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philosophical zombies (and extra-temporal subjunctive possibility)  (with definitions)
Posted: 20 September 2011 11:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 76 ]
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domokato - 20 September 2011 10:46 AM

Are you saying the pieces of wood are competing?

No. But some piece of wood is first. Some neural causal chains make it to the output device. I just wanted to say there is no need for a decider.

domokato - 20 September 2011 10:46 AM

Are you saying that brain regions that are competing simply yield to each other if they feel they have “lost”,

No. That would be explaining consciousness with help of conscious processes. And I do not mean brain regions, but causal neural threads (or waves, or whatever) that make it to some output device. They don’t have to feel anything, like the pieces of wood.

domokato - 20 September 2011 10:46 AM

I’m only trying to decide whether it is in one place or not. I am looking at it from a computational perspective, so obviously I am not a dualist.

If you think it is in one region of the brain, you just shifted the problem of consciousness to another location. In this respect, you did not even start to get over dualism, in spite of your words.

domokato - 20 September 2011 10:46 AM

It would be like having separate computers for processing each of the senses. If the computers never communicate or feed information to a server, that information would never come together and there would be no conscious experience of them.

Well the computers must communicate of course, but it does not follow there is one server where everything must come together. To give a fantasy-example: imagine you see a huge fire in front of you, you feel the heat, but you hear the voice of your beloved come from the fire, saying ‘Come to me, domokato, I need you’. What will ‘you’ do? Run away or step into the fire? Isn’t that the question of which thread, one originating from your audible subsystem, the other from your vision, in the end will win the power over your motoric system, especially those of your legs?  (OK, I know, this is an oversimplifying example, but you might get the idea. Otherwise look at the ‘big feet’ example of Dennett again…)

domokato - 20 September 2011 10:46 AM

How does that work? How can they consciously decide to move the left side or the right side of their body if there is no communication between the two sides of the brain. Wouldn’t both sides of their body be moving independently?

Normally not, because both hemispheres are still ‘connected’: via the world out there. Split brain patients must always look that they observe the world with both hemispheres. Normally our movements guarantee that. That is the reason one must do experiments to really demonstrate that something is special with split brain patients, like using headphones with different signals left and right, or having a shield in such a way that the eyes get different information.

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Posted: 21 September 2011 01:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 77 ]
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domokato - 20 September 2011 10:46 AM
domokato - 19 September 2011 02:53 PM

Different areas of the brain competing for access to output resources does not seem to be a problem for my theory either. If they are competing, there must be a process that chooses among them and decides the winner, so they still come together at some point.

You are still under the spell of dualism. Let’s give a simple example: at a quick streaming river a few pieces of wood are floating in the direction of a waterfall. I look at it, and wonder which one will be there first, and will ‘win the race’. Does this mean there must be a decider, because otherwise none of pieces will get to the waterfall?

Are you saying the pieces of wood are competing? They are not. The competition is only in your head. Are you saying that brain regions that are competing simply yield to each other if they feel they have “lost”, and that there is no third-party referee? An interesting idea. Unsure how this affects my theory, though. I’ll think on it.

What you do, in trying to explain consciousness, is moving the consciousness to a certain place in the brain, the place where it all comes together. There is no place like that. It is just the good old homunculus. You are explaining consciousness with a conscious subsystem. That is just shifting the problem.

Again, I am not trying to explain consciousness. That is not the “problem” I am addressing. I’m only trying to decide whether it is in one place or not. I am looking at it from a computational perspective, so obviously I am not a dualist. I do, however, think that observing one’s consciousness has at least some value, which is where my theory stems from. I observe that I am aware of many “things” at the same time, and the only way for that awareness to exist is if the information about those “things” all comes together in one place. Is there any other way? I can’t think of any. It would be like having separate computers for processing each of the senses. If the computers never communicate or feed information to a server, that information would never come together and there would be no conscious experience of them.

domokato - 19 September 2011 02:53 PM

If these “conscious” areas were truly separate, they would represent separate consciousnesses.

Why? Even when people have split brains (i.e. their corpus callosum is cut, which means the left and right hemisphere cannot communicate anymore) they still function quite normally in daily life. Only in certain (experimental) situations they do or say things differently than we do.

