Intelligent Design

Eigenstate: The Facts Are Inconsistent With My Metaphysics? Well, so Much the Worse For the Facts.

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David Bentley Hart calls subjective self-awareness the “primordial datum.” It is a fact that cannot not be known. It follows that everyone knows it to be a fact. Denying that it is a fact immediately descends into absurdity. Consider “I deny that I am subjectively self-aware.” Here is a chart of the chemicals that make up the human body:

201_Elements_of_the_Human_Body-01

A group of oxygen atoms do not have the capacity to deny a truth claim. I am sure you would agree that the sentence “the oxygen atoms denied truth claim X” is absurd, no matter what X is. What is true for oxygen is also true for the atoms of the other elements of the body, i.e., carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, etc.

Suppose one gathers together all of the various elements that compose a human body (i.e., oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, etc.) and mixes those chemicals up in exactly the same quantities and proportions that are found in a human body and puts it all in a bag. Does that bag of chemicals have any more capacity to deny a truth claim that a rock? Of course not.

A materialist must say that the human body is nothing but a bag of chemicals. At the basic levels of ontological analysis, the bag of chemicals that we call “human body” is, for the materialist, not in principle different from any other bag of chemicals in terms of its capacity to deny truth claims. Therefore, a materialist must agree with everyone else that the sentence “this bag of chemicals denies that it is really subjectively self-aware,” is absurd.

But all the time materialists say the sense we have that we are subjectively self-aware is an illusion. This, of course, is equivalent to saying “I deny that I am really subjectively self-aware.” And, for the materialist, this sentence is equivalent to the sentence “this bag of chemicals denies that it is really subjectively self-aware,” which, as we have just seen, is absurd.

Summary: Subjective self-awareness is a fact. Indeed, in a sense, it is “the ultimate fact,” from which all other facts can be perceived. It is a fact everyone knows. It is literally undeniable. Any attempt to deny it is incoherent, absurd and false.

In light of this, let us examine another one of eigenstate claims in my “driving a stake” thread:

Something similar is at work with “folk psychology”. There is no “disembodied I”, in the dualist/supernatural/superstitious sense. But such a conclusion based on scientific analysis does not “remove the ‘I’”. Our understanding is just upgraded to something that is consonant with the data and knowledge available about how brains operate. Just like there’s no “impetus”, but motion, acceleration, and gravity remain (and are more clearly and fully understood), there’s no “dualist ‘I’” that is needed or adds any value to our understanding of consciousness, perception, meta-representation, etc.

All of which is to say, Barry, that your “sky-is-falling” dramatics are much too broad in their concerns. The science available is deeply problematic for many of your particular intuitions, but what’s at stake is just a refinement and re-organizing of the models we may use to understand brains and their activities. Beliefs as “disembodied top-down convictions of a ghost-like homunculus” are judged to be misconceptions, or “illusions” for you, if you suppose this is a kind of fundamental perception you have. But beliefs as physical phenomena, discrete characteristics of the brain that map to very complex, but nevertheless concrete states and patterns of brain activity, remain, and not only remain, but are illuminated by the science.

Eigenstate claims that truth claims such as “I am subjectively self-aware” are true and false depending on the sense in which one uses the phrase. To avoid confusion, let us very carefully describe the two senses.

Sense A: The phrase “subjectively self-aware” in the everyday meaning of the phrase speaks of an “agent that perceives his own awareness.” The everyday understanding of the phrase is infused with philosophical “intentionality,” which means the phrase is a mental state that is “about” or “directed at” something. Intentionality is inherently agent-object oriented. In this case, the agent “I” perceives an object “self-awareness.”

Sense B: Eigenstate claims the eliminative materialist believes the phenomenon “subjectively self-aware” is a complex, but nevertheless concrete state and pattern of brain activity, the kind of phenomenon you could observe and measure with an fMRI, or some more advanced instrument yet to be developed.

Eigenstate claims that the sentence “I am subjectively self-aware” is false if the phrase “subjectively self-aware” is used in Sense A and true if the phrase “subjectively self-aware” is used in Sense B.

And how does eigenstate know this? Why, he says that science has demonstrated it.

Lunacy. Sheer lunacy. Science has demonstrated no such thing. I hereby call eigenstate’s bluff. Kindly point to the scientific experience that solved the hard problem of consciousness.

Let me save us some time. No such experiment exists. Materialist do not rule out Sense A subjective self-awareness based upon the findings of science (though they say or imply that incessantly). They rule out Sense A subjective self-awareness because ruling it out is absolutely required by their metaphysics.

But we have just demonstrated that Sense A subjective self-awareness is a fact. It is more than a fact. It is “the fact.” We have even demonstrated that any attempt to deny Sense A subjective self-awareness is absurd.

Yet materialist deny it anyway. Why? Richard Lewontin tells us why:

[W]e have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

For purposes of our discussion today, set aside that last phrase about the Divine Foot. Dualism does not necessarily entail a divinity, and in this post I want to focus on whether materialism is coherent, not on whether theism is a coherent replacement (I believe it is; but that is a topic for another day).

The key to the passage is, of course, the unwavering a priori commitment to materialism. For materialists it is always “materialism first; facts second.” This means that they must absolutely affirm incoherent and absurd statements like “Sense A subjective self-awareness is false.”

In other words, for a materialist, if the facts don’t fit with materialism, so much the worse for the facts.

If I were wearing metaphysical blinders that required me to deny undeniable facts and affirm incoherent and absurd statements, I hope I would reexamine my metaphysics. Otherwise, I am afraid I would be like this guy:

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87 Replies to “Eigenstate: The Facts Are Inconsistent With My Metaphysics? Well, so Much the Worse For the Facts.

  1. 1
    mike1962 says:

    As someone on the sidelines, and someone with a fair amount of introspection of “my own” consciousness, I have to ask, what is the point in continuing? Either one “sees” their own consciousness as primary or they do not. If they do, they know in an immediate way that “materialism” is false and no further argument is necessary. Otherwise, they don’t, and no amount of intellectual gyrations are going to convince them of the fact.

  2. 2

    If self-awareness is an illusion, so is everything the mind expresses via self-awareness – including the idea of “facts”. Thus, facts are also illusions. True statements are illusions. Eigenstate is necessarily an illusion carrying on about some how it is a fact that facts are illusions, as if his first use of the term “fact” was not illusory.

    I guess what eignestate doesn’t get is that if facts are illusions, if truth is illusory, then there are no actual facts as such, and no actual truths as such. Words and sentences don’t factually mean anything; it’s all illusory.

    There are only the sounds of leaves rustling in the wind.

    I guess if you read him correctly, what he is really saying is that “it is an illusion that science has proven this”, and “it is an illusion that materialism is true”.

  3. 3
    Jim Smith says:

    Creating entire blog posts to reply to a commenter who the blog owner thinks is out of line is not a good idea because it can attract trolls to their site.

    There are people who think that being a troll on the internet is a pleasant recreational activity. Such people congregate at certain places on the internet and brag about their trolling successes by linking to the results of their trolling. The problem for web site owners is that any site that encourages trolling by allowing trolls to demonstrate their prowess will attract more trolls who will try to obtain their own evidence of success. This is why most professional moderators refrain from naming trolls, and delete all their activity and all replies to them, once they are identified as a troll – because otherwise more trolls will be attracted to the site. Likewise, creating entire blog posts as a response to a particular commenter who the blog owner thinks is out of line would generally be a bad idea because it can attract trolls to the site. Even if the commenter is not himself a troll, and I don’t mean to imply any particular commenter here is in fact a troll, I would leave that judgment to the moderators, I only mean that giving recognition to commenters that seem to be out of line is not a good idea because it might attract trolls to the site.

  4. 4
    mike1962 says:

    Now, the thing is, as a bystander, I would like to see WJM and Barry go to swords. Why? Because you both have diametrically opposed theological positions on the nature of “hell”, i.e, God placing people in a place of eternal torment for sins done in this life. Going out the gate, I’ll say I side with WJM: I don’t believe in any such notion. But I’d like to see William (and fellow travellers) and Barry (and fellow travelers) duke it out over the concept.

    That could be fun. No?

    What say?

  5. 5
    mahuna says:

    You’re not being especially fair.

    How about we take not only the raw chemicals needed to make a flatworm, but the actual pieces of a flatworm? And then we assemble the flatworm and turn it loose.

    Is the flatworm self-aware? What if we assemble 2 flatworms and put them together in the same dish? Are they aware that there is another flatworm that is distinct from itself and therefore the Self is a unique thing?

    I’m guessing that there won’t be a lot of depth to the philosophizing by either of the worms, but I’m also guessing that flatworms can tell the difference between Me and Not-me. Especially if Not-me is attractive, in a very wormy kinda way.

    I read somewhere that when human babies are quite young they cannot distinguish between Me and Not-me. They assume they are the only intelligence in the universe, and everything (Mom, milk, dirty diapers, cats, etc.) is an extension of themselves. They are then frequently frustrated by their failures to make the extensions do what Baby desires, although the Mom-extension is pretty easily convinced to provide milk and remove dirty diapers. But slowly they begin to theorize, with their powerful but data-deficient little brains, that although those Toe things at the ends of their Feet are probably Me, that nasty thing named Big Sister might just possibly be Not-me. And if Big Sister is Not-me, how much else of the Universe is also Not-me? This is a troubling time for young minds and produces the Terrible Twos.

    But although I’m open to being convinced that plants can somehow distinguish Me and Not-me, I’m pretty sure the rock next to the plant CANNOT even distinguish Me.

  6. 6

    It doesn’t follow from the statement “There is no ‘disembodied I'” that one is denying that one is self-aware. Because, of course, what we are saying is that you, I and everyone else is an instance of an “embodied I,” an embodied I that is self-aware.

    Of course, it follows that when the body that embodies the “I” ceases to sustain the requisite functional organization (i.e. dies and dissipates), the “I” ceases all awareness, including self-awareness, as well. Hence the non-dualist is only denying self-awareness after death.

    Which seems to me what is really at stake in most of these debates.

  7. 7

    mahuna:

    I read somewhere that when human babies are quite young they cannot distinguish between Me and Not-me. They assume they are the only intelligence in the universe, and everything (Mom, milk, dirty diapers, cats, etc.) is an extension of themselves…etc.

    That is a viewpoint that, in light of research, developmental psychology abandoned decades ago. What the research has disclosed is that human infants have vastly more differentiated perceptual and social-cognitive capacities – including awareness of self versus others – than previously suspected.

  8. 8
    Box says:

    Eigenstate: Something similar is at work with “folk psychology”. There is no “disembodied I”, in the dualist/supernatural/superstitious sense.

    Yes, there absolutely is such an “I”. Logic dictates it.

    Eigenstate: But such a conclusion based on scientific analysis does not “remove the ‘I’”.

    Yes, it most certainly does. The idea that the “I” is brought about by blind unreasonable particles in motion is probably the most incoherent and shortsighted idea ever.

    Eigenstate: Our understanding is just upgraded to something that is consonant with the data and knowledge available about how brains operate.

    What is an abomination to logic cannot be consonant with all the data and hardly with any.

    Eigenstate: Just like there’s no “impetus”, but motion, acceleration, and gravity remain (and are more clearly and fully understood), there’s no “dualist ‘I’” that is needed or adds any value to our understanding of consciousness, perception, meta-representation, etc.

    An independent “I” is essential and adds all the value to our understanding of consciousness etc.
    No consciousness without top-down overview, no perception without the elements of perception in top-down hierarchal coherence—materialism cannot explain either.
    Note on your precious science: if materialism is true—and blind moronic particles are in the driver’s seat of reason—we would not be able to do science.

  9. 9
    eigenstate says:

    @Barry,

    Eigenstate claims that truth claims such as “I am subjectively self-aware” are true and false depending on the sense in which one uses the phrase. To avoid confusion, let us very carefully describe the two senses.

    I haven’t claimed such. We are self-evidently self-aware. This blog has a few posters who conflate “self-evident” with “I think this is true”, and do so often, but the experience of consciousness is one case of self-evidence that fits the term. What underwrites that awareness, on the other hand, is not self-evident.

    Sense A: The phrase “subjectively self-aware” in the everyday meaning of the phrase speaks of an “agent that perceives his own awareness.”

    This is not problematic as long as we are clear on “agent”: a human as a wholly natural animal is an agent. In the dualist view, the “immaterial homunculus”, the “ghost in the machine” is an agent. As written, “agent that perceive his own awareness” works both ways. If you suppose that “agent” can only refer to the “immaterial homunculus” — if your use of “agent” is loaded toward your metaphysics, in other words — then I’d deny the statement on those grounds, and say:

    “A wholly natural human that perceives her own consciousness”, where “wholly natural” excludes any of the immaterial spooky stuff — just STEM. “Self awareness” does not entail dualism, if that is an assumption you’re looking to wedge in here.

    Just so we’re clear.

    The everyday understanding of the phrase is infused with philosophical “intentionality,” which means the phrase is a mental state that is “about” or “directed at” something. Intentionality is inherently agent-object oriented. In this case, the agent “I” perceives an object “self-awareness.”
    (Be careful to use “intentionality”, and not “intentional” (as in “intentional states”), as you’ve now begun to insist that we must use the common everyday sense of words only, and “intentional” here must mean “deliberate”!)

    [UDEidtors: You are giving us instructions on ensuring that everyone knows we are using a word is a special way? The needle on the irony meter just moved over to the stop. What we did — explain when one is using a common word is a special way — is exactly what you did not do and should have done, and that is why had to take you to the woodshed earlier today.]

    Sense B: Eigenstate claims the eliminative materialist believes the phenomenon “subjectively self-aware” is a complex, but nevertheless concrete state and pattern of brain activity, the kind of phenomenon you could observe and measure with an fMRI, or some more advanced instrument yet to be developed.

    Right.

    As for the rest, self-awareness is not the ‘hard problem of consciousness’. The ‘hard problem’ is why do we have the phenomenal experiences we do within or consciousness. For example, why does “redness” give us the sensation it does?

    Subjective self-awareness and intentionality are different subjects; the ‘hard problem of consciousness’ is a philosophical question: why does it feel that way to us. As many scientists have noted, it’s an unanswerable question for science because it’s not empirical. It can’t be adjudicated on the evidence no matter how much we have, because it’s a qualitative, subjective question.

    That’s different than “what is a belief in the brain?”, or “what is the brain doing when it is thinking of the self, or contemplating it’s own awareness?”

