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Answering Popperian’s challenge: “why doesn’t someone start out by explaining how human beings generate emotions, then point out how the universality of computation does not fit that explanation . . .”

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A classic, 310A at 7 V, 1917c high-current dynamo (HT: Wiki)
A classic, 310A at 7 V, c 1917 high-current dynamo (HT: Wiki)

There are some key motifs that often come up in discussions of design theory and linked ideas. Popperian, as captioned, has posed one of these. Notice, his view, that we GENERATE emotions, suggesting a dynamo churning away and generating electricity. That is, the motif that would reduce explanations to mechanisms is here revealed.  I think it is well worth the pause to address it by headlining an in-thread response:

___________

>>Popperian, re:

why doesn’t someone start out by explaining how human beings generate emotions, then point out how the universality of computation does not fit that explanation. Effectively stating “It’s magic and computers are not magic doesn’t cut it.” Pushing the problem into an inexplicable mind hat exists in an inexplicable realm, doesn’t improve the problem.

Thanks for sharing your reflections (as opposed to the too common deadlocks on talking point games and linked typical fallacies that have become all too familiar . . . and informal fallacies are instructive on this matter . . . ), this always helps discussion move forward.

A Watch Movement c. 1880
A Watch Movement c. 1880

Second, pardon an observation: your response inadvertently shows how you have become overly caught up in the Newtonian, clockwork vision of the world.

Again, that reasoning by analogy or paradigmatic example — even though misleading — is instructive.

My fundamental point is that reasoning as opposed to blindly mechanical computation inherently relies on insight into meaning and a sense of structured patterns that suggest connexions. For instance, many informal fallacies pivot on how emotions are deeply cognitive judgements that shift expectations and trigger protective responses. So, if someone diverts attention from the focal topic and sets up then soaks a strawman in ad hominems and ignites, the resulting fears and anger will shift context and will contribute to inviting dismissal of the original matter without serious evaluation. Thus the protective heuristics have been manipulated.

Similarly, by shifting focus from the significance of insights and meaningful connexions to the scientific paradigm of Newtonian clockwork, then blending in the success of computer systems there is a shift away from a crucial difference that then leads to a reductionist, mechanistic tendency.

{Let us insert an illustration or a few, starting with an abstract generic dynamic-stochastic “mechanical” system model that shows blindly mechanical linkages at work:

gen_sys_proc_modelAs an application, let us look at a neural network, then a brain:

A neural network is essentially a weighted sum interconnected gate array, it is not an exception to the GIGO principle
A neural network is essentially a weighted sum interconnected gate array, it is not an exception to the GIGO– garbage in, garbage out — principle

neurobrain750

We now zoom back, putting up a simple model of the two-tier control cybernetic loop, after Derek Smith:

The Derek Smith two-tier controller cybernetic model
The Derek Smith two-tier controller cybernetic model

Such brings out that a mechanism can live in a wider context that is able to move beyond mechanistic dynamics, through a supervisory interface. Then, we need a contrast on computation vs contemplation, pivoting on the point that a rock has no dreams and that refining a rock into a computational substrate does not materially alter the blindly dynamic cause-effect bonds involved.

A Mechanical analogue computing framework will help, a ball and disk integrator that was formerly used in tide prediction and naval gunnery:

thomson_integrator

Here, the rate of accumulation of motion of the cylinder [viewed as input] depends on where the ball is relative to the centre of the disk, and so a dynamical input then is accumulated in the angular position of the disk effecting integration by moving from rate to cumulative degree of change. The components in this device are seen to be simply dynamical elements blindly interacting through cause-effect chains, it is the designer who is responsible for configuring to obtain reliable and accurate integration.

This continues if we move to a generic operational amplifier based analogue computer that solves differential equations in terms of voltages:

op_amp_integrator

Little has changed if we move to a digital computer, which, suitably programmed can do much the same through taking inputs, storing intermediate results and data, processing through an execution unit involving an arithmetic and logic unit based on electronic circuits to generate outputs:

mpu_model

{u/D Jul 8: let me add a diagram of an ALU:}

74181 4-bit slice ALU internal logic, showing "howtwerdun"
74181 classic TTL 4-bit slice ALU internal logic, showing “howtwerdun” — a mechanical, controlled cause-effect chain using gate circuits (HT: Wiki)

In all these, we are subject to Leibniz’s remark in his Monadology, on the analogy of the Mill:

17. Moreover, it must be confessed that perception and that which depends upon it are inexplicable on mechanical grounds, that is to say, by means of figures and motions. And supposing there were a machine, so constructed as to think, feel, and have perception, it might be conceived as increased in size, while keeping the same proportions, so that one might go into it as into a mill. That being so, we should, on examining its interior, find only parts which work one upon another, and never anything by which to explain a perception. Thus it is in a simple substance, and not in a compound or in a machine, that perception must be sought for. Further, nothing but this (namely, perceptions and their changes) can be found in a simple substance. It is also in this alone that all the internal activities of simple substances can consist. (Theod. Pref. [E. 474; G. vi. 37].)

Thus, to try to reduce mind to mechanism seems rather like trying to get North by insistently heading West. This sets up the contrast:

self_aware_or_notThe self-evident nature of such consciousness and linked experience is pivotal in opening up our minds to the reality of a different order of experiences.}

The case of expert systems as was just discussed with Mapou is instructive:

reasoning and common sense etc are not blindly mechanical causal chains (perhaps perturbed by some noise) such as are effected in an arithmetic-logic unit, ALU or a floating point unit, FPU.

Instead, such are inherently based on insight into the ground-consequent relationship and broader heuristics that guide inference, hunches, sense of likelihood or significance of a sign etc. While we can mimic some aspects of such through sufficiently complex blends of algorithms — I have in mind so-called expert systems, these again are critically dependent on programming design and the structure and contents of data evaluated as knowledge and rules of inference, heuristics of “explanation” in response to query, etc.

Notice, the motif of evaluation by comparison while noting key differences? Thus, the implication that analogies — pivotal to inductive reasoning BTW — are prone to being over-extended. We know per widespread experience that there are patterns in the world, and that sch often can be extended from one case to another so if we think there is a significant similarity, we will extend. But this raises the question of implications of significant difference and adjusting, adapting or overturning the extension.

Such thought is imaginative, active, inferential, defeasible but verifiable to the point of in some cases strong empirical reliability, and more, much more. It is inherently non-algorithmic, pivoting on meaning, judgement and insight.

As I am aware of your problem with inductive reasoning (broad sense), I share Avi Sion’s point:

We might . . . ask – can there be a world without any ‘uniformities’? A world of universal difference, with no two things the same in any respect whatever is unthinkable. Why? Because to so characterize the world would itself be an appeal to uniformity. A uniformly non-uniform world is a contradiction in terms.

Therefore, we must admit some uniformity to exist in the world.

The world need not be uniform throughout, for the principle of uniformity to apply. It suffices that some uniformity occurs.

Given this degree of uniformity, however small, we logically can and must talk about generalization and particularization. There happens to be some ‘uniformities’; therefore, we have to take them into consideration in our construction of knowledge. The principle of uniformity is thus not a wacky notion, as Hume seems to imply . . . .

The uniformity principle is not a generalization of generalization; it is not a statement guilty of circularity, as some critics contend. So what is it? Simply this: when we come upon some uniformity in our experience or thought, we may readily assume that uniformity to continue onward until and unless we find some evidence or reason that sets a limit to it. Why? Because in such case the assumption of uniformity already has a basis, whereas the contrary assumption of difference has not or not yet been found to have any. The generalization has some justification; whereas the particularization has none at all, it is an arbitrary assertion.

It cannot be argued that we may equally assume the contrary assumption (i.e. the proposed particularization) on the basis that in past events of induction other contrary assumptions have turned out to be true (i.e. for which experiences or reasons have indeed been adduced) – for the simple reason that such a generalization from diverse past inductions is formally excluded by the fact that we know of many cases [[of inferred generalisations; try: “we can make mistakes in inductive generalisation . . . “] that have not been found worthy of particularization to date . . . .

If we follow such sober inductive logic, devoid of irrational acts, we can be confident to have the best available conclusions in the present context of knowledge. We generalize when the facts allow it, and particularize when the facts necessitate it. We do not particularize out of context, or generalize against the evidence or when this would give rise to contradictions . . .[[Logical and Spiritual Reflections, BK I Hume’s Problems with Induction, Ch 2 The principle of induction.]

We have a deep intuitive sense that there is order and organisation in our cosmos, which comes out in recognisable, stable and at least partly intelligible patterns that extend from one case to another.

Mechanism, of course is one such, and explanation on mechanism is highly successful in certain limited spheres. But by the turn of C19, there were already signs of randomness at work and by C20 we had to reckon with the dynamics of randomness in physics. In quantum mechanics, this is now deeply embedded, many phenomena being inextricably stochastic.

But reducing an irreducibly complex world tot he pattern of mechanism with some room for chance, is not enough.

The first fact of our existence is our self-aware, self-moved intelligent consciousness and interface with an external world using our bodies.

This too is a reasonable pattern, one that we see in action with others who are as we are.

From this we abstract themes such as intelligence, responsible freedom, agency, purpose and more, which we routinely use in understanding how we behave and the consequences when we act.

What has happened in our time is that due to the prestige of science, mechanism based explanations have too often been allowed to displace the proper place for agent based explanations, the place for art and artifice. This has even been embedded in a dominant philosophy that too often unduly controls science: evolutionary materialism.

There is even a panic, that if agency is allowed in the door, “demons” will be let loose and order and rationality go poof. This then often triggers fear, turf protection and linked locked in closed minded ideological irrationality.

The simple fact that modern science arose from in the main Judaeo-Christian thought that perceived a world as designed in ways meant to point to its Author, through involving at some level simple and intelligible organising principles or laws, should give pause. The phrase thinking God’s [creative, organising and sustaining] thoughts after him should ring some bells. (This is too often suppressed in the way we are taught about the rise of modern science.)

And of course, by way of opening the door to self-referential incoherence through demanding domination of mindedness by mechanism, evolutionary materialism falsifies itself. Haldane puts it in a nutshell:

“It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [[“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.

So, the very terms you use: “how human beings generate emotions,” is a giveaway.

We do not so much generate emotions and other consciously aware states of being, we experience them. And, to recognise and respect that fact without reference to demands for mechanistic reduction is a legitimate start-point for reflection.

All explanation is going to be finite and limited, so there will always be start-points. Starting from the realities of our interior-life experience is a good first point, and reflection on such shows that rationality itself (a requisite of doing science etc) crucially depends on insightful, purposeful responsible and rational freedom.

That which undermines such will then be self-defeating, and should be put aside.

Thus, the significance of Reppert’s development of Haldane’s point via Lewis:

. . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [[But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [[so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions

Trying to reduce this to blindly mechanistic physical cause-effect chains with perhaps some noise, is self-defeating.

In short, start-points and contexts for reasoning count for a lot.>>

___________

In short, our emotions are experienced as a facet of self-aware, responsibly free, rational agency. And, it is legitimate to begin from such a first fact of experience, especially as the mechanistic alternative shows every sign of breaking down when it becomes self-referential.

Perhaps, then, it is time for a fresh think that moves beyond say Crick in The Astonishing Hypothesis:

. . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.

. . . and similar patterns of thought?

Philip Johnson’s reply seems to have a bit of bite to it. Namely, that Sir Francis should have therefore been willing to preface his works thusly: “I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.”  Johnson then acidly commented:  “[[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.” [[Reason in the Balance, 1995.]