How does that work? How can they consciously decide to move the left side or the right side of their body if there is no communication between the two sides of the brain. Wouldn’t both sides of their body be moving independently?


One of the problems would be to write a thought down. One side of the brain knows what it wants to write, but the writing part does not know what and how to write it.

As I understand it, you casnnot use both sides of the brain at the same time.  It is either a left brain or a right brain function and while there is communication in a normal brain it still has to switch from side to side in the thinking and writing process. Take away the communication between the two and the left brain literally doesn’t know what the right is thinking or vice versa and is unable to switch from one to the other in sequence.

[ Edited: 21 September 2011 01:49 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 21 September 2011 06:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 78 ]
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GdB - 20 September 2011 11:00 PM

Dennett does exactly the opposite. He explains one of the oldest philosophical problems, the mind/body problem, with help of science, something neurologists obviously can’t themselves because they miss the philosophical background for it.

Just like Kant’s starry sky above him and the moral law within him stayed philosophical problems until science found out that stars are distant suns and the moral law was shaped by evolution via natural selection, so will mind/body problem stay a philosophical problem until science figures it out. But I guess enjoy it while it lasts.

The philosophically ignorant neurologists not being able to explain the mind/body problem sounds awfully like theologically ignorant Dawkins not being able to explain why God doesn’t exist.

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Posted: 21 September 2011 07:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 79 ]
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George - 21 September 2011 06:33 AM

Just like Kant’s starry sky above him and the moral law within him stayed philosophical problems until science found out that stars are distant suns and the moral law was shaped by evolution via natural selection, so will mind/body problem stay a philosophical problem until science figures it out. But I guess enjoy it while it lasts.

Kant already knew that stars are distant objects. And science has answers on the question how our ethical capabilities have arisen. But it cannot answer what is morally correct.

George - 21 September 2011 06:33 AM

The philosophically ignorant neurologists not being able to explain the mind/body problem sounds awfully like theologically ignorant Dawkins not being able to explain why God doesn’t exist.

It may sound like this, but it is not the case.

Many Neurologists do not even know how to apply statistics (from Nature Neuroscience):

In theory, a comparison of two experimental effects requires a statistical test on their difference. In practice, this comparison is often based on an incorrect procedure involving two separate tests in which researchers conclude that effects differ when one effect is significant (P < 0.05) but the other is not (P > 0.05). We reviewed 513 behavioral, systems and cognitive neuroscience articles in five top-ranking journals (Science, Nature, Nature Neuroscience, Neuron and The Journal of Neuroscience) and found that 78 used the correct procedure and 79 used the incorrect procedure. An additional analysis suggests that incorrect analyses of interactions are even more common in cellular and molecular neuroscience. We discuss scenarios in which the erroneous procedure is particularly beguiling.

So should I trust neurologists on their philosophical capabilities?

(Oh, that is a nice ad hominum… But not all ad hominums are invalid!)

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Posted: 21 September 2011 08:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 80 ]
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GdB - 21 September 2011 07:47 AM

[Science] cannot answer what is morally correct.

Nor should it. It’s a stupid question.

GdB - 21 September 2011 07:47 AM
George - 21 September 2011 06:33 AM

The philosophically ignorant neurologists not being able to explain the mind/body problem sounds awfully like theologically ignorant Dawkins not being able to explain why God doesn’t exist.

It may sound like this, but it is not the case.

Many Neurologists do not even know how to apply statistics (from Nature Neuroscience):

In theory, a comparison of two experimental effects requires a statistical test on their difference. In practice, this comparison is often based on an incorrect procedure involving two separate tests in which researchers conclude that effects differ when one effect is significant (P < 0.05) but the other is not (P > 0.05). We reviewed 513 behavioral, systems and cognitive neuroscience articles in five top-ranking journals (Science, Nature, Nature Neuroscience, Neuron and The Journal of Neuroscience) and found that 78 used the correct procedure and 79 used the incorrect procedure. An additional analysis suggests that incorrect analyses of interactions are even more common in cellular and molecular neuroscience. We discuss scenarios in which the erroneous procedure is particularly beguiling.