    If you want to revise your post so that you’re focused on where you started — “beliefs” — that’s an area we can look at for contrasts in scientific findings and key aspects of folk psychological notions of “belief”. See here for an example of a scientific treatment of the question of “religious belief”:

    Cognitive and neural foundations of religious belief
    An quote from the article relates the cognitive structure of religious belief, and the measurable mapping of components of those beliefs to specific processing areas of the brain:

    The MDS results confirmed the validity of the proposed psychological
    structure of religious belief. The 2 psychological processes
    previously implicated in religious belief, assessment of God’s level
    of involvement and God’s level of anger (11), as well as the
    hypothesized doctrinal to experiential continuum for religious
    knowledge, were identifiable dimensions in our MDS analysis. In
    addition, the neural correlates of these psychological dimensions
    were revealed to be well-known brain networks, mediating evolutionary
    adaptive cognitive functions.

    There’s a lot(!) more to grok in the article, but it provides and example of how more specific kinds of mental content are broken down and analyzed.

  10. 10
    eigenstate says:

    Yes, there absolutely is such an “I”. Logic dictates it.

    Ok, what’s the logic you’re thinking of, here? Maybe you can provide a syllogism that demonstrates the problem.

    Yes, it most certainly does. The idea that the “I” is brought about by blind unreasonable particles in motion is probably the most incoherent and shortsighted idea ever.

    What do find does not “hold together”, here, and find incoherent?

    1. Man evolves through natural processes.
    2. Like many other animals, man has a brain that provides awareness of surroundings and cognition. Man’s cognition is particularly powerful in that features meta-representational abilities.
    3. Man’s meta-representational cognitive abilities enable self-contemplation (that’s where the ‘meta-‘ applies), and multiple layers of indirection.
    4. Man considers the self. The natural brain processing semantic propositions about itself. If it can consider counterfactuals about, say, a hunting scenario, or consider what another human might be thinking in this situation or that, self-contemplation is just point the subject of consideration at the self, rather than another.

    Again, it’s good to remember that an atom can’t walk, but a person can walk, and a person is made of out atoms. Do you find that observation incoherent?

    What is an abomination to logic cannot be consonant with all the data and hardly with any.

    You’ve not shown any of this logic you are applying, here. What’s the formula you are using that you find problematic for monist self-awareness?

    An independent “I” is essential and adds all the value to our understanding of consciousness etc.

    What do you mean by “independent” there? Independent of what?

    No consciousness without top-down overview, no perception without the elements of perception in top-down hierarchal coherence—materialism cannot explain either.

    “Consciousness” I understand to be “awareness of one’s surroundings”. That presumes perception, as percepts are by definition the means of receiving input from our surroundings to be aware of.

    Is the fish in my fish tank conscious-with-perception, in your view?

    Note on your precious science: if materialism is true—and blind moronic particles are in the driver’s seat of reason—we would not be able to do science.

    Why not? This sounds exactly like:

    If humans are made of nothing but atoms, and everyone knows an atom cannot walk, humans would not be able to walk!

    Dualist intuitions seem to be deeply associated with the fallacy of composition…

    ETA: block quote formatting

  11. 11
    Box says:

    Eigenstate: There’s no contradiction between “choice” and “wholly upwardly determined”.

    This says it all.

    In Eigenstate’s perception something can be completely determined by its parts—blind particles in motion are behind the steering wheel and nothing else; 100% upward-causation by blind forces—, and still be a free moral reasonable self-aware agent.

  12. 12
    Barry Arrington says:

    Astounding. Utterly astounding. Just when I think eigenstate can’t say anything more outrageous, he does himself one better.

    You see what he is going @ 9. It boils down to “no, I do not deny Sense A subjective self-awareness so long as by “Sense A subjective self-awareness” you mean Sense B subjective self-awareness. My God man. It must be that you are so confused that you don’t even understand what you are doing. Or did you really think you were going to get away with that?

    Wow. Just wow.

    I will address this:

    “Self awareness” does not entail dualism, if that is an assumption you’re looking to wedge in here.

    I am not trying to “wedge” any “assumptions.” I am pointing to an obvious fact. I notice that you completely ignored the first half of the post.

  13. 13
    eigenstate says:

    @Box,

    In Eigenstate’s perception something can be completely determined by its parts—blind particles in motion are behind the steering wheel and nothing else; 100% upward-causation by blind forces—, and still be a free moral reasonable self-aware agent.

    Self-aware? Sure.

    Moral? Sure.

    Reasonable? Sure.

    Free? No, if by “free” you mean “unconstrained or undetermined by natural processes”. “Free” as in “libertarian free will”? Not possibly.

    There are parts of the process that are probabilistic, so decisions, beliefs, choices etc. are not determined in any clockwork/Laplacian way. But the probabilistic/indeterminate aspects of the process are wholly contained in the natural dynamics of STEM — no supernatural spooky stuff, obviously.

    On morality in a deterministic universe, here’s an interesting article on the subject:
    Moral Responsibility in a Deterministic Universe

    A quote from the article:

    The difficulties that the forking paths model of choice faces under a deterministic universe may illuminate much of the opposition to determinism. After all, typical concepts of free agency or free will in our society tend to stem from choice models similar to the “garden of forking paths.” Without such a framework for interpreting “choice” and responsibility, alarmists may fear that a deterministic universe cannot accommodate morality or provide any rationale for personal responsibility. Since most religious concepts of morality derive themselves from selecting “rightly” or “wrongly” from a forking paths model, an emotional or metaphysical drive may fuel the ferocity of opposition to determinism. Simply stated, how can a person be held responsible for the path he or she is taking if it was never selected from alternative choices? Thus, while accepting a deterministic universe and eliminating the concept of alternative paths proves problematic for the concepts of moral responsibility involved in religious judgments and theological conceptions of man, the work of two philosophers, P.F. Strawson and Daniel Dennett, suggests that on a practical level, moral and personal responsibility can survive and thrive in a deterministic world. In fact, personal responsibility not only remains viable in a deterministic universe, but morality also maintains a free-floating rationale independent of deterministic principles.

  14. 14
    Box says:

    Eigenstate: Reasonable? Sure.

    How does one get from chemistry to reason?

    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 [C S] 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.

  15. 15
    Mung says:

    If humans are made of nothing but atoms, and everyone knows an atom cannot walk, humans would not be able to walk!

    But atoms do walk. They just don’t purposely walk to the local eatery so that they can satisfy their hunger.

    And they don’t purposely frequent intelligent design blogs so that they can demonstrate how irrational they are.

  16. 16
    Cross says:

    eigenstate @ 13

    quotes from “Moral Responsibility in a Deterministic Universe”

    “The difficulties that the forking paths model of choice faces under a deterministic universe may illuminate much of the opposition to determinism. After all, typical concepts of free agency or free will in our society tend to stem from choice models similar to the “garden of forking paths.” Without such a framework for interpreting “choice” and responsibility, alarmists may fear that a deterministic universe cannot accommodate morality or provide any rationale for personal responsibility. Since most religious concepts of morality derive themselves from selecting “rightly” or “wrongly” from a forking paths model, an emotional or metaphysical drive may fuel the ferocity of opposition to determinism. Simply stated, how can a person be held responsible for the path he or she is taking if it was never selected from alternative choices? Thus, while accepting a deterministic universe and eliminating the concept of alternative paths proves problematic for the concepts of moral responsibility involved in religious judgments and theological conceptions of man, the work of two philosophers, P.F. Strawson and Daniel Dennett, suggests that on a practical level, moral and personal responsibility can survive and thrive in a deterministic world. In fact, personal responsibility not only remains viable in a deterministic universe, but morality also maintains a free-floating rationale independent of deterministic principles.”

    More fact free, unsubstantiated waffle. Assumes its conclusion “we are in a deterministic world”.

    Cheers

  17. 17
    eigenstate says:

    @Cross,

    More fact free, unsubstantiated waffle. Assumes its conclusion “we are in a deterministic world”.

    Did you even read the quote, let alone the article?

    It neither argues for nor concludes that “we are in a deterministic world”. Rather, it the dynamics of morality if the world is a deterministic world. “If X, they Y is possible”, does NOT conclude or argue for X.

  18. 18
    Cross says:

    eigenstate @ 17

    Conclusion of the article:

    “While cutting-edge attempts at locating the origins of morality through naturalistic processes and tools such as selection pressures remain works-in-progress seeking further empirical support to bolster their claims, the principles of such modeling endeavors harbor significance for issues of determinism’s relationship with moral responsibility. They suggest that the potential truth of macro-level determinism need not result in a loss of rationality for moral responsibility, and therefore its disintegration. When taken collectively, the arguments of both Strawson and Dennett provide moral and personal responsibility with a free-floating rationale and simultaneously allow the separation of such principles from the “garden of forking paths” model of choice. We can act no other way from a set of actual initial conditions and yet still talk rationally about morality and responsibility. ”

    Are you seriously suggesting the article is not taking a deterministic view and that is not why you quoted it?

    Dennets contribution is full of evo phsycology unsubstantiated waffle. ie:
    “Dennett views morality as a “costly merit badge” to display our cooperator status in an era when the arms race of rationality no longer allows us to wear a hat reading “cooperator” in order to reap the long-term benefits. ”

    Waffle.

    Cheers

  19. 19
    GW says:

    If “belief” is equivalent to “particular set of neural connections” then no two men can share the same belief. For no two men share the same set of neural connections, even if the content that their beliefs/neural connections produce is identical. In fact, since I am not physically identical to the person I was 5 minutes ago, I don’t share the same beliefs I did when I started to write this reply.

    In common language, “belief” refers to an agent accepting the truth of a non-physical proposition, which is why materalists have to change the meaning of the word before using it. The duplictity isn’t found in having an otherwise ordinary word with a specific technical meaning as one might when engaged in law or physics, rather it is in the smuggling in of the non-standard meaning of a term with heavy philosophical presuppositions. The admission that the common-sense usage of the term “belief” leads one to dualism and theism is quite revealing. It’s almost as if we were wired toward certain metaphysical conclusions once we thought long and hard (reasoned) from obvious truths in the world.

    Of course “folk psychology” is another poorly devised term; we are talking about the ontology of mind not psychology, so “folk wisdom” or “folk philosophy” fits better. At some level one must accept the world as it seems; one cannot discover illusions and misconceptions without first having some fundamental knowledge that is itself not susceptible to being an illusion or misconception. But naturalism doesn’t have that luxury.

  20. 20
    eigenstate says:

    @Cross,

    Are you seriously suggesting the article is not taking a deterministic view and that is not why you quoted it?

    Yes, of course. Did I sound like I was joking? I quoted it because it provides some discussion on the prospects of morality if our our world is a deterministic one.

    Dennets contribution is full of evo phsycology unsubstantiated waffle. ie:
    “Dennett views morality as a “costly merit badge” to display our cooperator status in an era when the arms race of rationality no longer allows us to wear a hat reading “cooperator” in order to reap the long-term benefits. ”

    Waffle.

    I thought “waffling” was “being indecisive”, or “wishy washy” or going and back and forth on your opinions. You obviously have something else in mind with that word. What?

  21. 21
    Cross says:

    eigenstate @ 20

    “Did I sound like I was joking?”

    Hard to tell with some of your posts.

    Waffle: “to talk or write a lot without giving any useful information or any clear answers:” Cambridge Dictionary.

    BTW, I am not picking on Bennet, I view evo physiology as the pseudo science of pseudo sciences. Its mostly unsubstantiated waffle.

    In fact, it is the emperor with no clothes, with all the other PhD’s pretending that any of this waffle makes any sense at all for fear of seaming dumb.

    Of course, that’s only my opinion, assuming that I exist to have an opinion. I may be offering this answer freely, or I may have no choice in the matter. You may be free to advise me which is right or you may have no choice in the matter. I think my head hurts, but it may only be an illusion.

    Cheers

  22. 22
    Box says:

    Bill Vallicella on Dennett, excerpt:

    (…) “Only a theory that explained conscious events in terms of unconscious events could explain consciousness at all.” (Consciousness Explained, 1991, p. 454.)

    (…)

    Amazingly, on p. 455 he retracts what he said on the previous page about successful explanations having to leave something out. He now writes:

    “Thinking, mistakenly, that the explanation leaves something out, we (…)”

    The whole passage is a tissue of confusion wrapped in a rhetorical trick. And that is the way his big book ends: on a contradictory note. A big fat load of scientistic sophistry.

    (…)

    To sum up. A successful explanation cannot eliminate the explanandum. That is nonnegotiable. So if we agree with Dennett that a successful explanation must leave something out, namely, our epistemic access to what is to be explained, then we ought to conclude that consciousness cannot be explained.

  23. 23
    Box says:

    Eigenstate,

    Eigenstate: Free? No, if by “free” you mean “unconstrained or undetermined by natural processes”. “Free” as in “libertarian free will”? Not possibly.

    There are parts of the process that are probabilistic, so decisions, beliefs, choices etc. are not determined in any clockwork/Laplacian way. But the probabilistic/indeterminate aspects of the process are wholly contained in the natural dynamics of STEM — no supernatural spooky stuff, obviously.

    I would like to make sure that I understand you correctly.
    Irrelevant randomizing processes aside, you are saying that there is no freedom whatsoever, right? A human is 100% the result of upward causation by physical forces, correct?
    So, it’s your position that freedom is 100% illusion. Correct?

  24. 24
    Yarrgonaut says:

    Yet another reason immaterial minds as an illusion is self-defeating can be understood as follows:

    Imagine for the sake of argument that it is true, and the mind (for lack of a better term) only knows what the brain “sees”.

    Our brain only sees or is able to know of light because the wavelengths interact in an objective and physical way with the rods and cones in our eyes.

    Our brain only hears sound because of the vibration of the tympanic membrane, another physical interaction.

    This makes sense because for a purely material brain to “see” something or be aware of it, it has to interact materially with it.

    This falsifies eliminative materialism. Given how intimately aware of our consciousness we are at any moment, even if it were an “illusion” (whatever that means anyway) it is impossible for our consciousness not to influence matter in an objective physical way. In other words. Like light and sound, if the subjective aspect of our reality was “not real”, as materialists say, it couldn’t influence the material world, and if it couldn’t influence the material world, we could never be aware of it’s existence to begin with, because our brains couldn’t interact with it physically.

    Eigenstate, all your base are belong to us. 😉

  25. 25
    eigenstate says:

    @Box

    I would like to make sure that I understand you correctly.
    Irrelevant randomizing processes aside, you are saying that there is no freedom whatsoever, right? A human is 100% the result of upward causation by physical forces, correct?
    So, it’s your position that freedom is 100% illusion. Correct?

