Sometimes, says Michael Egnor (below right), misrepresentation may be deliberate because Libet’s work doesn’t support a materialist perspective.
At first, Libet thought that free will might not be real. Then he looked again…
The researchers chose the flatworm, whch can grow a new head after amputation. They didn’t expect a pattern but they found “This unique arrangement means that no single neuron sits flush against its twin, while still allowing different types of complementary neurons to be close enough to work together to complete tasks.” “We surprised ourselves when we discovered there was, in fact, such a rule.” You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet, folks.
We take the fact that life forms seek things for granted. We don’t ask why. Agency (“wanting” or “deciding” things) is as hard a problem in physics as consciousness.
Egnor: Mental activity always has meaning—every thought is about something. Computation always lacks meaning in itself. A word processing program doesn’t care about the opinion that you’re expressing when you use it.
In the sense of “There. That’s that.” It’s just too big. Machine learning might help but machines don’t explain their decisions very well. If the brain is immensely complex, it may elude complete understanding in detail. Deep Learning may survey it but that won’t convey understanding to us. We may need to look at more comprehensive ways of knowing
That’s not good news for reductive materialism. Wasn’t “science” supposed to explain all this stuff away ages ago? Instead, it’s science causing the problems.
He gave three lines of reasoning, based on brain surgery on over a thousand patients.
neurosurgeon Michael Egnor talks about how many famous neuroscientist became dualists—that is, they concluded that there is something about human beings that goes beyond matter—based on observations they made during their work.
Egnor tells us that Tam Hunt offers some good ideas at Scientific American but his dismissal of objectivity is cause for concern.
Egnor: I think the best explanation of the relationship of the mind to the brain is Aristotelian hylomorphism which is the viewpoint that the soul is the form of the body and that certain powers of the soul, particularly the intellect and will, are not generated by matter but are immaterial things.
Materialist neuroscience creates big problems. And it is not as if materialists have a big solution that others are stubbornly refusing to acknowledge.
“Polycephalum’s type of organism is thought to have existed for roughly a billion years though it has only been studied intensively in recent decades. It is technically called a “protist” (a catch-all category for life forms that are hard to classify). It makes decisions with no apparent source of intelligence.”
Interesting but not really a surprise because humans mature more slowly generally and live longer. No big news here that accounts for human uniqueness.
We are sure that, in reality, anyone really attached to the losing theory will find wiggle room. But never mind. The point is, there is something to test. This sure beats: Consciousness is an evolved illusion; your coffee mug is conscious; consciousness is a material thing; electrons are conscious No wonder consciousness studies have been described in Chronicle of Higher Education as “bizarre.” Maybe not so much now.