T-junction. He decides to turn left, and does so. What grounds do we have for believing that he could have turned right?

Here are, I think, all the facts about the situation that might be considered relevant:

He thought about turning right.
He believed that he could turn right.
People do often turn right.
Turning right does not always contravene the laws of physics.

None of these, not even all of them together, entails that he actually could have turned right. There is, in fact, no way of showing that he could have turned right. The only way it could be shown that he could have turned right is if he had turned right, which if course he did not do.

Eduk
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by Eduk » May 23rd, 2018, 1:46 pm

No I can't conceptualise magic anymore than I can conceptualise infinity. I can define something to be magic so it can fly but what I have really done is said an undefined thing causes the dragon to fly. I can't conceptualise a specific undefined thing. After all if I found an undefined thing how would I know it was the same undefined thing I was thinking of.
Being able to do other than what you did with your very strict requirements is your definition of free will. You are looking for some kind of weird absolute free will which would enable someone not to have free will if they didn't want to and would allow entirely random behaviour. Personally I don't want entirely random behaviour. I don't want to sometimes accelerate into a wall instead of turning right I'd rather always have turned right.
Your flavour of free will may well not exist. But it's a useless definition of free will as evidenced by the total lack of consequence if you are right or wrong.
Unknown means unknown.

CIN
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by CIN » May 23rd, 2018, 3:10 pm

Eduk wrote:
May 23rd, 2018, 1:46 pm
No I can't conceptualise magic anymore than I can conceptualise infinity.
You may not be able to conceptualise infinity, but there are people who can - mathematicians who work in transfinite maths. They use the concept of infinity all the time.
I can define something to be magic so it can fly but what I have really done is said an undefined thing causes the dragon to fly.
It's not undefined. Its definition is: 'the thing that causes the dragon to fly'.
Being able to do other than what you did with your very strict requirements is your definition of free will. You are looking for some kind of weird absolute free will which would enable someone not to have free will if they didn't want to and would allow entirely random behaviour.
The definition of free will I'm using is not the only one in philosophy, but it is a recognised definition. The Stanford Encyclopedia (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/freewill/) calls it 'regulative control': "a control involving the ability of the agent to choose and act differently in the actual circumstances. Regulative control requires alternative possibilities open to the agent." The Encyclopedia goes on to refer to "the traditional view that the sort of freedom required for moral responsibility does indeed require that the agent could have acted differently," a view which it traces back to Aristotle. This is central stuff in both traditional and contemporary philosophy, not some weird thing that I have invented. And your charge that I am looking for 'some kind of weird absolute free will which would enable someone not to have free will if they didn't want to' presumes that people have free will, and therefore begs the question under discussion.
But it's a useless definition of free will as evidenced by the total lack of consequence if you are right or wrong.
It has a great deal of consequence. For example, if we are not morally responsible for our actions, any retributive justice system is fatally undermined.

Eduk
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by Eduk » May 23rd, 2018, 4:24 pm

Nothing is undermined as nothing can be undermined if there is no agency to do the undermining.
Unknown means unknown.

Gertie
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by Gertie » May 23rd, 2018, 7:20 pm

BigBango wrote:
May 22nd, 2018, 4:08 pm
Oh boy, I get goosies shooting around my body, just like the Voice judges when they hear a contestant putting emotion into the lyrics. Great posts are happening here and we are getting close to some BIG reveals.

Language, language ... metaphysics ... a collision of words ... meanings gained ... meanings lost. Oh boy, oh girl what fun ...

Thank you Consul for stuffing language back down our throats. Thank you Gertie and Felix for not swallowing it. Thank you Belindi for raising the question about the difference of "causation" between individual agents and the "oneness" of parts within an implicate whole. I'm still thinking about that conundrum.

Oh boy, let us see what's in our wheelhouse now!!! (Lionel Richie, American Idol judge).

The semi-finalists are - Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Whitehead, Searle, Crick, Penrose, Heidegger, Chalmers and the Ancients preceding the Egyptians (Genesis of the Cosmos by LaViiolette). Tonight we'll see which three make it into the finals to be aired next week LIVE, get your votes in please, the Judges will have one instant save to determine the final three ... segue to commercials.

Whose on first base? Plato and the Universals, Aristotle and the Empiricists, Kant ant the A prior's, Whitehead and the Actual Entities, Searle and the Folk Psychologists, Crick and the Unified Neurological States, Penrose and the Superposed Quantum States of Consciousness, Heidegger and the Human Reveals through Time, Chalmers and the Hard Rock Consciousness Players and LaViolette and the Astrologists. All the semi-finalists come with their own backup groups. These 10 contestants are listed as the top voter selections from last week but in no particular order.

The voting is closed, the West Coast has no say as usual. Please have some compassion for the East Coast audience, it's past their bedtime for goodness sake.

In the meantime let's hear it from the Galaxy Players with their number one hit that's been on top of the charts now for over 14 billion years.

Hit it Galaxy Players!!! ...