    There is no “non-material freedom”, no “freedom whatsoever” where freedom depends on an immaterial homunculus, a ghost in the machine (that can’t provide the kind of ‘freedom’ subscribers to that idea suppose it can either, but that’s a topic for another discussion).

    What we do have is “agent freedom”, or “social freedom”. By that I mean we have both a level of unpredictability in assessing our own choices, and a much greater level of unpredictability of action when dealing with other agents. In the first case, we don’t know what we will choose for all the various situations that arise day to day.

    For other agents — other people around us — we carefully protect our local state, our decisions, to avoid being trivially manipulated. Being unpredictable from an outside perspective, unpredictable in terms of what others should expect our actions to be, providers power and social equity. It matter naught that this protective stance or strategy is wired into us, or completely deterministically set for us. The existence of that establishes “social freedom”, and grounds social structures like morality, ethics, legal jurisprudence.

    So, when you say “freedom whatsoever”, I think that is false. It’s not freedom at all in the dualistic, immaterial-homunculus sense. That kind of freedom doesn’t exist. But humans, as evolved social animals, have “degrees of freedom” available to them in terms of what the self can foresee, and what others can expect that provide the context for “freedom” in a natural world, a world without gods or ghosts, in the machine or out. That’s not *you* kind of “freedom”, I expect, but that is the “freedom” that obtains.

    An example a professor long ago used with me is a poker game. Assume that humans are “deterministic machines”, or “moist robots” as I recall a Dlibert cartoon referred to humans-as-wholly-natural, IIRC. There is no disembodied part of the self, the brain is the whole mind, etc.

    I have my pocket sixes, and it’s my turn to bet. Do I want to play it safe? Bluff? Fold? If we understand that my evolved nature, and my personal history/experiences govern what I will choose to do, and this is “pre-determinable”, it is still true to say that before I decide and take action, I still have several courses of action available to me. I am in some sense going to discover my own choice in the process of deciding; it must be this way, as if I knew what I was going to decided, I’d not be “undecided”. This is “agency” at the practical level. I have to choose 1 on N options, and they are all available to me, and up to no one but me. My choice was firmly determined before I “discovered” my choice, so I’m not choosing in any dualist or superstitious sense. But I understand myself to have multiple avenues available, even as I am unaware of what I am “pre-determined” by factors out of my control to choose.

    The other players see me as even more opaque. They don’t know what I’m going to decide, nor do they know what cards I have in my hand. Maybe I’m playing “loose” over the past several hands, but are unaware that as part of a macro-strategy (which comes about through the same deterministic dynamics in my head) to pivot toward a more tight still of play, just to keep the others on their toes, etc.

    They see me, and can only see me as a “free agent”, an autonomous chooser that they must assess as being able to go any of N routes with the choice still at hand, and for different reasons in each case. That doesn’t change the fact that my choice is pre-determined and “automatic”. From their point of view, and that’s the crucial aspect of this, I’m a “free willed agent”. I’m unpredictable, and they can only guess and estimate what my choice will be. I’m “free” in that respect, and cannot be “bound” or “determined” in their view, as they are not party to the information that will select the choice that is finally selected. Even *I* am not party to that information at some level, so I’m “free” in my own self-introspective analysis, practically speaking.

    As long as you have minds interacting with each other where the deterministic factors are not discoverable, or at least discoverable in real time, you have “social freedom”, the practical agency that grounds promises and punishment, ethical guidelines, law, romantic relationships, etc. If you see me as substantially unpredictable, and you cannot do otherwise, I am free in a profoundly practical sense, in relation to you.

    Some experiments in past years have pushed back the “mind reading” time on some choices back as far as 10 seconds (Soon, et al, is one example that comes to mind). Currently, the time it takes for analysis is hours and days; the fMRI machine and the analysis of the data it captures can beat the odds of chance by a huge margin in determining what the subject will choose by up many full seconds. But it can’t currently be done quick enough to tell you what you will choose (or record it for later checking so it doesn’t influence your eventual pronouncement) before you choose it.

    If it could, and there’s no reason this can’t be done with better technology and processes, then you would have humans interacting with us much like a computer would on those questions. We “survey the registers, and do the calcs” and get what we expect from a human what we would expect from a computer (allowing for the still fuzzy factors of reading neuronal impulses vs discrete states in a computer). This scenario I mention because it shows the “unfree” scenario in contrast to the freedom we obtain from the unknowability of our deterministic outcomes.

    Put me in some next-gen fMRI and now have me play Texas Hold ‘Em. With the instrumentation available to you, I’m a machine that can be read like a machine. Now you can tell what I’m going to decide to do before I know myself. I still have my “personal freedom”, if I’m not able to see the instrument panels you see; my choice is still unknown to me until I make it, and I’m “free” until then. Even with the sci-fi fMRI device imagined here, I am still “free’ even to you until such time as the deterministic processes coalesce the neuronal patterns in my brain that are my choice. But your better knowledge reduces my freedom, my agency to the extent (and when) you can eliminate my predictability.

    All of which to say, our social freedom is real, practically effective and impossible to function without day to day, but it’s predicated on unpredictability, practical limits of our knowledge of how the determinism of the natural world will play out in detail. So long as that unpredictability remains for us, as long as the details of the determining are not knowable in real time, we have practical agency.

  26. 26
    Box says:

    Eigenstate,

    Thank you for your clear answer.
    I’m not interested in unpredictability by randomizing mechanisms—which has nothing to do with freedom—, or how real illusions may appear. What I’m interested in is who is in control in the real sense. Freedom is about self-causation—causa sui if you will.

    Eigenstate: My choice was firmly determined before I “discovered” my choice, so I’m not choosing in any dualist or superstitious sense. (…) the deterministic processes coalesce the neuronal patterns in my brain that are my choice.

    My choice” is incoherent, when you discover “your” choices, as opposed to actually making them, then obviously it follows that it is not “you” who is doing the choosing. It’s not your conscious decision.
    Again, I’m not interested in illusions or how convincing that may look in practical daily life.

    I do have a profound problem with your position. I find it utterly incoherent. Allow me to explain.
    If YOU don’t make choices, but if the choices are made for you by blind forces (particles in motion or conglomerates of particles; like neuronal patterns), which are subordinate to natural laws only and not in the least interested in truth, reason, morality or anything then there is no reason whatsoever to trust your choices, reason, morality and so forth—if you had the choice.

    It does not make sense.

    p.s. And don’t tell me that ‘interest in truth, reason, morality and so forth’ is an emergent property “just like walking”, because that line of reasoning has been debunked too many time already.

  27. 27
    eigenstate says:

    I’m not interested in unpredictability by randomizing mechanisms—which has nothing to do with freedom—, or how real illusions may appear. What I’m interested in is who is in control in the real sense. Freedom is about self-causation—causa sui if you will.

    Well, dualism is no help, then, and materialism is no hindrance to you.

    Say I claim that all my choices are due to a “random number generator in my brain”. This is a wholly nature, monist state of being, no spooky stuff involved. Random sampling from some noise signal is the causa sui, the means within the self by which choices are made. If the process is truly random, it’s as non-deterministic as it can get.

    Now, humans don’t really work like that, but I point that out as a setup for looking at a “dualist causa sui“.

    For the dualist, there is either a) randomness, or b) external dynamics (determinism), just like there is for the monist!

    If you doubt this, examine a choice — say the choice as to whether to fold, check, bet when you are dealt a pair of sixes and its your turn (or select something more profound as a choice, doesn’t matter), I will simply ask what caused that factor in your choice making. For any given deeper factor, I will ask whence this factor. For example:

    Me: Why did you choose to “check”, there?
    You: I considered the cards I have, the number of other players, the size of the stacks, etc. and decided checking maximized my odds of winning.

    Me: Why did you want to maximize your chances to win?
    You: It’s more fun to win then lose, plus I can use the money.

    Me: And why is it more fun for you win than lose?
    You: ???.

    I put question marks there at the last answer because this is where the problem really becomes apparent and branches way out. I imagine if asked that, I’d point to my evolved human nature, and point out that we are wired to be both competitive and selfish in terms of goals and resource acquisition.

    A Christian might say “God made me that way”. But there, you’ve lost the causa sui you are intent on locating, the basis for choices that obtain wholly from within.

    That’s an incoherent concept “choices being made from within”, and I use that term advisedly here in light of the pervasive misuse of that word on this blog. It does not hold together, unless, and only unless one finally grants that the choice arises without purpose, pattern or plan — randomly. Note that’s where I started this, above.

    Why? Because as soon as you can point to some purpose, pattern or plan, something non-random in your choice making, it begs to broken down into constituent parts. And this regresses ad infinitum until and unless you hit a random, brute bottom layer that leaves you the same position as the most hardcore materialist.

    “It’s just the way I am” doesn’t get you out of the problem. Not only is that the materialist position, unless you are an omnigod, your choices then are determined by whoever or whatever made you what you are.

    There is no escape. There is only avoiding the problem with sloppy and superstitious thinking, accepting uncritically that a “supernatural dimension” to this problem helps. It doesn’t because it can’t.

    If you want to try this, let me know and we will look a choice you pick, and I’ll ask you for the contributing causal factors for your choice, and the contributing causal factors for those factors, etc., on and on until you see the problem.

    So, there is no causa sui for humans as understood by the materialist. But neither is any causa sui available to the dualist human, unless that human claims to be an omnigod, the Prime Mover himself. Maybe that’s Barry’s claim…. 😉

    “My choice” is incoherent, when you discover “your” choices, as opposed to actually making them, then obviously it follows that it is not “you” who is doing the choosing. It’s not your conscious decision.

    There’s no conflict here. First, my choice is “my” choice because I’m the one who discovers it, and I’m the one who takes action based on those choices, and the one who must live with the consequences of those choices. It doesn’t get more “my” than that.

    Second, my decision is a conscious one — manifestly I am aware of being in the act of choosing from alternatives — but it’s not exclusively conscious or “front of mind” and cannot be. Subconscious factors are at work, as well, and environmental factors which may perhaps not even consider “subconscious” play a role, too — for example, if you are coming down with the flu and have a fever, your choice to go do something you otherwise would choose to do may tip you against, even if you are not consciously aware of that influence.

    The subconscious component of our choices cannot be dismissed. Soon, et al [2008] (see here for example, reviews an experiment where researchers were able to predict choices from subjects many seconds in advance of their conscious awareness of their own choice-making. The instrumentation was able to determine what the choice would be at far higher percentages than chance based on data that came well before the subject *thought* they were making a choice.

    This does not eliminate the “conscious” part of choosing, but it does mean that a demand like it appears you are making here that choice must be “purely conscious”, or somehow devoid of other contributing factors is at odds with how humans observably work.

    Again, I’m not interested in illusions or how convincing that may look in practical daily life.

    OK. In my experience the resistance to this idea is very often followed by an argument from consequences: if there’s no “dualist free will”, then there can be no morality or responsibility! All will devolve into chaos and mayhem!. Etc. My points on “social freedom” go toward those concerns. If you aren’t motivated by those concerns, good on ya.

    I do have a profound problem with your position. I find it utterly incoherent. Allow me to explain.

    OK.

    If YOU don’t make choices,

    But i do make choices, and so do you, under materialism. If I look at a CNC mill running it’s program to cut, say, electric guitar bodies out of billets of maple or mahogany, that machine has perfectly no consciousness about or say in the matter, but it is still, nevertheless, making guitar bodies. It doesn’t make guitar bodies as a causa sui — it requires three stage power, drill bits, computer and software, hydraulics, wood billets, etc. It has intenionality, it is a directed device, creating guitar bodies ready for sanding and painting from raw billet.

    You are not a “universe unto yourself”, any more than the CNC machine is, but you make your decisions, and draw upon the resources needed to make them: experience, emotions, beliefs, goals… You have intentionality, and are making choices from the raw materials of choice, just as the CNC machine is making guitar bodies from the raw materials for guitar bodies.

    but if the choices are made for you by blind forces (particles in motion or conglomerates of particles; like neuronal patterns), which are subordinate to natural laws only and not in the least interested in truth, reason, morality or anything then there is no reason whatsoever to trust your choices, reason, morality and so forth—if you had the choice.

    Neurons can’t see, but collections of neurons assembled in human brains can see, working in concert. There’s that ‘level of description’ problem, once again, the Fallacy of Composition error. A neuron cannot “emote”, but a collection of neurons in a human body (connected to neuro-receptors) can. Same song, different verse for investigating truth claims, making ethical judgements, moral choices, etc.

    If you are thinking you must use “neurons” (or atoms, or elementary particles, etc.) as just some diffuse, unconnected set of neurons laying around as your basis for thinking and choosing, your concerns would be well founded. But collections of neurons such as you will find in your own brain have — demonstrably — the capabilities you are concerned about.

  28. 28
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    eigenstate says,

    Because as soon as you can point to some purpose, pattern or plan, something non-random in your choice making, it begs to broken down into constituent parts.

    I say,

    Why??

    Integrated information theory is based on the notion that precisely what sets consciousness apart from other phenomena is it’s inability to be broken down into constituent parts.

    check it out

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I.....ion_theory

    Are you ruling out IIT A priori?
    That is certainly not a very scientific attitude

    peace

  29. 29
    Tim says:

    eigenstate@27,
    I spent a short time reviewing your post, and I find your reasoning hopelessly confused and terribly foggy. Please clarify the following, you write:

    For the dualist, there is either a) randomness, or b) external dynamics (determinism), just like there is for the monist!

    Do you really believe these are the only resources available on a dualistic view of human freedom?

    I am playing poker . . . and am dealt pocket sixes and check, hoping for some continuation later. I mentioned the factors (I stink at poker, but thought continuation on sixes was best against my arrayed opponents and etc . . .), and you seem to think we must be in some sort of regress already. But on dualism this is not the case. You are overlooking the causa sui itself in the words “I decided.”

    Suppose it were not me, but a computer playing poker. And for the sake of our example, the computer has sixes and checks. Nobody would say that the computer “chose” to check because it didn’t. But, I did.

    In your post you claimed that on materialism you indeed make choices, but you also wrote that on materialism you discover choices. This makes no sense whatsoever. Making and discovering are not commensurate in this context.

    Put another way, if there is no “ghost in the machine”, then we are just machines, but no machine can emote, or make a moral judgment, or any of the other fantastic claims you have made for machines.

