Intelligent Design Mind

Mind and emergentism

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Evolutionists believe that mind can rise from matter. From atoms configured into molecules, configured into cells, configured into tissues, configured into a brain, mind can rise. Their molecules-to-man evolution story is in fact the narrative of the emergency of mind from matter. Here, in a sense, evolutionism and artificial intelligence (AI) meet in developing a fallacious more-from-less scenario.

For example, an evolutionist says:

I think that “larger objects” have properties not possessed by their parts. These properties include the capacity to have purposes, designs, moral principles, beauty, love, anger, and fear.

According to this evolutionist naturalistic conception, a “larger object” is simply a specific configuration of atoms, enough large to develop the emergent properties. The belief that properties as those listed in the quote can spontaneously emerge from large configurations of atoms is called “emergentism”. Practically we could consider “emergentism” as an alias of “evolutionism”.

The “larger object” can be also the brain, filled with neural networks, where processes and states happen as effects of algorithms. So the “emergentism” expressed above in terms of hardware – so to speak – can also be expressed in terms of software. It is exactly what, for example, Roger Penrose does:

In my opinion, it is conceivable that in an algorithm there is a threshold of complication beyond which the algorithm shows mental qualities. [The Emperor’s New Mind, chap.1]

Let’s see, in simplest terms, why mind is neither a configuration of atoms, nor a process or algorithm in the organism. It is common experience that mind recognizes “purposes, designs, moral principles, beauty, love, anger, and fear”. What recognizes configurations, states, processes is not one of such configurations, states, processes. The “recognizer” cannot emerge from what it recognizes. The binary relation between recognizer and recognized cannot be reduced to a single point. Example: what sees is different from what is seen; the eye cannot see itself. Analogously mind, who recognizes what happens in the brain, is different from what happens. Mind cannot arise, as emergent property, from the neural processes it sees. This a matter of principle.

Against this reasoning, emergentism doesn’t help evolutionists. It is useless to say that “systems may have properties not possessed by their parts”. Depending from the specific system and its parts, a system can have, yes, certain additional properties, but not whatsoever properties. Natural example: while a single water molecule doesn’t form ice crystals, a set of water molecules shows the emergent property of forming ice crystals, at a certain temperature. But no set of water molecules shows, say, the emergent property of self-inflaming. The cause of all that is the physical laws. Artificial example: an airplane has the property of flying, which its parts have not, but an airplane cannot have the property, say, of creating moral laws from thin air. What allows an airplane to fly is its intelligent design (ID). It is ID the cause adding to the parts of the airplane the capacity to fly by mean of an apt assembly (beyond obviously having designed the parts themselves).

So the controversy is not if systems can have properties not possessed by their parts. They can have some. In general, the controversy is about what properties a specific system and parts can develop and what causes the arise of such properties. Specifically, I claim that human mind is not a property emerging from biological or artificial hardware configurations or software processes when their complication become large enough. And I claim that, much less, mind can be the result of an unguided material process, as cause. It is, yes, possible to fabricate artificial neural networks (“artificial brains”) but it is impossible to artificially create a human mind from chemicals in the lab. Mind is not a mere by-product of matter.

Thus, in the quote cited at the beginning, the problem is not the first statement “larger objects have properties not possessed by their parts”, rather the second one: “these properties include the capacity to have purposes, designs…”. If the “larger object” is the brain, or even an entire organism, its emergent properties do not include “the capacity to have purposes, designs…”. Mind doesn’t arise bottom-up. Mind overarches body, brain and matter.

Analogously, to say that mind is a property of the brain, is just defective. It would change nothing to say that mind is a property of the whole organism. In any case mind is not simply a property or attribute of large systems. Because a property of a thing cannot be the recognizer of the thing and its properties. Example, a banana has the property of being yellow. The property of being yellow cannot recognize the banana and its properties.

As always the problem is a priori materialism, which flattens any hierarchy. Between mind and matter there is an ontological hierarchy. Every man daily experiments this hierarchy, by using his mind to dominate matter. Unfortunately evolutionists forget this direct scientific experience to believe a fully unsubstantiated and biased faith, which materialism is.

124 Replies to “Mind and emergentism

  1. 1
    Axel says:

    I often rail about the misuse of references to intuition, when what is really at issue is logic, but really it surely ought to be instantly intuited – even without Christian wisdom concerning the faculties of the soul – that machines of any kind could not ‘take over the world’, and all that kind of nonsense, so cherished by the ‘twighlight-zone’ nuts.

  2. 2

    Why don’t you actually cite your source for the “evolutionist” you quote?

    I believe it was me.

    One point:

    Because a property of a thing cannot be the recognizer of the thing and its properties. Example, a banana has the property of being yellow. The property of being yellow cannot recognize the banana and its properties.

    Your example is true, but it doesn’t demonstrate that your general claim is true. I suggest that human beings have the property of being able to recognise that they are human beings, just as they have the properties of being able to walk and talk and sleep and eat.

    There is no rule that says a property cannot be reflexive.

    And I suggest that it is the reflexive property of human consciousness – the capacity to be conscious not only of the environment, and of others, but of oneself and one’s own consciousness – that gives us our extraordinary minds.

  3. 3
    kairosfocus says:

    N: Sometimes, the obvious needs to be explicitly said. But the willfully blind will predictably refuse to acknowledge it, and the agenda driven ideologues will simply redouble speed to try to pass by and forget that such is a real issue. Just as, they refuse to face the self referential incoherence inevitable on any evolutionary materialist attempted account of mind. But, when we look at how they dismiss others, we will see soon enough that the same applies to them. KF

  4. 4

    A significant problem with this reasoning is that it postulates a single mind, and its putatively possible and impossible emergent properties, when in fact from birth individual human beings are immediately immersed in an ocean of other mindful persons. Moreover, those others are intent on inviting the newborn into the community of seeing, believing and acting agents through increasingly co-coordinated ballets of pointing, joint attention, verbalizing, etc. Still further, human infants unquestionably arrive in the world biologically equipped by their evolutionary heritage to consume that tutelage.

  5. 5

    KF: you are assuming that what is “self-referential” must be incoherent.

    That is not a safe assumption. Feedback and reentrant loops are rife in the universe, and produce the most extraordinary phenomena. I suggest that human minds are such.

  6. 6
    niwrad says:

    Elizabeth B Liddle

    Only certain relations/properties on certain objects are reflexive. The relation between the recognizer and the recognized is not reflexive. The eye sees the object, but the object doesn’t see the eye. Analogously, the mind “sees” the body, but the body doesn’t see the mind.

  7. 7
    niwrad says:

    kairosfocus: “sometimes the obvious needs to be explicitly said”.

    In this “reign of the absurd” the obvious needs to be explicitly said h 24. The entire ID business is a defense of the obvious. Dear kairosfocus, we have work to do until we die.

  8. 8
    Box says:

    My summarization of Niwrad’s position, please correct me if I’m wrong:

    Emergentism is the belief that mental properties can spontaneously emerge from large complex configurations of atoms.

    Niwrad’s counterarguments with regard to the mind as a property of matter:

    1.Self-awareness. The “recognizer” cannot emerge from what it recognizes – neural processes. What sees is different from what is seen; the eye cannot see itself.
    2.Out-of-bound properties. Mental properties are out of reach for a material system. Depending from the specific system and its parts, a system can have, yes, certain additional properties, but not whatsoever properties.
    3. Ontological hierarchy. Daily experiences inform us that mind overarches body, brain and matter. So mind doesn’t arise bottom-up.

    The kind of emergentism we are discussing allows for mental properties to have real downward causal power (free will, puposes). My two cents:

    -How can a property have downward causal power? How can consciousness, as a property of a complex configuration the brain, overarch / alter /determine the very thing on which its existence depends without undermining its existence?

    -How do chemicals, or collections of chemicals, and their properties control and steer themselves? How does emergentism the overview necessary and what is its residence?

    -How does emergentism explain the ‘unity of experience’, what Niwrad calls the overarching quality of consciousness, from the diverse parts?

  9. 9

    Well, niwrad, I’m suggesting that consciousness is a reflexive process – the process by which an organism – let’s say a human being to keep Mung happy – sees itself.

    Just because some processes aren’t reflexive doesn’t mean that none are.

    And I think that reflexivity is the key to understanding how consciousness works.

  10. 10
    niwrad says:

    Elizabeth B Liddle

    Nothing sees itself. Nihil agit se ipsum. There is always a seer and a seen, an agent and an object, a knower and a known.

  11. 11

    On “the obvious”:

    I once went to a lecture where we were each given a sheet of paper, with a series of statements on it. We were asked to indicate whether we thought each statements was likely to be true or not.

    At the end, the lecturer asked us to raise our hands if we had ticked 80% or more of the statements as likely to be true. The vast majority raised their hands.

    He then told us that half of us had had one set of statements, and half the other. The statements in one were the opposite of the statements in the other.

    I remember two of them, roughly. They were:

    After natural disasters, social bonds are strengthened.
    After natural disasters, social bonds break down.

    It was obvious to many people for centuries that the earth was flat and that the sun rose in the east and set in the west. This is wrong.

    It was obvious to many people that two light beams approaching each other would meet at twice the speed of light. This is wrong.

    It was obvious to many people that a long tow rope is no stronger than a short one. But this is not always the case.

    ID may indeed be based on defending the obvious. But what is obvious ain’t necessarily so.

  12. 12

    Well, so you keep saying, niwrad. But saying something doesn’t make it true!

    And, indeed, I can see myself.

  13. 13
    Axel says:

    ‘Indeed, I can see myself!’

    Are you saying you are nothing, Elizabeth? Don’t put yourself down like that. Are you impugning our efforts??

  14. 14
    niwrad says:

    Elizabeth B Liddle

    You don’t see yourself. Your eyes, a part of your body, see other different parts of your body. There isn’t a X seeing X.

  15. 15
    Axel says:

    ‘ID may indeed be based on defending the obvious. But what is obvious ain’t necessarily so.’

    But as Damon Runyon put it: “The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that’s how the smart money bets.”

  16. 16

    Well, niwrad, I’m disagreeing with you. I don’t think your “eyes” do the “seeing”. I think the person does, and that person is the whole organism. Indeed, eyes alone don’t see much at all – our eyes are a very small, although essential, part of our visual system. But the person can see the person. Without a mirror they don’t get a very good view of their face (I can just see my nose right now), and you need a couple of mirrors to get a view of your own back, but you can certainly see yourself.

    Not only that, but a person can know things about themselves, as well as about other people and other things.

    There’s only a problem with that if you reduce the person to thing separate from the organism. If you regard the person as the whole organism, then there is no contradiction.

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Since this is the latest business as usual :let’s not go there” distraction from enabling of slander and worse at TSZ, let me simply link and lay out a 101 on that self refutation of evolutionary materialism on the failed account for mind.

    Until we have good reason to see that evo mat is at least compatible with the credibility of mind even advocates of such must rely on, we can safely deem this ideology in a lab coat a non starter:

    _______

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    h: That is, on its own premises [[and following Dawkins in A Devil’s Chaplain, 2004, p. 46], the cause of the belief system of evolutionary materialism, “must” also be reducible to forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity that are sufficiently adaptive to spread this “meme” in populations of jumped- up apes from the savannahs of East Africa scrambling for survival in a Malthusian world of struggle for existence. Reppert brings the underlying point sharply home, in commenting on the “internalised mouth-noise signals riding on the physical cause-effect chain in a cybernetic loop” view:

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

    i: The famous geneticist and evolutionary biologist (as well as Socialist) J. B. S. Haldane made much the same point in a famous 1932 remark:

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

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

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

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

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

    m: Moreover, as Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin reminds us all in his infamous January 29, 1997 New York Review of Books article, “Billions and billions of demons,” it is now notorious that:

    . . . It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel [[materialistic scientists] 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. [[And if you have been led to imagine that the immediately following words justify the above, kindly cf. the more complete clip and notes here.]

    n: Such a priori assumptions of materialism are patently question-begging, mind-closing and fallacious.

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

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

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

    r: So, while materialists — just like the rest of us — in practice routinely rely on the credibility of reasoning and despite all the confidence they may project, they at best struggle to warrant such a tacitly accepted credibility of mind and of concepts and reasoned out conclusions relative to the core claims of their worldview. (And, sadly: too often, they tend to pointedly ignore or rhetorically brush aside the issue.)>>

    ________

    Watch as they predictably will try to avoid, dismiss or divert the matter. But, they need to tell us, why should we accept the deliverances of an overgrown monkey brain on matters of abstract reasoning, allegedly programmed by accumulated genetic accidents that conferred survival advantages.

    KF

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    EL: Why did you resort in no 5 to yet another strawman caricature of what I have said? Did you not notice that I never just say “self referential,” but something far more stringent, self referentially INCOHERENT. I am in part implying that there is a lot of circularity in the reasoning [not merely reflexive feedback loops which are meat and potatoes to someone trained in instrumentation and control and electronics], but there is a much bigger factor at work, self refutation by self contradictions, as outlined just above. This is now beginning to look like willfully continued misrepresentations, which is a bad bad bad thing to do that has a short little three letter name starting with l. If you do not acknowledge and correct yourself promptly, this will justify the inference that the misrepresentation is deliberate and a part of the pattern of enabling behaviour we have had occasion to highlight in recent days. KF

  19. 19
    Box says:

    The only way to go for evolutionary materialists, like Liz, is good old eleminativism, championed by the likes of Dennett and Dawkins.

  20. 20

    Box: I don’t myself find these isms very helpful.

    Oddly enough, I think they make what is simple (obvious, even) obscure – they just move the problem round the block a few times.

    -How can a property have downward causal power? How can consciousness, as a property of a complex configuration the brain, overarch / alter /determine the very thing on which its existence depends without undermining its existence?

    I don’t even know what “downward causal power” means. We say something causes an event if it wouldn’t have happened without that thing, or, possibly, a substitute thing. Most events have multiple causes, of course.

    But I don’t think that it is sensible to talk of “consciousness” having “causal power”. This is why I keep getting back to the organism as the agent. I think that the organism has to be conscious in order to exercise its power to choose its actions. That’s not because the “consciousness” is “causing” the actions, but because choosing is a conscious act.

    -How do chemicals, or collections of chemicals, and their properties control and steer themselves? How does emergentism the overview necessary and what is its residence?

    Well, your question is answered in a fairly large body of physiological literature. I can’t quite parse your second question, but I don’t think consciousness has a “residence” if that’s what you are asking. I think there are key organs that are essential to consciousness, just as the heart is essential to the circulatory system, but I don’t think it resides there, anymore than the circulatory system “resides” in the heart.

    -How does emergentism explain the ‘unity of experience’, what Niwrad calls the overarching quality of consciousness, from the diverse parts?

    Well, I’m not sure “emergentism” “explains” anything. But I think that regarding the person having the experience as the whole organism, not some inner homunculus separate from the organism, provides a more sensible framework for an explanation. And I’d say that the whole person – the organisms – experiences consciousness as a unity because consciousness is essentially a serial process, as opposed to the parallel processes that contribute to our “unconscious” thoughts. By that I mean that we we only attend to one thing at a time, even though we can shift attention to any other thing at any time.

    I think of consciousness and attention rather like the light in the fridge – it only goes on when you open the door, but because you only ever need it when you open the door, effectively it is “on all the time”. Vision works like this – we only actually get information from a tiny patch of the visual field (about 2 degrees of arc) at any one time. But because we can change our direction of gaze at any time to check something somewhere else, we are unaware of that limitation. We perceive the entire scene as a whole..