Surely, it is time for fresh thinking? END

77 Replies to “Answering Popperian’s challenge: “why doesn’t someone start out by explaining how human beings generate emotions, then point out how the universality of computation does not fit that explanation . . .”

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    How does a human being GENERATE emotions? (Or, does that choice of analogy reveal the underlying problem?)

  2. 2
    Box says:

    KF: My fundamental point is that reasoning as opposed to blindly mechanical computation inherently relies on insight into meaning and a sense of structured patterns that suggest connexions.

    What is “insight”? What is “meaning”? What is “comprehension”?
    We comprehend something — something has “meaning” to us — ONLY when that something has been put into a context. To me, this is key: we cannot understand a thing in isolation; we need a context to get a handle on things—to grasp it.
    We cannot understand an isolated letter “B”, we need words, sentences and a story as a context for that single letter “B” to fully understand it.

    Now get this: *Computation operates without context.*

    The Chinese characters in Searle’s Chinese room are processed without access to the contexts in which they belong—and therefore they are processed without “insight”, “comprehension” and “meaning”.

    I must also acknowledge here that I myself initially embraced the computational theory practically without reservation. It certainly seemed an enormous step forward at the time. Fellow graduate students likely remember my oft-repeated attempts to assure them that the CTM would soon solve this or that fundamental problem in psychology. But all was not well.

    Any scheme based on atomization of meaning would necessarily fail to capture what to me had become the most characteristic property of word-meaning, a felt Gestalt quality or wholeness, at a level of generality that naturally supports extensions of usage into an indefinite variety—indeed whole families—of novel but appropriate contexts. The existing proposals could only represent the content of a general term such as “line” by some sample of its possible par-ticularizations, and in so doing rendered themselves systematically unable to distinguish between metaphorical truth and literal falsehood.

    The importance of incorporating more general knowledge of the world into language-processing models, for example, had already begun to be recognized, and new formal devices were being introduced to represent what the computer needed to know (what we ourselves know) about various sorts of “typical” situations it might encounter. But it seemed clear to me that all of these knowledge-representation devices, such as “frames” (Minsky, 1975), “scripts” (Schank & Colby, 1973), and “schemata” (Neisser, 1976), suffered essentially the same problems I had identified in the Katz and Fodor account of word meaning. Specifically, they required the possible scenarios of application to be spelled out in advance, in great but necessarily incomplete detail, and as a result ended up being “brittle,” intolerant of even minor departures from the preprogrammed expectations.

    [Edward F. Kelly, Irreducible Mind, ch. 1]

  3. 3
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I have updated by adding some illustrations and remarks, now that I have woken up for the day. Particularly note the clip from Leibniz in Monadology. KF

  4. 4
    Box says:

    FN #2:

    A note on the term ‘insight’.
    We use context as a ‘window’ to “look trough”. By means of a context we are able to look in from the outside. IOW a context provides us with “in-sight”.

  5. 5
    kairosfocus says:

    Box,

    an excellent point and cite. I add to it that logical thought is itself based on context, i.e. identity is rooted in recognising a distinct entity A in a world, thus implying instantly the corollaries LNC and LEM.

    Paul put the matter well:

    1 Cor 14:6 Now, brothers,[a] if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? 7 If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? 8 And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? 9 So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, 11 but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me.

    Language and communication depend on distinct identity and contrast, here correlated to the world via mutually understood verbal or musical symbols and signals. Which, must also be distinct.

    And of course as going concern agents, we have experience of the world, form concepts via first and higher order abstraction . . . chair > furniture > artifacts . . . and develop integrated models of reality as we are aware of and understand it.

    In computation there is indeed an isolation to blindly mechanical steps that to achieve overall function have to be composed into a complex whole through the insightful actions of a contriver, a designer.

    This of course already tells us that where there is computation there we will find design.

    But also, the very atomisation to mechanically produce a result runs cross-ways to the global, insight driven process of rational contemplation. Such has to be composed from without to achieve a complex functionally organised successful system. Composed by something that understands wholes.

    KF

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    Box, the window of insight analogy, I find useful. Indeed, it allows us to think in terms of an integrated array of objects on a real or imaginary stage working together under our control to achieve an overall purpose and function. KF

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: The 300th anniversary recasting of Monadology, may be useful: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/jonathan-edwards/monadology KF

    PS: Just reading and in the intro I already find a gem of a clip:

    unless one has already explored the inconsistencies to be found in the intuitive ‘folk materialist’ view of the world (that seems to be even more popular now then it was then) in the way that Leibniz did, Monadology can seem very abstract. However, once familiar with where he is starting from the text is clear: Leibniz is dealing with fundamental issues of physical science in a way that has time after time proven to be right. He is also dealing with the nature of experience and subjectivity, and he wants to combine these with physics in a seamless whole.

    Now, there’s a grand worldview exercise for you, though of course I rather suspect L’s monads were very open to the spiritual.

    PPS: Of clocks and dynamos — added to OP.

  8. 8
  9. 9
    Seversky says:

    A few additional F/N:

    We have a deep intuitive sense that there is order and organisation in our cosmos, which comes out in recognisable, stable and at least partly intelligible patterns that extend from one case to another.

    Understandable, since it is what we observe and, if it did not exist, neither would we.

    Mechanism, of course is one such, and explanation on mechanism is highly successful in certain limited spheres. But by the turn of C19, there were already signs of randomness at work and by C20 we had to reckon with the dynamics of randomness in physics. In quantum mechanics, this is now deeply embedded, many phenomena being inextricably stochastic.

    Whether you call it “mechanism” or “materialism” or “naturalism”, it has been – and continues to be – highly successful in many spheres. As those spheres continue to expand, so the room left for spiritual or divine agency shrinks and that, I suspect, is what alarms some believers and underlies their visceral as well as rational skepticism about scientific claims. For example, once epileptic seizures were understood as being caused by abnormal nerve cell activity in the brain rather than demonic possession, they could no longer be cited as evidence for the existence of a spiritual realm.

    Furthermore, although quantum physics has uncovered an Alice-in-Wonderland world of irreducible uncertainty and highly counter-intuitive properties, it is still at root a theory about the material world, albeit on the very smallest scale.

    What has happened in our time is that due to the prestige of science, mechanism based explanations have too often been allowed to displace the proper place for agent based explanations, the place for art and artifice. This has even been embedded in a dominant philosophy that too often unduly controls science: evolutionary materialism.

    There is even a panic, that if agency is allowed in the door, “demons” will be let loose and order and rationality go poof. This then often triggers fear, turf protection and linked locked in closed minded ideological irrationality.

    Science has no problem with intelligent agency where there is evidence for the existence of intelligent agents. Archeology, anthropology and forensic science are all founded on the assumption that they are studying the effects of intelligent agency. The intelligent agent in question, of course, being ourselves. We have good reasons to think we exist.

    If we found evidence of non-human intelligent agency – say, the wreck of an alien spaceship buried deep in the ground – this would not be a problem for materialistic science. Scientists would not hastily try to bury it again for fear of the threat it posed to the “dominant materialistic paradigm”. Quite the reverse. You would probably have to beat them off with clubs, so desperate would they be for a chance to study an alien artefact for the first time.

    The simple fact that modern science arose from in the main Judaeo-Christian thought that perceived a world as designed in ways meant to point to its Author, through involving at some level simple and intelligible organising principles or laws, should give pause. The phrase thinking God’s [creative, organising and sustaining] thoughts after him should ring some bells. (This is too often suppressed in the way we are taught about the rise of modern science.)

    Although science was undoubtedly nurtured by – and sometimes flourished in – various “Judaeo-Christian” societies at various times, it also arose in China, India, the Mediterranean cultures of antiquity and the Islamic world, all without the benefit of Christianity. That is why I and others find it offensive when Christians try to claim all the credit.

    We do not so much generate emotions and other consciously aware states of being, we experience them. And, to recognise and respect that fact without reference to demands for mechanistic reduction is a legitimate start-point for reflection.

    We know of our emotions through our experience of them and we do not normally feel as if we are “generating” them consciously, although I think it can be done. Like consciousness, they are still something of a mystery because we don’t yet have a convincing materialistic account of them. But that in itself doesn’t mean that such an account is not possible. There is no reason not to keep working on it. We’re all still learning.

  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:

    Seversky there is a categorical difference between mechanisms exist and mechanisms exhaust existence. The former makes sense, the latter does not. And many regularities in our world are anything but mechanistic in nature. Failure to recognise the central importance of responsibly free agency is a pivotal breakdown point for evolutionary materialism. Later, gotta go. KF

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    Seversky:

    I’ll pick one key slice for the moment

    We know of our emotions through our experience of them and we do not normally feel as if we are “generating” them consciously, although I think it can be done. Like consciousness, they are still something of a mystery because we don’t yet have a convincing materialistic account of them. But that in itself doesn’t mean that such an account is not possible. There is no reason not to keep working on it. We’re all still learning.

    The reality is, evolutionary materialism collapses long before we get to emotions. In fact, it cannot get us to a person to have emotions. Not, because this has not been “solved” but because it simply does not have the resources as a worldview to get there.

    As a classic case in point, here is Crick in The Astonishing hypothesis:

    . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.

    In short, the self, freedom., emotions etc are on such an account illusory.

    No wonder Philip Johnson retorted that Sir Francis should have therefore been willing to preface his works thusly: “I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” Johnson then acidly commented: “[[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.” [[Reason in the Balance, 1995.]

    It gets worse, evolutionary materialism undermines reason itself and is self-falsifying. For pretty much the same reasons. Reppert put it very well:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [[But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [[so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

    With problems like that on the table, it is not a problem of oh, we’re working on it.

    The problem is logical self-refutation, which is immediately and permanently fatal. And which keeps coming out in any number of ways.

    KF

  12. 12
    Box says:

    Seversky: Like consciousness, they [emotions] are still something of a mystery because we don’t yet have a convincing materialistic account of them. But that in itself doesn’t mean that such an account is not possible. There is no reason not to keep working on it.

    Given materialism, there is an excellent reason not to keep working on it: there cannot be such a thing as ‘rationality’. So give it up.
    Given materialism, blind non-rational forces are behind the steering wheel—are in FULL CONTROL—of “reason”. This unfortunate fact is immediately and permanently fatal for any rational ambition.

  13. 13
    Carpathian says:

    kairosfocus:

    In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it.

    If you model this with an electronic circuit, you can see that one event can trigger another event without regard to any third viewpoint.

    What I mean as an analogy is that the output of one gate can trigger a second regardless of whether a meter is measuring that voltage level and “believes” it to be valid.

  14. 14
    Mapou says:

    It is ironic that kairosfocus would use the image of a watch movement to make his point. It is ironic because the idea of the brain (not the mind) being analogous to a deterministic machine is absolutely correct. During my exploration of artificial intelligence and the brain over the years, I came to the conclusion that there is no truth to the hypothesis that the brain is a stochastic system. The so-called Bayesian brain is a myth. The brain is extremely precise when it comes to timing. Ask any musician, or tennis or ping pong player. The brain abhors uncertainty and goes to great lengths to eliminate it. It is a purely cause-effect mechanism.