    This is why, in a crunch, I could always beat any of the top chess-playing computer programs on the market right now even though I am a rank patzer. I can cheat; they cannot. I can change the rules, add pieces to the board, hyperdrive my king to the underside of the board if I have to. Yes, I am a game changer. Why? Because of this, I can creatively select what I shall do:

    again, you write:

    unless, and only unless one finally grants that the choice arises without purpose, pattern or plan — randomly.

    But nobody must grant what you insist on!! First, the choice need not “arise”. Second, the dualist contra the materialist simply does not subscribe to the notion that we are without purpose (better, intention, better still intellect, even better still, logos, just read through the etymologies!), so we are not cornered into that which is random. Theists, and Christians in particular (with all due respect to our uber-Calvinistic brethren), have not “added a supernatural element” to “help” because our metaphysics need no help in explaining what is obvious to all — our design includes the ability to choose, an ability not manifest in lesser beings of creation. I believe it was you, perhaps, who wrote of “hawk nature”, we could begin there and wend our way down until we encounter quartz or feldspar, objects of creation that have no freedom, but to be what they are.

    Finally, you write:

    unless that human claims to be an omnigod

    Of course, no such claim need be made. But if you are interested in the actual claim, you might consider this descriptor: Genesis 1:27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. No, I do not mention it as a proof, just a note to let you know that many of us here following these posts of yours will not let you get away with your hyperbole.

    Again, by the end of your post, you seem to be admitting that humankind (apart from all others) has intentionality. Doesn’t this rather unique characteristic endowed uniquely to us tell you something, anything?

    Please, clarify.

  30. 30
    Box says:

    Eigenstate: My choice was firmly determined before I “discovered” my choice, so I’m not choosing in any dualist or superstitious sense. (…) the deterministic processes coalesce the neuronal patterns in my brain that are my choice.

    Box: If YOU don’t make choices, (…)

    Eigenstate: But i do make choices, (…), under materialism.

    No, you don’t make choices—not even under materialism. You discover “choices”, which are made by neuronal patterns in your brain over which you have no control.
    You discover “choices” in the same sense that you discover a discoloration of a toenail. This case in point clarifies that “you” are not in CONTROL, but something else than you is—something distinct from you. You were not consulted when the choice was made nor when discoloration set in.
    Your emergent consciousness is just, as W J Murray puts it, “along for the ride”, and utterly powerless.

    W J Murray:

    Under materialism, the self is nothing more than a set of illusory qualia entirely produced and directed by law and probability, existing as nothing more than a kind of happenstance-generated internal hologram that is along for the ride, so to speak, as the interacting matter (that is producing the local hologram of self) does whatever it does anyway.

    IOW all the objections that can be raised against eliminative materialism are also relevant to your position. Your emergent consciousness adds nothing, is powerless and meaningless.

  31. 31
    Yarrgonaut says:

    If the subjective aspect of our minds wasn’t real, or was unable to influence the physical world, how is it that we come to be aware of it?

    Brains can only process what they interact with physically.

  32. 32
    Box says:

    Yarrgonaut,

    Eigenstate argues for emergentism—consciousness is an emergent property of the brain. The way that I understand it is that there is no interaction between the brain and its emergent property (consciousness)—most certainly not top-down. Here consciousness is just a powerless illusion (“internal hologram”), fully dependent on the brain, an expression of the brain, an impotent freak mistake that is along for the ride.

    Emergentism informs us that our sense of being in control is just an illusion. IOW, while sitting here watching this post being typed, I’m having the illusion that I’m doing the typing—that I am the one in control—, but in fact an underlying reality of unthinking neural networks is making all the decisions for me.

    In it’s attack on consciousness, emergentism reminds me of eastern religion.

  33. 33
    eigenstate says:

    @fifthmonarchyman,

    Integrated information theory is based on the notion that precisely what sets consciousness apart from other phenomena is it’s inability to be broken down into constituent parts.

    check it out

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I…..ion_theory

    Are you ruling out IIT A priori?
    That is certainly not a very scientific attitude

    IIT is an idea that I think has a lot of promise as a model for consciousness in the scientific sense. It understands the coordinated nature of collaborating subsystems that together form the process we call ‘consciousness’.

    But that kind of decomposition — breaking down consciousness into it’s various processing components (e.g. visual processing), isn’t what I was referring to by “constituent parts”. To be clear, that breakdown I’m pointing to is a breakdown of causal factors in any choice we are looking at. The “why” behind the choice, and for those factors the “why” behind those factors (see my hypothetical dialog in my post).

    So, IIT being 100% correct would not change my point. There is still an insuperable problem for anyone who doesn’t think choices are externally determined: chase down the reasons for you any choice, and the reasons for those reasons, etc., and you end up at “it’s a random selection made internally”, or — oops! — determination by external dynamics (e.g. “This is just the way God made me”).

    This problem isn’t aided or impeded by ITT.

  34. 34
    eigenstate says:

    @Tim

    Do you really believe these are the only resources available on a dualistic view of human freedom?

    No, I was listing examples for clarity, wasn’t meant to be exhaustive, of course.

    I am playing poker . . . and am dealt pocket sixes and check, hoping for some continuation later. I mentioned the factors (I stink at poker, but thought continuation on sixes was best against my arrayed opponents and etc . . .), and you seem to think we must be in some sort of regress already. But on dualism this is not the case. You are overlooking the causa sui itself in the words “I decided.”

    Causa sui just locates the dynamics for the decision. It’s not a causal dynamic itself, but a term that indicates (in this context) that the choose “comes from within the self”. So saying ‘I decided” as a means of locating the choice “in the self” is fine, but does not speak to what caused you to choose to what you chose. If you say “I don’t know”, then two large problems apply: 1) the actual dispositive factors in your choice may be external or just random, and you can’t say otherwise, because you don’t know, and 2) if you aren’t aware of what actually selected “Fold” from “Check” and “Bet $20”, then there’s no “you” involved in the deciding. It may as well be a foreign/external deciding machine, a black box in your head that does your choosing for you.

    The other prong of this two-pronged trap is to say “Oh I know my reasons, and they are X, Y and Z”. Giving your first order reasons is good in that it reifies the “you” in your decision making at that level, but it just pushes the problem down one level, and begins the regress chain. Now I want to know what were the factors for X, Y, and Z, respectively in making them what they were, your second order reasons for your decision. If you say they are XA, XB, XC, YA, YB, YC and so on, I will move to the next step, asking about your third order factors, the causal dynamics that made XA, for example a driver for X, which was a driver for choosing “Fold”.

    This goes on until you run out of more fundamental causes for your choice. When this happens, you will either point to “I don’t know”, or “it’s random”, or “it was determined by external factors. None of these fit with your “I decided” where the “I” is autonomous and “freely choosing” based on something internal.

    Suppose it were not me, but a computer playing poker. And for the sake of our example, the computer has sixes and checks. Nobody would say that the computer “chose” to check because it didn’t. But, I did.

    But the computer *did* choose. You can go online right now and play against “pokerbots”, software poker “players” who can play against you. High quality poker bots can be very challenging opponents, as they have decision trees that avail themselves of statistic and probability calculations that are easy for computers but difficult for humans.

    But pokerbot skill aside, the software is a choice-making algorithm; given a set of inputs (cards in hand, number of opponents, stack size, etc.) the software will choose, based on what input it is confronted with, what to do. It’s not “free” to choose “Declare I have ‘Bingo'”, as that’s not a feature of the software program. But it has all the options you do available for poker play, and must choose among them.

    In your post you claimed that on materialism you indeed make choices, but you also wrote that on materialism you discover choices. This makes no sense whatsoever. Making and discovering are not commensurate in this context.

    “Discover” just points to the fact that I’m not aware of what I’m going to choose before I actually choose. That is, when I get my cards dealt, and before I decide that “Check” is the best choice, my own choice is still unknown to me. I “discover” that choice when I make it. It’s also a good word to use to point to the fact that I (like anyone else) am not fully aware of why I choose what I choose. I can enumerate the factors I’m consciously aware of, but (see my previous post), factors I’m not aware of consciously also affect my decision-making processes.

    So, I am making the choices, in that they are ultimately produced in my brain, no matter what causal factors shaped them, deterministically or otherwise, and I am the owner of any subsequent actions and consequences. But in a very real and practical sense, much of my choosing “happens to me”. Again, see experiments where the eventual choice is sensed by brain instrumentation well before the subject is consciously aware of choosing. If machines monitoring your brain can detect “Tim will ‘Check'” five seconds before you even signal you’ve reached a decision on what play to make, there are clearly subconscious dynamics at work that you are “discovering” after the fact.

    Put another way, if there is no “ghost in the machine”, then we are just machines, but no machine can emote, or make a moral judgment, or any of the other fantastic claims you have made for machines.

    We don’t have human-made mechanical machines that do those things, but even so, there’s no reason to think they cannot and will not at some point do all those things. But “human machines”, humans understood in scientific terms can do all those things, as biological machines.

    One of the reasons robots and other platforms for AI do not emulate well these human functions is that the whole animal has to be replicated; emotions are not just “in the brain” — the part we started with in AI — but a function of the whole body (neuro-receptors in the guilt, sensory input from all over the body, etc.). We would have to make an “artificial human” in order to effect the kind of functions you list, and that is a fantastically difficult task, not something we can expect to do anytime in foreseeable future. But in principle, there’s nothing magical going on, it’s just very, very complex.

    Or put another way: if you could build an artificial human, and it was robust in the sense of having “neuroreceptors in the gut” and all the other analogs to human physiology, we would *expect* that machine to emote, to make moral judgments, etc.

    This is why, in a crunch, I could always beat any of the top chess-playing computer programs on the market right now even though I am a rank patzer. I can cheat; they cannot. I can change the rules, add pieces to the board, hyperdrive my king to the underside of the board if I have to. Yes, I am a game changer. Why? Because of this, I can creatively select what I shall do:

    Well, if you are cheating, then you aren’t “playing chess” at all anymore, based on what “Chess” implies. Unless and until such time as some kind of human-class AI gets developed, you will be able to “change the game” or “jump up a level”, as you have a wider scope of experience than any programs with more limited scope. But this is neither here nor there in terms of choosing. Whether it’s you or a smart program or a dumb program, the choosing ultimately reduces to deterministic drivers, “programming”.

    But nobody must grant what you insist on!! First, the choice need not “arise”.

    Whence the choice, then? If you chose “Fold” when it was your turn at the poker table, why “Fold” and not “Check”? If you don’t or can’t provide a reason, you have a much more severe problem than what you see as a problem for the materialist. Now, your choice to “Fold” isn’t “you” at all in the choosing; the choice is yours in the sense I described above, in that you “own” it, just a like a materialist chooser does. But a materialist chooser can at least investigate and apprehend at some level what shapes and influences her decisions.

    You can not, in this case. “You” are an impassable ‘black box’ that is no more “you” than the desk across the room. It’s not knowable, searchable, introspective. It’s just a deterministic machine that you have zero influence over.

    Second, the dualist contra the materialist simply does not subscribe to the notion that we are without purpose (better, intention, better still intellect, even better still, logos, just read through the etymologies!), so we are not cornered into that which is random.

    It doesn’t matter here what you subscribe to — that can all be just so much caprice. What matters is what you can show. What were the reasons for the choice you made? What determined “Fold” vs. “Check”. Saying “I just don’t believe it was random” won’t help you at all. If it’s unknown to you, if it can be articulated, it is random by definition. “Random” is a negating word, not a positive one, which means it applies when there is no identifiable purpose, pattern or plan (to use a short but effective definition). If I ask what the reasons were for “Fold”, and all you can do is shrug and say “I subscribe to the notion that I had reasons behind that”, you’ve conceded the problem. You have a choosing process that is a black box for you, a random number generator. Just like a random number generator, there is no “looking inside” for contributing dynamics.

    Theists, and Christians in particular (with all due respect to our uber-Calvinistic brethren), have not “added a supernatural element” to “help” because our metaphysics need no help in explaining what is obvious to all — our design includes the ability to choose, an ability not manifest in lesser beings of creation. I believe it was you, perhaps, who wrote of “hawk nature”, we could begin there and wend our way down until we encounter quartz or feldspar, objects of creation that have no freedom, but to be what they are.

    Hawks choose, as people choose. Pokerbots choose, too. Choosing is selection from more than one alternative available. And fundamentally, there are either a) reasons that drive the selection, or b) there are no reasons that drive the selection. I believe a) and b) exhaust all the alternatives, here.

    b) is just random selection, by definition. No reasons for the selection. a) begins a causal chain regress, which as I said, either terminates in b) randomness, or some external-to-self dynamic.

    Try it. Seriously. Take a choice like “Fold” in a poker hand. Specify a reason (it doesn’t have to be an exhaustive inventory of causal factors, but you can supply more if you like), and we’ll go from there. If you take time to actually put your choice to the test, you will see the problem, it can be shown quite clearly right here in this thread, if you will just give it a try.

  35. 35
    eigenstate says:

    @Tim,

    Of course, no such claim need be made. But if you are interested in the actual claim, you might consider this descriptor: Genesis 1:27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. No, I do not mention it as a proof, just a note to let you know that many of us here following these posts of yours will not let you get away with your hyperbole.

    Being created, whether in God’s image or no, gives away the game, Tim. Now you are shaped and influenced by the imago dei imparted to you by God, and this drives your decisions, through no choosing of your own. You didn’t choose your ‘sin nature’ (this is me adopting, for the sake of argument here, Christian theology), you were born with it, passed down from Adam, the result of God’s curse placed on Adam for his original sin. And this drives your choices. When you sin, you don’t sin because you are a causa sui. You are tempted in the first place because of your sin nature, and suffer from the noetic effects of the fall in your thinking and choosing. This is all external to you, environmental factors that contribute and influence your choices, putting the lie to claims that your choice is completely “of the self”.

    My point about being an omnigod was specific to BEING an omnigod, not made (in any sense, that breaks the connection) by an omnigod. If an omnigod exists, and we concede that by “omnigod” we concede that this entails being a singleton uncaused being, then, and only then, do you have a causa sui. All other agents are necessarily products of their environment in their choosing process. This superstition about “choice” is a platitude Christians carry around uncritically. Raised a Christian, this always bothered me, and I was continually frustrated that no one could even make headway on my questions, whether I asked my pastor, or a famous theologian who spoke at our Sunday night service, or the church elders, or anyone else.

    I did receive answers like yours: We believe we can choose freely. No one could tell me what “freely” meant in practice, or even approach it, go beyond it just being a shallow platitude. “It’s a mystery” I was told more than once, and “we’ll find out when we get to Heaven”. That’s adding another platitude on the first, but in the here and now, it leaves “free choice” incoherent, meaningless, vacuous, on Christianity’s own terms and understandings.

