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At Mind Matters News: Egnor vs. Papineau Round 4, Egnor defends the mind vs. the brain

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Philosopher David Papineau does not feel that neurosurgeon Michael Egnor is being “entirely helpful” at this point… One can believe that.

Michael Egnor: What scientific paradigm ascribes logic to your neurochemistry? … and the logic of identity? How do you get logic out of gray matter? …

David Papineau: Michael, we’re trying to argue logically here, and I feel you’re not being entirely helpful in this respect. We were talking a moment ago about whether there were movements of bits of matter in the brain that would be a surprise to the people in the physics department, and I took it that you were saying yes, you believe there were. So let’s just flag that as something we might come back to …

Quite, but if your view were right, what you should be doing is going to tell your friends in the physics department, “Forget about all that cosmology, forget about all that high-energy stuff at CERN. All you have to do is go and look inside people’s skulls and you will find counterexamples to the theses of contemporary physics. You’re going to get a Nobel Prize, just by looking at …“

Note: Michael Egnor’s perspective was doubtless formed, in part, from regular contact with people who had split brains or brains largely missing or apparently inactive. He has reasons for doubting that the mind is simply what the brain does. Note: Egnor had done roughly 7000 neurosurgeries.

David Papineau: Well, I think there are brain states, structured brain states, just like… I mean, not just like, but if you want to think for a moment, sentences, strings of marks on paper, and elements in those brain states refer to things in the world …

News, “Egnor vs. Papineau Round 4, Egnor defends the mind vs. the brain” at Mind Matters News

It became quite the dustup actually. Egnor deals with the brain as an organ, not a theory, and doesn’t see it as equivalent to the mind. Papineau differs.

You may also wish to read the earlier portions of the debate:

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor takes on philosopher David Papineau Round 1. In the debate, Egnor begins by offering three fundamental reasons why the mind is not the brain. Neuroscience caused Egnor to honestly doubt Papineau’s materialist perspective that the mind is simply what the brain does.

Round 2: Philosopher Papineau replies to neurosurgeon Egnor. Dr. Papineau is considered to be one of the best defenders of naturalism (nature is all there is), often called “materialism.” Papineau: Mental processes, including conscious processes, are one in the same as physical processes. I’m curious about how Michael Egnor would answer it.

Round 3: Round 3: Egnor vs Papineau: The Big Bang has no natural beginning. In the debate between theistic neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and naturalist philosopher David Papineau, the question gets round to the origin of the universe itself. Egnor maintains that the Big Bang, which is held to have created the universe, is an effect with no physical cause. Papineau agrees.

Also: Philosopher: Consciousness Is Not a Problem. Dualism Is! He says that consciousness is just “brain processes that feel like something” Physicalist David Papineau argues that consciousness “seems mysterious not because of any hidden essence, but only because we think about it in a special way.” In short, it’s all in our heads. But wait, say others, the hard problem of consciousness is not so easily dismissed.

6 Replies to “At Mind Matters News: Egnor vs. Papineau Round 4, Egnor defends the mind vs. the brain

  1. 1
    AaronS1978 says:

    At first when I read that one of the announcers said Egnor really hands it to papineau I thought that he was over exaggerating

    Now I completely understand why as papineau is entirely incompetent

  2. 2
    William J Murray says:

    If you take Papineau at his word and think of what he says a string of noises produced by a physical system reacting automatically, his responses make sense in a way. IOW, he’s a biological automaton that produces mindless vocal reactions to physical stimuli it cannot actually understand.

    Maybe Papineau is actually exactly what he says he is.

  3. 3
    AaronS1978 says:

    Well hey huh he wrote a book…….

  4. 4
    Jack says:

    WJM: Maybe Papineau is actually exactly what he says he is.

    I’ve come to believe that it’s a plausible theory that some people are non-conscious zombies. Some people certainly seem like they are.

  5. 5
    AaronS1978 says:

    Actually I think they act that way to prove a point

    Again I can’t emphasize more the day act that way to prove a point

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    David Papineau states,

    So you think that at some point, in my brain, the matter in my brain is moving in a way that’s not explainable in terms of contemporary physics? Contemporary physics will talk about the four fundamental forces, they will regard all accelerations of matter as Newton, as four fundamental forces. Contemporary physics doesn’t think there are any counterexamples, i.e., bits of matter moving in ways that aren’t accountable by the four fundamental forces. I take it that you think there’s some cases of bits of matter moving around in my brain that can’t be explainable in contemporary physical terms. That’s what you think, is it?

    Michael Egnor answers:

    Oh yes, absolutely.

    Dr. Egnor is right and David Papineau is wrong.

    In Libet’s free will experiments we find that the prior activity of the brain can be suddenly ‘interrupted’ by the free will decision to not do something. i.e. by ‘free won’t’. There is no physical cause, via the four fundamental forces of nature, that can possibly explain this sudden interruption of prior brain activity.