    Of course, I am in the minority on this but I am, by no means, alone. Famed computer scientist, Judea Pearl (father of journalist Daniel Pearl who was murdered in Pakistan several years ago), an early champion of the Bayesian approach to AI had a complete change of heart a few years ago. When asked during a Cambridge University Press interview, “What was the greatest challenge you have encountered in your research?”, Pearl replied:

    In retrospect, my greatest challenge was to break away from probabilistic thinking and accept, first, that people are not probability thinkers but cause-effect thinkers and, second, that causal thinking cannot be captured in the language of probability; it requires a formal language of its own. I say that it was my “greatest challenge” partly because it took me ten years to make the transition and partly because I see how traumatic this transition is nowadays to colleagues who were trained in standard statistical tradition, including economists, psychologists and health scientists, and these are fields that crave for the transition to happen.

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:

    Carpathian:

    The cite, explicitly does not come from me, first. I cite Reppert, building on Lewis and Haldane, among many others. Not only is that a sign of lack of careful reading but it is far too close to the common tactic of personalising to dismiss.

    Second, electronic causal chains, precisely, are not inferential, are not rational, are blindly mechanical. Perhaps, you recall the recall of the Pentium because of an error in its mathematical processing? The chips neither knew nor cared, they were just carrying out the internal processing as laid out, errors being external to electronics doing what electronics does.

    The point is, that inference is precisely not like a blind cause-effect chain but crucially depends on meaning, insight, freedom to choose rationally etc.

    Now, look again at Reppert:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [[But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [[so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions

    The conceptual distinction is crucial, and it is exactly a main failing of evolutionary materialism that it fails to recognise or acknowledge it.

    Let me pull back a moment to a broader view which does come from me, an argument that is a refined form of what I first noticed some thirty years back:

    a: Evolutionary materialism argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature; from hydrogen to humans by undirected chance and necessity.

    b: Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws of chance and/or mechanical necessity acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of happenstance initial circumstances.

    (This is physicalism. This view covers both the forms where (a) the mind and the brain are seen as one and the same thing, and those where (b) somehow mind emerges from and/or “supervenes” on brain, perhaps as a result of sophisticated and complex software looping. The key point, though is as already noted: physical causal closure — the phenomena that play out across time, without residue, are in principle deducible or at least explainable up to various random statistical distributions and/or mechanical laws, from prior physical states. Such physical causal closure, clearly, implicitly discounts or even dismisses the causal effect of concept formation and reasoning then responsibly deciding, in favour of specifically physical interactions in the brain-body control loop; indeed, some mock the idea of — in their view — an “obviously” imaginary “ghost” in the meat-machine. [[There is also some evidence from simulation exercises, that accuracy of even sensory perceptions may lose out to utilitarian but inaccurate ones in an evolutionary competition. “It works” does not warrant the inference to “it is true.”] )

    c: But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this meat-machine picture. So, we rapidly arrive at Crick’s claim in his The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994): what we subjectively experience as “thoughts,” “reasoning” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as the unintended by-products of the blind natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains that (as the Smith Model illustrates) serve as cybernetic controllers for our bodies.

    d: These underlying driving forces are viewed as being ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance shaped by forces of selection [[“nature”] and psycho-social conditioning [[“nurture”], within the framework of human culture [[i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism]. And, remember, the focal issue to such minds — notice, this is a conceptual analysis made and believed by the materialists! — is the physical causal chains in a control loop, not the internalised “mouth-noises” that may somehow sit on them and come along for the ride.

    (Save, insofar as such “mouth noises” somehow associate with or become embedded as physically instantiated signals or maybe codes in such a loop. [[How signals, languages and codes originate and function in systems in our observation of such origin — i.e by design — tends to be pushed to the back-burner and conveniently forgotten. So does the point that a signal or code takes its significance precisely from being an intelligently focused on, observed or chosen and significant alternative from a range of possibilities that then can guide decisive action.])

    e: For instance, Marxists commonly derided opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismissed qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? Should we not ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is little more than yet another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze? And — as we saw above — would the writings of a Crick be any more than the firing of neurons in networks in his own brain?

    f: For further instance, we may take the favourite whipping-boy of materialists: religion. Notoriously, they often hold that belief in God is not merely cognitive, conceptual error, but delusion. Borderline lunacy, in short. But, if such a patent “delusion” is so utterly widespread, even among the highly educated, then it “must” — by the principles of evolution — somehow be adaptive to survival, whether in nature or in society. And so, this would be a major illustration of the unreliability of our conceptual reasoning ability, on the assumption of evolutionary materialism.

    g: Turning the materialist dismissal of theism around, evolutionary materialism itself would be in the same leaky boat. For, the sauce for the goose is notoriously just as good a sauce for the gander, too.

    h: That is, on its own premises [[and following Dawkins in A Devil’s Chaplain, 2004, p. 46], the cause of the belief system of evolutionary materialism, “must” also be reducible to forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity that are sufficiently adaptive to spread this “meme” in populations of jumped- up apes from the savannahs of East Africa scrambling for survival in a Malthusian world of struggle for existence . . . .

    j: Therefore, though materialists will often try to pointedly ignore or angrily brush aside the issue, we may freely argue: if such evolutionary materialism is true, then (i) our consciousness, (ii) the “thoughts” we have, (iii) the conceptualised beliefs we hold, (iv) the reasonings we attempt based on such and (v) the “conclusions” and “choices” (a.k.a. “decisions”) we reach — without residue — must be produced and controlled by blind forces of chance happenstance and mechanical necessity that are irrelevant to “mere” ill-defined abstractions such as: purpose or truth, or even logical validity.

    (NB: The conclusions of such “arguments” may still happen to be true, by astonishingly lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” or “warranted” them. It seems that rationality itself has thus been undermined fatally on evolutionary materialistic premises. Including that of Crick et al. Through, self-reference leading to incoherence and utter inability to provide a cogent explanation of our commonplace, first-person experience of reasoning and rational warrant for beliefs, conclusions and chosen paths of action. Reduction to absurdity and explanatory failure in short.)

    k: And, if materialists then object: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must immediately note that — as the fate of Newtonian Dynamics between 1880 and 1930 shows — empirical support is not equivalent to establishing the truth of a scientific theory. For, at any time, one newly discovered countering fact can in principle overturn the hitherto most reliable of theories. (And as well, we must not lose sight of this: in science, one is relying on the legitimacy of the reasoning process to make the case that scientific evidence provides reasonable albeit provisional warrant for one’s beliefs etc. Scientific reasoning is not independent of reasoning.)

    l: Worse, in the case of origins science theories, we simply were not there to directly observe the facts of the remote past, so origins sciences are even more strongly controlled by assumptions and inferences than are operational scientific theories. So, we contrast the way that direct observations of falling apples and orbiting planets allow us to test our theories of gravity . . . .

    o: More important, to demonstrate that empirical tests provide empirical support to the materialists’ theories would require the use of the very process of reasoning and inference which they have discredited.

    p: Thus, evolutionary materialism arguably reduces reason itself to the status of illusion. But, as we have seen: immediately, that must include “Materialism.”

    q: In the end, it is thus quite hard to escape the conclusion that materialism is based on self-defeating, question-begging logic.

    r: So, while materialists — just like the rest of us — in practice routinely rely on the credibility of reasoning and despite all the confidence they may project, they at best struggle to warrant such a tacitly accepted credibility of mind and of concepts and reasoned out conclusions relative to the core claims of their worldview.

    In short, evolutionary materialism so undermines mind and reason that it falsifies itself. It stumbles fatally coming out the starting gates.

    KF

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    Mapou, you will see that I speak in terms of dynamic-stochastic systems, which takes in wholly deterministic systems as a limiting case. In any case, I am too familiar with noise, drift and the like to wholly eliminate noise and chance from reflections on essentially any system. Including the impact of tiny variations on entities showing sensitive dependence on initial conditions or perturbations. My concern is with the post-Newton tendency to think of the cosmos as a whole in terms of rigidly deterministic causal chains driven by initial conditions as with Laplace’s demon calculating the future states on initial conditions. But more to the point dynamic-stochastic systems are precisely not inferential, nor do they exhibit responsible freedom. Hence the problem for evolutionary materialism as self-undermining and self-falsifying. KF

  17. 17
    Carpathian says:

    kairosfocus:

    (This is physicalism. This view covers both the forms where (a) the mind and the brain are seen as one and the same thing, and those where (b) somehow mind emerges from and/or “supervenes” on brain, perhaps as a result of sophisticated and complex software looping.

    Software looping or any mechanistic process is not a case of or cause of emergence.

    Emergence is what we call an attribute that describes the effect, not the cause of something.

    The “mind” is an emergent property of the brain in the same sense as Seversky once noted when describing walking as being an emergent property of legs.

    Brains “think”, and legs “walk”.

    Their is no “mind” that supervenes on the brain.

    We call what the brain does, the mind.

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    Carpathian, you will find the discussion of reflexivity, feedback, iteration processes, memory effects [=> delayed effects of past i/p’s, processing and o/p’s affecting current behaviour], lags if you look for it; I spoke in simple and relatively accessible terms — looping with lags. Where also emergence is going to have to come from components, configurations, interactions and resulting outcomes, that is systems basics. Yes, we also know that materialists like to redefine thought and mindedness as you outline. The core self-referential incoherence already identified is prior to such, and the basic problem of the inherently non-rational cause-effect bond remains. Cause-effect is simply not the same as ground-consequent. Remember, you also have to account for your own rationality without self-referential incoherence. Until you do so, strictly, you have nothing to say, no rational leg to stand on. KF

    PS: There is also a range of views being addressed, and emergentism is one of them.

  19. 19
    Box says:

    Carpathian #17,

    Carpathian: The “mind” is an emergent property of the brain in the same sense as Seversky once noted when describing walking as being an emergent property of legs.
    [my emphasis]

    This is covered in KF’s analysis. It’s right there in your quote: concept (b). Let’s look again:

    Kairosfocus: This is physicalism. This view covers both the forms where (a) the mind and the brain are seen as one and the same thing, and those where (b) somehow mind emerges from and/or “supervenes” on brain (…)
    [my emphasis]

    KF goes on dismantling physicalism. Why do you ignore his arguments?

  20. 20
    Mung says:

    “Walking legs” is more down to earth than “thinking brains.”

    Am I right?

  21. 21
    Mapou says:

    c:

    The “mind” is an emergent property of the brain in the same sense as Seversky once noted when describing walking as being an emergent property of legs.

    LOL. This is the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time. Walking is now an emergent property of legs? ahaha… I don’t know whether to call this brilliant or stupid. Walking is not a property. It is a label we attach to a certain behavior among certain animals. And behavior is certainly not an emergent property. The brain is genetically designed to behave.

    Tell me, Carpathian. How does your brain determine that something it has never seen before is beautiful or ugly? And while you are pondering how to define beauty in physical/materialistic terms, think also about how you can define the color sensation blue in terms of physical particles and laws.

    Edit: I’ll wait.

  22. 22
    Popperian says:

    First, I’m not wed to the phrase “generate emotions”. That particular wording was present in the original article which I commented on.

    That computers do not generate emotions is not a “popular argument”; it is a fact.

    Second, this post does not actually address the question, as it fails to provide an explanation for how human beings form / generate / exhibit emotions. If human beings do not “generate emotions”, then by all means, what is the alternative? What is your explanation for it? IOW, you’ve starting out by criticizing me for having an overly “Newtonian, clockwork vision of the world.”, rather than explaining why human beings have emotions. Without such a starting point, you have nothing by which to compare the universality of computation with, which is the entire point of the question.