    I think that goes for consciousness too. I am only conscious of a small number of things at a time – but I have a vast repertoire of things I can be conscious of, and so it appears to me that I am conscious of my whole life all the time. But I’m not. It’s just that if I open a mental fridge door the light goes on.

  21. 21

    KF: certainly I retract the misrepresentation, KF. Clearly I misunderstood you. I thought you were echoing niwrad’s point.

    If you were simply saying that the reasoning is circular, that’s fine.

    Obviously I don’t agree, but I now understand what you are saying.

  22. 22
    kairosfocus says:

    EL, why have you misrepresented me AGAIN? The reasoning is circular but much more than that it cuts its own throat through self contradiction as shown — and as long since shown and long since repeatedly shown to you so you either know full well the problem or should know it. And at this stage your disagreement means zip. Show cogent cause or yield by default.KF

  23. 23

    I am not trying to misrepresent you, KF. I am trying to understand what you are saying.

    However, your post at 17 makes no sense to me at all.

    Who on earth brought up Marxists?

  24. 24
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Lizzie, I would say that not only are the “isms” not very helpful, but also the Big Words, like “mind, “matter,” “property,” and “cause,” tend to be worse than useless — at work in each of those Big Words is a very complicated conception — a theory, in fact.

    We’ll get ourselves into endless, frustrating loops if we don’t take the time to examine each theory, one by one, and then put them back together. Philosophy is extremely difficult and time-consuming, if you want to do it well.

  25. 25
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Lizzie, Kairosfocus is free-associating, as usual — within the confines of his ultra-paranoid, culture-warrior fantasy it all makes sense.

  26. 26
    niwrad says:

    Elizabeth B Liddle

    I wrote this piece to discriminate between mind and body, cause and effects. If you conflate them, by speaking of the person as a whole, then of course you lose the differences, and our attempt to discriminate and understand fails at the outset.

    The same about the nihil agit se ipsum. It is a tool to discriminate causation. If you, again, conflate all things in larger sets, then you can say, yes, that “the person can see the person”, but you lose the ability to see the entire causation chain in details. I know, the causation chain of sight is (bottom-up): objects (or body parts), eyes, brain, mind. If you consider all the actors, you see that the nihil agit se ipsum has no exception. In other words, this principle doesn’t allow to enlarge the sets, as you do. The earth “sees” the moon, X sees Y. But if I enlarge both X and Y to the solar system (Z), then I could even say that the solar system “sees” the solar system, Z sees Z. This is an erroneous way to analyze things.

    You don’t disagree with me (that wouldn’t be fatal), unfortunately you disagree with principles.

  27. 27

    Well, I think there is a problem with your premise. Essentially it’s what Godel addressed. You cannot exclude self-reference from any logical system. It will always return to bite you, as it were 🙂

    Less loftily, I think it is really important to distinguish between proximal and distal causes, of only because once we get to remote distal causes, we are not dealing with a long chain but an impossibly complex network. It’s like asking “what caused this hurricane” and expecting to drill back down to that butterfly in Peking without which it wouldn’t have happened. But then nor would it have happened without a great many other things as well.

    That doesn’t mean we can’t produce a causal account of hurricanes, though, and we can describe them in terms of reentrant systems. I’m suggesting just the same is true of the relationship between mind and brain – or, between mind and organisms.

  28. 28
    niwrad says:

    Elizabeth B Liddle

    Sorry if I insist, but it is a key point. True real crude self-reference “X acts on X” exists nowhere. Not in Gödel, not in logical systems, not in computer programming, not in all reality. Only in spoken languages there is apparent self-reference, because natural languages are defective and not mathematical.

    I understand that people, accustomed to use natural languages, have problems to grasp such point. If evolutionists appreciated that self-organization is apparent, they would put half evolutionism into the dustbin. Moreover, if they grasped the principle that more doesn’t come from less they would put also the remaining half.

  29. 29

    Well I think you have to explain more clearly what you mean by “X acts on X” Or that “X cannot act on X”.

    I can easily write a loop with X=X*X on every iteration.

  30. 30
    nightlight says:

    @20 Elizabeth B. Liddle

    I think that the organism has to be conscious in order to exercise its power to choose its actions. That’s not because the “consciousness” is “causing” the actions, but because choosing is a conscious act.

    Have you played a chess against a chess program? It chooses its moves just as chess player does, by looking ahead within the internal model of the game where it plays out moves and their responses, then evaluates the final positions and decides, based some utility (reward, happiness) function, which available move yields maximum reward. Depending on play mode settings, it can use random ‘noise’ in the decision so that it can make different, unpredictable choices from the same position (i.e. variety may be part of its happiness evaluation). Some programs can also ‘trash talk’ during the game, teasing the opponent, as club players often do in friendly matches.

    Consciousness is not an element of natural science i.e. the pronouncement “choosing is a conscious act” is as ‘scientific’ as declaring “roses are pretty” or “Big Mac is tasty”… There is nothing in natural science that can specify that such and such arrangement of matter and energy has ‘consciousness’ associated with it, whether that arrangement is in silicon chips or in neurons.

    Present natural science is plainly incomplete regarding this question, as it is regarding many others, such as origin of life or origin of evolutionary novelty (micro or macro). For example, neo-Darwinian “random mutation” as the source of evolutionary novelty is too vague and slippery proposition to be falsifiable. Namely, all biological examples and experiments neo-Darwinians point at as the “proof” have close analogues in other realms where evolution is observed, such the evolution of sciences and technologies, in which the sources of novelty are intelligent agents.

    In fact in all domains where the source of evolutionary novelty is well understood, the generator of the innovation is always an intelligent agent i.e. innovations are computed by some goal directed (anticipatory, teleological) algorithms a la decisions of that chess playing program, not by primitive and ineffective “random”, aimless picks in some event space of all possibilities.

  31. 31

    Actually I thought I qualified that statement – I said that some action-selection processes are “automatic” and do not require consciousness. I would certainly agree with you that we can get a long way with AI without worrying about consciousness.

    But I completely disagree with you that consciousness is not an element of natural science.

    It’s a very important element of my own field. And what I would say is that human beings have a very highly developed system by which events that require something more than an automated response initiate processes that do involve consciousness, and that it is this that gives us our remarkable flexibility in action, and capacity to come up with novel solutions, as well as prioritize tasks – what are sometimes called “executive functions”.

  32. 32
    niwrad says:

    Elizabeth B Liddle

    When you, in an imperative computer language, write the instruction:

    X = X*X

    the computer takes the old value of X, call it X1, which it had in memory before executing the instruction and computes a new value, call it X2, which is equal to X2 = X1*X1, then after it stores the new value X2 in memory. E.g. if X1 was 3, X2 now, after the instruction, is 9.

    Therefore the X = X*X instruction is only apparently self-referential. Nowhere there is really a X acting on X.

  33. 33
    nightlight says:

    @31 Elizabeth B Liddle

    But I completely disagree with you that consciousness is not an element of natural science. It’s a very important element of my own field…

    As a theoretical physicist I may be biased a bit for not seeing psychiatry and psychology as natural sciences but as proto-sciences, where spirit entities (such as consciousness) mingle with empirically contentful scientific concepts and methods. Ancient physics, chemistry and astronomy used to have similar character before maturing into genuine natural sciences over the last few centuries.

    Regarding consciousness, there is nothing natural science can say beyond what can be stated in algorithmic language without invoking empirically inaccessible entities (spirits or consciousness). Note that this is epistemological, not ontological statement i.e. consciousness certainly exists, but that element doesn’t do anything at all within the formal (algorithmic) framework of the present natural science.

    Regarding the “algorithmic framework” term, a natural science requires three basic components:

    (M) Model space (postulates plus formalism/algorithms; this is a generator of statements by the science from postulates using rules of logic)

    (E) Empirical facts (direct or instrument observations)

    (OP) Operational rules (algorithms) which map between elements and outputs of (M) and elements of (E).

    Hence, what I am saying is that consciousness is not a part of (M) i.e. there is no formal C element of (M) that generates anything which can be mapped via (OP) to/from some empirical facts from (E). A mere sound of voice saying “I am conscious now” can be produced and modeled within (M) purely via interplay of matter-energy laws without invoking mysterious C element of (M). The C element is thus algorithmically ineffective, it doesn’t produce anything (other than in poetic or informal sense, as a personal heuristics).

    Since consciousness (e.g. qualia) is part of (E), this means that model space (M) of present natural science is incomplete.

  34. 34

    Well, what do you mean by “really” an X acting on X?

    Sure, X changes as a result of the effect of the loop, but does that make X ~X?

    If something acts on something else, it changes. We do not necessarily say it becomes something else. If I act on you, you change. That does not mean I did not act on you.

    Or does it?

    AFter all the niwrad of a few minutes ago had had some additions and subtractions from the one reading this post now. But we still regard you as retaining the same identity.

    Similarly with my computer variable. Let’s say X is a matrix full of data. And let’s say my looped statement is:

    X(1,1)=X.

    Sure, my X is being constantly changed. Its first element now consists of an iteratively updated copy of itself.

    The rest of the matrix remains unchanged.

    In what sense has X not acted on itself? It has changed as a result, but it is still X in most attributes.

    This is actually completely on point, because it speaks to the nature of a persisting identity. You probably contain not a single atom that was present when you were born, or even when you were a young adult (unless you are still a young adult!) Yet you (and I) would readily agree that you are the same person.

    Just as my cat, ditto, is the same cat (I bring up the cat, just so that we don’t get bogged down in mind-stuff at this point). Or a river is the same river.

    In other words, when asserting that X cannot act on X, you need to make sure just how you are defining X, and under what circumstances X ceases to be X.

    Because if X is still X if some pattern is maintained, even if peripherals are changed, then X can certainly act on X, and indeed act to change X.

    And that, I suggest, is the clue to both consciousness and free will.

  35. 35
    Box says:

    Liz: I don’t even know what “downward causal power” means. We say something causes an event if it wouldn’t have happened without that thing, or, possibly, a substitute thing. Most events have multiple causes, of course.

    By ‘downward causation’ I mean causation acting on a system from above.- the opposite of upward (bottom-up) causation. So not the fermions and bosons are at the beginning (behind the steering wheel) of causal chains leading to actions of an organism, but instead ‘consciousness’ is telling the system where to go and what to do. ‘Hierarchal causation’ if you like.
    Your position includes, as I understand it, downward causation, hence my question:

    Box: How can a property have downward causal power? How can consciousness, as a property of a complex configuration the brain, overarch / alter /determine the very thing on which its existence depends without undermining its own existence?

    Liz: But I don’t think that it is sensible to talk of “consciousness” having “causal power”.

    What you are you actually saying here? No causal power for consciousness? Are you telling your legs where to go? Are you in charge or is it the other way around? Does your ‘I’ instruct your fingers what to type or do your fingers have a mind of their own? Again: who is in charge? Downward or upward causation, which is it?
    Are the parts telling the form (consciousness) what to do? Or is the form overarching and instructing the parts?
    I’ve noticed that you don’t care much for this kind of analyzes, but I believe it’s necessary in order to get some clarity; like Niwrad explained in #26. Remember Plato’s body / soul distinction.

  36. 36

    Box, I am saying that I am in charge (most of the time). If that means “downward” for you, fine.

    And I’m defining I as the whole system-organism.

    So yes I instruct my fingers what to type (although occasionally they seem to have “a mind of their own”).

    The form is instructing the parts.

    And I appreciate your posts! I do indeed care for this kind of analysis, but it’s important to be clear about what we mean by terms, because so much of the problem IMO lies in what we actually mean when we use words like “I” and “downward” and so on.

  37. 37
    niwrad says:

    Elizabeth B Liddle

    I mean, the operator and the operated cannot be exactly the same identical thing. A la Aristotle, a same thing cannot be in act and in potency in the same time. This principle avoids real ontological circularity, and in the same time opens the way to hierarchy.

    The examples you offer, which seem to disprove the principle, are all apparent cases of circularity of X on X, because, if we analyze well the left X and the right X, we discover that they different after all.

    But, also if I like to discuss with you, I am afraid the readers are getting bored about it.

    I would only remember why the principle of non circularity is important here. It allows us to somehow decouple mind and body, where the former is seen as sort of meta-entity compared to the latter, and, as such, not reducible to it.

  38. 38

    nightlight:

    As a theoretical physicist I may be biased a bit for not seeing psychiatry and psychology as natural sciences but as proto-sciences, where spirit entities (such as consciousness) mingle with empirically contentful scientific concepts and methods. Ancient physics, chemistry and astronomy used to have similar character before maturing into genuine natural sciences over the last few centuries.

    heh. OK, I can see where you are coming from. Actually I work a lot with physicists (my husband, a psychiatrist, did his PhD in physics) because of neuroimaging, and indeed with mathematicians. I’d say the really big advances over the last decade in understanding the brain have been due to clever mathematical techniques. And they are getting cleverer all the time.

    Regarding consciousness, there is nothing natural science can say beyond what can be stated in algorithmic language without invoking empirically inaccessible entities (spirits or consciousness). Note that this is epistemological, not ontological statement i.e. consciousness certainly exists, but that element doesn’t do anything at all within the formal (algorithmic) framework of the present natural science.

    I don’t think that consciousness is “empirically inaccessible”. Sure we can’t observe it directly, but that is true of many things (all, in some sense) that we study empirically. Practically speaking we can do it by asking people things, or getting them to do tasks while we measure some proxy for neural activity.

    I’d say the big difference between your kind of empirical science and mine is the size of the error bars. We have way more unmodelled factors.

    Regarding the “algorithmic framework” term, a natural science requires three basic components:

    (M) Model space (postulates plus formalism/algorithms; this is a generator of statements by the science from postulates using rules of logic)

    (E) Empirical facts (direct or instrument observations)

    (OP) Operational rules (algorithms) which map between elements and outputs of (M) and elements of (E).

    Yes, and so do we. Although I’m not quite clear on OP – I’d have subsumed them under the Model space, and I see you have algorithms under M as well.

    But essentially we have mathematical models and we have empirical data, and we parameterise the models to optimise the fit to the data.

    Hence, what I am saying is that consciousness is not a part of (M) i.e. there is no formal C element of (M) that generates anything which can be mapped via (OP) to/from some empirical facts from (E). A mere sound of voice saying “I am conscious now” can be produced and modeled within (M) purely via interplay of matter-energy laws without invoking mysterious C element of (M). The C element is thus algorithmically ineffective, it doesn’t produce anything (other than in poetic or informal sense, as a personal heuristics).

    Since consciousness (e.g. qualia) is part of (E), this means that model space (M) of present natural science is incomplete.

    Well, my response is that, firstly, I’d say that consciousness IS observable indirectly, and secondly, that this is so because I think that what we often think of as “consciousness” is rather incoherent – if we think of conciousness as something we do (“are conscious of something”) rather than as some unmodelled independent factor, then it fits just fine into model space.

    Some people, of course, think that this is cheating – that conciousness isn’t something we do, but something we have.

    That gets on to philosophical ground, and I’m not a philosopher, but I think this is fallacious. I think that conceiving of consciousness as something we do ticks all the boxes we want it to tick, yet remains an empirically tractable concept.