Man, don't they rock folks, as usual they set the standards for "Country Singing". A little bit of rock, a lot of soul and always blurring the lines between Country and Pop, shucks (Blake Shelton).

Here's the truth people, The Galaxy Players set THE Standards for us all. What are they? Who are they? I'll tell you who they are. They cover the spectrum, they have range, from hard rock (Black Hole Galactic Centers), pure physicality, to the pure soul of Ella Fitzgerald or Ravi Shankar's daughter Norah Jones with her Eastern influences.(Adam Levine)

Sorry Adam I have to say just one thing, the Girls are on Fire and let's not forget that. (Alicia Keys)

Hold on you two, I know I talk too much but I want to say only ONE thing ... ME TOO! (Kelly Clarkson)

I know I'm strictly POP but there is POP and then there is HOT POP! HOT POP is at the center of everything, she says as she tugs at the hem of her mini skirt. (Katy Perry)

Ok. so much for Allegory.

1.). Plato set our sights on Universal Truths but let us flounder in the caves of experiential reality.

2.) Aristotle gave us a glimmer of how to lift ourselves up out of the caves, but left us with a metaphysics that infects our common language and our pursuit of science. It works better for purely physical things but even there, as Consul points out, it can fail by suggesting that sub-atomic particles have mass therefore they must have a subject that "has" mass, rather than it is mass. But, out in the distance from the core of physicality, lie subjects with "mass" that carry their "meaning" and with their technology they flee the center of the galaxy that transforms their "meaning" like a centrifuge purifying blood.

3.) Kant tried to rescue some of Plato's Universals by his use of synthetic a priori truths, but Riemann and Einstein colluded to displace Kant's veneration of Euclidean Geometry.

4.) Whitehead revolutionized Aristotle's metaphysics buy asserting that living actual entities were the substrate of ALL things. Thus giving us pan-psychism. Why did Whitehead fail? He failed and burned all his unpublished works just before his death because "purely physical things" in his thesis were that way because the actual entities of their substrate were just plain dullards, couch potatoes that had no taste for change or meaning. For that reason, why complicate pure physicality with "beingness" that has no chutzpah.

5.) Searle, believe it or not. is pretty much a realist. Not a Dawkins realist but a realist that accepts subjectivity and "folk psychological terms" as real things needed to understand reality, ala Wittgenstein and now Tamminen.

6.) Crick is important because he transitioned from a career in DNA's role in biology to the pursuit of finding the aspect of brain/nervous system function that would be an "in the flesh" correlate to the experiential states of consciousness. Note, Gertie, that he failed.

7.) Penrose, who is strictly a cosmological physicist, strays from his field of expertise, on occasion, to tease us with his found subject. A subject that hides behind quantum superposition in each cell. I wish he would stick to cosmology.

8.) Heidegger saw the failures of Aristotelian logic and gave us instead an evolutionary subject that can only be revealed through his deeds as exercised throughout an unending history.

9.) Chalmers, the base player in the Hard Rock Consciousness Players asserts that conscious thinkers may never escape their embedded POV to permit an objective analysis of what the F we are.

10.) LaViolette, a physicist, God Bless Him, asserts, as did Whitehead, that objects are not as science portrays them. Things with simple location in space. That notion has led to sciences description of things in space connected to other things only by the forces generated between the objects in a vacuous space. LaViolette's claim sees space as more of a "chemical" based medium within which stuff can arise. More like quantum foam, but not a quantum foam erupting from "nothing". It is, in my view a rich foam of subjectivity armed with the advanced technological tools needed to survive in a world of Gross physicality. This subjectivity spans the fractal evolution, across the Big Crunches and Big Bangs of worlds full of "Galaxies" that are gradually, in honor of Heidegger and Consul, evolving more and more complex systems of "SOCIALIZATION".
:lol: Whoa! Where to start!

Maybe by asking what effect our increasing knowledge, including QM, has had on how the questions are now framed?

It's pretty neat Plato and Aristotle posed the continuing dilemma of knowing what's real from their knowledge base, and imo there's no reason to believe we now know everything, this is just another point on the journey. But we have learned a lot.

The way I see it as regards consciousness, I'm with Chalmers. But does the additional information from maths or QM suggest there is an answer within our grasp based on a particular way of understanding reality?

BigBango
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by BigBango » May 24th, 2018, 1:13 am

Gertie says:
:lol: Whoa! Where to start!

Maybe by asking what effect our increasing knowledge, including QM, has had on how the questions are now framed?

It's pretty neat Plato and Aristotle posed the continuing dilemma of knowing what's real from their knowledge base, and imo there's no reason to believe we now know everything, this is just another point on the journey. But we have learned a lot.

The way I see it as regards consciousness, I'm with Chalmers. But does the additional information from maths or QM suggest there is an answer within our grasp based on a particular way of understanding reality?
There is a revolution going on in science. It's not what I think needs to happen, but it is a step in the right direction. Many researchers are now starting to explore new territory. What is becoming apparent is that there may not be any "fixed" laws. The "laws" may be evolving in time. Whitehead took that position and would usually say things like - "It appears that this theory will be seen to be true, at least in this epoch". He said this because with actual living entitles at the heart of matter he had no idea when, or if, they might change their minds, even on a whim.