    Q: Why did you choose to sin, to curse your neighbor?
    A: Because I harbored hatred in my heart and disregarded God’s commandment to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’

    Q: Then why did you disregard God’s commandment?
    A: Because I loved myself more than I loved God and feared Him.

    Q: And why did you love yourself more than God?
    A: Because that is what I chose to do?

    Q: Yes, but why did you choose that?
    A: I suppose because I have a sinful nature.

    Q: So your choice was due to something in your nature?
    A: Yes, but I still chose the wrong.

    Q: Fine, but to be clear, your choice was a result of your nature?
    A: Yes.

    Q: Did you choose your nature?
    A: No, I am created by God, created to have the nature God intended. I have a sin nature because of Adam’s sin.

    Q: Then your choice to curse your neighbor was caused by factors external to you, beyond your control?
    A: No, I could have chosen not to sin.

    Q: Perhaps, but I’m asking why you actually did choose what you chose. Do you want to change your answer?
    A: No.

    Q: Then your actual choice, by your own explanation, implicates your human nature, which you did not choose and cannot change, as the motive force in your choice. Is that right?

    Please feel free to supply a competing/contrasting Q&A investigating why one might curse his neighbor and sin, where the reasons for choosing that sin are completely internal, and defined (not random, lacking purpose, pattern or plan).

    Again, by the end of your post, you seem to be admitting that humankind (apart from all others) has intentionality. Doesn’t this rather unique characteristic endowed uniquely to us tell you something, anything?

    Intentionality is not a unique characteristic. An intravenous pump has intentionality – it is directed at maintaining a consistent even flow of liquids pumping into the patient. Humans have consciousness and meta-representational cognitive abilities that enables them to be “meta-intentional”; I can focus on the “aboutness” of “aboutness”, for example. That’s a trick that an IV pump can’t pull off (at least the models I’m familiar with). But that’s not a distinction based on intentionality. Humans have cognitive abilities that are unique among all the other animals, but intentionality is not one of them.

  36. 36
    eigenstate says:

    @Box,

    Eigenstate argues for emergentism—consciousness is an emergent property of the brain. The way that I understand it is that there is no interaction between the brain and its emergent property (consciousness)—most certainly not top-down. Here consciousness is just a powerless illusion (“internal hologram”), fully dependent on the brain, an expression of the brain, an impotent freak mistake that is along for the ride.

    “Mistake” would not apply here. There is no preset design to be a “mistake” from. Furthermore, consciousness just means “awareness of one’s surroundings”. That’s not unique to humans, and is essential to any cognition that seeks to model future states; awareness of one’s operating environment is the basis for formulating this model of the future and choosing an action based on it. A hawk swooping down on a field mouse uses it’s vision and some internal calculus to “swoop to where the mouse will be”, rather than land where the mouse currently is, because it sees the mouse running. Consciousness is substrate that process rests on, the awareness of visual stimuli (among other things).

    There seems to be confusion over what materialism or just a scientific view of the brain supposes is illusory about consciousness. The phenomenon itself is not an illusion. The intuition that our consciousness is some “disembodied self”, an ‘awareness outside the brain’, an ‘immaterial homunculus’ is the part that is asserted to be illusory. Consciousness qua consciousness — awareness of one’s surroundings, integrating stimuli into cognitive processes, is not an illusion but a basic component of animal cognition.

    Emergentism informs us that our sense of being in control is just an illusion. IOW, while sitting here watching this post being typed, I’m having the illusion that I’m doing the typing—that I am the one in control—, but in fact an underlying reality of unthinking neural networks is making all the decisions for me.

    That’s true if by “control” you mean “disembodied control”, or “control by some immaterial agent paired with our brain”. But in a monist sense, the control is real, and not illusory. Our cognition, including our choosing processes are naturally evolved, “from the bottom up”, so to speak. But that in no way conflicts with our exerting top-down control and manipulation over our surroundings. If I see a cookie on a plate just given to me, I am thoroughly capable, on monist terms of exercising control over my actions to take the cookie and eat it. My choice to do so may be wholly determined by natural factors I ultimately do not control, but as functional animal, I am able to act on that decision and affect top-down
    effects — yum!

    In it’s attack on consciousness, emergentism reminds me of eastern religion.

    It denies the veridicality of traditional, dualist notions of consciousness, the idea that our consciousness is a manifestation of some kind of “ghost in the machine”. So it’s fair to say it’s an attack on folk psychological intuitions about consciousness. Science affirms, extends and refines our understanding of consciousness, though, rather than denying its existence.

  37. 37
    eigenstate says:

    @Box,

    No, you don’t make choices—not even under materialism. You discover “choices”, which are made by neuronal patterns in your brain over which you have no control.

    On materialism, my brain, its neuronal patterns, connected to the rest of my body , *is* me. That *is* the self. So to say my neuronal patterns and responsible for the choice — whether that choice is determined by external factors or no — *is* to say that the “self” is responsible for the choice. Remember that on materialism, there is no ‘ghost in the machine’: my mind is what my brain does, and I *am* my physical brain+body.

    You seem to be complaining that on materialism, there’s no spooky stuff doing the choosing. That’s mixing paradigms. There is no spooky stuff to do any choosing on materialism. So any choosing, and selection from available alternatives must obtain without that spooky stuff, necessarily.

    You discover “choices” in the same sense that you discover a discoloration of a toenail. This case in point clarifies that “you” are not in CONTROL, but something else than you is—something distinct from you. You were not consulted when the choice was made nor when discoloration set in.

    Yes, but just like it is *my* discolored toenail, it is *my* choice. I may not have had any control over how I got a badly bruised toe and discolored toenail. But it is still my toenail. By the same token, if we stipulate that my decisions “happen to me” via dynamics over which I have no control, it’s still *my* choice. It belongs to me, and is inseparable from me as mine — it is a state in my brain/mind and my brain/mind only, and governs my (future) actions and consequences.

    Your emergent consciousness is just, as W J Murray puts it, “along for the ride”, and utterly powerless.

    Again, the illusory nature of the self obtains in WJM’s folk psychological sense of self, self as a dualist entity. That part is illusory, but like ancient intuitions that the sun goes around the earth, it’s mistaken, but still point at something real. The earth goes round the sun it turns out, and the earth, sun and orbits are real phenomena, just not what that intuition supposed. I understand these intuitions are strong, visceral. I don’t expect there’s any science or evidence that be convincing to WJM — he has “invicible intuitions” that leave him incorrigible in terms of science or inter-subjective knowledge. By his own admission, he doesn’t adopt his beliefs, including statements like what you quoted, based on where the evidence leads, but instead, based on what is appealing to him to believe.

    That’s his prerogative, as it is yours. But “dualist ideas about self” or “no self” are not the only options. We have the insight into human cognition to understand the human self with a model that its our empirical experiences and tests, and which is reach in meaning and practical use for communications, culture, day to day living.

  38. 38
    Box says:

    Eigenstate: You seem to be complaining that on materialism, there’s no spooky stuff doing the choosing.

    No, what I’m “complaining” about is that, under emergentism, there is no powerful “I” who is in control.
    And you are being somewhat ambiguous on this subject.

    Box: Emergentism informs us that our sense of being in control is just an illusion. IOW, while sitting here watching this post being typed, I’m having the illusion that I’m doing the typing—that I am the one in control—, but in fact an underlying reality of unthinking neural networks is making all the decisions for me.

    Eigenstate: That’s true if by “control” you mean “disembodied control”, or “control by some immaterial agent paired with our brain”.

    Again, by “control” I mean the presence of an powerful “I”, who is able to make choices—consistent with how we experience our “I”’s. You keep bringing it up, but at this point I’m not arguing for ‘disembodied’ control.

    Eigenstate: But in a monist sense, the control is real, and not illusory.

    I don’t understand what’s being said here. The control by the “I” is either real or not, irrespective if the “I” is made of particles in motion or ‘spooky’ stuff.

    Eigenstate: Our cognition, including our choosing processes are naturally evolved, “from the bottom up”, so to speak. But that in no way conflicts with our exerting top-down control and manipulation over our surroundings.

    Okay, so now there is an “I” who makes choices—instead of discovering them, as you stated in post #25? Do you wish to recant the following statement: “My choice was firmly determined before I “discovered” my choice, so I’m not choosing in any dualist or superstitious sense.”?

    Eigenstate: If I see a cookie on a plate just given to me, I am thoroughly capable, on monist terms of exercising control over my actions to take the cookie and eat it.

    So now you exercise control over your neurons instead of the other way around?

    Eigenstate: My choice to do so may be wholly determined by natural factors I ultimately do not control,

    Wait a minute, now you are saying the opposite. And what do you mean by “*may* be wholly determined”? Are you no longer sure?

    Box: No, you don’t make choices—not even under materialism. You discover “choices”, which are made by neuronal patterns in your brain over which you have no control.

    Eigenstate: On materialism, my brain, its neuronal patterns, connected to the rest of my body, *is* me. That *is* the self.

    One could hold, as you do, that the brain is part of the self, but it is not part of the “I” as we experience it. We do not have an experience of consciousness as neuronal patterns.

    Eigenstate: So to say my neuronal patterns and responsible for the choice — whether that choice is determined by external factors or no — *is* to say that the “self” is responsible for the choice.

    Hmm the “self” …, but again, it’s not the “I” that is responsible. The self is not the “I”. A crucial distinction! And the “I” is what we are discussing here.

    Box: You discover “choices” in the same sense that you discover a discoloration of a toenail. This case in point clarifies that “you” are not in CONTROL, but something else than you is—something distinct from you. You were not consulted when the choice was made nor when discoloration set in.

    Eigenstate: Yes, but just like it is *my* discolored toenail, it is *my* choice. I may not have had any control over how I got a badly bruised toe and discolored toenail. But it is still my toenail. By the same token, if we stipulate that my decisions “happen to me” via dynamics over which I have no control, it’s still *my* choice.

    You can only say that it is “your choice” based on your belief that your body is you (or is part of you). If you lose that toenail is there any less of you?

    Anyway, you seem to agree that “choices” are made by dynamics over which your “I” has no control.
    Let’s also agree that blind forces don’t make choices and drop the use of the term “choice” wrt emergentism.

    Eigenstate: It belongs to me, and is inseparable from me (…).

    BTW I can assure you that you are mistaken.

  39. 39
    Tim says:

    eigenstate:

    Causa sui just locates the dynamics for the decision. It’s not a causal dynamic itself, but a term that indicates (in this context) that the choose “comes from within the self”. So saying ‘I decided” as a means of locating the choice “in the self” is fine, but does not speak to what caused you to choose to what you chose.

    No. You are mistaken. Causa sui does not merely “locate” dynamics. “Self-caused” means not only from within, but also of. You wrote an awful lot based on a flawed conception of causa sui. The rabbit trail of “whys” need not be taken. “I chose to” is the answer to the initial question, “why did you curse your neighbor?” Of course it is not the only cause, but (and this is very important) it is not dependent on the other causes.

    You either believe this or you don’t.

    You wrote that “Intentionality is not a unique characteristic” and gave an example of a pump. You wrote: “An intravenous pump has intentionality – it is directed at maintaining a consistent even flow of liquids pumping into the patient.” I would hope that everyone can see that you are mistaken. The pump intends nothing. We superintend such meaning to the pump in its design.

  40. 40
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    eigenstate says,

    Q: Did you choose your nature?
    A: No, I am created by God, created to have the nature God intended. I have a sin nature because of Adam’s sin.

    I say,

    I’m sorry but this is not the Christian position.

    I am not a passive recipient of the punishment due Adam.

    The Christian position is that mankind actively chose to sin in the person of our federal head Adam.

    When you bristle at the injustice of the punishment or externalize the blame you demonstrate that you would have done exactly the same the same thing as Adam given the chance.

    peace

  41. 41
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    eigenstate says,

    To be clear, that breakdown I’m pointing to is a breakdown of causal factors in any choice we are looking at. The “why” behind the choice, and for those factors the “why” behind those factors (see my hypothetical dialog in my post).

    I say,

    It’s pretty simple

    The “why” behind my choice is my desire. My desire is bound up in my consciousness. If IIT is correct my consciousness can not be be broken down into constituent parts.

    therefore your argument fails

    Peace

  42. 42
    eigenstate says:

    @Tim,

    No. You are mistaken. Causa sui does not merely “locate” dynamics. “Self-caused” means not only from within, but also of. You wrote an awful lot based on a flawed conception of causa sui. The rabbit trail of “whys” need not be taken. “I chose to” is the answer to the initial question, “why did you curse your neighbor?”

    That’s a worst-case scenario. That’s the kind of disastrous situation the most hardcore eliminativist does not have to confront, what you have proposed here.

    Think about it: “I chose to” as the final terminus on being asked what caused “Fold” vs. “Check” is to announce that you are a random number generator. And I’m not using that comparison as an exercise in hyperbole or anything like that; your “I”, as you have it, the “I” that chooses, is an utterly alien, unknowable black box, and is not more “You” than hooking your brain up to a RNG box and claiming that its results are the basis for you “I chose to” as a matter of your “free will”.

    This has to be one of the most devastatingly damning posts for dualistic free will I’ve encountered. And I’ve read a good number now.

    Of course it is not the only cause, but (and this is very important) it is not dependent on the other causes.

    This is trivially self-contradictory. If there *are* other causes, then your decision is NECESSARILY dependent on them, by definition. If your choice WASN’T dependent on them, they would not be causal factors at all!

    You either believe this or you don’t.

    Either way, it’s disastrous for your claims. If you believe what you say, there is no “you” at all, there is no “free will” to be associated with you, because you’ve just reduced your choosing to an externalized, impenetrable black box that you have no more familiarity or intimacy than a random number generator as your “choosing I”.

    If you don’t believe it, then there is still hope for understanding choice as a selection process among alternatives, but “Tim’s theology” or “Tim’s metaphysics” are hopelessly confused and if anything establish cartoonish exaggerations of the kinds of problems with free will that dualists suppose a materialist must confront. I can’t think of more “devoid of any free will” scenario than what you’ve proposed, here. The materialist model is rich with agency and autonomy by comparison, even as it is fully deteministic (ultimately) and natural.

    You wrote that “Intentionality is not a unique characteristic” and gave an example of a pump. You wrote: “An intravenous pump has intentionality – it is directed at maintaining a consistent even flow of liquids pumping into the patient.” I would hope that everyone can see that you are mistaken. The pump intends nothing. We superintend such meaning to the pump in its design.