    Do Benjamin Libet’s Experiments Show that Free Will Is an Illusion? – Michael Egnor – January 15, 2014
    Excerpt: Materialists often invoke the experiments of Benjamin Libet when they deny free will.,,,
    (Yet) Libet himself was a strong defender of free will, and he interpreted his own experiments as validating free will. He noted that his subjects often vetoed the unconscious “decision” after the readiness potential appeared.
    ,,,”The role of conscious free will would be, then, not to initiate a voluntary act, but rather to control whether the act takes place. We may view the unconscious initiatives for voluntary actions as ‘bubbling up’ in the brain. The conscious-will then selects which of these initiatives may go forward to an action or which ones to veto and abort, with no act appearing.” – Libet
    Libet even observed that his experimental confirmation of free will accorded with the traditional religious understanding of free will:,,,
    Libet proposes (based on his work) a common-sense model of free will: our unconscious is a bubbling sea of velleities. We freely choose the impulses we wish to enact by prescinding from a veto, and we freely choose the impulses we wish to suppress by vetoing the act. Libet found experimental traces of the unconscious impulses (the readiness potential) and experimental confirmation of the freely chosen veto (the conscious choice unaccompanied by corresponding electrophysiological activity). He even noted that his experimental results validated a particular traditional religious understanding of moral choice — that sin is in the act, which is freely chosen, not in the temptation, which can arise without our choice. He even proposed a neurophysiological model of original sin!
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....81171.html

    Further work in this area has only strengthened Libet’s contention that we possess ‘free won’t’ which is not reducible to the laws of physics. i.e. not reducible to the prior activity of our brain.

    Do we have free will? Researchers test mechanisms involved in decision-making – January 4, 2016
    Excerpt: “A person’s decisions are not at the mercy of unconscious and early brain waves. They are able to actively intervene in the decision-making process and interrupt a movement,” says Prof. Haynes. “Previously people have used the preparatory brain signals to argue against free will. Our study now shows that the freedom is much less limited than previously thought.
    http://m.medicalxpress.com/new.....aking.html

    Moreover, in direct contradiction to the atheistic claim that our thoughts are merely the result of whatever prior state our material brain happens to be in, ‘Brain Plasticity’, the ability to alter the structure of the brain from a person’s focused intention, has now been established by Jeffrey Schwartz, as well as among other researchers.

    The Case for the Soul – InspiringPhilosophy – (4:03 minute mark, Brain Plasticity including Schwartz’s work) – Oct. 2014 – video
    The Mind is able to modify the brain (brain plasticity). Moreover, Idealism explains all anomalous evidence of personality changes due to brain injury, whereas physicalism cannot explain the mind.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBsI_ay8K70

    Jeffrey Schwartz: You Are More than Your Brain – Science Uprising Extra Content
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFIOSQNuXuY&list=PLR8eQzfCOiS1OmYcqv_yQSpje4p7rAE7-&index=9

    Again, this is inexplicable via ‘the four fundamental forces’.

    David Papineau also challenged Dr. Egnor to go to the physics department,,,

    if your view were right, what you should be doing is going to tell your friends in the physics department, “Forget about all that cosmology, forget about all that high-energy stuff at CERN. All you have to do is go and look inside people’s skulls and you will find counterexamples to the theses of contemporary physics. You’re going to get a Nobel Prize, just by looking at …“

    I guess David Papineau is not up to date on recent developments in contemporary physics, but the ‘physics department’ is having its own problems with the existence of free will and doesn’t have to go to the neurology department to find them.

    Specifically, Anton Zeilinger and company, as of 2018, have closed the ‘freedom of choice’ loophole.

    Cosmic Bell Test Using Random Measurement Settings from High-Redshift Quasars – Anton Zeilinger – 14 June 2018
    Abstract: This experiment pushes back to at least approx. 7.8 Gyr ago the most recent time by which any local-realist influences could have exploited the “freedom-of-choice” loophole to engineer the observed Bell violation, excluding any such mechanism from 96% of the space-time volume of the past light cone of our experiment, extending from the big bang to today.
    https://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.121.080403

    This is simply devastating to Papineau’s atheistic worldview.

    As Steven Weinberg, who is an atheist himself, states in the following article, In the instrumentalist approach (in quantum mechanics) humans are brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level.,,, the instrumentalist approach turns its back on a vision that became possible after Darwin, of a world governed by impersonal physical laws that control human behavior along with everything else.,,, In quantum mechanics these probabilities do not exist until people choose what to measure,,, Unlike the case of classical physics, a choice must be made,,,

    The Trouble with Quantum Mechanics – Steven Weinberg – January 19, 2017
    Excerpt: The instrumentalist approach,, (the) wave function,, is merely an instrument that provides predictions of the probabilities of various outcomes when measurements are made.,,
    In the instrumentalist approach,,, humans are brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level. According to Eugene Wigner, a pioneer of quantum mechanics, “it was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness.”11
    Thus the instrumentalist approach turns its back on a vision that became possible after Darwin, of a world governed by impersonal physical laws that control human behavior along with everything else. It is not that we object to thinking about humans. Rather, we want to understand the relation of humans to nature, not just assuming the character of this relation by incorporating it in what we suppose are nature’s fundamental laws, but rather by deduction from laws that make no explicit reference to humans. We may in the end have to give up this goal,,,
    Some physicists who adopt an instrumentalist approach argue that the probabilities we infer from the wave function are objective probabilities, independent of whether humans are making a measurement. I don’t find this tenable. In quantum mechanics these probabilities do not exist until people choose what to measure, such as the spin in one or another direction. Unlike the case of classical physics, a choice must be made,,,
    http://quantum.phys.unm.edu/46.....inberg.pdf

    In fact Weinberg, again an atheist, rejected the instrumentalist approach precisely because “humans are brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level” and because it undermined the Darwinian worldview from within. Yet, regardless of how he and other atheists may prefer the world to behave, quantum mechanics itself, as the closing of the ‘freedom of choice’ loophole makes clear, could care less how atheists prefer the world to behave.

    Humans, as far as neuroscience and quantum mechanics can tell us, are NOT mindless automatons who are at the complete mercy of nature’s fundamental laws.

    Verse:

    Deuteronomy 30:19
    ,,,, Now choose life, so that you and your children may live

    John 1:4
    In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

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