  39. 39
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Lizzie,

    Maybe this will help, a bit: I would define a human person as an certain of animal that has acquired a culture (an enculterated animal) — with the further caveat that normal human infants are non-encultured but ‘enculturable’. (The degree to which non-human hominoids are also enculturable is a major focus of great-ape research.)

    So rather than talk about “consciousness” or about “mind,” which encourages the relapse into dualism, we should talk about conscious acts or states of the human person, or of the non-human animal — likewise for mental acts or states, and so on.

    For emergentism to be wholly viable, one would need to avoid relapse to terms that are only fully intelligible within a hylomorphic, dualistic, or materialistic metaphysics — while still being able to translate (more or less) into those other vocabularies. This will involve some creative license; Dewey writes of “body-mind” and Merleau-Ponty of “the lived body”. Varela, Thompson, and Rosch wrote of “the embodied mind,” which I find somewhat confusing since it invites comparison with “disembodied minds”. (Hanna argues that disembodied minds are logically possible but metaphysically impossible, but this involves technical distinctions between kinds of modality that I find hard to fully grasp.)

    Plus you have all the 4E stuff — mind as extended, embodied, embedded, and enacted — which takes non-dualism in really interesting directions, both conceptual and empirical, by synthesizing phenomenology and neuroscience.

    The thing to avoid doing is pouring new wine into old skins.

  40. 40
    Box says:

    Liz, the following 2 quotes from #36 tell me that you make a distinction between consciousness and parts of the system:

    Liz: So yes I instruct my fingers what to type (although occasionally they seem to have “a mind of their own”).
    Liz: The form is instructing the parts.

    However the next sentence by you is contradicting the 2 quotes above:

    Liz: I’m defining I as the whole system-organism.

    The problem is that if you conflate consciousness with fingers, if they are both part of the I, if the I is not separate from fingers (and other parts of the system), then the sentence “I instruct my fingers” is meaningless.
    So one cannot conflate consciousness with the whole system-organism and state that one is in control of fingers, legs etc.

  41. 41
    kairosfocus says:

    KN:

    You know a lot better than you speak, but I suppose it is fun to play at snippy rhetoric games.

    Just remember, people are getting hurt, badly, because of those games.

    And, we are observing what you are doing and are taking due note.

    KF

    PS: The hate and slander fest and its consequences are plain for anyone willing to see. But then, a lot of good Germans must have found a lot of reasons to explain away the smell of the smoke from the crematoriums.

  42. 42

    KN: yes, it does help I think, KN. Will think on what you say.

  43. 43
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Right — because undermining the illegitimate privilege of patriarchy, heterosexism, and authoritarian religion is exactly like genocide.

  44. 44

    Box, it’s only a problem if you assume that a whole is not different from its parts, or, like niwrad, that a thing cannot act on itself (or part of itself).

    I don’t think this is a valid assumption. I think it is perfectly sensible to consider my fingers as part of me, and that I instruct my fingers to do things.

    It’s how we tend to talk, and I think it’s perfectly good model.

  45. 45
    nightlight says:

    @38 Elizabeth B Liddle

    Well, my response is that, firstly, I’d say that consciousness IS observable indirectly…

    That’s not the problem. Consciousness E_C is an element of (E) (empirical realm), as anyone can easily verify. The problem is that model space (M) lacks the corresponding element M_C that connects constructively/algorithmically to the rest of (M), the lawas of matter-energy and their deducible consequences.

    There is no algorithm that lets you deduce/compute existence or presence of M_C when some other elements of (M), M1, M2, M3,… are in some specific relation. (Handwaving is not an algorithmic connection.)

    If one looks at component (M) as a computer program with its variables and code, then M_C is a variable that is never accessed within the rest of the program (M) either as input or output variable. It doesn’t connect to any laws of matter-energy or any of their consequences. Hence M_C is orphanned variable, empty label. If you optimize it away, out of (M), the program (M) will run exactly as before, producing exactly the same outputs (scientific predictions).

    Some extreme mechanistic materialists, such as Daniel Dennett, Susan Blackmore and numerous cognitive scientists, realaze the problem with such ineffective, orphanned element M_C (Occam’s razor) and have “solved” it by denying existence of E_C altogether i.e. according to this solution, the directly experienced consciousness doesn’t exist either, it is an “illusion” hence there is no need for M_C (but then what element of M corresponds to this so-called “illusion”?).

    A more honest first step toward solution is to acknowledge first that (M) of the present natural science is incomplete, lacking algorithmically effective element M_C that corresponds to the empirical element E_C.

  46. 46
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Onlookers, let me cite Patricia Churchland thru Alvin Plantinga, as just one example of the issue of self-referential incoherence I have been pointing out:

    Boiled down to essentials, a nervous system enables the organism to succeed in . . . feeding, fleeing, fighting, and reproducing. The principal chore of nervous systems is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism may survive . . . . Improvements in sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary advantage: a fancier style of representing is advantageous so long as it is geared to the organism’s way of life and enhances the organism’s chances of survival [[Churchland’s emphasis]. Truth, whatever that is [[ –> let’s try, from Aristotle in Metaphysics, 1011b: “that which says of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not” . . . ], definitely takes the hindmost. (Plantinga also adds this from Darwin: “the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?”)

    And the problems of emergentism and supervenience come out quite plainly in this, from Reppert:

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

    KN and EL seem to forget I cut my eyeteeth on Marxists.

    KF

  47. 47
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    If you took the time to actually read Churchland’s article, and not the snippet that Plantinga quotes, we could have a conversation.

    And who you cut your eyeteeth on is of no interest or relevance to me whatsoever.

  48. 48

    Sorry, nightlight, I’ve lost you. What is Consciousness E_C?

    And while I thought I understood you earlier, it is probable that I didn’t.

    As I see it, we can investigate consciousness – how it works and so on – by fitting a mathematical model to empirical data.

    And those empirical data could be reports of experiences (literally “press a button when you are aware of having a thought”), asking people to meditate, and then not, or present them with stimuli of different qualities, plus contemporaneous data from the scanner. And you set up a model that relates to behavioural data with the scanner data.

    Do any of those bits correspond to anything like your M?

  49. 49
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Haldane:

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

    I have already cited this in 17, right next to issues of marxists being class conditioned, freudians being potty trained and Skinnerians being rats in their own mazes too. Not to mention, Crick’s thoughts being the electrochemistry of his neurons too.

    Dismissive and denigratory quips are not going to make the issue go away.

    In that context, KN forgets that I just happen to be black, so I know what me ole gramps used to say on bitter experience (starting with having to take over his family when a modern Potiphar’s wife poisoned his dad, my great grandfather for pulling a Joseph on her, leaving him invalided for the rest of his days, gramps being all of 12 at the time): “Black man, every man hand de ‘gainst you.” When the enmity, slander and hate fests based on silly conspiracies and foolish fancies are real, it ain’t paranoia. And I have seen racism, anti-Christian bigotry and materialist bigotry in action, and they are all horses from the same stables. Shame on you.

  50. 50
    Box says:

    KN #39

    Do I understand you correctly that you seek to conflate mind and body, form and parts? And is it because of this leaning that you are attracted to terms like ‘the lived-body’, ‘the body-mind’, the ‘embodied-mind’ and so on? And are you suggesting that this is merely a cultural matter?

    If so, can you answer a simple analytical question:
    Are you instructing your fingers when you are typing or is it the other way around? Are you charge in charge of your limbs or are your limbs telling you what to do?

  51. 51
    kairosfocus says:

    PPPS: Hasker in The Emergent Self (Cornell University Press, 2001), from p 64 on is also helpful, cf. here. No, this is not some paranoid delusional half mad spermologos on a blog somewhere. (Though from Ac 17, being viewed as this puts me in some pretty impressive company) It is a serious issue, and one that needs to be frankly and fairly faced.

  52. 52
    Box says:

    Liz #44
    How long did it take you to come up with that answer? I don’t know where to begin. You seem to miss the whole point. Obviously your English is far superior to mine, but I’m convinced that you use your words very inaccurately.

  53. 53
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Do I understand you correctly that you seek to conflate mind and body, form and parts? And is it because of this leaning that you are attracted to terms like ‘the lived-body’, ‘the body-mind’, the ‘embodied-mind’ and so on?

    Well, yes. Except, of course, that from my perspective, it’s not a ‘conflation’ — I think that the very division into “mind” and “body” is a mistake, and I’m trying to correct that mistake. As were Dewey and Merleau-Ponty, and many others, in whose footsteps I’m following.

    But, yes, what looks like undoing an invalid distinction from my perspective will look like conflating a valid distinction from yours.

    And are you suggesting that this is merely a cultural matter?

    Yes, I think that the very idea of “the mind/body dualism” is produced by specific features of Western intellectual tradition, in its social and political contexts.

    For example, Descartes’ Real Distinction between res extensa and res cogitans is an attempt to both replace Thomistic theology with Descartes’ own neo-Augustinian theology and show that neo-Augustinian theological metaphysics is compatible with, and indeed grounds, mechanistic and mathematical physics.

    Are you instructing your fingers when you are typing or is it the other way around? Are you charge in charge of your limbs or are your limbs telling you what to do?

    Under ideal conditions, when things go maximally smoothly, I don’t instruct my fingers or limbs to do anything — I engage with the world by means of my fingers (when typing), or by means of my legs (when walking), by means of my eyes when actively looking, etc. I don’t send them an order; I am at one with my body when absorbed in the skilled coping of being in the world.

    It’s when the body-parts are recalcitrant — e.g. when a leg falls asleep — that I have to treat it as an object, something over which I must somehow exert control.

  54. 54
    kairosfocus says:

    KN: Why don’t you just come out and say your implied accusation plainly, that this is quoting out of context and distortive of meaning? Or is it that you imagine that there really are good solutions from a physicalist perspective to the problem of mind out of live meat? Before we go any further, why did you not do the simple thing and lay out the standard plain obvious and manifestly successful answer instead of trying subtle ad homs? Could it just possibly be that — spermologos in your view or no — I HAVE put my finger on a real sore-spot conundrum and there is no real answer to moving from pulses in millivolts triggering others in a cascade and actual meaningful logical inference? Where, you seem to forget classic marxists are by definition materialists so I have a few dozen years experience of dealing with materialism. And BTW hardware feedback or algorithmic loops and lags while they have interesting properties do not bridge the gap I just pointed to, even when we move to the body as a whole. We are needing to bridge entire categories of entities, and emergence boils down, in simple terms to poof voila, materialist magic step. KF

  55. 55
    nightlight says:

    @48 Elizabeth B Liddle

    Sorry, nightlight, I’ve lost you. What is Consciousness E_C?

    And while I thought I understood you earlier, it is probable that I didn’t.

    As I see it, we can investigate consciousness – how it works and so on – by fitting a mathematical model to empirical data.

    Well, to make a fit or correspondence between the formalism or model space (M) and the empirical space (E) of natural science, you need some corresponding elements in the two realms to be compared with each other (the correspondence is established by a separate algorithmic component (OP), which is the operational rules of the given science).

    For example, if your formula from (M) computes statement S = “M_X will have velocity 20 m/s” then in order to verify prediction, there must be some empirical fact (e.g. reading on some instruments or their computer output) “object E_X has 20 m/s” mapping via OP to the S=”Object M_X has velocity 20 m/s”. The object E_X is the actual object, a ball at the bottom of the hill, while object M_X is a formal element of (M) (a symbol on paper, a variable or a C++ object in a computer program) corresponding via (OP) rules to the real object (or class of objects) E_X.

    The same procedure is needed when considering consciousness — there is empirical fact of consciousness E_C (directly observable by most of us). In order for natural science to model this empirical fact E_C, its model space (M) needs a corresponding element M_C as well as some algorithmic or formal glue that connects M_C to the rest of (M), to the laws of matter-energy and their deducible consequences.

    The problem is that present natural science doesn’t have such algorithmically effective element M_C. Instead, the model space (M) of natural science has only an empty, sterile label M_C which is there all by itself, disconnected from the rest of (M), algorithmically producing nothing else in M_C and being produced algorithimcally by nothing else from (M).

    In effect, M_C (the consciousness as a term of natural science) is presently merely a euphemism for a hole or gap in (M), like medical diagnosis which in the absence of understanding of some disease merely restates the main symptom in Latin.

  56. 56

    This isn’t making a lot of sense to me, nightlight. I can make predictive models regarding the relationship between consciousness and brain activity, and test those models against actual data.

    Where is the “euphemism”? Clearly I am using proxy measures, but all measures are proxy to some degree.

  57. 57
    Jerad says:

    GEM, comment 41:

    You know a lot better than you speak, but I suppose it is fun to play at snippy rhetoric games.

    Just remember, people are getting hurt, badly, because of those games.

    And, we are observing what you are doing and are taking due note.

    KF

    PS: The hate and slander fest and its consequences are plain for anyone willing to see. But then, a lot of good Germans must have found a lot of reasons to explain away the smell of the smoke from the crematoriums.

    GEM, comment 49:

    I have already cited this in 17, right next to issues of marxists being class conditioned, freudians being potty trained and Skinnerians being rats in their own mazes too. Not to mention, Crick’s thoughts being the electrochemistry of his neurons too.

    Dismissive and denigratory quips are not going to make the issue go away.

    In that context, KN forgets that I just happen to be black, so I know what me ole gramps used to say on bitter experience (starting with having to take over his family when a modern Potiphar’s wife poisoned his dad, my great grandfather for pulling a Joseph on her, leaving him invalided for the rest of his days, gramps being all of 12 at the time): “Black man, every man hand de ‘gainst you.” When the enmity, slander and hate fests based on silly conspiracies and foolish fancies are real, it ain’t paranoia. And I have seen racism, anti-Christian bigotry and materialist bigotry in action, and they are all horses from the same stables. Shame on you.

    GEM, comment 54:

    KN: Why don’t you just come out and say your implied accusation plainly, that this is quoting out of context and distortive of meaning? Or is it that you imagine that there really are good solutions from a physicalist perspective to the problem of mind out of live meat? Before we go any further, why did you not do the simple thing and lay out the standard plain obvious and manifestly successful answer instead of trying subtle ad homs? Could it just possibly be that — spermologos in your view or no — I HAVE put my finger on a real sore-spot conundrum and there is no real answer to moving from pulses in millivolts triggering others in a cascade and actual meaningful logical inference? Where, you seem to forget classic marxists are by definition materialists so I have a few dozen years experience of dealing with materialism. And BTW hardware feedback or algorithmic loops and lags while they have interesting properties do not bridge the gap I just pointed to, even when we move to the body as a whole. We are needing to bridge entire categories of entities, and emergence boils down, in simple terms to poof voila, materialist magic step. KF

    Someone plainly needs to calm down, back off and stop embarrassing himself. And probably get some much needed rest.

  58. 58
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Or is it that you imagine that there really are good solutions from a physicalist perspective to the problem of mind out of live meat?

    I think that “the problem of mind out of live meat” is the wrong way of thinking about the problem. “Meat” is how we usually refer to the parts of an animal once it is dead, no longer alive, and so no longer minded. Whereas a living animal is a minded animal (usually).

    The relation between a mind and a living animal is not a real relation, because it is not a real distinction — it does not make sense to treat them as separate entities, even notionally. Some cognitive scientists like to say that “the mind is what the brain does”. I would prefer to say that “the mind is what the living animal in its environment does”. So when you say that

    there is no real answer to moving from pulses in millivolts triggering others in a cascade and actual meaningful logical inference?

    I completely agree that that’s true, but not for the reasons you seem to be putting forth in support of it.