So should I trust neurologists on their philosophical capabilities?

(Oh, that is a nice ad hominum… But not all ad hominums are invalid!)

You can be pretty weird sometimes, GdB.

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Posted: 21 September 2011 10:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 81 ]
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George - 21 September 2011 08:27 AM
GdB - 21 September 2011 07:47 AM

[Science] cannot answer what is morally correct.

Nor should it. It’s a stupid question.

You do not make moral deliberations? You cannot justify yourself with reasonable arguments? Yes?

I am just wondering how you, who is not a neurologist and not a philosopher, can make the (philosophical!) remark that neurologists will discover what free will is, without any idea what would count as a valid experiment to decide the question. I’ve read a few books/articles of neurologists who think we have no free will, based on their knowledge of the brain. Sorry, most of it is crap. I even met one on a forum discussion, who said free will is just a form of unpredictability, produced by a randomiser in the brain, the evolutionary advantage being exact this unpredictability. Do you decide with a die?

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Posted: 21 September 2011 10:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 82 ]
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GdB - 20 September 2011 11:23 PM
domokato - 20 September 2011 10:46 AM

I’m only trying to decide whether it is in one place or not. I am looking at it from a computational perspective, so obviously I am not a dualist.

If you think it is in one region of the brain, you just shifted the problem of consciousness to another location.

I just said I’m not trying to solve the problem of consciousness!

In this respect, you did not even start to get over dualism, in spite of your words.

Just because I don’t have an answer to how consciousness is manifested from physical laws doesn’t mean I’m a dualist. You don’t either, but I don’t call you a dualist.

domokato - 20 September 2011 10:46 AM

It would be like having separate computers for processing each of the senses. If the computers never communicate or feed information to a server, that information would never come together and there would be no conscious experience of them.

Well the computers must communicate of course, but it does not follow there is one server where everything must come together.

Right, that’s why I said “or”.

To give a fantasy-example: imagine you see a huge fire in front of you, you feel the heat, but you hear the voice of your beloved come from the fire, saying ‘Come to me, domokato, I need you’. What will ‘you’ do? Run away or step into the fire? Isn’t that the question of which thread, one originating from your audible subsystem, the other from your vision, in the end will win the power over your motoric system, especially those of your legs?  (OK, I know, this is an oversimplifying example, but you might get the idea. Otherwise look at the ‘big feet’ example of Dennett again…)

Okay, so I would use my reasoning abilities to decide that I’m probably hallucinating and back away from the fire. I don’t see your point? This example is more like the client-server architecture in my example, with the reasoning portion of the brain being the server.

domokato - 20 September 2011 10:46 AM

How does that work? How can they consciously decide to move the left side or the right side of their body if there is no communication between the two sides of the brain. Wouldn’t both sides of their body be moving independently?

Normally not, because both hemispheres are still ‘connected’: via the world out there. Split brain patients must always look that they observe the world with both hemispheres. Normally our movements guarantee that. That is the reason one must do experiments to really demonstrate that something is special with split brain patients, like using headphones with different signals left and right, or having a shield in such a way that the eyes get different information.

Not sure I’m getting it. Can I see a source? Wikipedia was not helpful

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Posted: 01 November 2011 06:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 83 ]
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Some possibly supporting evidence for my theory:

Rich Club in the Human Brain?

They found a group of 12 strongly interconnected bihemispheric hub regions, comprising the precuneus, superior frontal and superior parietal cortex, as well as the subcortical hippocampus, putamen and thalamus. Together, these regions form the brain’s “rich club.”

If the brain network involving the rich club is disrupted or damaged, said Sporns, the negative impact would likely be disproportionate because of its central position in the network and the number of connections it contains.

“You sort of wonder what they’re talking about when they’re communicating with each other,” he said. “All these regions are getting all kinds of highly processed information, from virtually all parts of the brain.”

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Posted: 02 November 2011 01:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 84 ]
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domokato - 01 November 2011 06:25 PM

Some possibly supporting evidence for my theory

Possibly, yes. But are these 12 regions each conscious in itself, or are they conscious only as a group? Anyway, it is interesting science… Thanks for the link.

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