    Yes, we experience emotions. But we also experience music, films, pain, etc. Our nervous system plays a key role in generating those experience. A pregnant woman’s emotions are amplified by hormones associated with pregnancy.

    Third, completely absent from your post is any mention of the universality of computation, which is independent of any particular implementation. What we received instead are block diagrams of input and outputs, which are also applicable to calculators. However, calculators are not Universal Turing Machines (UTMs). They do not exhibit universality referenced in the question, which emerges from a specific repertoire of computations. Nor were the first universal computers designed to be UTMs. Rather, our goal was to perform calculations more accurately and more conveniently. Universality is an unexpected consequence, which is a concrete contradiction to the idea that something must be intentionally designed to do X before it could do X.

    One can have a good knowledge of how computers operate in the context of repairing them and assembling them, which you appear have, without having a deeper understanding of universality. This fit my description in my 20’s when I was a computer repair tech for several years. But there is much more to computation than this. For example, when I developed websites, I used an emulator to run Internet Explorer on my Mac. However, nothing in the OP refers to the universality that allows x86 Windows applications to run on PowerPC CPUs. In theory, so could have Charles Babbage’s Analytic Machine, which consists of gears rather than transistors. However, the number of punch cards necessary to emulate a modern day PCs memory and storage would make this impractical.

    In the same sense, the laws of physics are such that a digital computer can simulate any other physical system, not just another computer, with arbitrary precision. This would include the human brain. If you imply human emotions can have no explanation because they are immaterial, it’s unclear how you can say the universality of computation doesn’t fit a non existent explanation.

    IOW, you seem to be saying, “I have no explanation for human emotions, but I know the explanation for computation (computational theory) doesn’t fit that explanation.” However, if Human beings exhibit emotions because “that’s just what God must have wanted” couldn’t that be applied to anything, including computers? So, apparently, computers do not exhibit emotions because “that’s just what God must have wanted.”

  23. 23
    kairosfocus says:

    Mapou: I think he means the equivalent of the brain secretes thoughts as the liver secretes bile. Legs don’t walk by themselves either, they are controlled entities, with balance a very non-trivial aspect. KF

  24. 24
    Mapou says:

    kairosfocus, I think he is confusing “emergent property” with “function”. It’s laughable.

  25. 25
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian, humans EXPERIENCE emotions based on responding to perceived circumstances. In so experiencing we look at things similar to experiencing the redness of a sunrise. Where, the pivot is not finding mechanisms but realising that demanding reduction to mechanisms is wrong-headed; that is, many are blinded to the reality of the world of our daily experience: agency with responsible, rational freedom — a requisite of genuine rationality. I also note that ever so many things are not amenable to digital simulation, including precisely experiencing the redness and beauty of a rose at sunup or the like. Likewise, computers are non-rational, blind calculating engines, they are not exhibiting insight into meaning and rational inference in light of understanding ground-consequent relations. And, I do not have to try to provide a mechanistic explanation for what is non-mechanistic inherently; especially when it has been repeatedly shown that such attempted reductions or assumption of such ends inevitably in self-referential incoherence and falsification. Materialism is dead (it stumbled fatally in the starting gates), we are being scared by its ghost. KF

  26. 26
    Popperian says:

    @KF

    Since you seem to be a dualist, in that human beings are part material and part immaterial, would you say that computers could exhibit emotions if God had merely wanted them to?

  27. 27
    Popperian says:

    @KF

    You’re in no way obligated to answer my challenge. But let’s not pretend that this post actually did.

    for example..

    I also note that ever so many things are not amenable to digital simulation, including precisely experiencing the redness and beauty of a rose at sunup or the like.

    How can you know if a phenomena is not amenable to simulation if you have no explanation for that phenomena in the first place?

    Likewise, computers are non-rational, blind calculating engines, they are not exhibiting insight into meaning and rational inference in light of understanding ground-consequent relations.

    And that same description could be applied to a pocket calculator, which does not exhibit universality. Again, you’re focused on a particular aspect of computers that doesn’t begin to address the view I’m presenting. This highly simplistic approach isn’t a response to my question.

    Apparently, your answer is to say that my challenge is “wrong headed”, which really isn’t an answer.

  28. 28
    Popperian says:

    @KF

    Little has changed if we move to a digital computer, which, suitably programmed can do much the same through taking inputs, storing intermediate results and data, processing through an execution unit involving an arithmetic and logic unit based on electronic circuits to generate outputs:

    Actually, there is a significant difference between a “generic operational amplifier based analogue computer that solves differential equations in terms of voltages” and digital computer, The latter is a UTM, the former is not. Nor is it practical to build a UTM using an analog computer..

    Take a computer that uses cogs, vs a computer that uses completely smooth surfaces. The cog will snap to a particular point on the surface, while positioning errors will accumulate on a completely smooth surface. This is why most computers are digital, rather than analog. In this sense, Babbage’s computer was digital.

    So, you answer simply doesn’t address my challenge because It’s not just about feedback loops.

  29. 29
    Box says:

    Popperian,

    Human beings are conscious, sentient, moral, rational agents. Those are aspects of our being. We don’t generate consciousness, emotions and rationality, but we ARE those things.

    Popperian: Apparently, your answer is to say that my challenge is “wrong headed”, which really isn’t an answer.

    It really is an answer. It really is wrongheaded to ask: “how do humans generate consciousness, rationality and emotions?”

  30. 30
    Popperian says:

    @box

    Human beings are conscious, sentient, moral, rational agents. Those are aspects of our being. We don’t generate consciousness, emotions and rationality, but we ARE those things.

    Yes, Box. I realize that is your position. But why is it your position? This appears to be argument by definition, which really is’t an argument.

    IOW, it’s wrong headed by a particular definition, which you haven’t argued for.

    For example, according to some thesis, apparently God is knowledge, by definition. However, I still haven’t figured out what the consequence of that is, compared to God always having had knowledge, etc. As such, it seems to be merely a definition I’m supposed to accept if I no longer want to be confused.

    But this doesn’t actually clarify anything.

  31. 31
    Mung says:

    Box, I don’t like your definitions, nor what follows from them, so I am going to respond with my own definition, which I do like, and this is called begging the question, which is what I do when I don’t actually have an argument against your position, but am able to offer something in lieu of one.

  32. 32
    Box says:

    Popperian #30,

    Box: Human beings are conscious, sentient, moral, rational agents. Those are aspects of our being. We don’t generate consciousness, emotions and rationality, but we ARE those things.

    Popperian:
    Yes, Box. I realize that is your position. But why is it your position?

    What a strange question! Obviously, my position follows from the arguments presented in the OP and elsewhere.

    Popperian: This appears to be argument by definition, which really is’t an argument.

    Argument by definition?? You did read the OP, right?

    Popperian: IOW, it’s wrong headed by a particular definition, which you haven’t argued for.

    Let me run this by you again: in the OP and elsewhere (including several post of my own) arguments are presented which show that rationality is irreducible to matter. Materialism cannot accommodate rationality.
    Now do you understand that this constitutes by implication an argument in favor of a concept of rationality being distinct from matter? IOW that the arguments in the OP are also arguments for a non-material rational mind?
    Okay, now what I’m saying is that, what goes for rationality, also goes for consciousness, emotions and other aspects of a human being: irreducible to matter and aspects of a non-material human person.

    – – –

    If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

  33. 33
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian,

    I think you are facing a worldview level issue as if it were a scientific debate in a mechanistic, evolutionary materialist paradigm of what science should be. Evolutionary materialistic scientism, in short.

    The worldviews level is actually antecedent to science and grounds (or, fails to ground . . . ) science as one particular way to explore reality. The proper method at this level is comparative difficulties across factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power/balance. Where, major worldview alternatives sit to the table as of right, not sufferance.

    The first thing is to understand that evolutionary materialistic scientism in its various forms cannot account for fact no 1 of our existence: our self-aware, conscious selves with distinct unified identities, time-streamed but continuous and cumulative, sometimes rational, morally governed interior life that in turn influences our behaviour as embodied agents. Repeatedly, we find scientific thinkers of the order of a Crick trying to dismiss that interior life as at best epiphenomena of the electrochemistry and interactions of neurons or the like.

    Crick, again, in The Astonishing Hypothesis:

    . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.

    This boils down to implying self-referential incoherence and falsification as immediate corollary, for blind mechanical necessity and/or chance influenced processes are the exact opposite of freedom and sense of duty to seek, warrant and accept warranted truths then step by step decide to work out, follow and acknowledge implications leading to soundly arrived at conclusions. If we are not responsibly free we cannot be rational.

    That is why, thirty years past, I responded to marxian class conditioning, Freudian accounts of the interior life and Skinner’s operant conditioning as I did: these are simply variations on a consistent pattern of self-referential incoherence. Likewise, Johnson was dead right to challenge Crick that he should have therefore been willing to preface his works thusly: “I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.”

    Johnson then acidly but aptly commented: “[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.”

    It should be quite plain that if one discredits rationality in general, one has undercut the ground on which science has to stand. Further, as the various evolutionary materialistic schemes are forced to account for our interior lives on blind chance and mechanical necessity working through forces of genetic and cultural survival, via nature + nurture, these generally end up implying exactly the sort of incoherence just exemplified four times [again].

    Reppert drives the point home:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [[But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [[so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

    Haldane saw this 80+ years ago, and wrote:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [[“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

    In that context, phrasing you used with implicit approval, that humans GENERATE emotions, is a sign of the problem.

    Evolutionary materialistic scientism — never mind institutional dominance — is factually inadequate, fatally incoherent and grossly inadequate as an explanatory framework starting with rationality. It is therefore inconsistent with the project of seeking to rationally understand the world, including the practice of science.

    While many practising scientists adhere to it, it embeds the fatal weakness of an inconsistent system in their thought: loss of ability to distinguish truth from falsity. It is also a straight-jacket, demanding reduction of everything to mechanisms of blind necessity and/or chance acting on matter and energy in space and time.

    This is an improper demand.

    In reply it is entirely appropriate to highlight the self-falsifying nature of the evolutionary materialistic worldview and then point to the primacy of our interior life as the first fact through which we access all exterior facts. Yes, with possibility of error, but in turn it is a fatally self-referential error to imagine that there is an impassable ugly gulch betwixt the two. We have good reason to accept that we can bridge the two, however error-prone we may be at times. (And here I follow F H Bradley replying to Kant et al.)

    In that light, we experience perceiving, acting into and responding to the world involving intellectual, moral, volitional, aesthetic and emotional aspects in various blends. We experience intentionality and qualia, neither of which is explicable on blind mechanisms. We ponder, we find ourselves able to act based on decisions, often expressed on rational reflection — such as composing and typing posts in this thread.

    And more, much more.

    In that context, rational reflection and discussion on our inner and outer lives can teach us much that a materialist straight-jacket would lock out.

    For instance, responsible freedom being a necessity for rationality, moral government is then on the table. That points to the IS-OUGHT gap and to the only place such can be resolved: world-root level. Thus, we come to the only serious candidate to ground such: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of ultimate loyalty and reasonable service by doing the good in accord with our nature.

    Thus, a lot of anti-theistic prejudices and dismissiveness that tries to pretend that the supernatural is inherently irrational and generally suspect stand exposed as just that: prejudices.

    For, to believe in God on a principled basis is reasonable, and to involve oneself with a theistic tradition that focusses on reasonable service by doing the good in accord with our evident nature is not bigotry and irrationality. And indeed, millions testify to living encounter with God and to resulting positive life transformation. I, am one of these — starting with the miracle of guidance that saved my life 40+ years past.