    Once the living animal has been separated into its constituent parts, on the one hand, and its behavior has been hypostatized into something independent of it, then not even all the king’s horses and all the king’s men can put Humpty-Dumpty back together together again.

    Likewise, Haldane has misconceived the real problem. When he says,

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

    he is completely right, but right in a way that doesn’t matter for the version of liberal naturalism I am defending. (Incidentally, I don’t think that the Churchlands are liberal naturalists, and I don’t defend their views in all particulars — I just don’t think that Plantinga has done justice to what Churchland is actually saying.)

    The content of our beliefs and the correctness of our inferences depends on inferential semantics and normative pragmatics that constitute the dimensions of the embodied and social space of reasons. And that is irreducible to anything that could be described in the vocabulary of physical and chemical regularities. So in that sense I quite agree with Haldane.

    (I was initially persuaded of this general view when I read Frege and Husserl in graduate school, and their criticisms of psychologism sparked the two great revolutions of early 20th-century philosophy — analytic philosophy and phenomenology, respectively. So the idea at work in Haldane’s remark is not new to me.)

    The (to me) much more interesting question is whether their antipsychologism can be accommodated within a more generous or relaxed conception of naturalism. I think that Wittgenstein showed us how to do with Frege, by treating inferential rules as social norms, and that Merleau-Ponty showed us how to do this with Husserl, by treating intentional content as expressive of bodily comportments. Both Wittgenstein and Merleau-Ponty have been subjected to subsequent criticisms and corrections since then.

    Another way of putting it would be to say that

    (1) the problem of the normative and the natural is the correctly posed version of the problem that is incorrectly posed as the problem of the mind and the body;

    (2) the problem of the normative and the natural is solved by recognizing

    (a) the normative as essentially social, historical, and linguistic and

    (b) the natural as essentially dynamic and emergentistic.

    So I think we’re at a point now that we can give a mostly satisfactory account of normativity and rationality that doesn’t reduce the normative to the natural (on pains of Hume’s Guillotine) and which doesn’t require positing supernatural entities in order to account for intentional content. (I say “mostly” because if existing accounts were completely satisfactory, there would be no further contribution for me to make!)

  59. 59
    nightlight says:

    @56 Where is the “euphemism”? Clearly I am using proxy measures, but all measures are proxy to some degree.

    There is nothing in model space (M) of natural science that models what is like to see red, the inner experience of redness. As far as (M) is concerned, there could be a zombie, empty inside, programmed to say “red” when certain photons strike its sensors. The model space of natural science cannot tell the difference between zombie system and experiencing system.

    Hence, you cannot make statements about “consciousness” and claim them as output/result of natural science (of its “scientific statement” generating component (M)) as you seemed to do earlier. They’re merely informal verbal conventions or shorthands within certain fields of human activity (psychology, law, philosophy, literature) without any connection to model space (M) of natural science, to the laws of matter-energy and anything algorithmically or logically deducible from them.

    Within the model space (M) of natural science, you can remove term “consciousness” altogether without any effect on any empirically falsifiable statement generated by (M). Hence, it is a meaningless term within natural science and one can’t use it to scientifically argue that it is causative or that it affects anything or that is affected by anything (actions or decisions or to serve as the “creative force” of the intelligent agency imagined by Stephen Meyer, etc). All such statements are merely informal story telling, poetry, philosophizing, personal convictions, mnemonic devices… with no authority of present natural science behind them.

    Hence, one can’t bludgeon opponents in a discussion by invoking consciousness as a scientific term since your stories about it are as scientifically (non)authoritative as any other.

  60. 60

    Well, I’m calling into question your concept of consciousness.

    I think the idea that “As far as (M) is concerned, there could be a zombie, empty inside, programmed to say “red” when certain photons strike its sensors. The model space of natural science cannot tell the difference between zombie system and experiencing system.” is incorrect. That was the point I was making.

    That is not to deny that consciousness exists. Rather it is to think of it as a process, not a variable.

  61. 61
    nightlight says:

    I am not disagreeing with existence of consciousness as the empirical fact of (my) personal experience.

    The problem is when someone, you or Stephen Meyer or anyone else, injects “consciousness” into discussion with pretense of having authority of natural science behind their statements. The “consciousness” (as the fact of inner experience) has absolutely no connection with presently known laws of matter-energy or anything logically deducible from them.

    As far as the authority of present natural science goes, when you inject “consciousness” in support of your thesis you may as well inject nature spirits or ghosts of the deceased since they all have the same (null) relation to the known laws of matter-energy and anything deducible from them.

  62. 62
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    As far as the authority of present natural science goes, when you inject “consciousness” in support of your thesis you may as well inject nature spirits or ghosts of the deceased since they all have the same (null) relation to the known laws of matter-energy and anything deducible from them.

    I have a pretty hard time accepting that life is logically deducible from the known laws of matter-energy, in any sense of “logically deducible” I can recognize. So is biology a proto-science, in your sense?

    Or, as seems more plausible to me, are you inadvertently using physics as a Procrustean bed, and lopping off as less-than-fully-real anything that doesn’t fit — such as life and consciousness?

  63. 63
    kairosfocus says:

    Jerad, that was a personality in reponse to a substantial point. You are playing precisely the emotional manipulation one upmanship game that you so despise when WJM even suggests resorting to it in part. And, you have not responded to the substantial point in any cogent way. KF

  64. 64

    nightlight

    The “consciousness” (as the fact of inner experience) has absolutely no connection with presently known laws of matter-energy or anything logically deducible from them.

    Well, you keep asserting this. It’s what I am questioning.

    I think it has. I think the main problem in seeing it is conceptual. For example there is a huge and extremely well supported body of scientific evidence on the neural substrates of attention. Attention is an extremely closely related concept to consciousness. I think if we thought of consciousness as a general case of attention, the idea that it cannot be connected with the known laws of matter-energy would fade like mist in the morning, leaving a perfectly recognisable concept of consciousness as we experience it.

  65. 65
    Mung says:

    KN:

    …at work in each of those Big Words is a very complicated conception — a theory, in fact.

    Arrgghhh. Theory. Fact. More BIG WORDS!

  66. 66
    Jerad says:

    Jerad, that was a personality in reponse to a substantial point. You are playing precisely the emotional manipulation one upmanship game that you so despise when WJM even suggests resorting to it in part. And, you have not responded to the substantial point in any cogent way. KF

    I’m suggesting that your responses are overly accusatory and unsupported by facts or data. I’m recommending that you throttle back your rhetoric and cease to cast aspersions on everyone who disagrees with you. You seem to be developing acute paranoia in the teeth of . . . nothing really. Good for rallying the troops but doesn’t make it true.

    What is ‘a personality in response to a substantial point’ anyway?

  67. 67
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related interest, Mind, i.e. consciousness, is not emergent from quantum mechanics but is axiomatic to it:

    “No, I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”
    (Max Planck, as cited in de Purucker, Gottfried. 1940. The Esoteric Tradition. California: Theosophical University Press, ch. 13).

    “Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else.”
    (Schroedinger, Erwin. 1984. “General Scientific and Popular Papers,” in Collected Papers, Vol. 4. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences. Friedr. Vieweg & Sohn, Braunschweig/Wiesbaden. p. 334.)

    Can quantum theory be improved? – July 23, 2012
    Excerpt: However, in the new paper, the physicists have experimentally demonstrated that there cannot exist any alternative theory that increases the predictive probability of quantum theory by more than 0.165, with the only assumption being that measurement (observation) parameters can be chosen independently (free choice, free will, assumption) of the other parameters of the theory.,,,
    ,, the experimental results provide the tightest constraints yet on alternatives to quantum theory. The findings imply that quantum theory is close to optimal in terms of its predictive power, even when the predictions are completely random.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-07-quantum-theory.html

    Now this is completely unheard of in science as far as I know. i.e. That a mathematical description of reality would advance to the point that one can actually perform a experiment showing that your current theory will not be exceeded in predictive power by another future theory is simply unprecedented in science! And please note that free will and consciousness are axiomatic to Quantum Theory in the experiment.

    What Does Quantum Physics Have to Do with Free Will? – By Antoine Suarez – July 22, 2013
    Excerpt: What is more, recent experiments are bringing to light that the experimenter’s free will and consciousness should be considered axioms (founding principles) of standard quantum physics theory. So for instance, in experiments involving “entanglement” (the phenomenon Einstein called “spooky action at a distance”), to conclude that quantum correlations of two particles are nonlocal (i.e. cannot be explained by signals traveling at velocity less than or equal to the speed of light), it is crucial to assume that the experimenter can make free choices, and is not constrained in what orientation he/she sets the measuring devices.
    To understand these implications it is crucial to be aware that quantum physics is not only a description of the material and visible world around us, but also speaks about non-material influences coming from outside the space-time.,,,
    https://www.bigquestionsonline.com/content/what-does-quantum-physics-have-do-free-will

    Henry Stapp on the Conscious Choice and the Non-Local Quantum Entangled Effects – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJN01s1gOqA

    Of note: since our free will choices figure so prominently in how reality is actually found to be constructed in our understanding of quantum mechanics, I think a Christian perspective on just how important our choices are in this temporal life, in regards to our eternal destiny, is very fitting:

    Is God Good? (Free will and the problem of evil) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rfd_1UAjeIA

    If God, Why Evil? (1 of 4) – Norm Geisler – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSTzJ-kbfkc

    or related note:

    The following experiment reveals that quantum actions are ‘universal and instantaneous’ without any consideration of time:

    Wheeler’s Classic Delayed Choice Experiment:
    Excerpt: Now, for many billions of years the photon is in transit in region 3. Yet we can choose (many billions of years later) which experimental set up to employ – the single wide-focus, or the two narrowly focused instruments. We have chosen whether to know which side of the galaxy the photon passed by (by choosing whether to use the two-telescope set up or not, which are the instruments that would give us the information about which side of the galaxy the photon passed). We have delayed this choice until a time long after the particles “have passed by one side of the galaxy, or the other side of the galaxy, or both sides of the galaxy,” so to speak. Yet, it seems paradoxically that our later choice of whether to obtain this information determines which side of the galaxy the light passed, so to speak, billions of years ago. So it seems that time has nothing to do with effects of quantum mechanics. And, indeed, the original thought experiment was not based on any analysis of how particles evolve and behave over time – it was based on the mathematics. This is what the mathematics predicted for a result, and this is exactly the result obtained in the laboratory.
    http://www.bottomlayer.com/bot.....choice.htm

  68. 68
    kairosfocus says:

    Jerad:

    Has it ever dawned on you that you need to look in the mirror?

    There is an ongoing case of unsupported accusation of fraud, conspiracy to impose a theocratic nazi like tyranny on our civilisation and worse at TSZ. This is much wider than TSZ. At BSU, there is a live case of censorship and career busting, on the taxpayer’s dime. When you and your ilk have been pointed to a substantial correction of the wedge document conspiracy theory that underlies it, you have ignored it. In addition, for a year now, an open invitation to host a free kick at goal essay justifying the evolutionary materialist claims on OOL and OO body plans has sat unanswered (starting with you) meanwhile attack attack attack continue apace at TSZ and elsewhere with a clear connexion that sets TSZ up as a front for AtBC — I cut my eyeteeth on dealing with communist subversives in action so don’t even bother with the usual denial, evasion and accusation camouflage and distraction games. Also, when a challenge was given to address the grounding of mind on evo mat premises as a supplement to the long standing one, you promptly ducked.

    Above, I have placed a fairly substantial 101 level outline of problems I have found with evo mat accounts of the mind over the past what’s it, 28 years now near as I can figure. These points of concern have been discussed any number of times with serious and informed interlocutors, including a few times here at UD. They reflect sober concerns by leading thinkers over the past 80-odd years, and they point to a pattern of self referential incoherence I have observed for about 30 years, starting with marxists, freudians and behaviourists . . . that is part of why these classic cases are presented. In recent days in your presence IIRC, I listed a cluster of five fairly current examples from advocates of a naturalistic account of mind, which was predictably ignored. In the clip, the basic problem with emergentism is highlighted in a nutshell: voila, poof we get something by accident from no substantially understood cause, in a scheme of thought that locks us up to chance and necessity as root explanations.

    What is the answer?

    Pretence of non-understanding, serial strawman caricatures, veiled accusations of being half mad, and your insinuations that I am just being over reactive.

    Sorry, I have a right to be outraged in the face of enabling of the worst forms of bigotry, hate and slander. I have a right to call out good cop enabling of bad cops. I have a right to point out that the responses above constitute ducking substantial issues to erect strawmen soaked in ad hominems and set them alight to cloud, confuse, polarise and poison the atmosphere.

    In the face of what is really going on, you are plainly an enabler of bigotry driven by unfounded conspiracy theory accusations, acting in concert with a front web outfit and so are to be reckoned by the company you have chosen to keep.

    You are playing the irresponsible, all and only angels on our side, only devils and loonies on your side ideological foot soldier.

    When you get serious about substantial matters you know where you can find us.

    KF

  69. 69
    kairosfocus says:

    KN:

    There is a beginning of a substantial discussion.

    I would point out to you on the Churchland case that she has highlighted something that is significant in its own right, the evo mat challenge to get from survival to truth and rationality. As have ever so many others. Yes, there have been debates and suggestions but the problem is real.

    Your own in a nutshell fails also, and for the reasons Liebnitz pointed out so long ago in Monadology by using the analogy of the mill.

    Let me clip you at was it 58:

    The relation between a mind and a living animal is not a real relation, because it is not a real distinction — it does not make sense to treat them as separate entities, even notionally. Some cognitive scientists like to say that “the mind is what the brain does”. I would prefer to say that “the mind is what the living animal in its environment does”.

    The problem is that on the relevant evo mat — descriptive short hand — view, all there is to the brain, CNS and body as a whole is molecules in motion interacting in the end by physics and chemistry [hence millivolts and pulse rates] and attaining configs by alleged processes of blind chance and mechanical necessity that offer incremental survival advantages. No wonder truth and things that go with truth such as reason, take the hindmost.

    Whether or not the gamut is localised to the brain or expanded to the body as a whole (and we were always obviously describing the living entity, and “live meat” or “meat machine” or “wet ware” etc echo language I have seen from the other side ever so often) we are back to this . . . and I give 300+ year old context not just the focal clip:

    MONADOLOGY:

    1. The monad, of which we will speak here, is nothing else than a simple substance, which goes to make up compounds; by simple, we mean without parts.

    2. There must be simple substances because there are compound substances; for the compound is nothing else than a collection or aggregatum of simple substances.

    3. Now, where there are no constituent parts there is possible neither extension, nor form, nor divisibility. These monads are the true atoms [i.e. “indivisibles,” the original meaning of a-tomos] of nature, and, in a word, the elements of things . . . .

    6. We may say then, that the existence of monads can begin or end only all at once, that is to say, the monad can begin only through creation and end only through annihilation. Compounds, however, begin or end by parts . . . .

    14. The passing condition which involves and represents a multiplicity in the unity, or in the simple substance, is nothing else than what is called perception. This should be carefully distinguished from apperception or consciousness . . . .

    16. We, ourselves, experience a multiplicity in a simple substance, when we find that the most trifling thought of which we are conscious involves a variety in the object. Therefore all those who acknowledge that the soul is a simple substance ought to grant this multiplicity in the monad . . . .