    You seem to be confused about what “intentionality” means in this discussion. Intentionality here does not concern “intention” — as in goals or plans — but is rather a term used to point to something you might also call “aboutness”, or “directedness toward an object”.

    I’m not mistaken about the intentionality of an IV pump, you are just not aware (apparently) of the term’s meaning in this context — see here

  43. 43
    eigenstate says:

    @Box,

    No, what I’m “complaining” about is that, under emergentism, there is no powerful “I” who is in control.
    And you are being somewhat ambiguous on this subject.

    It’s hard to be clear when talking about the supernatural. If by “powerful” you mean supernatural, then I can’t be more clear than to say I understand your complaints, but on materialism, you are right there is no such “I”.

    Again, by “control” I mean the presence of an powerful “I”, who is able to make choices—consistent with how we experience our “I”’s. You keep bringing it up, but at this point I’m not arguing for ‘disembodied’ control.

    Ok, I thought I understood, but apparently not. This forces me to ask: what do you mean by “powerful”? How would your meaning of “powerful” be distinguished from “effective” as in “has effective control”, is able to effect change according to one’s capabilities, if at all?

    I don’t understand what’s being said here. The control by the “I” is either real or not, irrespective if the “I” is made of particles in motion or ‘spooky’ stuff.

    That the human in question is making the choice — somehow — is not controversial or in question here. So under materialism or dualism, if I as the subject human in question am playing poker, there’s no controversy over whether “I” am real or whether “I” am choosing to “Fold” or “Check” or “Bet $20”. What is at issue is where the locus of control for selecting from these options obtains. On materialism, that selection obtains wholly through natural processes, and the eventual selection can only be influenced by dynamics that, reduced to fundamentals are “just physics”. That’s not the dualist position, as I understand it, and in the dualist way of thinking, the actual choosing happens “somewhere else”, or in some entity that is not “the natural brain processing information naturally”.

    Okay, so now there is an “I” who makes choices—instead of discovering them, as you stated in post #25? Do you wish to recant the following statement: “My choice was firmly determined before I “discovered” my choice, so I’m not choosing in any dualist or superstitious sense.”?

    No, not all. Upthread I point out the Soon, et al, experiment, which is a good example of instrumented detection of mental choices seconds before the subject is conscious aware of the choice. The subject still makes the choice, and it is their and no one else’s, but here they demonstrably “discover” what choice they are going to make, after it is already made subconsciously. Even without the fancy instrumentation, we discover our choices we make them, meaning that when my pocket sixes are dealt to me, I’m still undecided as to what my initial move will be when it’s my turn. I don’t know until I decide, and so thereby “discover” my choice as make the selection.

    No matter what kind of subconscious determinism is at work in any given choice, it is any case me making the choice. There’s no conflict in discovering the choice I will make. I both discover the selection and make the choice. Materialists understand something that should not be difficult to grasp for anyone, including dualists, given the knowledge we have available: we have subconscious factors that not only influence our decisions, but which may also be decisive in selection, meaning we ‘discover’ our choice in the conscious sense *after* our subconscious mind has already coalesced on that selection.

    Perhaps on dualism, one might suggest that the “spiritual I” is actually doing the deciding, off in the ether nowhere, and somehow (don’t ask how!) is influencing our subconscious in such a way as to “decide”, and that mediation by the “spiritual I” on the subconscious brain is only later discovered by our conscious mentation. That would at least be dualism making some nominal effort to accommodate the available science…

    So now you exercise control over your neurons instead of the other way around?

    No, the neurons would be at the top of the control chain for the human. The brain is influenced, unavoidably and unendingly, by the stimuli it is constantly receiving and processing, but as an executive process (in coming to some decision to act), the brain exerts control over parts of body that enable not only manipulation of the body (obviously) but also by that, manipulation of one’s surroundings.
    That means, if we take an inventory of all the determining influences on my brain that are decisive toward “take and eat the cookie”, once that becomes a decision to act, the brain has the executive functions to coordinate my bodily movements to make that happen. The decision may be “fully determined”, even in some fatalistic sense, but that in no way compromises the brain’s ability to effect an action once that becomes an imperative to action.

    Wait a minute, now you are saying the opposite. And what do you mean by “*may* be wholly determined”? Are you no longer sure?

    No, I was accommodating dualism, as well there. On monism or dualism, I am manifestly able to take executive action from the brain, and do things with my body that affect changes in my body and its surroundings. I was taking care to distinguish this from being particular to monism. On materialism, there is no way in principle these choices obtain immaterially, or outside of natural processes. My point here just wasn’t applicable only to materialism.

    One could hold, as you do, that the brain is part of the self, but it is not part of the “I” as we experience it. We do not have an experience of consciousness as neuronal patterns.

    Maybe this is picking nits, but the brain is only “part of the self” in the sense that it is “part of the human body”. The self == the brain and the body it is attached to.

    As for the “‘I’ as we experience it”: I can see no basis for distinguishing the “I” from the “self” (Body/brain). I say we DO have the experience of consciousness as neuronal activity — this is precisely what our experience of consciousness is; to experience consciousness IS to experience neuronal activity in the brain such that we are aware of our surroundings. If you think that’s not the case, why? What do you suppose “experiencing neuronal activity” would be like if it’s not just what we call “consciousness”?

    Hmm the “self” …, but again, it’s not the “I” that is responsible. The self is not the “I”. A crucial distinction! And the “I” is what we are discussing here.

    That appears to be a distinction without a difference. What essentially distinguishes the “self” from the “I”, in your view?

    You can only say that it is “your choice” based on your belief that your body is you (or is part of you). If you lose that toenail is there any less of you?

    Much better to simply say “my body IS me”, as the body includes the brain and its functions. “My brain” is not the same as “me”, as without my body and all its sensory inputs and outputs, my brain is not functional in any human sense, if it’s functional at all (and I don’t think it could be).

    Anyway, you seem to agree that “choices” are made by dynamics over which your “I” has no control.
    Let’s also agree that blind forces don’t make choices and drop the use of the term “choice” wrt emergentism.

    I’m not religious about what terms we use, but we do need a word that points to the process of selection of one (or some required minimum) available option(s) from some greater number of options. “Choice” seems perfectly suited for that role — we just abandon the old folk intuitions about “choice” and adopt the scientifically-informed semantics of the term. Why not? Nothing wrong with saying “I selected to Fold”, I guess, but it sounds awkward…

    BTW I can assure you that you are mistaken.

    You can assure me, eh? Hmmm.

  44. 44
    Yarrgonaut says:

    Box,

    Thank you for the explanation, although I’m already aware of what emergentism is. Maybe my argument would be clearer as a syllogism.

    Premise 1. Emergentism requires a brain cannot be “aware” of anything that doesn’t interact materially with it.

    Premise 2. Emergentism also holds that consciousness does not materially interact with the brain.

    Premise 3. Therefore if Emergentism were true, we would not be aware of consciousness.

    Premise 4. We are aware of consciousness, and intimately so.

    Conclusion: Therefore Emergentism is false.

    Do you (or anyone else for that matter) take issue with any of my premises?

  45. 45
    eigenstate says:

    @fifthmonarchyman,

    I say,

    I’m sorry but this is not the Christian position.

    I am not a passive recipient of the punishment due Adam.

    The Christian position is that mankind actively chose to sin in the person of our federal head Adam.

    Your choice cannot be both “federal through Adam” and “actively chose[n]” by you. Never mind that you did not exist as a human when Adam made his choice, and thus are not possibly culpable for any human choices made at that time. “Federal” means you are assigned culpabilty vicariously, brought into a class action by God for your association to Adam as his progeny. This is what why this is referred to as the “Imputation of Adam”. Original Sin, different from the Imputation of Adam’s sin, changed human nature after Adam’s sin to a “fallen nature”. The guilt – distinct from our fallen nature — is imputed to us through Adam’s sin: we are all condemned. We are regarded by God as having all sinned through Adam.

    The reason I point this out is because this is classical, orthodox Christian theology, and it explicitly distinguishes our guilt from “actively chosen” sins. That is, there is no sin to impute to you or me if we “actively chose”. The sin is directly ours. There is nothing to “federate”, or include us in vicariously through Adam, if we “actively chose”.

    You never actively chose to sin through or for Adam. You weren’t alive and past the age of moral accountabliity. It’s imputed to you, but that’s a term used to implicate you when you had no active choice in the matter.

    When you bristle at the injustice of the punishment or externalize the blame you demonstrate that you would have done exactly the same the same thing as Adam given the chance.

    Never mind the anti-human moral dicta from God, here. I’m just pointing out that your sins are demonstrably derived from factors you were born with, factors that are both decisive and totally beyond your choosing and control. On Christianity’s own terms, free will is hopelessly confused and self-contradictory as a concept.

    On orthodox Christian theology, man is born with a fallen nature, and is destined to sin, to make choices that go against the will of God. That is, on Christian belief, man in his “born nature” is determined to sin, inevitably and unavoidably. Correct?

    Salvation through grace and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit doesn’t help, either. Now, man is regenerated, but is now only able to choose the right, to please God, through the influence of the Holy Spirit. In terms of free will, man is “damned if your damned, and damned if your saved”.

    That is to Christianity’s credit, though. It avoids the “folk ontology” that is so prevalent in humans in general and Christian believers in general. “Free will” is self-defeating concept. It inevitably regresses infinitely, or it terminates in external or random determining influences. There’s no logical path even available that is not “determined” or “random”. That is not surprising since “determined” and “random” exhaust all available options.

    Put more clearly.

    A choice is either a) deterministically arrived at, or b) “non-deterministically arrived at”.

    If you agree that a) and b) exhaust all the available options, then “free will” (in the vulgar sense) can’t work. If a) then it’s not “free” according to popular intuitions because it happens for reasons at least partially eternal to us, and if b), then it’s a random choice. If there is a purpose, pattern or plan behind why we choose, that is what determines our choice (by definition). If not, the absence of purpose, pattern or plan is how we define “random”.

  46. 46
    eigenstate says:

    @Yarrgonaut,

    Premise 1. Emergentism requires a brain cannot be “aware” of anything that doesn’t interact materially with it.

    Emergentism is not inherently materialist or monist. Dualist forms of emergentism are not hard to find.

    On materialist flavors of emergentism, material interactions are the only extant forms of interaction.

    Premise 2. Emergentism also holds that consciousness does not materially interact with the brain.

    No. Emergent properties of the brain like conscious don’t “interact with the brain”, they are the activity of the brain. That is, conscious is not something the brain “interacts with”. Consciousness is the brain function as a brain!

    Premise 3. Therefore if Emergentism were true, we would not be aware of consciousness.

    If 1 and 2 were true premisses, the logic is valid. 2 sinks the argument as unsound, though.

    Premise 4. We are aware of consciousness, and intimately so.

    Consciousness *is* awareness. As being that are capable of meta-representational thought, and thus introspection, we can be “aware of our awareness”. This is still the brain perform the activities of the brain, though. There’s no “something separate” to interact with.

  47. 47
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    eigenstate says.

    you say,

    The reason I point this out is because this is classical, orthodox Christian theology, and it explicitly distinguishes our guilt from “actively chosen” sins.

    I say,

    There are individual sins and there are corporate sins both are worthy of punishment.

    You say,

    Your choice cannot be both “federal through Adam” and “actively chose[n]” by you.

    I say,

    just a moments reflection shows this to be false. I am libel for debts that my wife makes because we are in covenant. We are in covenant because of my actions. I vote for president and I share the blame for the decisions he makes in office. The same goes for Adam and the natural man.

    Your bristling at the blame for the fall just shows that you are just like Adam and proves that you are in covenant with him and have been punished justly.

    Adam’s sin is imputed to us precisely because we are guilty. Your guilt is not a legal fiction but a corporate reality.

    you say,

    You never actively chose to sin through or for Adam. You weren’t alive and past the age of moral accountabliity.

    I say,

    God is not a temporal Being.

    By definition there is no time when your sin is future in the mind of the Father. You were there when Adam ate the fruit and you were there when the crowd cried crucify him.

    you say,

    A choice is either a) deterministically arrived at, or b) “non-deterministically arrived at”.

    I say.

    On that we can agree. The question is is the choice determined by us or by something else.

    You are not really arguing about freewill verses determinism. I’m a compatableist and your view has no relation to mine.

    You are arguing that there is no “us” to determine our choices. That is the heart of the materialistic challenge to free will.

    And frankly it’s self defeating and incoherent

    peace

  48. 48
    Tim says:

    e,”Think about it: “I chose to” as the final terminus on being asked what caused “Fold” vs. “Check” is to announce that you are a random number generator.”

    Of course this is not true and could only be true on materialism (what does that say about materialism?), as it completely either distorts or ignores final causes.

    I really don’t have the time or patience for your condescending comments. Thanks, anyway, but I am quite comfortable with what has been posted thus far.

  49. 49
    Yarrgonaut says:

    Eigenstate,

    “Emergentism is not inherently materialist or monist. Dualist forms of emergentism are not hard to find.

    On materialist flavors of emergentism, material interactions are the only extant forms of interaction.”

    If a dualist version is the only defensible version of emergentism, then I think my argument succeeded for what it was intended. When you say regarding materialist versions, that “material interactions are the only extant forms of interaction”, you’ve basically conceded the premise.

    “No. Emergent properties of the brain like conscious don’t “interact with the brain”, they are the activity of the brain. That is, conscious is not something the brain “interacts with”. Consciousness is the brain function as a brain!”

    If the brain doesn’t interact with something materially, it cannot observe it, I see no reason for it to matter if it is “brain function” itself. Even brain function has to interact materially with the rest of the brain for us to be aware of it. So whatever this subjectiveness is, must also interact materially.

    “If 1 and 2 were true premisses, the logic is valid. 2 sinks the argument as unsound, though.”

    I’m glad we can agree that far, but I think you haven’t quite refuted premise 2.

    “Consciousness *is* awareness. As being that are capable of meta-representational thought, and thus introspection, we can be “aware of our awareness”. This is still the brain perform the activities of the brain, though. There’s no “something separate” to interact with.”

    So what is this thing that you call an illusion?