    In such an opened up context of thought, it is not unreasonable to ponder say the Smith model of a cybernetic loop with a two tier controller, with perhaps a quantum-level informational, perceptual and directive interface between the two, that allows the brain-body loop to be supervised by a higher level controller stage that brings to bear responsible freedom. After all, the quantum level is non-mechanistic, non-deterministic and physically fundamental.

    Emotions in that context are felt responses to perceived and evaluated circumstances, involving a lot of cognitive assessment and judgement. For instance, we fear when we see a rapidly approaching car and jump back out of the road. We enjoy the beauty and delicate redness of a rose at sunrise. We appreciate and respond to the attractveness and evident empathy of a person of the opposite sex, maybe even beginning to fall in love. This then involves all sorts of issues of moral duties (we are not simply rutting animals), addressing of circumstances, mutuality and onward solemn commitments should the process lead on to marriage and family.

    A kitten, notoriously, will attract us through its sheer cuteness.

    A threatening bully will excite rage and fear, triggering hormones that are designed to equip us for turbocharged performance in fighting or fleeing as required or appropriate. (But the emotion is not equal to the shot of adrenaline, as I know from the repeated experience of adrenaline injections to break dangerous asthma attacks.)

    In short, we need fresh reflection that takes both our interior and exterior lives seriously.

    KF

  34. 34
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I suggest that if someone defines “God is knowledge” that is most likely a way of saying that God is all-knowing as infinitely perfect mind. KF

  35. 35
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 2: Scratching the definitionitis itch:

    >>e•mo•tion (??mo? ??n)

    n.
    1. an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, etc., is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness.
    2. any of the feelings of joy, sorrow, hate, love, etc.
    3. a strong agitation of the feelings caused by experiencing love, fear, etc.
    [1570–80; appar. < Middle French esmotion, derived on the model of movoir: motion, from esmovoir to set in motion, move the feelings >

    KF

  36. 36
    Popperian says:

    To summarize my challenge, I’m looking for something along the lines of “Emotions work like X and the universality of computation works like Z, which doesn’t fit explanation X. As such, we cannot explain emotions with the universality of computation.” But no explanation X for emotions has be provided. Furthermore, nothing in the OP addresses the universality of computation. Rather it focuses on aspects that are shared with pocket calculators, not Universal Turning machines, which completely misses the point.

    If we ARE those things, that is a definition, in the same sense as saying God IS knowledge, rather than God possessing knowledge. It’s unclear how you’ve made that leap.

    Nor is it clear how we could use a definition to compare against the explanation of the universality of computation, which is part of my challenge. Again, it seems that we can boil this down to saying “It’s magic, and computers are not magic”, which doesn’t actually improve the problem.

    Seems to me you’d need to have an expansion for emotions before you could say the universality of computation doesn’t fit that explanation. What I’m hearing is, “I have no explanation for emotions, but I know the universality of computation doesn’t fit that explanation”, which seems irrational.

    Or, perhaps the implication is, “The Bible said God did it, God is inexplicable, therefore there can be no explanation X for emotions.”?

  37. 37
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian:

    I suggest you first address the worldview issue. Which, is philosophical in nature [first philosophy, specifically metaphysics], not theological or biblical — and particularly not naive proof-texting. So, pardon, with all due respect your presuppositions, unquestioned a prioris, prejudices and biases are showing and are evidently warping your judgements.

    As an index, look again at how you reacted to my suggestion of an understanding of the awkward phrasing — I would not use this, as knowledge alone is not sufficiently core to the essence of deity, unlike “God is love” but would say perhaps God is knowledge himself — that it would likely mean that God is all-knowing, omniscient. You projected the awkward phrasing to me and proceeded to ignore my suggestions. That, sir, is not a reasonable response but a rhetorical one.

    Refocussing . . .

    The pivotal issue is the first fact of our rational existence, our interior life.

    And, the constraints on that life that would be imposed by evolutionary materialism which only manage to show its self-falsification as undermining rationality.

    I need not more than refer you above on emotions.

    Next, computation is NOT universal, there are ever so many phenomena that it cannot cover, including key facets of our interior life. Computation in particular is inherently non-rational, a matter of constrained cause effect sequences that are matters of force and result, not a rational process in itself. For instance, reflect on how a full adder circuit works.

    Reasoning is a process of meaningful inference based on perceiving ground and consequent bonds, or some similar process of warrant.

    Such is inherently non-mechanistic.

    Please, think again.

    KF

  38. 38
    Axel says:

    ‘LOL. This is the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time. Walking is now an emergent property of legs? ahaha…’

    You’ve almost written the first sentence of my intended response, word for word, mapou. As a matter of fact, I think there is an irony overload so massive that the larger part of it will forever have to remain latent. The human mind cannot take in the enormity of it without something ‘blowing’ just part of the way into the process of digesting it, so that it has to stop short – make do with ROFL.

    I actually thought it was meant to be biting sarcasm. It sounds very like something Mung might have come up with. Existing in a similar dimension to his satellite navigation thinggy.

    Perhaps ‘hopping’ would be an emergent property of the one remaining leg of an amputee.

  39. 39
    Axel says:

    I think you need to get used to the notion, mapou, that the Holy Spirit is both the source of our life and our ability to think.

    Just saying… as the saying goes. I think you’re too convinced of your own line of thought, in which computers take on higher human qualities, though, to change it in a hurry.

  40. 40
    Popperian says:

    I think you are facing a worldview level issue as if it were a scientific debate in a mechanistic, evolutionary materialist paradigm of what science should be. Evolutionary materialistic scientism, in short.

    No, I’m pointing out that the lingua franca of science is explanations, not empirical observations, which is a matter of philosophy. Explanatory theories are tested by observations, not derived from them. Principles such as Occam’s Razor are specific cases of preferring hard to vary explanations. So, science is an extension of a philosophical view of how knowledge grows: criticism. In the case of science, criticism takes the form of empirical observations.

    Explanation-less theories are like saying “a wizard did it”. They cannot be criticized, empirically or otherwise. No progress can be made. If you believe it was divinely revealed that God did X, and divinely revealed that God is inexplicable, then the very idea that an explanation was even possible would be heresy. Otherwise, it’s unclear to me where the idea that emotions are inexplicable comes from.

    The first thing is to understand that evolutionary materialistic scientism in its various forms cannot account for fact no 1 of our existence: our self-aware, conscious selves with distinct unified identities, time-streamed but continuous and cumulative, sometimes rational, morally governed interior life that in turn influences our behaviour as embodied agents.

    I’m a Popperian. This has philosophical implications, including rejecting scientism. Yet, I still think evolutionary theory is the best explanation for the growth of biological knowledge. In fact, Popper based his evolutionary theory of knowledge on Darwinism. So, it’s quite possible to be a Darwinist while rejecting scientism. This is possible when you flip the role of empirical observations plays in empiricism on it’s head. Again, theories are tested using empirical observations, not derived from them.

    I do not share your need to account for things via some ultimate explanation. That such a thing is even possible or desirable is a particular philosophical view. I would suggest that theism is a special case of justificationism which, at its core, says we need some ultimate justification to fall back on as a last resort. But this simply does not survive criticism.

    Repeatedly, we find scientific thinkers of the order of a Crick trying to dismiss that interior life as at best epiphenomena of the electrochemistry and interactions of neurons or the like.

    This is like your attempt to substitute the properties of a pocket calculator for those of a universal turing machine. It as if you intentionally frame the question to be as absurd as possible hoping the reader has no clue about the subject matter at hand. If one wanted a sure fire way to avoid accepting evolution, I guess one strategy would be to continually misrepresent it, even to yourself.

    Again, one concrete example of emergence is the universality of computation, which emerges from a specific repertoire of computations. This represents one of many leaps to universality that have significant consequences beyond their component parts. To ignore this is to be ignorant intentionally or unintentionally.

    While many practising scientists adhere to it, it embeds the fatal weakness of an inconsistent system in their thought: loss of ability to distinguish truth from falsity. It is also a straight-jacket, demanding reduction of everything to mechanisms of blind necessity and/or chance acting on matter and energy in space and time.

    If I were an empiricist, then “Yes.” That would be the case. But I’m not. What I find confusing is why you keep presenting arguments as if I was, despite an overwhelming number of attempts to point out the contrary. It’s as if you refuse to take my position seriously. Painting all of your opponents as empiricists, regardless if they are or not, seems to be yet another strategy. I would agree that empiricism is absurd. But this doesn’t mean the only alternative is to accept “magic”.

    Thus, a lot of anti-theistic prejudices and dismissiveness that tries to pretend that the supernatural is inherently irrational and generally suspect stand exposed as just that: prejudices.

    My beef with the supernatural is that it can be easily varied without changing its ability to perform the same role just as well. It’s a bad explanation. What do I mean by that?

    From this TED talk….

    Consider the ancient Greek myth explaining seasons. Hades, God of the Underworld, kidnaps Persephone, the Goddess of Spring, and negotiates a forced marriage contract, requiring her to return regularly, and lets her go. And each year, she is magically compelled to return. And her mother, Demeter, Goddess of the Earth, is sad, and makes it cold and barren. That myth is testable. If winter is caused by Demeter’s sadness, then it must happen everywhere on Earth simultaneously. So if the ancient Greeks had only known that Australia is at its warmest when Demeter is at her saddest, they’d have known that their theory is false.

    So what was wrong with that myth, and with all pre-scientific thinking, and what, then, made that momentous difference? I think there is one thing you have to care about. And that implies testability, the scientific method, the Enlightenment, and everything. And here is the crucial thing. There is such a thing as a defect in a story. I don’t just mean a logical defect. I mean a bad explanation. What does that mean? Well, explanation is an assertion about what’s there, unseen, that accounts for what’s seen.

    Because the explanatory role of Persephone’s marriage contract could be played equally well by infinitely many other ad hoc entities. Why a marriage contract and not any other reason for regular annual action? Here is one. Persephone wasn’t released. She escaped, and returns every spring to take revenge on Hades, with her Spring powers. She cools his domain with Spring air, venting heat up to the surface, creating summer. That accounts for the same phenomena as the original myth. It’s equally testable. Yet what it asserts about reality is, in many ways, the opposite. And that is possible because the details of the original myth are unrelated to seasons, except via the myth itself.

    This easy variability is the sign of a bad explanation, because, without a functional reason to prefer one of countless variants, advocating one of them, in preference to the others, is irrational. So, for the essence of what makes the difference to enable progress, seek good explanations, the ones that can’t be easily varied, while still explaining the phenomena.

    Now, our current explanation of seasons is that the Earth’s axis is tilted like that, so each hemisphere tilts toward the sun for half the year, and away for the other half. Better put that up. (Laughter) That’s a good explanation: hard to vary, because every detail plays a functional role. For instance, we know, independently of seasons, that surfaces tilted away from radiant heat are heated less, and that a spinning sphere, in space, points in a constant direction. And the tilt also explains the sun’s angle of elevation at different times of year, and predicts that the seasons will be out of phase in the two hemispheres. If they’d been observed in phase, the theory would have been refuted. But now, the fact that it’s also a good explanation, hard to vary, makes the crucial difference.

    If the ancient Greeks had found out about seasons in Australia, they could have easily varied their myth to predict that. For instance, when Demeter is upset, she banishes heat from her vicinity, into the other hemisphere, where it makes summer. So, being proved wrong by observation, and changing their theory accordingly, still wouldn’t have got the ancient Greeks one jot closer to understanding seasons, because their explanation was bad: easy to vary. And it’s only when an explanation is good that it even matters whether it’s testable. If the axis-tilt theory had been refuted, its defenders would have had nowhere to go. No easily implemented change could make that tilt cause the same seasons in both hemispheres.