    17. It must be confessed, however, that perception, and that which depends upon it, are inexplicable by mechanical causes, that is to say, by figures and motions. Supposing that there were a machine whose structure produced thought, sensation, and perception, we could conceive of it as increased in size with the same proportions until one was able to enter into its interior, as he would into a mill. Now, on going into it he would find only pieces working upon one another, but never would he find anything to explain perception. It is accordingly in the simple substance, and not in the compound nor in a machine that the perception is to be sought. Furthermore, there is nothing besides perceptions and their changes to be found in the simple substance. And it is in these alone that all the internal activities of the simple substance can consist.

    We may bring this up to date by making reference to more modern views of elements and atoms, through an example from chemistry. For instance, once we understand that ions may form and can pack themselves into a crystal, we can see how salts with their distinct physical and chemical properties emerge from atoms like Na and Cl, etc. per natural regularities (and, of course, how the compounds so formed may be destroyed by breaking apart their constituents!). However, the real issue evolutionary materialists face is how to get to mental properties that accurately and intelligibly address and bridge the external world and the inner world of ideas. This, relative to a worldview that accepts only physical components and must therefore arrive at other things by composition of elementary material components and their interactions per the natural regularities and chance processes of our observed cosmos. Now, obviously, if the view is true, it will be possible; but if it is false, then it may overlook other possible elementary constituents of reality and their inner properties. Which is precisely what Liebnitz was getting at.

    Richard Taylor speaks to this too:

    Just as it is possible for a collection of stones to present a novel and interesting arrangement on the side of a hill . . . so it is possible for our such things as our own organs of sense [and faculties of cognition etc.] to be the accidental and unintended results, over ages of time, of perfectly impersonal, non-purposeful forces. In fact, ever so many biologists believe that this is precisely what has happened . . . .

    [But] [w]e suppose, without even thinking about it, that they [our sense organs etc] reveal to us things that have nothing to do with themselves, their structures or their origins . . . . [However] [i]t would be irrational for one to say both that his sensory and cognitive faculties had a natural, non-purposeful origin and also that they reveal some truth with respect to something other than themselves . . . [For, if] we do assume that they are guides to some truths having nothing to do with themselves, then it is difficult to see how we can, consistently with that supposition [and, e.g. by comparison with the case of the stones on a hillside], believe them to have arisen by accident, or by the ordinary workings of purposeless forces, even over ages of time. [Metaphysics, 2nd Edn, (Prentice-Hall, 1974), pp 115 – 119.]

    The issue is captured in the “Welcome to Wales” example he discussed:

    . . . suppose you were in a train and saw [outside the window] rocks you believe were pushed there by chance + necessity only, spelling out: WELCOME TO WALES. Would you believe the apparent message, why

    This is a foundational question, it is self-referential for evolutionary materialists, and no matter the elaborate and learned account, if it is not resolved plainly and directly, it is a fatal structural crack leading to collapse.

    As someone experienced in electronic design, I know how it is very possible to chain and couple analogue and digital signal processing blocs in complex ways that do wonderful things. I also know that if you the designer make a blunder, the components will blindly follow the forces you have set in train, and the properties of the materials and structures involved, without any common sense wait a moment this isn’t right. On a bad enough blunder, you let the smoke out. On subtler blunders, things will happily proceed in accord with GIGO, and then you have the challenge to track down your mistakes. Suffice to say, no really complex electronics entity works right the first time. Troubleshooting and debugging to get reliable performance is an inescapable part of the design process.

    In short, the cogs grind away blindly, their configuration to form a coherent, complex system is NOT accounted for on the blind forces, chance and necessity. Indeed that is one road to understanding the significance of FSCO/I as a reliable sign of design.

    And the notion that complex functional coded algorithms and execution machinery would cobble themselves together out of blind chance and necessity does not even pass the giggle test. And yet, it is those who say, the emperor is parading around without a stitch of clothes, who are being derided and targetted.

    This is insane!

    There are only two possibilities that make sense: there are inbuilt self organising principles in nature, and the things we see were directly built by design. I think the real debate is to what extent each holds. Both are for sure partly so.

    Mind is not to be explained on meat, whether between the ears or the whole organism.

    KF

  70. 70
    niwrad says:

    As always, thanks for the references bornagain77,

    like this one by Schroedinger: “Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms”. A physicist must have intellectual honesty to admit that something transcends physics.

    To think that mind can arise when brain or its processing grows in complication is like to think that the engineer emerges when his machine complicates.

    Mind emergentism is to put the cart before the horse.

  71. 71
    Jerad says:

    meanwhile attack attack attack continue apace at TSZ and elsewhere with a clear connexion that sets TSZ up as a front for AtBC — I cut my eyeteeth on dealing with communist subversives in action so don’t even bother with the usual denial, evasion and accusation camouflage and distraction games.

    In the face of what is really going on, you are plainly an enabler of bigotry driven by unfounded conspiracy theory accusations, acting in concert with a front web outfit and so are to be reckoned by the company you have chosen to keep.

    I am acting ‘in concert’ with no one. I have never published at TSZ. I know no one at TSZ. I have never been in contact with someone at TSZ except at UD. The only forum company I keep on these matters is here at UD and at Joe’s blog, Intelligent Reasoning.

    I subscribe to Evolution New and View. I have been listening to ID: The Future since . . . 2007? Something like that. I have even personally communicated with Casey Luskin.

    You are slinging accusations which are just not true. You are overreacting. Clearly.

    You are playing the irresponsible, all and only angels on our side, only devils and loonies on your side ideological foot soldier.

    If it makes you better to think that, it’s up to you.

    When you get serious about substantial matters you know where you can find us.

    When are you going to treat me like an intelligent, independent, sincere individual?

  72. 72
    Axel says:

    ‘Mind emergentism is to put the cart before the horse.’

    Very akin to the point made in scordova’s thread, ‘Selection after something exists is not the same as selection before something exists,…’

    They simply don’t seem capable of grasping that until they can identify the source of life, itself (evidently the great no-no), their crazy concepts, such as ‘natural selection’ and ’emergentism’ have zero explanatory force; they must forever remain an abject, total ‘a priori’ nonsense.

    The hypotheses they are supposed to be built on are(is)* plain non-existent.

    * The forward trajectory of the design, creation and sustenance of living organisms.

    They remind of a few such crazy notions:

    1) An opening ditty of a toddler’s programme when I was a youngster:

    ‘Billy Bean built a machine, to see what it would do.
    He built it up with sticks and stones and nuts and bolts and glue.’

    2) Darn! I’ve forgotten the other two…!

  73. 73
    kairosfocus says:

    KN:

    Let me clip the summary in the link from 58 on your view:

    Although Liberal Naturalism incorporates a range of views, a central tenet is that there is more to what is natural, and more to how we can investigate it, than Scientific Naturalism could allow. The “serious metaphysics” which underpins orthodox naturalism operates by either ‘eliminating or locating’ normative features of the world, as Frank Jackson puts it.[1] Roughly speaking, once Scientific Naturalism has been ‘liberalized’ it can accommodate a broader range of entities and ways of understanding. Both Scientific and Liberal versions of naturalism reject supernatural entities (spirits, Cartesian minds) and supernatural faculties of knowing (mystical insight, spiritual intuition), but adopt different stances toward normativity — specifically about how and where to ‘locate’ normativity with regard to the natural world. This, the ‘placement problem’, poses a challenge to conventional forms of naturalism since the scientific image of the world ultimately has no place for normative phenomena. De Caro and Macarthur explain that the placement problem is apparently intractable for the scientific naturalist orthodoxy.

    In short, immediately, there is a recognisable dominant lab coat clad view, the one I have described as evo mat. That dominant view is the one I have specifically addressed, not least for the simple reason that it is dominant, it is the live issue on the streets in the labs and in seminar rooms.

    I do not appreciate the attempt above to substitute an exotic academic minority view and suggest failure or delusion on my part for speaking to what is dominant instead of minority esoterica. And when the book concedes that there has been controversy over norms, specifically those of the canons of reason and of moral conduct, that is a way of saying that naturalistic schools of thought have long had serious difficulty accounting for the credibility of the mind and the fact that we find ourselves inescapably under moral government.

    Which is the exact list of concerns I have highlighted on my own observations and on the observations of others far more august than either of us.

    One of the pivotal issues in that is that in discussions of mind and its roots and reliability, we are in the relevant sense minded so the matter is self referential. Where, cutting to the chase scene, I have CONSISTENTLY found that such are self contradictory as outlined, e.g. Cricks neuron networks. Emergentism comes across in that context as a voila poof smoke cloud over that. Wholism that does not connect to substantial grounds runs into the same problem.

    And this brings us full circle to exchanges on worldview foundations.

    As finite fallible minded entities we need finitely remote worldview foundations that need to be coherent and well supported by experience, whatever metaphor we may wish to make in place of the traditional one of building foundations.

    At this level or first plausibles will not be subject to further proof but should be at least as plausible as alternatives [don’t beg questions], and we should have coherence in light of relevant first principles of right reason that are self evident. They should also have elegance, economy and effectiveness in explaining reality.

    That brings up yet another loaded strawman from EL.

    Self evident truths are true, are known to be true on understanding them without proof, and are patently seen to be true on pain of IMMEDIATE not subtle absurdity on denial. For instance the denial of 3 + 2 = 5 lands one in immediate hot water. Likewise rocks have no dreams and cannot be deluded that they are conscious and even if we are mistaken as to what we are we are incorrigibly and self evidently, infallibly conscious. (This was a focus for considerable debate some time ago.) and of course, that error exists is undeniable.

    Such SETs and first principles of reason mow a wide swath across current worldviews, showing up a large scale, widespread disease of irrationality in our time.

    Back on topic, the reality of moral government leads to a further test: the only point where the IS-OUGHT gap can be bridged is at foundational level. There needs to be an IS in our views that sufficiently grounds OUGHT. There is but one serious candidate, the inherently good Creator God who is a necessary and powerful being [thus, eternal] and the root of reality.

    In short the issue of moral government points to a transcendent reality that grounds our reality and would also explain our minds as gifts to those made in the image of the root of reality.

    All of this is of course phil not science, but we are dealing with worldviews here.

    KF

  74. 74
    kairosfocus says:

    Jerad:

    When are you going to treat me like an intelligent, independent, sincere individual?

    When you return to acting like one and in particular show signs of concern at the slander and hate we see freely spewing forth even now in TSZ and the like places.

    KF

  75. 75
    Axel says:

    Well, another has occurred to me, any way: When I politely declined a second helping of apple-pie one day I remember my mother saying, ‘Well you can’t have any!’

    Post hoc or retro anticipatory logic would it be?

  76. 76
    kairosfocus says:

    And Jerad: Your turnabout projection attempt illustrates the problem. At no time have I projected any claims that design thinkers are anything but finite, fallible, morally struggling creatures. Similarly, I have identified specific sites, institutions and circles currently caught up in an ideological culture war game involving slander and censorship. I have and others have, provided substantial details. We have called for correction. We find here several people including yourself, coming here to project blame to the victim and distract from the grave wrongs. Such behaviour is aptly called enabling, and when it is sustained in the teeth of correction, it shows a tacit or premeditated good cop bad cop collusion. When you move beyond that all too familiar we are the angels you are the devils and loonies — I here echo both Alinsky’s and Dawkins’ words — pattern, then I will begin to take you seriously. You have forfeited the presumption of sincerity, now you have to earn it back the hard way. A good place to begin would be to show a serious evaluation of what has been going on at TSZ and BSU, multiplied by some evidence of doing serious homework before trotting out all too familiar talking points and rhetorical tactics. For just one instance, you have been around UD for a long time, Explain to us how it is seemingly only today you have discovered the glossary in the resources tab — accessible from EVERY UD page — and why your immediate reaction was to comment to suggest that it is ill founded and untrustworthy without even providing an instance that substantiates so grave an insinuation. KF

  77. 77
    Alan Fox says:

    When you return to acting like one and in particular show signs of concern at the slander and hate we see freely spewing forth even now in TSZ and the like places.

    “…slander and hate we see freely spewing forth…” my eye. Give me one example of a slander (a link, not more verbiage) at TSZ. I’ve asked you numerous times, KF, and you still have not been able to quote and link to any such “slander”. You are impervious to reason, apparently more so then usual.

    *resumes lurk mode as considers it unlikely to see evidence of KF’s “slander” claim this side of hell freezing over*

  78. 78
    Axel says:

    You’re on a hiding to nothing, KF. Given the fated nature of colloquies with materialists, you should expect the worst in terms of irrationality, both intellectually and spiritually.
    If you sup with Old Nick, even as a foe, you need a long spoon It’s only superficially about reasoned discourse.

    Pardon my presumption in saying this, KF. I mean well.

  79. 79
    nightlight says:

    @62 Kantian Naturalist

    I have a pretty hard time accepting that life is logically deducible from the known laws of matter-energy, in any sense of “logically deducible” I can recognize. So is biology a proto-science, in your sense?

    I agree that life (origin or its evolution) are not deducible from the present laws of matter-energy. But that is not because there is some fundamental impossibility or prohibition of such explanation or algorithmic model. It is because our present formulation of these laws is incomplete and archaic, being based on mechanical machine-like Newtonian metaphors, limited to paper & pencil accessible algorithms (calculus, classical math).

    Seeds for the new kind of algorithmic or computational reformulation of natural laws have emerged in the last few decades under the labels ‘digital mechanics’ (Fredkin, Toffoli & MIT ‘hackers’), cellular automata, neural networks, pregeometry. One of the most developed variants in this direction is Stephen Wolfram’s “New Kind Science” (NKS).

    One can view NKS approach as translation of the natural science into the language of general algorithms which is a vastly larger and more powerful modeling space than that accessible to the algorithms running on the ‘paper and pencil’ technology on human brains (which is the presently dominant formulation of natural laws). From the birds eye view (Kurzweil’s “singularity” perspective), through these developments humans are translating and passing on their knowledge to the next level of lifeforms which are algorithmically more powerful than ourselves and which will inherit our dominion some day. In the transitional period we will enjoy the fruits of the new insights as they trickle down, simplify and funnel into our more limited cognitive apparatus (human brains).

    An early hint as to what this kind of transition may look like was the controversial 1976 proof of the “4 color Theorem” which was done by computer and was largely opaque to the human referees, although human referees could verify the correctness of the algorithms which computed the proof (but humans couldn’t carry out the computations done by the algorithms, hence the controversy).

    What Wolfram proposes and initiates in the NKS is the wholesale translation of the entire mathematics, natural science (physics, chemistry, biology) and other specialized disciplines (engineering, economy, sociology, psychology, medicine, etc) into the algorithmic form and then seek to advance these fields through developments of new algorithms to carry out the computations which are far beyond the reach of the present paper and pencil algorithmic technologies running on human brains.

    Although we currently use computers in all these fields, they are merely used to simulate our paper and pencil algorithms, such as solving differential equations and integrals (symbolically or numerically), editing documents in word processor and presenting them on the web, to lay out scientific papers via latex scripts, publish, archive and search scientific papers, etc. That is analogous to using computers to simulate abacus, then doing the arithmetic on this touch screen abacus image using the abacus algorithms. While the computer may improve over the physical abacus in the ease and speed of moving the pegs around, that is far from the most efficient way to do arithmetic on the computer.

    The NKS seeks to bypass the middlemen (the humanly computable algorithms, simulated touch screen abacus) and use the algorithmic methods directly, from the core, from the fundamental physics and up. There is a large chapter of the NKS book which explores the fundamental physics from this perspective. A brief glimpse into the approach is presented in this very readable article on pregeometry by Wolfram.