  50. 50
    Box says:

    // Emergentism //

    (1) Consciousness is a mere onlooker:

    According to emergentism, neural networks—from here on NN—trick us into believing that we are in control—as illustrated by the old “folk psychology”. In fact we are not the ones doing the choosing and the thinking, something other than us is in charge. We merely “discover” what has been thought and what has been chosen. Here consciousness is an utterly passive bystander of the “mental” activities of the brain, deplete of any power to intervene—like being forced to watch a movie.
    By means of presenting the theory of emergentism to us, NN reveal themselves, as the real master-controllers. Meanwhile NN also keep tricking us into believing that we are in control—an incoherent signal.
    It follows that NN cannot be trusted.

    (2) Without understanding (or any rational capacity):

    If I’m a passive onlooker, do I, at least, understand anything? Do I understand the “movie” I’m watching? If I’m unthinking how can I possibly understand the “choices” and “thoughts” forced upon me by NN? Am I a rational being?
    The answer must be a resounding “NO”. NN tricks me into believing that I understand—that I ground—choices that are not actually mine. My thoughts, choices, beliefs and my understanding of them are—in fact—not mine.

    (3) Rationality cannot be grounded on NN.

    It has already been shown that NN cannot be trusted (see (1) above). Moreover emergentism shares all the problems that eliminative materialism has. One of those problems has been pointed out by 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 [C S] 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.

    (4) Conclusion: emergentism does not provide a basis for rationality and is incoherent. Therfor emergentism must be rejected.

  51. 51
    Box says:

    Eigenstate: Some experiments in past years have pushed back the “mind reading” time on some choices back as far as 10 seconds (Soon, et al, 2008, is one example that comes to mind).

    The conclusions by Libet and Soon et al have been debunked in several articles, for example “Mental Causation after Libet And Soon: Reclaiming Conscious Agency”, by Alexander Batthyany. In: Batthyany, Alexander & Elitzur, Avshalom C. 2009. Irreducibly Conscious. Selected Papers on Consciousness. Heidelberg: Universitatsverlag Winter.
    An excerpt from the conclusion:

    Contrary to the reductionist interpretations of the findings of Libet and Soon et al., it is no objection to conscious causation that it does not entail causing urges or desires. For urges or desires are passive experiences rather than actively and consciously chosen mental events; both empirical psychology and our everyday experience tell us that much, and so do Libet’s subjects when they report that they did not consciously bring about their urges to move, but that the urges came “out of nowhere”. Importantly, non-reductionist agency theories, too, predict that desires and urges are not consciously chosen and brought about. I therefore conclude that neither Libet’s original experiment, nor the follow-up study by Soon et al. can be legitimately interpreted to provide empirical evidence in favour of agency reductionism.
    More generally, the lesson we can draw is that it is highly problematic to study conscious causation in cases where the subjects themselves state that they did not consciously cause the act in question.

    In this post VJTorley presents multiple links to scientific articles suggesting evidence of free will.

  52. 52
    Zachriel says:

    Box: According to emergentism, neural networks—from here on NN—trick us into believing that we are in control—as illustrated by the old “folk psychology”.

    Under materialism, the “we are in control” is the neural net itself.

  53. 53
    Box says:

    Zach: Under materialism, the “we are in control” is the neural net itself.

    True. However emergentism is the topic under discussion, which postulates an (emergent) consciousness.

  54. 54
    Zachriel says:

    Box: However emergentism is the topic under discussion, which postulates an (emergent) consciousness.

    Yes, but that doesn’t make consciousness something disembodied from the neural net, any more than wet is disembodied from H2O.

  55. 55
    Box says:

    Zach#54,

    True. However nowhere do I claim that emergentism states that consciousness is disembodied.

    edit: if you are arguing that emergentism doesn’t distinguish between consciousness and neural networks you are mistaken. For instance, Eigenstate refers to Libet and Soon et al (see #51), where a clear distinction between the two—relevant to emergentism—is being made.

  56. 56
    Joe says:

    Zach:

    Under materialism, the “we are in control” is the neural net itself.

    Yet materialism cannot explain the neural net. You lose, again, as usual.

  57. 57
    Zachriel says:

    Box: However nowhere do I claim that emergentism states that consciousness is disembodied.

    You made reference to a trick that “we are in control”. That seems to imply that you see the “we” as distinct from corporal existence, or at least that people experience consciousness in this fashion. Not everyone does. The illusion seems more related to belief than to actual experience.

  58. 58
    Box says:

    Zach, we experience ourselves as conscious agents. We have a direct experience of “I”. We do not have a direct experience of ourselves as neural networks.
    Unlike you, emergentists respect and attempt to accommodate our direct experience of consciousness.

  59. 59
    Zachriel says:

    Box: We have a direct experience of “I”. We do not have a direct experience of ourselves as neural networks.

    Sure there’s a direct experience of consciousness. You also have a direct experience of your stubbed toe, but you don’t think it is separate from the rest of you. You’ve learned to associate your toe with your self.

  60. 60
    Box says:

    Zach: You’ve learned to associate your toe with your self.

    True. However I have been over that with Eigenstate as well. The “self” is not the “I”. IOW we can have an experience of a toenail as (belonging to our) “self”, but have no experience of a toenail as an “I”. A toenail is not a conscious agent.

    *Can you please stop derailing this thread by constantly inserting irrelevancies?*

  61. 61
    Barry Arrington says:

    Box,

    *Can you please stop derailing this thread by constantly inserting irrelevancies?*

    Good luck with that Box. You are, after all, dealing with someone who denies the undeniable, the primordial datum, i.e., subjective dualistic self-awareness. Such as he are deeply irrational; almost literally insane. Irrelevancies, like suggesting that one’s consciousness is analogous to a toe (Seriously?; beware people; they walk among us) is all they have. They have no shame and therefore are impervious to efforts to shame them into doing better. God knows I’ve tried.

  62. 62
    Zachriel says:

    Box: A toenail is not a conscious agent.

    No, but some people see the “I” as just part of the self, a sensation of the brain.

    Box: *Can you please stop derailing this thread by constantly inserting irrelevancies?*

    It seems relevant, and you haven’t shown otherwise. From the original post:

    Barry Arrington: But all the time materialists say the sense we have that we are subjectively self-aware is an illusion.

    Self-awareness is not an illusion; however, a belief in a disembodied “I” is not entailed in the experience of self-awareness.

  63. 63
    bornagain77 says:

    Mr. Arrington, you especially may enjoy this excerpt from Pearcey’s new book, that was just published on ENV, immensely:

    Darwin’s Robots: When Evolutionary Materialists Admit that Their Own Worldview Fails – Nancy Pearcey – April 23, 2015
    Excerpt: This is an amazing case of Orwellian doublethink. Minsky says people are “forced to maintain” the conviction of free will, even when their own worldview tells them that “it’s false.”
    When I teach these concepts in the classroom, an example my students find especially poignant is Flesh and Machines by Rodney Brooks, professor emeritus at MIT. Brooks writes that a human being is nothing but a machine — a “big bag of skin full of biomolecules” interacting by the laws of physics and chemistry. In ordinary life, of course, it is difficult to actually see people that way. But, he says, “When I look at my children, I can, when I force myself, … see that they are machines.”
    Is that how he treats them, though? Of course not: “That is not how I treat them…. I interact with them on an entirely different level. They have my unconditional love, the furthest one might be able to get from rational analysis.” Certainly if what counts as “rational” is a materialist worldview in which humans are machines, then loving your children is irrational. It has no basis
    within Brooks’s worldview. It sticks out of his box.
    How does he reconcile such a heart-wrenching cognitive dissonance? He doesn’t. Brooks ends by saying, “I maintain two sets of inconsistent beliefs.” He has given up on any attempt to reconcile his theory with his experience. He has abandoned all hope for a unified, logically consistent worldview.
    (read a bit longer excerpt here)
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....95451.html

  64. 64
    Zachriel says:

    Barry Arrington: the primordial datum, i.e., subjective dualistic self-awareness.

    We haven’t rejected subjective self-awareness, but it’s clear that some people don’t experience dualism. In any case, as that is the topic of the thread, we are not derailing the thread by discussing it.

  65. 65
    Box says:

    B.Arrington:
    You are, after all, dealing with someone who denies the undeniable, the primordial datum, i.e., subjective dualistic self-awareness. Such as he are deeply irrational; almost literally insane.

    Whenever I try to project myself into the ‘inner world’ of these ppl I get shocked. Whatever they are doing I’m sure there will be severe consequences.
    “Primordial datum”, that’s a very fitting term! This time I must remember it.
    – – – –

    Zach,

    Do you distinguish between “I” and “self”? If so, in which ‘category’ does a toe belong?
    Do you hold that your “I” is somehow diminished after losing a toenail? Or even an entire toe? Or even all of your toes?

  66. 66
    eigenstate says:

    (1) Consciousness is a mere onlooker:

    According to emergentism, neural networks—from here on NN—trick us into believing that we are in control—as illustrated by the old “folk psychology”. In fact we are not the ones doing the choosing and the thinking, something other than us is in charge. We merely “discover” what has been thought and what has been chosen. Here consciousness is an utterly passive bystander of the “mental” activities of the brain, deplete of any power to intervene—like being forced to watch a movie.
    By means of presenting the theory of emergentism to us, NN reveal themselves, as the real master-controllers. Meanwhile NN also keep tricking us into believing that we are in control—an incoherent signal.
    It follows that NN cannot be trusted.

    If the “passivity” of consciousness is illusory, it *doesn’t* follow that we cannot trust our minds, but rather the opposite. If you see a stick coming out of the water at the edge of a pond and it looks “bent” at the water line, your mind is being “tricked” by the optical illusion of refraction of light in the water. The stick is not actually bent.

    Should we not trust our senses because of this? No, as it is our senses that enable us to determine that the “bent” stick is, in fact, an illusion. Analogously, it’s only because of the capabilities of our minds to discover and determine what is going on in our brains that we can say “[some folk concept of] consciousness is illusory”.

    In order for you to suggest we be wary of illusions like this, you must necessarily affirm the general ability of our minds to discover and understand, as that how an illusion is determined to be an illusion. Your observation has the opposite implication from what you’ve said. If not, you should not trust your lyin’ eyes!

    (2) Without understanding (or any rational capacity):

    If I’m a passive onlooker, do I, at least, understand anything? Do I understand the “movie” I’m watching? If I’m unthinking how can I possibly understand the “choices” and “thoughts” forced upon me by NN? Am I a rational being?
    The answer must be a resounding “NO”. NN tricks me into believing that I understand—that I ground—choices that are not actually mine. My thoughts, choices, beliefs and my understanding of them are—in fact—not mine.

    As I said in a previous post, whether your choices are “pulled from the ether”, or are synthesized from external (and internal, but deterministic) internal factors, your choices are yours, regardless. They are made in your brain, they govern your future thinking and actions. They belong to you, and can’t be located anywhere else.

    As for the illusory nature of your folk psychological concepts, see above; such insights validate the capabilities of our minds, rather than undermine them. That we can determine that folk psychological intuitions are misconceived is a credential for the brain/mind.

    (3) Rationality cannot be grounded on NN.

    It has already been shown that NN cannot be trusted (see (1) above). Moreover emergentism shares all the problems that eliminative materialism has. One of those problems has been pointed out by 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 [C S] 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.

    (4) Conclusion: emergentism does not provide a basis for rationality and is incoherent. Therfor emergentism must be rejected.

    See my comments above.

    ETA: fixed blockquotes

  67. 67
    Box says:

    Eigenstate: Analogously, it’s only because of the capabilities of our minds to discover and determine what is going on in our brains that we can say “[some folk concept of] consciousness is illusory”.

    Assuming that by “minds” you are referring to consciousness, you are firmly contradicting yourself. According to you, under emergentism, the “I” has no capabilities. As you have explained many times before, it is not the “I” that discovers and determines what is going on in the brains. It is the brains that do all that. The brains think, discovers and makes decisions. The “I” is just an emergent *something* along for the ride—a powerless, unthinking onlooker/bystander at best.
    Remember that you referenced to Libet and Soon et al (see #51)?

    Eigenstate: That we can determine that folk psychological intuitions are misconceived is a credential for the brain/mind.

    After deceiving us for thousands of years? And still going strong?
    What’s up with the “mind” thing?

  68. 68
    eigenstate says:

    Assuming that by “minds” you are referring to consciousness,

    No, consciousness is a property of the mind (the mind is just the functional brain). Visual processing is not “mind”, but a property of the mind, a function our brains have as a component.

    you are firmly contradicting yourself. According to you, under emergentism, the “I” has no capabilities. As you have explained many times before, it is not the “I” that discovers and determines what is going on in the brains. It is the brains that do all that. The brains think, discovers and makes decisions. The “I” is just an emergent *something* along for the ride—a powerless, unthinking onlooker/bystander at best.
    Remember that you referenced to Libet and Soon et al (see #51)?

    The brain refers to the physical structure in our skulls and all its interconnections to the rest of the body. The mind is just the functioning of the brain. Think computer/computing. “Computer” points at the physical structure and components of the machine, “computing” refers to what those components *do* when working as a system.

    You asked what the illusion was for the “I”, then. Well, you’re struggling with it right here. There is no “I” that is not the brain and its function.

  69. 69
    Box says:

    Eigenstate,

    Eigenstate: You asked what the illusion was for the “I”, then. Well, you’re struggling with it right here. There is no “I” that is not the brain and its function.

    I’m struggling? You are the one who is backpedaling after being shown the irrational consequences of your position.

    Let’s take look here:

    Soon et al.: There has been a long controversy as to whether subjectively ‘free’ decisions are determined by brain activity ahead of time. We found that the outcome of a decision can be encoded in brain activity of prefrontal and parietal cortex up to 10 s before it enters awareness. This delay presumably reflects the operation of a network of high-level control areas that begin to prepare an upcoming decision long before it enters awareness.

    Is there anything unclear about this text? Is it not clear that a distinction can be made between “I” (awareness) and “brain activity”? Is it not clear what is doing the thinking and making the decisions? Is the passivity of the “I” not spelled out—never mind that Soon et al are debunked; see 51?

    It is this distinction between “I” and brain activity that is foundational to my criticism of emergentism. You cannot defend emergentism by backpedaling and denying the existence of this distinction.

  70. 70
    Axel says:

    ‘ The Facts Are Inconsistent With My Metaphysics?

    Wow! That is truly strange, I expected to have difficulty in airing a matter that haunts me whenever I turn to this site.

    I mean that there is a farcical dimension to IDers arguing against materialists, without repeatedly rubbing their noses in the incontrovertible fact that our empirical science must, imperatively, always be understood to refer to a subordinate order of reality.