The bigger problem is that, generally speaking, people, even scientists, fail to see that we could and should be an active participant in the evolution of our cosmological destiny. To start thinking now about making sure that we have a safe merging with the Andromeda Galaxy in 4 billion years is to have some chance to shape our destiny. To wait until we are near the merger before doing something almost guarantees its impossibility. Our mind set as to the relationship between us and the greater cosmos seems totally fatalistic. We see this now with our attitude about climate change. The only thing that may wake us up is the hind sight we will certainly gain after huge catastrophes occur and we reflect about what could have been done.

To take an assertive role in our cosmological destiny also puts to rest the notion that there are just cosmological laws about the world (matter) that we must accept, like them or not. Simply riding the Earth as if on a roller coaster that must follow the cosmological tracks it seems to be on.
It was unfortunate that the revolution of the 60's was so anti-technology. It is only technology and its ability to increase "socialization" that could have put us on the road to save our planet from many ecological disasters that are on their way. The hope is that when we "fall" we will learn like touching a hot stove.

To begin to see technology as an active participant in the way planets behave is to realize that the animation of molecules in cells may just be the result of the technology of ancient civilizations.

But that is another thread.

Eduk
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by Eduk » May 24th, 2018, 3:51 am

SpaceX are actively researching space travel. As are NASA and many others. Not to mention many cosmologists, physicists and the like.
Unknown means unknown.

Belindi
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by Belindi » May 24th, 2018, 6:17 am

BigBango wrote:
It was unfortunate that the revolution of the 60's was so anti-technology. It is only technology and its ability to increase "socialization" that could have put us on the road to save our planet from many ecological disasters that are on their way. The hope is that when we "fall" we will learn like touching a hot stove.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Pirsig was published in March 1974. Hippies did not come to a dead end. God evolves.

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Present awareness
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by Present awareness » May 26th, 2018, 12:03 am

ThomasHobbes wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 5:43 pm
CIN wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 4:22 pm
I'm actually claiming that the physical process of getting burned causes the physical process of feeling pain, which in turn causes the physical process of withdrawing the burned finger.
Just to throw a spanner in the works.
Moving your finger away from the heat is NOT caused by consciousness. It is, like many reflexes caused by an autonomic process, by-passing the conscious brain.
As a conscious entity we only become aware of the hotness after the burn happens.
What happens to this “autonomic process” when a person is unconscious? A surgeon may work on an unconscious patient, inflicting all sorts of pain and damage, with no physical response whatsoever. Without consciousness, there would be no moving of the hand from heat.
Even though you can see me, I might not be here.

Belindi
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by Belindi » May 26th, 2018, 3:50 am

Present awareness wrote:
May 26th, 2018, 12:03 am
ThomasHobbes wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 5:43 pm


Just to throw a spanner in the works.
Moving your finger away from the heat is NOT caused by consciousness. It is, like many reflexes caused by an autonomic process, by-passing the conscious brain.
As a conscious entity we only become aware of the hotness after the burn happens.
What happens to this “autonomic process” when a person is unconscious? A surgeon may work on an unconscious patient, inflicting all sorts of pain and damage, with no physical response whatsoever. Without consciousness, there would be no moving of the hand from heat.
Spinal reflexes aren't included in the autonomic nervous system.
The function of consciousness in spinal reflexes is, subsequent to the spinal reflex, afferent impulse reflects the reflex action in the conscious cortex.

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ThomasHobbes
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by ThomasHobbes » May 26th, 2018, 6:36 am

Present awareness wrote:
May 26th, 2018, 12:03 am
ThomasHobbes wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 5:43 pm


Just to throw a spanner in the works.
Moving your finger away from the heat is NOT caused by consciousness. It is, like many reflexes caused by an autonomic process, by-passing the conscious brain.
As a conscious entity we only become aware of the hotness after the burn happens.
What happens to this “autonomic process” when a person is unconscious? A surgeon may work on an unconscious patient, inflicting all sorts of pain and damage, with no physical response whatsoever. Without consciousness, there would be no moving of the hand from heat.
Anesthetic does more than just suspend consciousness. It interrupts all nervous activity.
This means physical damage with NO pain.

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Present awareness
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by Present awareness » May 26th, 2018, 12:01 pm

The so called “hard problem of consciousness” has not been resolved by science. How is it that consciousness arises out of the cells, chemicals and electrical impulses of the brain? The ability to think in abstract terms, creates separation, where in fact, no separation exists. Even though we may name 10,000 things, as if they are seperate, there is, in reality, only one inseperatable wholeness. There is only one moment, which we call now, even though we seperate time in to countless divisions. If we look deeply into time, we will find that no matter what time it is, it will always be now.
Even though you can see me, I might not be here.

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