    In the NKS perspective, our physical universe, not only the behavior of matter-energy but also the basic properties of space and time, is computed by an underlying level reality (he calls it ‘space-time network’; I prefer the term Planckian network introduced by some others, to distinguish additional features beyond physics). The upshot is that our physical universe is Matrix-like entity at the foundation (which is quite different from the psychedelic inspired Hollywood ‘battery & vats’ version). Our fundamental particles and quantum fields are merely patterns unfolding on this substratum, like little gliders in the Conway’s Game of Life.

    What we presently call ‘laws of physics’ (and chemistry) is merely a tiny snippet of the regularities of these patterns that can be captured and expressed via our ‘paper and pencil’ class of algorithms. The content of the far more subtle, full underlying unfolding computed by this Planckian matrix includes not just the laws of physics, but also their fine tuning for life as well as the origin and evolution of life.

    None of these higher patterns are reducible to the laws of physics and chemistry (as presently understood) which capture only the limited features of the full computations. A longer discussion on this perspective (covering physics, fine tuning, origin and evolution of life, nature of consciousness) was sketched in a series of posts in an earlier UD thread (the hyperlinked full TOC by post topic is in the second half of this post).

    Regarding the relation to ID, while the Planckian Networks (PN) approach is also based on ‘intelligent agency’, the PN terminology and concepts are computational and algorithmic rather than conceived as actions of conscious intelligent agency (the latter are secondary properties of the computations by PN).

    Besides the differences in the basic concepts and terminology, the principal difference from ID is that the intelligence in PN works from inside out, from small to large, not from large to small, intervening from the heavens above as in ID.

    As result, the PN intelligence is not a part time intelligent intervention of ID (as advocated by DI) that sneaks in every now and then to fix the ‘irreducibly complex’ problems and fill the gaps that ‘laws of nature’ cannot cover. Instead, the intelligence of PN is the full time job, upholding and computing the universe in all its details, in all places and all times continuously.

    While one can look at the PN as ultimate front loading, the difference from deism is in the much greater economy of the asusmptions (postulates) in PN that avoids infinite chain of ever more intelligent first movers of the ‘first movers’. What is front loaded (postulated) in PN are simple elemental, self-replicating computational elements with additive intelligence (mathematically modeled by neural networks), the rest is being computed (i.e. effectively deduced).

    Hence, in the PN the whole universe is not precomputed once in the beginning and let go (as conceived via Lapalace’s all knowing demon), but rather it is being computed continuously in its increasing complexity and interconnectedness, as its intelligence, computational power and algorithmic sophistication increase. Life on Earth, humans and human societies are merely the latest computing technologies of the PN matrix in this corner of the universe as it is working itself out and harmonizing its activity at ever larger scales, with ever finer precision and greater efficiency.

  80. 80
    Axel says:

    Here’s another kindred example of an innovative non-breakthrough in the sum total of human knowledge:

    Mother, seeing a broken lamp on the floor of the sitting room?

    Who did that? You must have done that, Ernest!

    Ernest: ‘The lamp broke.’ (Mind emerged)

    Though not verbatim, that was how a journalist described a government enquiry, which was evidently designed on no account to reveal the truth. Their favourite m.o. is, in any case, to claim that the failure was systemic, the corollary being that no individual or group can be blamed or held to account for it.

  81. 81
    nightlight says:

    @64 Elizabeth B Liddle

    Well, you keep asserting this. It’s what I am questioning.

    I think it has. I think the main problem in seeing it is conceptual. For example there is a huge and extremely well supported body of scientific evidence on the neural substrates of attention.

    The problem is that A is “neural substrate (correlate) of” B, where A is an element of natural science (i.e. of its model space (M)) does not deductively make B element of (M). The best one can say then is to declare identity “B is A” as the new postulate of (M). The problems with adding that kind of “postulates” into the algorithmic (formal) component of science (M) are numerous. Here are few that stick out at a glance:

    a) the lack of quantitative precision of (A) – the neural correlates proposed are fuzzy, qualitative, long winded descriptions (stories)

    b) the massive amount of ‘ad hoc’ information that needs to be added as postulates in order to capture all the variations, nuances and details of A.

    c) the excessive specificity of (A), precluding model space (M) from answering the questions about element (B) of non-human systems, such as animals, or something not made of neurons such as androids or general computers (using some other kind of computational elements)

    d) Postulates violate Occam’s razor in the sense that one can use correlates of the ‘mind-stuff’ so that mind-stuff language is merely a convenient shorthand for the long winded neural correlates without needing anything of the sort ‘what is it like to be such arrangement of matter-energy’ (the qualia, the actual experience). Nothing is gained by the model space (M) by adding a claim that correlates answer such question since the inner experience doesn’t seem to do anything within (M) that correlates don’t already do without it. One could as well dump the non-functional baggage (mind-stuff) from (M) and restrict (M) to zombie world since it makes no difference, correlates do it all anyway and B is redundant (yet our direct experience tells us that it is not, but (M) with its correlates postulates cannot explain why that is so).

    e) The approach is passing on or conflating epistemological solution (actually and open ended process of ever expanding list of neural correlates) to the ontological problem – what is the mind stuff and why is there at all and where exactly is that “there” (some humans, some races, all humans, some or all animals, androids,…)?

    In short, identity B=A approach via “neural correlates” is ugly, inefficient and ineffective as a fundamental postulate of natural science to explain consciousness (even if one can formulate the massive quantities of words and data needed to express it, which science isn’t even close to completing).

    That approach is of the same kind of “solution” as the spirits of nature, one added for each phenomenon with elaborate, rich stories for each as to how it makes the phenomenon work.

    The “neural correlates” approach is actually quite analogous to the epicycles of the ancient and medieval astronomy, which, while usably practical (just as neural correlates may be e.g. for lie detectors or as diagnostic tool in psychiatry), were highly wasteful in postulates and assumptions, being overspecific with custom ad hoc cycles added for each object, thus unable to generalize, requiring new rules for any new object found.

    That all changed when the more pertinent inner pattern was discovered, first glimpsed at by Copernicus and Kepler, then finalized by Newton in his theory of gravity and the three laws of motion (that all can fit on half a page of text).

    In summary to this whole sub-thread, invoking “consciousness” into ID or other scientific debate does not bring the authority of natural science behind your argument, since present natural science does not have a model of ‘consciousness’ (mind stuff; cf. “hard problem of consciousness”).

    There are only various half baked informal ideas, such as neural correlates, floating around as rhetorical stop-gap measures, unusable as genuine postulates of natural science (as the problems (a)-(e) illustrate). I suppose ‘scientific priesthoods’ since ancient Egypt at least, always sought to create illusion for the outsiders to be in control of everything there is, having covered all the bases, including ‘consciousness’, life after death, creation, god,…

  82. 82
    Jerad says:

    You have forfeited the presumption of sincerity, now you have to earn it back the hard way. A good place to begin would be to show a serious evaluation of what has been going on at TSZ and BSU, multiplied by some evidence of doing serious homework before trotting out all too familiar talking points and rhetorical tactics. For just one instance, you have been around UD for a long time, Explain to us how it is seemingly only today you have discovered the glossary in the resources tab — accessible from EVERY UD page — and why your immediate reaction was to comment to suggest that it is ill founded and untrustworthy without even providing an instance that substantiates so grave an insinuation. KF

    If you want to address the situation at TSZ then why don’t you join the conversation there? I don’t participate there. I have read a few threads but I don’t make a habit of it. If you’ve got a problem you deal with it.

    I bet a lot of participants on this forum have not thoroughly studied the glossary. That’s just a guess on my part, it could be wrong. But I would never fault someone ’cause they hadn’t read it. I never said it was ill founded! You’re making that up. I just said why don’t you and the other UD commenters make sure it’s accurate, up-to-date and says what you want it to say and then you can direct people to it to make sure they understand the terms you use the way you intend them to be interpreted.

  83. 83
    Jerad says:

    When you return to acting like one and in particular show signs of concern at the slander and hate we see freely spewing forth even now in TSZ and the like places.

    I haven’t read a thread at TSZ for weeks! If you have a problem with what’s posted there then go there and say so!

    Since when have I become your strawman? You’re casting aspersions on my motives, character and intelligence and asking me to deal with something you have a problem with that I have very little knowledge of, that I did not participate in, that I have no power to change.

    When Dr Dawkins published The God Delusion he received hideous, vitriolic hate mail from people who disagreed with him. Some of the opinions expressed by his detractors you might agree with. I’m not presuming so nor am I asking you to do anything about it. I only ascribe views to you based on what I’ve read that you’ve written and I don’t expect you to deal with situations I find deplorable that you were not involved with.

    I’m not part of your war. You can attack me if you wish but it will serve to only make you look well off base.

  84. 84

    It strikes me that news ought to read the glossary. She may be surprised at the definition of “Darwinism” given there.

    She seems to think it means “atheism”.

  85. 85
    Box says:

    The last couple of days we have been witnessing the birth of an entirely new philosophy: Holistic Materialism. Unlike old school Materialism – based on metaphysical naturalism – it does not have the reductionistic ambition to explain organisms by its parts.

    The holistic materialist regards the organism to be a whole and is unwilling to make even the most basic distinctions between parts of an organism. Take for instance consciousness. The holistic materialist does not regard consciousness to be separate from the limbs or any other part of the organism.
    The holistic materialist is able to circumvent difficult questions regarding consciousness which are impossible to answer by good old materialism.

    What does this all have to do with materialism and its reductionist ambition to divide an organism in ultimately fermions and bosons? What is the ontological status of the organism as a whole in Holistic Materialism? What power holds an organism together for exactly a lifetime? How does the mysterious whole accomplish this and where does the whole come from? How does Holistic Materialism accommodate downward causation? These are all good questions.
    Below are quotes from an holistic materialist called Liz:

    that person is the whole organism

    If you regard the person as the whole organism, then there is no contradiction.

    the person having the experience as the whole organism, not some inner homunculus separate from the organism, provides a more sensible framework for an explanation.

    I’d say that the whole person – the organisms – experiences consciousness as a unity

    I’m defining I as the whole system-organism.

    I think that what causes my actions is me – the whole human organism known as Lizzie.

    In other words, in my view, “I” am a whole organism,
    to be conscious of the world and to conceive and excecute a purpose – are properties of the whole organism.

    Yes, this is – believe it or not – still in the realm of materialism.

  86. 86

    Box

    The holistic materialist regards the organism to be a whole and is unwilling to make even the most basic distinctions between parts of an organism.

    An interesting term, Box, thanks! I’ll use that 🙂

    But you are not correct in saying that a “holistic materialist” (if you mean me) “is unwilling to make even the most basic distinctions between parts of an organism.”

    I’d say that the “holistic materialist” model is one of nested systems, where there are very distinct differences between subsystems, but where those subsystems have very different properties from their parts, or the system of which they form a part.

    And that some properties – e.g. “consciousness” are properties only of higher systems (higher in the nesting) lower. But that does not mean that consciousness is not the result of those lower systems. It is. But it is the result of the system OF those lower systems, just as the properties of water is the result of the systems of hydrogen and oxygen, but does not share the properties of hydrogen and oxygen.

    And yes, you ask good questions 🙂

    I may write a post about this at TSZ, and link to your post here. You would be very welcome to come and discuss it further there.

  87. 87
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    In re: KF @ 69

    I would point out to you on the Churchland case that she has highlighted something that is significant in its own right, the evo mat challenge to get from survival to truth and rationality. As have ever so many others. Yes, there have been debates and suggestions but the problem is real.

    I never meant to suggest that I dismissed the problem as unreal — it’s that I’m not convinced that your way of conceptualizing the problem is the most helpful way of doing so.

    (For the curious, the quote from Churchland that Plantinga uses is from her 1987 “Epistemology in the Age of Neuroscience” (PDF).)

    The key to her approach — to both of the Churchlands, actually — is this: although brains do represent their environments (and themselves as parts of their environments), and so there is an intelligible way of talking about successful and unsuccessful representation, the brain does not store its representations in terms of sentence-like structures. There aren’t any propositions at the neurological level.

    But, if truth-value is a property of propositions, then the adequacy of neurological representations isn’t a matter of truth-value, but of some other property. Paul Churchland’s answer to that question, as presented in his most recent Plato’s Camera, is that neurological processes represent by mapping domains of the world — hence he calls his theory Domain Portrayal Semantics.

    (I take issue with his use of “semantics” here, because I think Churchland conflates two different notions — what his mentor Wilfrid Sellars called “signifying” and “picturing”. I think that Churchland has given us a really nice account of picturing, far better than Sellars’ own metaphors and analogies, but that it’s still a distinct notion from semantics.)

    As a quasi-Hegelian, I think that the right way of thinking about normativity, rationality, and related issues is in terms of culture (what Hegel called “Geist” or “spirit”). And I certainly do not think that culture/spirit can be reduced to, or explained in terms of, the natural sciences — let alone physics and chemistry! So for me, all the interesting problems turn on the emergence of culture from ‘nature’.

    The problem is that on the relevant evo mat — descriptive short hand — view, all there is to the brain, CNS and body as a whole is molecules in motion interacting in the end by physics and chemistry [hence millivolts and pulse rates] and attaining configs by alleged processes of blind chance and mechanical necessity that offer incremental survival advantages. No wonder truth and things that go with truth such as reason, take the hindmost.

    Well, as my quasi-Hegelianism indicates, I don’t take on that problem — though of course a reductive materialist, such as Alex Rosenberg, would have to, and bite all the bullets along the way — as indeed he does.

    More generally, I would say that although all of the constituents of an organism are its molecules, atoms, etc., there is no way to understand what it is for something to be an organism in terms of its physico-chemical constituents. (Likewise, there is no way to understand what it is for something to a rational agent in terms of its neurological processes.)

    However, the real issue evolutionary materialists face is how to get to mental properties that accurately and intelligibly address and bridge the external world and the inner world of ideas. This, relative to a worldview that accepts only physical components and must therefore arrive at other things by composition of elementary material components and their interactions per the natural regularities and chance processes of our observed cosmos.

    My main objection here is that this assumes that the basic epistemological problematic is best conceptualized in the terms inherited from Descartes — the idea being that we need to somehow “bridge the external world and the inner world of ideas”. If one is committed to asking Cartesian questions, then of course only Cartesian answers will make any sense. So in that (highly limited) sense I fully agree with you that trying to make Epicurean metaphysics (my preferred term for what you call “evo mat”) solve the Cartesian problem will result in incoherence.

    But, that’s not a problem I contend with, partly because I don’t embrace Epicurean metaphysics (“chance” and “necessity”), and partly because I don’t start off with the Cartesian epistemological problematic. Instead I start off with the mitigated Hegelianism of the American pragmatists, in which there is no need for a “bridge” between the external world and the inner world of ideas because the very appearance of a gap between them is itself an illusion that can be dispelled by transcendental argument.

    By this, what I have in mind is the following: our very ability to discriminate between different kinds of mental contents depends upon the contrast between our differently situated, embodied perspectives on the world and how the world is in itself. (Think of Kant’s Second Analogy — we are able to distinguish between the boat moving downstream, relative to us, and our own movement as we get closer or further from a stationary object.)

    Generalized, our ability to discriminate between our own mental contents presupposes, or only makes sense, if there are at least some humanly detectable, mind-independent objects in space and in time.