    So, I reject supernatural explanations not out of bigotry, but on philosophical grounds.

  41. 41
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Popperian

    To summarize my challenge, I’m looking for something along the lines of “Emotions work like X and the universality of computation works like Z, which doesn’t fit explanation X.

    Emotions are a subjective experience – they can only be directly observed by the agent experiencing them.

    Do rocks experience emotions? We don’t know because we can’t ask them. We infer that humans experience emotions because we recognize correlations between neural activity and what a subject exhibits – but we don’t know what the subject actually experienced. We cannot measure the degree or recognition of feeling.

    Can a person experience the emotion of God communicating supernatural grace? Many people say they do experience that emotion. Is that enough for you to accept that there is a spiritual emotion caused by God?

    If not, then all we have is the subjective state and a claim by the individual. And as above, computational devices do not have a subjective self.

    Computation does not possess a subjective self for the experience of emotion.

  42. 42
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian, you are again reverting to demanding the mechanistic in a context where the worldview that undergirds such is self-falsifying. It leads you to imagine that computational simulations can replicate universally, from your words — which is patently not so. That is why I took time to address the self-falsification above as the context for a more balanced understanding of our experience as self-aware agents of emotions as an aspect of interior life. To illustrate, why is it that on personal multiple experiences I do not equate hormonal surges with given emotions, though such may be involved (why do I use “turbocharged” in that context)? KF

    PS: Your reverting to a Greek myth in order to dismiss “the supernatural” is yet another strawman argument, reflective of an underlying bias that is failing to reasonably and substantially address what is actually on the table.

    PPS: So is your mistranslation of my mentioning a full adder with substituting a pocket calculator for a universal computer. FYI, a FA is a key component of an arithmetic and logic unit — ALU — in the execution unit of a processor.

  43. 43
    Mung says:

    Popperian: In fact, Popper based his evolutionary theory of knowledge on Darwinism.

    Popper also rejected any causal theory of the mind.

    What’s the difference between biological knowledge and human knowledge?

  44. 44
    Carpathian says:

    Mapou:

    Carpathian: The “mind” is an emergent property of the brain in the same sense as Seversky once noted when describing walking as being an emergent property of legs.

    Mapou: LOL. This is the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time. Walking is now an emergent property of legs? ahaha… I don’t know whether to call this brilliant or stupid. Walking is not a property. It is a label we attach to a certain behavior among certain animals. And behavior is certainly not an emergent property. The brain is genetically designed to behave.

    Walking and thinking are not behaviors, they are both physical processes.

    Both have physical causes.

    If IDists truly believe that a non-physical entity called the “mind” is the cause of our cognitive processes, then there is every reason to believe that a non-physical entity called “pedestrian” is moving our legs when we “walk”.

  45. 45
    Virgil Cain says:

    So a physical process can’t be a behavior? Really?

    Wow, just wow…

  46. 46
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Carpathian

    Walking and thinking are not behaviors, they are both physical processes.

    Both have physical causes.

    I observe legs moving in physical space, at a certain rate, with certain weight measurments, exerting physical pressure on the ground dependent on weight and muscle.

    What kind of physical measurements can you apply to a thought?

    How much mass does it have? Weight?
    What dimensions does it occupy in space?

  47. 47
    Carpathian says:

    Virgil Cain:

    So a physical process can’t be a behavior? Really?

    A physical process would be the opening and closing of an eye while a behavior would be winking.

    In both cases, the eye opens and shuts.

    You seem to be saying that the physical processes of the brain could result in the behavior we label mind.

  48. 48
    Carpathian says:

    Silver Asiatic:

    I observe legs moving in physical space, at a certain rate, with certain weight measurments, exerting physical pressure on the ground dependent on weight and muscle.

    Yes, and neuroscientists observe neurons firing in the brain.

    Both are physical processes, and both are described from a perspective of functionality, i.e. you use your legs to “walk” and your brain to “think”.

    What kind of physical measurements can you apply to a thought?

    Chemical and electrical.

  49. 49
    Popperian says:

    Silver,

    We do not know what things are capable of based on induction. Rather, we know what things are capable of based on explanations for how they work.

    To quote from The Beginning of Infinity, by David Deutsch.

    “For millennia people dreamed about flying, but they experienced only falling. Then they discovered good explanatory theories about flying, and then they flew – in that order. Before 1945, no human being had ever observed a nuclear-fission (atomic-bomb) explosion; there may never have been one in the history of the universe. Yet the first such explosion, and the conditions under which it would occur, had been accurately predicted – but not from the assumption that the future would be like the past. Even sunrise – that favourite example of inductivists – is not always observed every twenty-four hours: when viewed from orbit it may happen every ninety minutes, or not at all. And that was known from theory long before anyone had ever orbited the Earth.

    It is no defense of inductivism to point out that in all those cases the future still does ‘resemble the past’ in the sense that it obeys the same underlying laws of nature. For that is an empty statement: any purported law of nature – true or false – about the future and the past is a claim that they ‘resemble’ each other by both conforming to that law. So that version of the ‘principle of induction’ could not be used to derive any theory or prediction from experience or anything else.”

    Yet, you seem to think there can be no explanation for how emotions work. As such, it’s unclear how you know the universality of computation could not simulate emotions. Correct me if I’m wrong, but your logic seems to be based on the idea that since God is responsible for emotions and God is inexplicable, then emotions are must also be inexplicable.

    Furthermore, you seem to have confused specific instances of computational devices that exist today with the principle behind them: universality of computation. Yes, current day computers have no subjective self. But the very explanation for how universal turing machines work indicates this is indeed possible.

    From this article on artificial intelligence.

    Despite this long record of failure, AGI must be possible. And that is because of a deep property of the laws of physics, namely the universality of computation. This entails that everything that the laws of physics require a physical object to do can, in principle, be emulated in arbitrarily fine detail by some program on a general-purpose computer, provided it is given enough time and memory. The first people to guess this and to grapple with its ramifications were the 19th-century mathematician Charles Babbage and his assistant Ada, Countess of Lovelace. It remained a guess until the 1980s, when I proved it using the quantum theory of computation.

    As the article points out, we don’t know how to program this as of yet. However, based on the explanation for computation itself, the barrier is knowing how. What we will need is a breakthrough in philosophy regarding how human beings create new explanations.

  50. 50
    kairosfocus says:

    Carpathian:

    SA: What kind of physical measurements can you apply to a thought?

    C: Chemical and electrical.

    I think you need to look again to see why Crick’s similar answer fails and why Haldane so long ago cautioned:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [[“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

    KF

  51. 51
    Virgil Cain says:

    Carpathian:

    You seem to be saying that the physical processes of the brain could result in the behavior we label mind.

    I neither said nor implied any such thing. Crawling is a behavior of infants and it is a physical process.

  52. 52
    Mapou says:

    Popperian quoting the “infinite parallel universes” [snip-insult] David Deutsch:

    Despite this long record of failure, AGI must be possible. And that is because of a deep property of the laws of physics, namely the universality of computation. This entails that everything that the laws of physics require a physical object to do can, in principle, be emulated in arbitrarily fine detail by some program on a general-purpose computer, provided it is given enough time and memory. The first people to guess this and to grapple with its ramifications were the 19th-century mathematician Charles Babbage and his assistant Ada, Countess of Lovelace. It remained a guess until the 1980s, when I proved it using the quantum theory of computation.

    What a nut. Deutsch is a legend in his own deranged mind. Like everything else Deutsch believes in, quantum computing will be shown to be pure unmitigated crackpottery in the “not even wrong” category.

    Even if computers are universal, not everything is computable. We see beauty in the universe even though beauty is not a physical property. We see colors, blue, red, orange, yellow, etc. and yet not one of those color sensations is computable or even exists in either the environment or the brain. The neurons that code for green are biologically identical to the neurons that code for blue or red.

  53. 53
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Carpathian

    What kind of physical measurements can you apply to a thought?

    Chemical and electrical.

    Can you provide some reference showing the physical characteristics of an individual thought? Do you think a human thought has been empirically observed somehow?

  54. 54
    Box says:

    Popperian #40: So, it’s quite possible to be a Darwinist while rejecting scientism.

    I agree. I would like to go even further and say that it is vital for any Darwinist to forget about science altogether, because there is zero scientific empirical observation in support of Darwinism.

    Popperian: This is possible when you flip the role of empirical observations plays in empiricism on it’s head.

    I think I see where you are going with this and I like it. What you propose is very interesting. So, every time empirical observations refute Darwinism we simply *flip* their role and flat out state the opposite is true?
    One problem though: isn’t that what Darwinists are doing already?

  55. 55
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Popperian

    We do not know what things are capable of based on induction. Rather, we know what things are capable of based on explanations for how they work.

    Direct experience tells us more about the existence of a thing than an explanation does. In this case, I directly experience what I call emotions. These may have enough in common with what you experience that we can talk about the same kind of experience. But you can’t directly observe my emotions the way you can observe a rain cloud or a tumbleweed.

    “For millennia people dreamed about flying, but they experienced only falling. Then they discovered good explanatory theories about flying, and then they flew – in that order.

    Yes, that’s true of some human inventions, but not all. Musical compositions or fine art works are often composed directly or through improvisation, without any explanation at all.

    Regarding emotions, this seems to be saying “at one time, no human beings had emotions. Then someone explained what emotions are, and humans began to feel sad, happy and angry. Obviously, that’s absurd. The explanation did not precede the emotion.

    As such, it’s unclear how you know the universality of computation could not simulate emotions. Correct me if I’m wrong, but your logic seems to be based on the idea that since God is responsible for emotions and God is inexplicable, then emotions are must also be inexplicable.

    No, that’s not my logic. Emotions are only directly observable by the subjective agent experiencing them. Explanaitons of emotions do not create emotions. They do not even communicate emotions – except perhaps for boredom but that’s usually not intended.

    Emotions are something that is felt by a self-aware agent. Whether created by God or something else, no one but myself directly observe my emotions.

    Yes, current day computers have no subjective self. But the very explanation for how universal turing machines work indicates this is indeed possible.

    I’d need to do more research on that to agree that it’s possible even theoretically. but yes, I was just speaking of present day computers.

    As I see it, conscious self-awareness is not reducible to physics alone.

  56. 56

    Creationism has 2 parts, the creator and the creation. The existence of the creator is a matter of opinion, the existence of the creation is a matter of fact.

    Creationism is the only philosophy which validates both subjectivity and objectivity.

    With creationism we can describe the facts of how the Earth is created, and express the opinion that the Earth is beautiful.

    The opposition to creationism is not based on reasoning or science, but based on egotism. People are so inclined to conceive of choosing as sorting out the best result, using the facts about what is good and evil (original sin) as sorting criteria.

    By defining choosing in such a way, then every time you made a decision, then as per definition you did the best, and the ego get’s a boost.

    No matter what evidence or argument is presented, people who have built their emotional life around this way of ego boosting will never accept the fact that freedom is real, that things in the universe are chosen, nor accept that subjectivity is valid.

    It is the original sin of knowledge of good and evil, everybody is affected, and it takes quite a bit of effort and grace to get away from that.

