As one of the fundamental dimensions of the universe, time doubtless has a regular flow. But people stuck behind a flock of Canada geese crossing a road don’t experience time in the same way as people rushing to complete a report in time for the Big Board Meeting in two hours.
Even though the universe is 27 orders of magnitude bigger than a singe human brain, remarkable similarities emerged.
Michael Egnor: “Except for action of any quantum events”? I challenge Coyne: What in nature isn’t the action of quantum events? Certainly, every event in the brain is quantum in nature—every brain state, every action potential, every secretion of a neurotransmitter, every bit of protein synthesis or ion flow—is the consequence of quantum events.
Readers who remain skeptical that hallucinogens can change our values may wonder how religious and political values— so often rooted in decades of history, family history, and personal experience—could really be overturned by a mere trip.
He turns out to be looking for a “bottom up” theory of agency—that is, a materialist one. And he admits that there is no such theory but he offers “a sketch of what a solution might look like.” One suspects that materialists will be offering such sketches centuries from now.
Yet, despite doing completely different things, the human brain uses the same equipment as the chimpanzee brain. Not a good time to be a shallow naturalist. Maybe a deep naturalist; not a shallow one.
The problem isn’t with their believing that cells feature lots of intelligence but with their effort to equate human and cellular intelligence. Human intelligence is something quite different.
Jon Hamilton: The cells are called time cells, and they place a sort of time stamp on memories as they are being formed. That allows us to recall sequences of events or experiences in the right order.
Egnor: “An intellectual seizure would be a seizure that caused abstract thought, such as logic, or reasoning, or mathematics. People never have, for example, mathematics seizures—seizures in which they involuntarily do calculus or arithmetic. This observation, which is as true today as it was in Penfield’s time nearly a century ago, begs for explanation.” He offers an argument for the immaterial powers of the mind.
Contrary to what psychologists had supposed, the ability to seek meaning is built in, not taught.
Egnor: [fMRI isn’t decisive.] But fMRI is worthless in the neuroscience of free will. To understand why, note that fMRI has very poor temporal resolution. fMRI measures changes in blood flow in the brain in response to activity of neurons, and these changes lag neuronal activity by at least several seconds.
Quantum computers will not solve Silicon Valley’s problem. Quantum computers play by the same rules as digital ones: Meaningful information still requires an interpreter (observer) to relate the map to the territory.
Scientists weigh in on both sides but accepting free will allows us to avoid some serious problems around logic and personal freedom.
Keeps his job, we hope.
Egnor: Now let’s get to the neuroscience. Neuroscience has a lot to contribute to the debate over free will and all of it supports the reality of free will. There isn’t a shred of neuroscientific evidence that contradicts the reality of free will.