    The question for naturalists is, given this transcendental argument, which is logically independent of all metaphysics (including naturalism), how does naturalism account for it? How, in other words, is our transcendentally-secured cognition implemented (instantiated, realized)?

  88. 88
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    In re: Box @ 85:

    The last couple of days we have been witnessing the birth of an entirely new philosophy: Holistic Materialism. Unlike old school Materialism – based on metaphysical naturalism – it does not have the reductionistic ambition to explain organisms by its parts.

    I won’t speak for Lizzie, but my vers1908, Merleau-Ponty died in 1961ion is not “entirely new” — I’ve been alluding throughout to John Dewey (1859—1952), Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908-1961), and Hans Jonas (1903-1993). All of them were indebted to previous emergentists such as Bergson and Whitehead, and from thence back to Hegel and Goethe.

    What I find striking is the conspicuous absence of holistic/emergentistic naturalism from these debates as they filter down to how ‘science’ is perceived in the culture in general. The mid-20th century saw a resurgence of reductionist materialism among molecular biologists and particle physicists, and although that’s no longer the case among biologists, physicists, and philosophers any longer, the anti-reductionism of the past twenty or so years has largely remained confined to academics. There’s a real failure of public intellectual leadership at work here. I like to think that my posts here help rectify that failure, but I’m probably deluding myself.

    The holistic materialist regards the organism to be a whole and is unwilling to make even the most basic distinctions between parts of an organism. Take for instance consciousness. The holistic materialist does not regard consciousness to be separate from the limbs or any other part of the organism. The holistic materialist is able to circumvent difficult questions regarding consciousness which are impossible to answer by good old materialism.

    I would say that there are often good reasons to distinguish between “parts of an organism”! Different organs, systems, molecules, etc. — what I would deny is that anatomizing the organism, in a way that renders it appropriate for experimentation and manipulation, will tell us anything really interesting about what it is for something to be conscious. (Though a better understanding of neuroscience will almost certainly tell us something about how conscious mental states are implemented or realized as states of whole living animals.)

    What does this all have to do with materialism and its reductionist ambition to divide an organism in ultimately fermions and bosons? What is the ontological status of the organism as a whole in Holistic Materialism? What power holds an organism together for exactly a lifetime? How does the mysterious whole accomplish this and where does the whole come from? How does Holistic Materialism accommodate downward causation? These are all good questions.

    They might be good questions, or they might rest on category-mistakes — just like Ryle’s imagined visitor who observes the library, the dorms, the classrooms, the administration building, but then asks, “sure, but where is the university?”

    These questions seem to arise from treating “whole-ness” as itself some kind of weird entity that comes in from some other place or quasi-place and does something to the parts. But “whole-ness” is not some property or entity that has any ontological status distinct from the whole organism. For example, “the power that holds an organism together for its lifetime” is just the metabolic activity — that’s what ceases at death and decay sets in. And asking, “but where does the whole come from?” seems just mistaken to me — the whole doesn’t ‘come from’ anywhere. In talking about “whole organisms,” there isn’t any “whole” that exists in some weird quasi-place prior to the organism itself coming into existence.

  89. 89
    niwrad says:

    Coomaraswamy:

    The true principle of a thing is neither in one of its parts nor in the sum of its parts, rather where all its parts are embedded in a higher unity without composition.

    Applied to human: the true principle of a human is neither in one of his body parts nor in the mere sum of the body parts, rather where all these parts (corporeal and psychical) are embedded in a higher unity without composition. This principle of unity of man is his soul (of which his mind is the more direct effect).

    So materialist emergentism is the negation of the principle of man. As rightly said Box, holistic materialism isn’t different from simple materialism, because holistic materialism considers only the mere sum of the material parts, missing entirely the principle, which is what eminently matters.

  90. 90
    Box says:

    Bill Vallicella, aka Maverick Philosopher, on emergentism:

    Here is a measly hunk of frangible bone and flesh out of which emerges a balloon so vast as to encompass the universe past, present, and future. And then one day the wretched little animal dies, the air supply is cut off, and the balloon collapses, its last thought being: what the hell was that all about?

  91. 91

    niwrad

    holistic materialism considers only the mere sum of the material parts, missing entirely the principle, which is what eminently matters.

    No, it doesn’t, and I find it odd that you could think so from what I have written.

    Parts do not simply “sum” to make a whole. If the Mona Lisa was reduced to a heap paint particles, you would not have the Mona Lisa, even though you had every single one of the constituent parts of the paint particles.

    The Mona Lisa is more than the sum of her parts because what is there, in addition, is not more material, but a pattern – the arrangement. Information, in fact.

    When we pulverise the Mona Lisa, even if we do so in a closed volume, and retain every last particle, we lose the Mona Lisa, because what has gone is the arrangement.

    What a living organism has, in addition to its parts, is the arrangement of those parts. As ID proponents correctly say, Information is neither matter nor energy. It is, if you like, immaterial. And if that makes me not-a-materialist fine. But I know of no so-called materialist who does not think that information exists. Indeed, it is implicit in the 2nd Law of thermodynamics that it does.

    So I’d be perfectly happy to describe consciousness as information, embodied in the physical arrangement of matter in a conscious person.

  92. 92
    niwrad says:

    Elizabeth B Liddle

    You consider the arrangement of pixels of Mona Lisa as the highest thing.

    Differently, I say that the highest thing is the principle of Mona Lisa, which is not simply the pixels arrangement, rather the synthetic idea/design in the mind of Leonardo.

    Analogously, the highest thing of man is not merely the arrangement of atoms of his body, rather his soul, which derives from an idea/design in the mind of God.

    For you, the soul, if any, is simply the arrangement of atoms of the body.

  93. 93
    JDH says:

    @Lizzie –

    I want to qualify that I am going only to speak of human consciousness – that which can count, think abstract thoughts, communicate with language and plan for the future. I am not considering animal consciousness for the present.

    I think I understand the need for the term “emergent”. It really seems to place a scientific ring to the observation consciousness exists. After all under the assumptions of materialism, there must be a cause for it.

    Of course the term itself:

    1. Is a claim that is as practiced is non-falsifiable.

    We all know obviously just putting a bunch of human neurons together in a petri dish does not produce consciousness and that the only place that consciousness is observed is in a living human being birthed by a parent. Since I think this adequately falsifies the “emergent” hypothesis, but is not considered falsification of the “emergent” hypothesis by it’s proponents, I assume there is no experiment that can adequately falsify the statement that consciousness emerges from a collection of neurons.

    2. It can not be mathematically modeled.

    It is just a vague statement that has no associated quantities with it.

    3. It does nothing at all to clarify how consciousness occurs.

    When I call consciousness an “emergent” property, all that is does is allow non-fitting analogies to be assigned to it. So one can now say something true like “a water molecule is not ‘wet’, but ‘wetness’ is an emergent property of ‘water'”. But this is a non-argument. What you have done is assign the same term ’emergent’ to two obviously different processes. One can label ‘consciousness’ as emergent from neurons, and ‘wetness’ as emergent from water molecules, but since obviously they are not ’emergent’ in anyway near the same manner ( i.e. simple 19th century physics can explain how the property of ‘wetness’ comes from a collection of water molecules ) it really just confuses the issue.

    I conclude therefore that the term ’emergent’ is not meant to clarify, explain, or elucidate anything. It is meant to obfuscate the observed fact that current science really knows nothing about consciousness at all.

    A fact that makes it clear that anyone who really wants to make a good decision based on current understanding ( not based on what is assumed science will eventually discover ) must conclude that the best current explanation for consciousness lies in a world not limited to materialism.

  94. 94
    Mung says:

    The return of Alan Fox!

    Give me one example of a slander (a link, not more verbiage) at TSZ.

    Define “slander.”

    When Elizabeth claimed that Stephen Meyer does not know the difference between a phylum (singular) and a phyla (plural) was that a slander?

  95. 95
    Mung says:

    nightlight,

    I’ve been following your exchange with Elizabeth with some interest. I see from some of the links you provided that you have posted here in the past but I am sad to say this is the first time I have taken notice and can only hope it’s because we were not posting here at the same time.

    If you are familiar with Gregory, his beef with ID seems to be that it claims to be a “natural science only” theory.

    Your claim seems to be that ID, as presented by some (specifically Stephen Meyer), fails even as a “natural science only” theory.

    Anyways, I just wanted you to know that I find your posts interesting and worth reading and look forward to more from you.

    But Wolfram, really? Are you asking me to heft that massive tome once again, lol?

  96. 96
    Mung says:

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    It strikes me that news ought to read the glossary. She may be surprised at the definition of “Darwinism” given there.

    She seems to think it means “atheism”.

    lol.

    Elizabeth, by her own admission, does not know what ‘Darwinism’ means. But she seeks to correct ‘News’ as to the meaning of ‘Darwinism.’ Too rich.

    Now, anticipating the response from Elizabeth, if you (Elizabeth) don’t know what ‘Darwinism’ means, what made you even suspect that News was not using the term according to proper and/or common usage?

    Oh, that’s right, you do know what it means. You’re just never quite sure what others mean when they use the term.

  97. 97
    Mung says:

    Jerad:

    If you want to address the situation at TSZ then why don’t you join the conversation there?

    Like Upright BiPed, you mean?

    Like WJM?

    Oh sure, if you don’t like the sewer, why not get in it. It’s lovely!

  98. 98
    niwrad says:

    Elizabeth B Liddle:

    What a living organism has, in addition to its parts, is the arrangement of those parts. […]
    What is there, in addition, is not more material, but a pattern – the arrangement. Information, in fact. […]
    Consciousness is information, embodied in the physical arrangement of matter.

    You define well emergentism: soul is a body pattern, or what pattern causes, an effect – emergent property – of pattern.

    Differently, in the non-emergentist organic hierarchical view, human soul is not mere pattern/information due to the physical arrangement of body. Soul is an higher principle, an agent, the driver of body. What drives your fingers to write your posts? Your soul. Your fingers, even your entire body, would be incapable to write anything, without an agent driving them. In Zen teaching there is a famous hua tou (statement on which to meditate) used to help the student to grasp the soul:

    Who drags here this corpse?

    So defined, it is straightforward that such agent/driver cannot emerge from a pattern of the object/driven. How can what controls arise from what is controlled? It cannot. The chess player doesn’t arise from a chess pattern.

  99. 99

    Mung:

    You’re just never quite sure what others mean when they use the term.

    Indeed, Mung. And when I try to find out, I am accused of nitpicking and obfuscation, and duelling by definition.

    So I’m left with simply not knowing what the term is supposed to mean.

    In my view, a very high proportion of the miscommunication here arises from equivocation, deliberate or inadvertent, with the word “Darwinism”. It is defined in the UD glossary as the a scientific theory (neo-Darwinian synthesis). Yet it is often used as though it is synonymous with “atheism”.

    And as a result, any scientific problem with the neo-Darwinian synthesis (and there are quite a few – it is now a very old model) are presented as though they are problems for atheism.

    This is classic equivocation.

    Another word that is similarly subject to equivocation is “random”>

  100. 100

    I disagree that that the driver cannot also be the driven, niwrad, although I appreciate the clarity of your post.

    There are many phenomena, I would say, that arise precisely because they drive themselves – re-entrant feedback systems, which, once started, are self-perpetuating. The entire field of chaos theory addresses this.

    Vortices are a classic example. But I suggest cognition is another.

  101. 101
    niwrad says:

    Elizabeth B Liddle:

    I disagree that that the driver cannot also be the driven.

    See? We are unavoidably back to this key question, not by chance. You do claim that the chess player arises from a chess pattern! You don’t realize the enormity of what you claim.

    All the natural feedback phenomena (vortices, chaos…) you cite are not a chess player arising from a chess pattern.

    The soul means mind, intelligence, consciousness, awareness, free-will… in one word, a real chess player, the driver of the chess pieces on the chessboard of body. How can you compare this player/driver with natural vortices…? Oh my.

    You are almost headstrong as my wife. Luck I have a training. I can discuss with you until the end of eternity, but I bet that before the end of the discussion you become an IDer less materialist than me. The ID movement needs intelligent women and you are ok.

  102. 102

    Mung:

    When Elizabeth claimed that Stephen Meyer does not know the difference between a phylum (singular) and a phyla (plural) was that a slander?

    No, Mung, as you pointed out, elsewhere in his book he shows that he does know, so my comment was simply incorrect. It appears that he just got it wrong in the diagram I was referring to. And, as I said at the time, that error is minor compared to the howler of the diagram itself.

    I see you still have not addressed the howler.

  103. 103

    I do realise, it, niwrad.

    Of course I don’t claim that a chess player arises from a chess pattern. A game of chess is not a re-entrant system.

    I’m saying that a thinking aware organism is.

    And give my best regards to your wife 🙂

  104. 104

    JDH: thanks for your post.

    Of course the term itself:

    1. Is a claim that is as practiced is non-falsifiable.

    We all know obviously just putting a bunch of human neurons together in a petri dish does not produce consciousness and that the only place that consciousness is observed is in a living human being birthed by a parent. Since I think this adequately falsifies the “emergent” hypothesis, but is not considered falsification of the “emergent” hypothesis by it’s proponents, I assume there is no experiment that can adequately falsify the statement that consciousness emerges from a collection of neurons.

    I don’t think this is a falsification. It is of course possible that birth from a parent is the necessary condition for consciousness, but it could also be that it is not – that what is possible is a specific configuration of neurons, one that is in practice only found in organisms born from a parent, but which could, in principle be assembled by other means. In other words, the important part may be (and I would argue is) the configuration itself, not the fact of being born.

    2. It can not be mathematically modeled.

    It is just a vague statement that has no associated quantities with it.

    It’s not vague, and can in principle be quantified. I’d say at this stage though it is primarily useful as a framework for developing empirical questions rather than as an empirically testable concept in itself.

    3. It does nothing at all to clarify how consciousness occurs.

    Well, I disagree. I think it is already giving us fruitful directions for research. The research has important clinical applications.

    When I call consciousness an “emergent” property, all that is does is allow non-fitting analogies to be assigned to it. So one can now say something true like “a water molecule is not ‘wet’, but ‘wetness’ is an emergent property of ‘water’”. But this is a non-argument. What you have done is assign the same term ‘emergent’ to two obviously different processes. One can label ‘consciousness’ as emergent from neurons, and ‘wetness’ as emergent from water molecules, but since obviously they are not ‘emergent’ in anyway near the same manner ( i.e. simple 19th century physics can explain how the property of ‘wetness’ comes from a collection of water molecules ) it really just confuses the issue.

    Well, clearly simply saying consciousness is “emergent” doesn’t tell you much about consciousness specifically, just as saying that a chair is a piece of furniture doesn’t tell you much about a chair. But it gets us, I suggest, on the road to a more specific account of how consciousness arises from matter.

    I recommend Edelman and Tononi’s book, A Universe Of Consciousness How Matter Becomes Imagination for a highly detailed proposal.

    I conclude therefore that the term ‘emergent’ is not meant to clarify, explain, or elucidate anything. It is meant to obfuscate the observed fact that current science really knows nothing about consciousness at all.

    It is certainly not “meant to obfuscate” on my part. You seem to be assuming your conclusion here – you regard it as a “fact” that “science really knows nothing about consciousness at all”, which I strongly dispute, and then conclude that terms used to ostensibly to clarify it must therefore really be an attempt to obfuscate.