  57. 57
    kairosfocus says:

    Mapou, kindly tone down language, I just snipped an insult that was simply not needed. And, I cannot afford to be following along behind as cleanup crew. KF

  58. 58
    Box says:

    Materialists consistently IGNORE this crushing argument:

    Kairosfocus:
    Thus, the significance of Reppert’s development of Haldane’s point via Lewis:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [[But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [[so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions

    Trying to reduce this [rationality] to blindly mechanistic physical cause-effect chains with perhaps some noise, is self-defeating.

  59. 59
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian:

    you seem to think there can be no explanation for how emotions work. As such, it’s unclear how you know the universality of computation could not simulate emotions. Correct me if I’m wrong, but your logic seems to be based on the idea that since God is responsible for emotions and God is inexplicable, then emotions are must also be inexplicable.

    Furthermore, you seem to have confused specific instances of computational devices that exist today with the principle behind them: universality of computation. Yes, current day computers have no subjective self. But the very explanation for how universal turing machines work indicates this is indeed possible.

    Strawman.

    The pivotal issue is that we do experience conscious, self-aware agency, this is directly connected to reasoning based on understanding ground-consequent, meaningful relationships of concepts, and that this is utterly distinct from blindly mechanical cause-effect relationships.

    Indeed, it has been repeatedly pointed out to you — just studiously ignored — from Haldane, as follows:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [[“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

    In addition, your attention has been drawn to this, from Reppert:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [[But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [[so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

    That is, the attempt to reduce ground-consequent, meaningful inference to blindly mechanical cause-effect chains ends in patent absurdity. As, has been shown in many ways above and elsewhere. In general, without responsible, rational freedom, reasoned thought collapses.

    In principle, and in general, blind mechanical cause-effect chains and/or equally blind chance processes — dynamic-stochastic systems — are not and cannot be rational. (When such are composed into a computational substrate with associated software, invariably both are the product of contrivance by a knowledgeable designer; and the results are always subject to the GIGO principle. Neither the substrate nor the software know nor care whether they are playing out chains of error or a sound computation. Hence the great practical importance of troubleshooting and debugging. Where it is a principle that bounded rational agents cannot completely remove errors from complex computational systems, they can only reduce to a tolerable level. Hence also, abort-retry-fail escape options.)

    That is, whether or not we understand it (and to experience and acknowledge a fact does not require creating a model of how it may arise), responsibly free rational agency is primary and a necessity of reasoned thought. Including, those types of reasoning and investigation of the empirical world we term science.

    Thus, the substitution of “reduce to mechanistic cause-effect chains” for “explain” or “understand,” is not only an ideological imposition, but it is plainly a case of clinging to the demonstrably incoherent.

    Now, you keep reverting to how a Turing Machine can be seen as a universal computer. Yes, that plainly means that such a model is capable of computing anything that can be addressed by a finite series of stepwise mechanical actions on signals representing states of a variable. That is, a UTM can emulate any other computational machine. Which, then begs for an answer to the question as to whether everything can be reduced to a computation.

    To extend this UTM can emulate any other computer into, oh we can in principle generate a self-aware responsibly free and rational mind through such a computation is a gross extrapolation beyond what is warranted by the relevant evidence. Specifically, we know that neither blind cause-effect mechanism nor blind stochastic chance process exhibit freedom in the relevant sense. Nor, can they exhibit the sort of reflexive, free first action that is required for rationality and responsibility.

    We credibly experience such freedom, on pain of collapse of rationality itself. As, has been shown.

    That is, our first credible fact of experience, self-aware, conscious existence and action, strongly indicates that there is more to reality than is dreamed of in your philosophy, dear Horatio.

    On pain of self-referential absurdity, let me add.

    As for Deutsch, at best he is arguing to a universal simulation of the physical cosmos considered as a dynamic-stochastic system of some form.

    That the physical cosmos then exhausts all of reality is a further and deep question, one that is patently being begged ideologically by a priori evolutionary materialists, and that in the teeth of considerations on what is even required to be a rational scientist.

    Worldview level question begging and linked strawman misrepresentation do not answer to a reductio ad absurdum on self referentiality of thought.

    I suggest, a re-think is in order.

    KF

  60. 60
    kairosfocus says:

    Box, yes, revealingly so. KF

  61. 61
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Let me now take up the but you have no explanation for emotions talking-point.
    __________________

    KF, OP:

    >>the very terms you use: “how human beings generate emotions,” is a giveaway.

    We do not so much generate emotions and other consciously aware states of being, we experience them. And, to recognise and respect that fact without reference to demands for mechanistic reduction is a legitimate start-point for reflection.

    All explanation is going to be finite and limited, so there will always be start-points. Starting from the realities of our interior-life experience is a good first point, and reflection on such shows that rationality itself (a requisite of doing science etc) crucially depends on insightful, purposeful responsible and rational freedom.

    That which undermines such will then be self-defeating, and should be put aside . . . >>

    KF, 35 supra:

    >> Scratching the definitionitis itch:

    >>e•mo•tion (??mo? ??n)

    n.
    1. an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, etc., is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness.
    2. any of the feelings of joy, sorrow, hate, love, etc.
    3. a strong agitation of the feelings caused by experiencing love, fear, etc.
    [1570–80; appar. . . . >>

    KF, 33 supra — failure of the evolutionary materialist model:

    >>The worldviews level is actually antecedent to science and grounds (or, fails to ground . . . ) science as one particular way to explore reality. The proper method at this level is comparative difficulties across factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power/balance. Where, major worldview alternatives sit to the table as of right, not sufferance.

    The first thing is to understand that evolutionary materialistic scientism in its various forms cannot account for fact no 1 of our existence: our self-aware, conscious selves with distinct unified identities, time-streamed but continuous and cumulative, sometimes rational, morally governed interior life that in turn influences our behaviour as embodied agents. Repeatedly, we find scientific thinkers of the order of a Crick trying to dismiss that interior life as at best epiphenomena of the electrochemistry and interactions of neurons or the like.

    Crick, again, in The Astonishing Hypothesis:

    . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.

    This boils down to implying self-referential incoherence and falsification as immediate corollary, for blind mechanical necessity and/or chance influenced processes are the exact opposite of freedom and sense of duty to seek, warrant and accept warranted truths then step by step decide to work out, follow and acknowledge implications leading to soundly arrived at conclusions. If we are not responsibly free we cannot be rational.

    That is why, thirty years past, I responded to marxian class conditioning, Freudian accounts of the interior life and Skinner’s operant conditioning as I did: these are simply variations on a consistent pattern of self-referential incoherence. Likewise, Johnson was dead right to challenge Crick that he should have therefore been willing to preface his works thusly: “I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.”

    Johnson then acidly but aptly commented: “[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.”

    It should be quite plain that if one discredits rationality in general, one has undercut the ground on which science has to stand. Further, as the various evolutionary materialistic schemes are forced to account for our interior lives on blind chance and mechanical necessity working through forces of genetic and cultural survival, via nature + nurture, these generally end up implying exactly the sort of incoherence just exemplified four times [again]. >>

    And, 33 again:

    >>phrasing you used with implicit approval, that humans GENERATE emotions, is a sign of the problem.

    Evolutionary materialistic scientism — never mind institutional dominance — is factually inadequate, fatally incoherent and grossly inadequate as an explanatory framework starting with rationality. It is therefore inconsistent with the project of seeking to rationally understand the world, including the practice of science.

    While many practising scientists adhere to it, it embeds the fatal weakness of an inconsistent system in their thought: loss of ability to distinguish truth from falsity. It is also a straight-jacket, demanding reduction of everything to mechanisms of blind necessity and/or chance acting on matter and energy in space and time.

    This is an improper demand.

    In reply it is entirely appropriate to highlight the self-falsifying nature of the evolutionary materialistic worldview and then point to the primacy of our interior life as the first fact through which we access all exterior facts. Yes, with possibility of error, but in turn it is a fatally self-referential error to imagine that there is an impassable ugly gulch betwixt the two. We have good reason to accept that we can bridge the two, however error-prone we may be at times. (And here I follow F H Bradley replying to Kant et al.)

    In that light, we experience perceiving, acting into and responding to the world involving intellectual, moral, volitional, aesthetic and emotional aspects in various blends. We experience intentionality and qualia, neither of which is explicable on blind mechanisms. We ponder, we find ourselves able to act based on decisions, often expressed on rational reflection — such as composing and typing posts in this thread.

    And more, much more.

    In that context, rational reflection and discussion on our inner and outer lives can teach us much that a materialist straight-jacket would lock out.

    For instance, responsible freedom being a necessity for rationality, moral government is then on the table. That points to the IS-OUGHT gap and to the only place such can be resolved: world-root level. Thus, we come to the only serious candidate to ground such: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of ultimate loyalty and reasonable service by doing the good in accord with our nature.

    Thus, a lot of anti-theistic prejudices and dismissiveness that tries to pretend that the supernatural is inherently irrational and generally suspect stand exposed as just that: prejudices.

    For, to believe in God on a principled basis is reasonable, and to involve oneself with a theistic tradition that focusses on reasonable service by doing the good in accord with our evident nature is not bigotry and irrationality. And indeed, millions testify to living encounter with God and to resulting positive life transformation. I, am one of these — starting with the miracle of guidance that saved my life 40+ years past.

    In such an opened up context of thought, it is not unreasonable to ponder say the Smith model of a cybernetic loop with a two tier controller [–> cf OP], with perhaps a quantum-level informational, perceptual and directive interface between the two, that allows the brain-body loop to be supervised by a higher level controller stage that brings to bear responsible freedom. After all, the quantum level is non-mechanistic, non-deterministic and physically fundamental.

    Emotions in that context are felt responses to perceived and evaluated circumstances, involving a lot of cognitive assessment and judgement. For instance, we fear when we see a rapidly approaching car and jump back out of the road. We enjoy the beauty and delicate redness of a rose at sunrise. We appreciate and respond to the attractveness and evident empathy of a person of the opposite sex, maybe even beginning to fall in love. This then involves all sorts of issues of moral duties (we are not simply rutting animals), addressing of circumstances, mutuality and onward solemn commitments should the process lead on to marriage and family.

    A kitten, notoriously, will attract us through its sheer cuteness.

    A threatening bully will excite rage and fear, triggering hormones that are designed to equip us for turbocharged performance in fighting or fleeing as required or appropriate. (But the emotion is not equal to the shot of adrenaline, as I know from the repeated experience of adrenaline injections to break dangerous asthma attacks.)

    In short, we need fresh reflection that takes both our interior and exterior lives seriously.>>
    __________________

    In short, there is an understanding of emotions as an integral aspect of our interior lives, connected to both thought and responsible decision and to bodily events and actions.

    It is not mechanistic, but by that fact it is also not dragged down into self-referential incoherence.

    And, it is directly tied to our commonplace experience of, familiarity with and understanding of emotions.

    The demand for mechanistic explanation, by contrast, heads straight into self-referential incoherence and absurdity. It is not a reasonable request.

    KF

  62. 62
    Popperian says:

    To address KF’s point directly…

    It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true.

    Knowledge is information that, when embedded in a storage medium, plays a causal role in it being retained. This includes books, genomes and yes, brains. Furthermore, knowledge is objective in that is is independent of anyone’s belief. So, while I would agree that merely having a belief doesn’t make it true, we have a reason to suppose that our brains can genuinely contain knowledge.

    What explanation do you have for the growth of knowledge? Let me guess: the reason why our beliefs may be true is because “that’s just what God must have wanted”?