    Without that thoroughly abject admission that their primordial hypothesis, materialism, the madness that you folk are having to contend with from Stanley ‘Gibbons’finest’ on a daily basis, is inevitable.

    As Keynes said concerning a book of Hayek he reviewed, the most perfect logic, after a false premise, can only lead to Bedlam. And materialists are not known for their logic, are they? Maybe randomosity has its merits, after all. Imagine reverse engineering on the basis of their cerebral outputs.

    Not a tentative finding, but a multiply mathematically proven, hence, ‘a priori’, fact. Not a factoid. Not a putatively scientific factoid. A fact. A scientific fact. Which will not be superseded, if they could be consistent and still make a living. Which they can’t.

    Oops. Forgot maths is woo-woo….

  71. 71
    eigenstate says:

    Is there anything unclear about this text? Is it not clear that a distinction can be made between “I” (awareness) and “brain activity”? Is it not clear what is doing the thinking and making the decisions? Is the passivity of the “I” not spelled out—never mind that Soon et al are debunked; see 51?

    You are stuck in the Homunculus Fallacy. We can distinguish visual processing from, say, language processing, but they are both organic to thinking, elements of cognition. It’s all brain activity, as it is with awareness or any self-introspective concepts the brain may focus on. There is no “little guy” that is separate from your brain doing the thinking, being the “true self”. Your thought processes *are* the self. When you experience awareness, you are experiencing neuronal activity in your brain.

    Do you suppose Soon, et al are suggesting that the processes that “discover” their choice after the subconscious factors tip the selection one way or another are somehow “not of the brain”? Lol. They are measuring feedback from the brain that shows selection happening in subconscious processes before the subject becomes conscious of their choice. It’s measuring the change in activity from one set of brain processes to another, but it’s all brain activity — read the article, they are doing BOLD measurements with fMRI for the whole thing.

    As for debunking, that’s a laugh. Take a look at the citations — over 900 citations to this article, and citations continue to be registered. If you’re not familiar with this process, that is HUGE number of citations. If this paper had been debunked, it would have made big news, as it appears in a prestigious journal (Nature Neuroscience) as well having all the citations.

    It is this distinction between “I” and brain activity that is foundational to my criticism of emergentism. You cannot defend emergentism by backpedaling and denying the existence of this distinction.

    Naturalist versions of emergentism do not and cannot make that distinction. There’s no distinction to make. It’s all brain activity, one system, which must be connected to a functional body, that as a whole thinks. The mind is what the brain does, and the self is the brain and the rest of the body. This distinction you are making is the dualist folk psychology error. Materialists do not have any basis for separating any phenomenon called “I” from the natural function of the brain, and thus do not do so.

    Again, it maybe helpful to remember the Composition Fallacy, here. An atom does not walk, but a collection of atoms we call a “human” does walk. A neuron cannot see, but a collection of neurons we call a “human brain” can see. A neuron also can’t contemplate its surroundings, but a collection of neurons we call a “human brain” can do that.

  72. 72
    Box says:

    Eigenstate,

    Eigenstate: Naturalist versions of emergentism do not and cannot make that distinction. There’s no distinction to make.

    What I’m asking you to do—in order to follow my argument—is to make a distinction between:

    (1) The state of awareness; the direct experience of “I”.
    (2) Neural networks.

    Can you honestly say that you cannot distinguish these two phenomena? Soon et al can. Everybody else can. I’m well aware that emergentism holds that (1) is a emergent property of (2), but that doesn’t mean that emergentists cannot distinguish (1) and (2)

    Eigenstate: This distinction you are making is the dualist folk psychology error.

    DON”T BE RIDICULOUS!

  73. 73
    Zachriel says:

    Box: Do you distinguish between “I” and “self”?

    We did above, but the usage varies in philosophy. Perhaps you will provide a working definition of each term.

    Box: (1) The state of awareness; the direct experience of “I”.
    (2) Neural networks.

    Under naturalism, (1) is the activity of (2).

  74. 74
    Barry Arrington says:

    BA77, thanks for the cite to Pearcey. It proves once again that no sane person actually acts as if materialism is true. That includes eigenstate, who seems to think that if he chants “dualist folk psychology error” enough, he will disappear like the Cheshire Cat. It really is a hoot. Someone ought to sell tickets.

  75. 75
    Box says:

    Eigenstate,

    Under emergentism consciousness—the “I”—is a mere onlooker, without the capacity to think, choose, understand or intervene in any way; see posts #30 and #50.
    Understandably Eigenstate doesn’t like this logical consequence of his position:

    Eigenstate: Naturalist versions of emergentism do not and cannot make that distinction. There’s no distinction to make. It’s all brain activity, one system, which must be connected to a functional body, that as a whole thinks. The mind is what the brain does, and the self is the brain and the rest of the body. This distinction you are making is the dualist folk psychology error.

    Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that the “I”—the state of awareness—is produced by neural networks—from here NN—, and so NN and the “I” are one thing. The two are in fact one and the same thing. Does this idea solve Eigenstate’s problem, because now the emergent “I” can think, choose and so forth?

    The problem with this view is that one thing cannot think, understand or choose. Allow me to explain.
    There must be at least two things: a thinker and a thought. Moreover in order to have understanding the thinker needs overview of what is to be understood. IOW reason needs a distinction between the thinker and his thoughts. Moreover the thinker needs to hoover above the thoughts, so to speak. A hierarchal relationship, which places the thinker in a position from which he can select from subordinate thoughts.

    // BTW I expect Eigenstate to discard this analysis as “ dualist folk psychology error”, but I challenge him to offer an alternative explanation of reason. //

    Materialism in general fails to account for this hierarchal relationship demanded by reason. Nothing has overview on NN. So if the activity of NN is indeed thinking then this thinking is without anything having overview, without hierarchy, anyone in charge—utterly blind chaos. Even a bunch of thoughts cannot think, understand or choose and neither can a bunch of neurons—logic demands a separate thinker with overview and command.

    To sum up: what Eigenstate and emergentism need, in order to accommodate reason, is a separate thinker. His latest attempt increases his problems. One thing is for certain: according to Eigenstate the ‘separate thinker’ is not the “I”.

  76. 76
    Zachriel says:

    Box: Nothing has overview on NN. So if the activity of NN is indeed thinking then this thinking is without anything having overview, without hierarchy, anyone in charge—utterly blind chaos.

    The brain is a hierarchical system with many subsystems. Some subsystems create images, some recall memories, and some form the little voice associated with the conscious mind.

  77. 77
    Box says:

    Zach,

    I bet there are many more subsystems. However no subsystem has overview over all subsystems. There is no subsystem in charge. There is no replacement for consciousness.

    Zach: (…) some form the little voice associated with the conscious mind.

    Without overview, understanding and control this little voice is just blabbering—adding to the chaos.
    As per usual, materialists simply assume coherency without giving it a second thought.

  78. 78
    Zachriel says:

    Box: However no subsystem has overview over all subsystems.

    The consciousness has the role of overview, even though its overview is not absolute. In any case, your claim about lack of hierarchy was unjustified.

  79. 79
    Box says:

    The more general point I’m trying to make here is that thinking, understanding, choosing are all top-down processes. I’m trying to get that message across by using a term like “overview”.
    Emergentism doesn’t offer consciousness such a dominant position. In fact Eigenstate referenced to Soon at al (see #51) who have attempted to prove that “choices” bypass consciousness—they are made before consciousness is even aware of them.
    Now clearly this leads to “choosing”, “thinking” and even “understanding” without overview. As I have argued before this must lead to total irrationality.

  80. 80
    Zachriel says:

    Box: Emergentism doesn’t offer consciousness such a dominant position.

    There is nothing inconsistent with emergentism and the notion of conscious control.

    Box: Soon at al (see #51) who have attempted to prove that “choices” bypass consciousness—they are made before consciousness is even aware of them.

    You can think of the mind as a bureaucracy of sorts. The CEO or Board of Directors may not be aware of everything that is occurring in the bureaucracy, and some decisions are made without the CEO even being aware of it, or only tangentially aware of it, or the result of a request made at some previous time, then made aware of the result after the fact. There’s nothing incoherent with considering the acts of a bureaucracy or with a hierarchical structure or of a system of overview.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djQ7WZlb140

  81. 81
    Axel says:

    ‘fact that our empirical science must, imperatively, always be understood to refer to a subordinate order of reality.’

    I meant to be more explicit, adverting to mind, consciousness, as the primary order of reality.

    It won’t bring science, indeed, progress in physics, today is only being made in quantum mechanics and fields in which it is involved, astrophysical conjectures, even its theories, are being revised too regularly for comfort.

    And there are too many scientismificists singing ‘Wild Thang’, as they twiddle and embellish Multiworlds and Many-worlds.

  82. 82
    Box says:

    Zach: There is nothing inconsistent with emergentism and the notion of conscious control.

    There are at least two inconsistencies:

    (1)

    W J Murray:

    Under materialism, the self is nothing more than a set of illusory qualia entirely produced and directed by law and probability, existing as nothing more than a kind of happenstance-generated internal hologram that is along for the ride, so to speak, as the interacting matter (that is producing the local hologram of self) does whatever it does anyway.

    (2)
    Emergentism proposes that a mental phenomenon (consciousness) emerges as an irreducible property of the brain. But how can this consciousness overview, understand and command what is basically electrochemical interactions—must we also assume that consciousness is a brilliant chemist? Intuitively we picture consciousness dealing with thoughts and feelings—phenomena it can understand—, but under emergentism there is this isolated consciousness who has to deal with what it cannot understand: matter.
    Or must we also assume that matter presents itself “translated” in thoughts and feelings towards the emergent consciousness? How does that work? And how does it work coherently—because what is sound chemically does not have to be sound logically.

  83. 83
    Zachriel says:

    Box: (1) W J Murray: Under materialism, the self is nothing more than a set of illusory qualia entirely produced and directed by law and probability, existing as nothing more than a kind of happenstance-generated internal hologram that is along for the ride, so to speak, as the interacting matter (that is producing the local hologram of self) does whatever it does anyway.

    No. Under materialism, the self is the interaction of the entire neural system including its interface with the world. W J Murray is trying to fit his preconceptions onto another metaphysics.

    Box: (2) Emergentism proposes that a mental phenomenon (consciousness) emerges as an irreducible property of the brain. But how can this consciousness overview, understand and command what is basically electrochemical interactions—must we also assume that consciousness is a brilliant chemist?

    Huh? No more than you have to be an electrician to send a signal to your arm to raise it. You don’t.

    Box: Intuitively we picture consciousness dealing with thoughts and feelings—phenomena it can understand—, but under emergentism there is this isolated consciousness who has to deal with what it cannot understand: matter.

    Huh? No more than a computer controller has to understand the physical mechanism of the actuators it controls. It doesn’t.

    Box: Or must we also assume that matter presents itself “translated” in thoughts and feelings towards the emergent consciousness? How does that work?

    The producer says more cowbell, and the signal is sent to the band to produce more cowbell. The producer doesn’t have to know how the cowbell is produced.

    The conscious mind interfaces with the rest of the mind’s subsystems. The consciousness says “arm move”, and the signal is sent by a subsystem, and you get more cowbell.
    http://www.hulu.com/watch/536145

  84. 84
    Box says:

    Zach #83,

    Zach: Under materialism, the self is the interaction of the entire neural system including its interface with the world.

    Under emergentism specifically, we are talking about qualia as irreducible emergent proprieties—distinct from the “entire neural system”.

    Zach: Huh? No more than you have to be an electrician to send a signal to your arm to raise it. You don’t.

    We know first hand what consciousness is. We can all testify that we have no idea how consciousness steers thoughts or the body. I’m highlighting the fact that the alleged cooperation between consciousness—as we know it—with matter poses a “translational problem”:
    (1) they speak different languages.
    (2) how do we translate chemistry into thoughts, because what is sound chemically does not have to be sound logically.

    Zach: The consciousness says “arm move”, and the signal is sent by a subsystem,(…).

    You gloss over the problem that “arm move” must be translated in order to instruct neurons—and vice versa.

  85. 85
    Zachriel says:

    Box: Under emergentism specifically, we are talking about qualia as irreducible emergent proprieties

    That doesn’t mean qualia aren’t a result of material processes.

    William J Murray: Under materialism, the self is nothing more than a set of illusory qualia entirely produced and directed by law and probability, existing as nothing more than a kind of happenstance-generated internal hologram that is along for the ride, so to speak, as the interacting matter (that is producing the local hologram of self) does whatever it does anyway.

    As we have already pointed out, the experience of self is not illusory, but sensory. In materialism, there is no reason why the “I” can’t interact with the rest of mind and body.

    Box: I’m highlighting the fact that the alleged cooperation between consciousness—as we know it—with matter poses a “translational problem”

    Sure, but science is not completely ignorant of the process involved.

    In any case, a computer algorithm doesn’t have to know how an actuator works. It just has to send the signal to the actuator, and receive a feedback signal. Similarly, the consciousness of the brain doesn’t have to know how it is wired to the rest of the body.

  86. 86
    Yarrgonaut says:

    My last response seems to have gone ignored. Which is fine because I wasn’t satisfied with it anyway. Here’s a better response on that note.

    Eigenstate,

    “If 1 and 2 were true premises*, the logic is valid. 2 sinks the argument as unsound, though.”

    Since premise two is the hinge-point of your rejection of my syllogism, let’s focus on that.

    You said:

    “No. Emergent properties of the brain like conscious don’t “interact with the brain”, they are the activity of the brain. That is, conscious is not something the brain “interacts with”. Consciousness is the brain function as a brain!”

    Here’s the problem with that. You’re equivocating “the brain” with “properties of the brain”. That is akin to saying that the mineral magnetite “is” magnetism (obviously false).

    “As being that are capable of meta-representational thought, and thus introspection, we can be “aware of our awareness”. This is still the brain perform the activities of the brain, though. There’s no “something separate” to interact with.”

    Firstly, absent consciousness, there is no “aware”, no matter how much an object “responds” to it’s environment, it will never be “aware” of it or anything for that matter.

    Secondly, the Law of Identity sort of creates a problem for you when you argue like this. Neurons have weight. The color of orange doesn’t. Orange is one thing. An objective lump of neurons another. If you don’t agree, then how much does orange weigh? That is an incoherent/absurd question, but when you don’t deny that subjective self awareness is a lump of neurons, that question shouldn’t be incoherent/absurd.

  87. 87
    Joe says:

    Zachriel:

    In any case, a computer algorithm doesn’t have to know how an actuator works.

    The programmer has to know. The program traces back to the programmer.

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