    You may disagree, and indeed you may think that it is nonsense, but do not assume that those who disagree with you are trying to confuse you. They (and I) are not.

    A fact that makes it clear that anyone who really wants to make a good decision based on current understanding ( not based on what is assumed science will eventually discover ) must conclude that the best current explanation for consciousness lies in a world not limited to materialism.

    Your fact is in dispute. We know a great deal about the material requirements for consciousness. If we did not, for a start we would have no way at all of deciding whether someone was dead or not. Nor would the entire science of anaesthesia be possible.

  105. 105

    oops, add virtual close blockquote tag after JDH’s numbered line 2 above

  106. 106
    niwrad says:

    Elizabeth B Liddle:

    Of course I don’t claim that a chess player arises from a chess pattern. A game of chess is not a re-entrant system. I’m saying that a thinking aware organism is.

    A game of chess is a re-entrant system. Feedback exists between two parts when each affects the other. This is exactly what happens in a chess game between two chess players or between two chess computers or between a human player and an artificial player. Despite of in chess there is feedback no chess player arises from a chess pattern.

    Analogously, in a thinking aware organism there are many feedbacks. Neither one of them nor their set can produce the soul agent/driver. Feedback can blindly work-out patterns, not create a seer/agent/driver overarching patterns.

  107. 107
    Box says:

    Assuming that humans are the only conscious beings in the universe, and assuming that no brain is the same as another, there are many billions of different systems – different human brains / bodies – which all provoke the emergence of an individual consciousness. In fact there are many more, since a human body changes many times during a lifetime. This adds hugely to the number of possible material configurations that trigger the emergence of consciousness.
    With such a vastly populated design space it should be easy to invoke the emergence of consciousness in the laboratory, but like JDH states in his excellent post #93 “putting a bunch of human neurons together in a petri dish does not produce consciousness”.
    Given that the body and brain changes physically often during a lifetime. How does emergentism explain that we perceive ourselves as being the same person over time? How can an endless amount of different physical configurations produce the emergence of a consciousness who perceives itself as permeating through time – the unity of experience. An illusion perhaps?

  108. 108
    Allen Shepherd says:

    I have not commented here before, but have really enjoyed the site.

    This discussion is quite interesting, but confusing as well.

    My take would be: If we are machines of some sort, very complicated but machines nonetheless (and I would believe that if we are “emergent”, then we are some sort of machine in essence), then the actions of Mother Teresa and Al Capone are equivalent. The settings were just different, and so different results ensued. They could not be blamed or condemned one way or the other, they couldn’t help it.

    And trying to educate any moral principles would seem futile as well.

    Now that seems ridiculous to me, but perhaps I am missing something.

  109. 109

    Box:

    Assuming that humans are the only conscious beings in the universe, and assuming that no brain is the same as another, there are many billions of different systems – different human brains / bodies – which all provoke the emergence of an individual consciousness. In fact there are many more, since a human body changes many times during a lifetime. This adds hugely to the number of possible material configurations that trigger the emergence of consciousness.

    Yes indeed, although in an astronomically larger configuration space.

    With such a vastly populated design space it should be easy to invoke the emergence of consciousness in the laboratory, but like JDH states in his excellent post #93 “putting a bunch of human neurons together in a petri dish does not produce consciousness”.

    You think it should be easy to produce a configuration of neurons in a petri dish that would be conscious?

    Leaving aside that far more than neurons are necessary for consciousness, are you serious?

    Given that the body and brain changes physically often during a lifetime. How does emergentism explain that we perceive ourselves as being the same person over time?

    Well the simple word “emergentism” does not. However, the concept of a reentrant system does, I suggest, do the job very nicely.

    How can an endless amount of different physical configurations produce the emergence of a consciousness who perceives itself as permeating through time – the unity of experience. An illusion perhaps?

    Not an illusion, which is a word that we normally use to denote a percept that conflicts with other evidence, for instance, the percept that the moon at the horizon subtends a larger angle than it does at the zenith.

    Consciousness is not an illusion; it is a perfectly consistent percept. We perceive that we are conscious, and that percept does not conflict with other evidence.

  110. 110

    niwrad:

    A game of chess is a re-entrant system. Feedback exists between two parts when each affects the other. This is exactly what happens in a chess game between two chess players or between two chess computers or between a human player and an artificial player. Despite of in chess there is feedback no chess player arises from a chess pattern.

    OK, then just shift your level of analysis up one. The chess game is feeding back into itself.

    As a result, the chess game changes and develops, and goes from its beginning to its end. Yet it remains the same chess game.

    The main difference is that it is a closed system. Organisms are open to the environment that they have to navigate. They have, in other words, to be aware of the environment, as well as aware of their own position within it, and what actions will affect their relationship with it.

    Analogously, in a thinking aware organism there are many feedbacks. Neither one of them nor their set can produce the soul agent/driver. Feedback can blindly work-out patterns, not create a seer/agent/driver overarching patterns.

    Well, this is precisely what I am disputing.

  111. 111
    niwrad says:

    Elizabeth B Liddle:

    The main difference is that chess is a closed system. Organisms are open to the environment that they have to navigate. They have, in other words, to be aware of the environment, as well as aware of their own position within it, and what actions will affect their relationship with it.

    One could easily transform a normal closed chess game into an open one, for example, by allowing the players to receive suggestions from the environment. Despite that now the system has become open the same no chess player arises from a chess pattern.

    Yes, organisms are open to the environment and have to be aware of it, but the arise of their soul is what has to be explained in the first place and is not explained by their openness either, like it was not explained by their feedback nature.

    About your answer to Box’s question: “How does emergentism explain that we perceive ourselves as being the same person over time?”

    Well the simple word “emergentism” does not. However, the concept of a reentrant system does, I suggest, do the job very nicely.

    I am glad that you finally admit that “emergentism” explains nothing. I already explained to you why also reentrant systems per se cannot develop soul. What causes “we perceive ourselves as being the same person over time” is soul.

  112. 112

    Yes, that is an interesting suggestion, niwrad. That makes the chess game a better analogy.

    Please do not characterise the words of mine that you cite as a “finally admit[ting]” something, implying that I was somehow claiming that “emergentism” was an “explanation” at all.

    It isn’t. In fact, not being a philosopher, I am not quite sure what “emergentism” entails. What I did say is that we can regard systems as emergent entities that have properties not possessed by their parts.

    And if we do so, I suggest, we have a far better chance of explaining how conscousness arises. But recasting a problem does not give us the solution. It often helps us find one.

  113. 113
    niwrad says:

    Elizabeth B Liddle

    Well,
    I don’t see in your last post anything technical to refute. After all, you have diligently tried almost all possibilities: complication, feedback, openness. No one works. No wonder. Bottom-up algorithmic explanations of soul/mind cannot work in principle, because it can be explained only ontologically top-down.

    I do recognize your intellectual honesty. Materialism/evolutionism are illusions very deeply rooted in any modern man/woman. The actual cultural environment install them in us just from the basic school. It takes a lot of force to resist them. I don’t pretend to have convinced you, go figure, in these few interchanges. I am just satisfied that my UD post has got your interest. Thank you.

  114. 114

    Thanks niwrad, I appreciate that.

    I’m going to back off back to TSZ now for a bit, but you are very welcome to come over if you want to discuss further.

  115. 115
    Box says:

    Niwrad post #112:

    [TRANSLATION MODE] ‘Liz, there is absolutely no basis for your position. It doesn’t make sense at all’. [/TRANSLATION MODE]

    Liz, post #113:

    Thanks niwrad, I appreciate that.
    I’m going to back off back to TSZ now for a bit, but you are very welcome to come over if you want to discuss further.

  116. 116
    niwrad says:

    Box, I have much appreciated also your contributions, and by the way the contributions of all commenters. I think that together we have discussed well and politely. So, thanks and good weekend to all.

  117. 117
    Mung says:

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    “Darwinism”. It is defined in the UD glossary as the a scientific theory (neo-Darwinian synthesis).

    Precisely. The neo-Darwinian synthesis.

    But I personally don’t think it’s a scientific theory.

    🙂

  118. 118
    Mung says:

    Mung:

    When Elizabeth claimed that Stephen Meyer does not know the difference between a phylum (singular) and a phyla (plural) was that a slander?

    Elizabeth:

    No, Mung, as you pointed out, elsewhere in his book he shows that he does know, so my comment was simply incorrect.

    Your claim was false. Does the fact that your assertion was false make it not a slander?

    How so?

    Elizabeth:

    No, Mung, as you pointed out, elsewhere in his book he shows that he does know, so my comment was simply incorrect.

    Elsewhere in his book, really? Like in Chapter 2 of his book, the chapter you claimed to disagree with? That’s where he made the clear distinction. That’s where it’s clearly evident that he knows the difference. That’s what you had to ignore to come up with your “incorrect” comment.

    EL:

    It appears that he just got it wrong in the diagram I was referring to.

    You cherry-picked a diagram from Chapter 7 to show that Meyer doesn’t know what he’s talking about in chapter 2?

    And, as I said at the time, that error is minor compared to the howler of the diagram itself.

    Which diagram, the one you pulled from Chapter 7 and tried to insert into Chapter 2? The diagram that on the left says PHYLA but on the left says PHYLUM?

    I see you still have not addressed the howler.

    I’ve addressed your howler repeatedly.

    If Meyer is guilty of a “howler” I honestly don’t see it. I see you taking a drawing out of context (a drawing from chapter 7) and inserting it into a discussion of what Meyer is discussing in Chapter 2.

    I see you making assertions which are clearly false, which you choose to describe as merely incorrect.

  119. 119
    Mung says:

    Alan Fox:

    Give me one example of a slander (a link, not more verbiage) at TSZ.

    Define slander, Alan.

  120. 120

    Mung, if you want to know why Meyer’s drawing is a howler, read my post. The same error is present in the other drawings, and in the text, and pervades the book.

    And I don’t mean the misuse of the plural.

  121. 121
    Box says:

    Nightlight

    Nightlight #79: Seeds for the new kind of algorithmic or computational reformulation of natural laws have emerged in the last few decades under the labels ‘digital mechanics’ (Fredkin, Toffoli & MIT ‘hackers’), cellular automata, neural networks, pregeometry. (…)
    Life on Earth, humans and human societies are merely the latest computing technologies of the PN matrix in this corner of the universe as it is working itself out and harmonizing its activity at ever larger scales, with ever finer precision and greater efficiency.

    Nightlight, what are your thoughts on the ‘Gödelian Argument’? This argument uses Gödel’s theorem to show that minds cannot be explained in purely mechanist / computationalist terms. It has been put forward, in different forms, by Kurt Gödel himself, by Sir Roger Penrose, and J.R. Lucas.
    The argument is discussed, for instance, at the website of J.R. Lucas.

    At the weblog of Bill Vallicella I found an excellent summary of the Gödelian argument by a poster by the name of Deogolwulf:

    Deriving from Lucas and ultimately Gödel, a sketch of an argument ad absurdum against mechanism or computationalism can be given as follows:

    I.The human mind is fallible and contains inconsistencies.

    II.The human mind is a formal system like that of a machine.

    Therefore,
    III.The human mind is an inconsistent formal system.

    IV.An inconsistent formal system is thoroughly inconsistent, that is to say, any proposition that can be stated in that system can be proven using its rules.

    Therefore,
    V.The human mind is thoroughly inconsistent, that is to say, any proposition that can be stated by it can be proven using its rules.

    Therefore,
    VI.The human mind can prove itself to be a consistent formal system.

    And,
    VII.Propositions (I)-(VI), and propositions in contradiction to them, can be proven by the human mind.

    And,
    VIII. The contradiction of (VII) can be proven thereby.

    And,
    IX. The contradiction of (VIII) can be proven thereby.
    Ad infinitum.

    Therefore,
    X. The human mind, being thoroughly inconsistent, cannot recognise its own mistakes or recognise the truth of anything.

    Since every reasonable man rejects (X) but accepts (I) and (IV), given an understanding of the world of humanity along with the validity of Gödel’s theorem, he must reject (II), given that the reasoning is valid.

  122. 122
    Mung says:

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    Mung, if you want to know why Meyer’s drawing is a howler, read my post. The same error is present in the other drawings, and in the text, and pervades the book.

    For those who care to follow, your howler of Meyer’s “howler” is exposed on your own blog: here

    You claim to be critiquing Chapter 2. You cherry-pick a drawing from Chapter 7 which uses the term PHLYA while ignoring the right side of that same drawing which employs the term PHYLUM while also ignoring all the drawings from Chapter 2 that you re-created in your OP which also employ the use of the term PHYLUM.

    Howler, yes. Meyer’s howler, no.

  123. 123

    Mung, look again at the drawing. Ignore misuse of the plural, which, as I readily conceded, is a minor matter, and Meyer gets it right elsewhere.

    How do you account for the fact that he has circled only the tips of the branches as a “phyla”, and not the whole branch?

  124. 124
    nightlight says:

    @Box #121

    Nightlight, what are your thoughts on the `Gödelian Argument’? This argument uses Gödel’s theorem to show that minds cannot be explained in purely mechanist / computationalist terms.

    If there weren’t Gödel’s theorem, I would be looking for one since in Planckian networks (PN) perspective, we are here precisely because of the unfinished computation, the incomplete harmonization process (aka “sin”) which is being worked out continuously at all levels. Below is an excerpt from an earlier UD post fleshing out this observation a bit further. There is also a lot more related material in that thread, including model of mind stuff (consciousness), free will, two types of immortality, etc. The TOC hyperlinked by topics is in the 2nd half of this post.

    The interesting question is what is this whole contraption (universe) trying to do, what is it building? Then, what for, why all the trouble?

    A little clue as to what it is doing, comes from inspecting how these networks work at our human level. Each of us belongs to multitudes of adaptable networks simultaneously, such as economic, cultural, political, ethnic, national, scientific, linguistic. Hence these larger scale adaptable networks, which are themselves intelligent agencies, each in pursuit of its own happiness, as it were (optimization of their net [rewards – punishments] score via internal modeling, anticipation, etc), are permeating each other as they unfold, each affecting the same cogs (human individuals), each tugging them their way.

    But these larger scale networks are shaped “in the image” of the lower scale intelligent networks building them, such cellular biochemical networks, which in turn are built in the shape of underlying Planckian networks which built them.

    The picture that this forms is like a gigantic multi-dimensional and multi-level crossword puzzle, where the smallest cells contain letters, next larger cells contain words, then sentences, then paragraphs, then chapters, then volumes, then subject areas, then libraries,…

    This crossword puzzle is solving itself simultaneously in all dimensions and on all levels of cells, seeking to harmonize letters so they make meaningful words in each dimension, then to harmonize multiple words so they make meaningful sentences in each dimension, then paragraphs… across the whole gigantic hypertorus all at once.

    As the lower level cells harmonize and settle into solved, harmonious form, the main action, the edge between chaos and order, shifts to the next scale to be worked out. The higher scales must operate without breaking the solved cells of the previous layers, e.g. we have to operate without breaking physical, chemical and biological laws, which were solved into harmonious state in the previous phases, by networks which are computationally far more powerful than ourselves (thus having superior wisdom to our own).

    Now the hotspot of action is chiefly in our court to compute our little part and harmonize our level of the puzzle. Once completed, the razor edge of innovation shoots up to the higher scales, thinner and sharper than ever before, leaving us behind, frozen in a perfect crystalline harmony and a permanent bliss of an electron.

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