    In fact, wouldn’t that also be the case for computers? That is, if you’re a dualist, computers could just as well have emotions, but they do not for the same reason? Specifically, there can be no better explanation for the fact that human exhibit emotions, while computers do not other than “that’s just what God must have wanted’.

  63. 63
    Silver Asiatic says:

    A rational process requires an evaluation and judgement. If this was a physical mechanism, then concepts would be chemically associated or not. Many rational judgements, however, can process through equally reasonable but opposing solutions. Finding and interpreting reasons and meanings in the content of arguments cannot be either random or mechanistic.

  64. 64
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian:

    Knowledge is information that, when embedded in a storage medium, plays a causal role in it being retained.

    Gross error of definition.

    Knowledge is not stored useful information but well warranted, credibly true belief. That is, responsibly free rational reflection is a condition of knowledge.

    Knowledge comes about by a process of reflection, involving interior life and typically external experience and perception. This leads to processes of warrant on exertion of logical and/or empirical tests that lead to sufficient weight of warrant to put the stamp of credibility, knowledge, on. Though, this often comes with the proviso, that the degree of warrant is provisional, such as in science, management, law and many other practical affairs.

    You have again set up and tried to knock over a strawman.

    Now, of course, knowledge may often be posed in verbal forms or other representations amenable to storage, but that is secondary to what knowledge is.

    Error, by contrast, often claims to be knowledge but in the end fails the test of warrant. (Let me add, following Aristotle, that truth says of what is that it is, and of what is not, that it is not.)

    Knowledge is one form of reasonable and trustworthy faith.

    And, I deliberately use this term to underscore that faith and reason — contrary to commonly seen skeptical notions — are not opposites that are inevitably at war with one another.

    KF

  65. 65
    Box says:

    Popperian #62 claims to address KF’s point directly, however he does no such thing. KF’s point is about the process of rational inference. KF clearly shows that this process cannot be a chemical/mechanistic process.
    Popperian again fails to address KF’s point.

  66. 66
    Mung says:

    Popperian;

    Knowledge is information that, when embedded in a storage medium, plays a causal role in it being retained.

    And thus the pre-requisites for knowledge are … ?

    And the knowledge to construct and integrate the required components for knowledge came from … ?

    Since Popper rejected a causal theory of mind, what did he offer in it’s place?

  67. 67
    Axel says:

    For you, doubters, here is an example of ‘unidextrous emergentism’:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ty68LPKRQQQ

  68. 68
    Carpathian says:

    kairosfocus:

    Knowledge is not stored useful information but well warranted, credibly true belief. That is, responsibly free rational reflection is a condition of knowledge.

    I don’t think that’s the case when we humans speak of knowledge.

    Just look at this debate.

    If we take knowledge as being something we agree with after rational reflection, then knowledge starts to become a point of view.

    For instance, at one time it was said that light travels in a straight line but it has been proved that isn’t the case.

    Was the fact that light traveled in a straight line knowledge or an opinion?

  69. 69
    kairosfocus says:

    Carpathian, I cited then corrected Popperian. Warrant is beyond opinion, it requires reasoned analysis and successful grounding — even to make the leap from a fact-claim to an established fact. That should be well known. And BTW, light does not always travel in geometrically straight lines, hence diffraction, interference and so forth, on to the effect called gravitational lensing. KF

  70. 70
    Carpathian says:

    kairosfocus:

    And BTW, light does not always travel in geometrically straight lines, hence diffraction, interference and so forth, on to the effect called gravitational lensing. KF

    Their is no dispute on what light does.

    The dispute is whether what we call “knowledge” changes.

    Please try to understand the analogy.

    What was considered “knowledge” was “error” in this case.

    At one time, our pool of “knowledge” included the fact that the Earth was only a few thousand years old.

    That “knowledge” has been replaced by the new “knowledge” that the Earth is billions of years old.

    That previous “knowledge” was an “error”.

  71. 71
    kairosfocus says:

    Carpathian,

    do you consider scientific or historical knowledge, etc. to be knowledge?

    If so, you are forced to a weak form view of knowledge that does not demand absolute certainty or incorrigibility. That is, the relevant degree of warrant for many fields of responsible practice or prudent behaviour is some type of moral certainty.

    In sum, if X is warranted to this degree, it would be irresponsible or foolish to act as though it were false, never mind that you are open to possibility of correction. In short, knowledge in this sense is a certificate of reasonable, responsible trustworthiness. Not, a guarantee that what we think we know at any given point is beyond possibility of needing correction.

    If instead you insist on absolute certainty, the field of knowledge would collapse to a very sparse set indeed. In particular, science, history, jurisprudence, economics and a good slice of mathematics post Godel’s incompleteness theorems would collapse.

    KF

  72. 72
    Box says:

    Carpathian … what is your point? The fact that theories can be overturned or extensively modified, indicates that they are produced by blind non rational forces — so materialism can ground rationality? Is that your argument?

  73. 73
    kairosfocus says:

    Box, I think he is just struggling with some basic epistemological issues and the linked leap from the rhetorical to the dialectic; part of a much broader and commonplace problem of want of familiarity with worldviews issues. I suspect Gettier counter-examples and the like will be novel to him, and how they influence the way I have posed the apparently simple definitions of knowledge and truth I have given will likely be just as novel. Knowledge as well warranted, credibly true belief in a broader context of moral certainty, are not commonplace issues or considerations today. Much less, the self-evident, first principles of right reason, the vexed issue of our bounded rationality, error-proneness and absolutely needing to rely on inductive reasoning when such cannot deliver absolute certainty and more. The issues of radical or selective hyperskepticism, appeals to general delusion and self-referential incoherence lurk, as does the challenge of responsible, reasonable faith in first plausibles at the roots of tenable worldviews. Not to mention, issues of moral government, responsible freedom and rationality. Not to mention the deep ways in which moral duties of care intertwine with rationality, responsible freedom and logical thought. KF

  74. 74
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I have put in a diagram of a 74181 4 bit slice ALU, showing an example of the “mechanical” computational logical processing in a digital computer. KF

  75. 75
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N2: I notice from Marcus’ underlying NYT article — Face it, Your brain is a computer — a two-tier strawman tactic. First, he locks out mind from the title on, considering only brains vs computers. Second, he then compares a simplistic series of contrasts in that context.

    Let me clip, to represent what I wish to comment on:

    Face It, Your Brain Is a Computer

    JUNE 27, 2015

    . . . . Often, when scientists resist the idea of the brain as a computer, they have a particular target in mind, which you might call the serial, stored-program machine. Here, a program (or “app”) is loaded into a computer’s memory, and an algorithm, or recipe, is executed step by step. (Calculate this, then calculate that, then compare what you found in the first step with what you found in the second, etc.) But humans don’t download apps to their brains, the critics note, and the brain’s nerve cells are too slow and variable to be a good match for the transistors and logic gates that we use in modern computers . . . . Often, when scientists resist the idea of the brain as a computer, they have a particular target in mind, which you might call the serial, stored-program machine. Here, a program (or “app”) is loaded into a computer’s memory, and an algorithm, or recipe, is executed step by step. (Calculate this, then calculate that, then compare what you found in the first step with what you found in the second, etc.) But humans don’t download apps to their brains, the critics note, and the brain’s nerve cells are too slow and variable to be a good match for the transistors and logic gates that we use in modern computers . . . . Finally, there is a popular argument that human brains are capable of generating emotions, whereas computers are not. But while computers as we know them clearly lack emotions, that fact itself doesn’t mean that emotions aren’t the product of computation. On the contrary, neural systems like the amygdala that modulate emotions appear to work in roughly the same way as the rest of the brain does, which is to say that they transmit signals and integrate information, and transform inputs into outputs. As any computer scientist will tell you, that’s pretty much what computers do.

    To see what has gone wrong here, cf the Smith Model in the OP. Notice, the cybernetic loop with an i/o controller in the loop. Observe also the higher supervisory tier that interacts with the i/o in-loop controller.

    There is no requirement that the in-loop controller be or do anything beyond mechanical computations with various possible architectures . . . including neural networks as also is illustrated.

    That is not the issue.

    The issue is, that such an i/o processor is inherently mechanical, cause-effect chain-, wiring- and programming- driven. It is incapable of responsible freedom or even rational reflection, it is just processing signals as programmed. If then, one locks out the whole world of our interior life, one then imagines that one is dealing with such a processor.

    But, we experience ourselves to be responsibly free and at least sometimes rationally contemplative. Worse, absent such responsible freedom rationality based on insight, meaning and understanding ground-consequent links etc collapses into blind causal chains like Leibnitz’s mill wheels grinding against one another.

    That is, we face self-referential incoherence, much as Reppert and Haldane outlined as clipped in the OP. Let’s for convenience clip Haldane as a refresher:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [[“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

    Smith provides a way forward.

    Consider what happens when an i/o in-loop controller is part of a multi-tier system, with supervision. Its behaviour can then be directed and it can feed/share stored information, integrated sensory pictures of the world-situation and proprioception of internal posture in the world. Thus, we see a basis for integrated situation awareness of the internal and external situation, for stored reflections, perceptions, for abstraction and synthesis of models or explanatory constructs etc. That already sets up an interactive context.

    But, we have not touched the specific point on self-aware responsible freedom, rational reflection and our experience of emotions as felt responses to perceived and judged circumstances and expectations etc.

    This interior world, we are directly aware of, and have good reason to accept that it is an experience shared with other people as well as to a significant, limited extent with higher animals. Conscious, minded, responsibly free active engagement of the world in short. That which, seemingly must not be mentioned or taken seriously.

    And yet, that interior life is evident fact no. 1 of our lives, the fact through which we access all other facts. Where, without responsible freedom, rationality — the prime necessity of doing science — collapses.

    So, we see a locking out in an age dominated by ideological evolutionary materialistic scientism.

    How do we find ourselves conscious, significantly and responsibly free and rational?

    I do not know, but I do know that absent acknowledging that experience, all else collapses. Linked to this, such cannot be reduced to dynamic-stochastic blind cause-effect chains on computational substrates on pain of the same self-referential incoherence.

    I can suggest that at interface level, the world of quantum influences offers openings that were not on the table in the post-Newtonian world of hard cause-effect chains.

    What seems reasonable is that our experience of mindedness taps another domain of reality, which can reasonably be termed in traditional terms, the spiritual.

    It is time for fresh thinking.

    KF

  76. 76
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Some eye-opening reading from Ross: http://www3.nd.edu/~afreddos/c.....iality.pdf

    Clipping:

    >>ANIMAL cognition and desire, from the appetite of a clam to the optical systems of vultures and frigate birds, is supposed to have neurobiological explanations resultant from, if not reducible to, universal laws of physics. That is a minimal and modest project for epistemology naturalized, one to be assisted by special-ized sciences.’

    There is a larger and bolder project of epistemology naturalized, namely, to explain human thought in terms available to physical science, particularly the aspects of thought that carry truth values, and have formal features, like validity or mathematical form. That project seems to have hit a stone wall, a difficulty so grave that philosophers dismiss the underlying argument, or adopt a cavalier certainty that our judgments only simulate certain pure forms and never are real cases of, e.g., conjunction, modus ponens, adding, or genuine validity. The difficulty is that, in principle, such truth-carry- ing thoughts2 cannot be wholly physical (though they might have a physical medium),3 because they have features that no physical thing or process can have at all.4 >>

    Read on . . .

  77. 77
    Mung says:

    Reading Ross’s Thought and World.

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